Some Quotes on Katrina

[Anne]Rice, author of the Vampire Chronicles books, said people have asked her in recent days why so many people stayed behind when they knew the hurricane was coming.

“They didn’t have any place to go,” she wrote. “They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers. . . . There was no way to up and leave and check into the nearest Ramada Inn.”

Rice, who now lives near San Diego, Calif., said she believes New Orleans will be rebuilt.

“But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us,” Rice wrote. -AP

FEMA’s ‘eat-cake’ attitude

Tuesday, September 6, 2005, Page A16

Toronto — FEMA officials claim they couldn’t get people and equipment into New Orleans fast enough. In light of the number of reporters and camera crews in the city since the storm left, maybe FEMA’s next director should be a TV news producer. -The Globe and Mail

Many residents were happy that the storm spared their homes, but angry that the failure of the levee system left them swamped. Some were considering a lawsuit against the federal government for having a levee that could survive no more than a Category 3 hurricane. -AP

In much poorer societies, such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka after the Boxing Day tsunami, or in more polarized societies like Montreal during the 1998 ice storm, scenes of looting, violence and selfish desperation did not occur. But the large U.S. cities of the South have a very different sort of group psychology, in which faith in individual fortune replaces the fixed social roles that keep other places aloft during crises.

In U.S. cities like New Orleans, in the analysis of the American-British organizational psychologist Cary Cooper, social cohesion depends on a shared belief that individual hard work, good luck and God’s grace will bring a person out of poverty and into prosperity. But those very qualities can destroy the safety net of mutual support that might otherwise help people in an emergency.

“Fear itself motivates people in the U.S. — the fear that you could lose everything,” Prof. Cooper said in an interview yesterday from his office at the University of Lancaster. “That creates the best in American society, the inventiveness, but the moment the net is pulled out, it becomes a terrible jungle.” -Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail

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