Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fear and Loathing on Daily Kos

The backwaters of the Daily Kos diaries can tend to have content that is somewhere very near Youtube comments in the level of sanity and balance involved (at least the spelling is better at Kos). Most of the time, these comments and the resident troll population are easily ignored. However, occasionally they invoke enough "false outrage" which gets plenty of attention, and it cannot be ignored.

Breaking: Des Moines floods, Evacuation: Where is Anderson Cooper?. The lack of facts, misfacts, and truly pathetic attempts at political grandstanding in this article are incredible. With regards to the Iowa flooding, there are a few facts that first need to be considered:

  1. No amount of levees and other flood protections could have prevented there being catastrophic flood damage in Cedar Rapids. It is completely impossible to design a city around a river and to expect to be able to hold back the amount involved.
  2. The flooding is not nearly as bad in Des Moines as in Cedar Rapids. In many areas, the floods only are covering a few neighborhoods. In Cedar Rapids, it is at least 400 city blocks in downtown.
  3. This is not Katrina. While parts of the devastation may be that bad, it is important to keep in mind that everybody was within at most 5 miles of complete safety. With Katrina, there was at least a 50 mile swath hit by a hurricane, and the corresponding winds. Also, Cedar Rapids is not nearly as densely populated as New Orleans, and it is not under sea level.
  4. There is nothing that having more resources on the ground could have done to mitigate the damage. There seemed to be almost as many "We have too many volunteers, please do not go to this area" announcements on the news as "We need volunteers at this area". The national guard, FEMA, etc. could not have done anything more.
  5. There is no major risk to human life. As mentioned above, there was no hurricane associated with this storm. Virtually everybody in danger was evacuated before floods hit.

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