CHICAGO, IL—(MARKET WIRE)—Sep 2, 2005—Hyatt Regency New Orleans and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced the evacuation of hurricane victims—including both guests and employees—from the hotel. With the exception of a small group of Hyatt executives, safety experts, city officials and FEMA representatives, all guests have vacated the premises. … A convoy of food and supplies provided by Hyatt hotels in Atlanta and Houston arrived at Hyatt Regency New Orleans on Wednesday of this week.
Hyatt had a convoy arrive by Wednesday? As Alan notes, Google Maps helpfully tells us that the New Orleans Hyatt Regency is less than two tenths of a mile away from the goddamn Convention Center. I guess FEMA couldn’t figure out the last leg of the trip or something?
Update: Look, just to be clear, this post isn’t really about whether the disaster should make me or anyone else want to become a libertarian. Examples like this show—in case you needed more evidence—that there is absolutely no good reason the federal government couldn’t have mounted a serious relief effort for the people of New Orleans much, much faster than it did, and especially for the thousands at the convention center and the Superdome. Commenters who claim I’m somehow ignoring the way the problem scales up are mistaken. You can fit an awful lot of food and water into a few container trucks. Don’t tell me that isn’t within the operational capacities of the U.S. army. The people down there could have at least had a minimum of care. Instead, they were abandoned. I don’t accept that evacuating the people at the center and the Superdome was some kind of impossibility in the first day or two, either: sports stadium- and convention-center-sized groups of people are moved via train or bus all the time, filling and emptying venues in the space of a couple of hours. It’s a question of good organization, that’s all.