New Orleans SNAFU

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

First, our thoughts go out to those who are suffering from Katrina’s devastation and to those who are helping to alleviate suffering.

I’ve been reading the newspapers, monitoring the blogs, and watching television, same as the rest of you. I can only say that I believe a full accounting of the way this disaster was handled will be forthcoming. I may be cynical, but I want to believe that this government will take an honest, open look at the policies that let down hundreds of thousands of its citizens. Some died. We’re all going to pay for those failed policies.

Folks who spent the last week at Burning Man are going to have a huge hole in whatever you call the spot where we store shared cultural experiences. They’re going to come out of their little utopia into a different world. I’m reminded of my own personal Sept. 11, 2001. I was on a two-week through-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail, essentially out of reach of most communications. I don’t have the memories that most people have, of people jumping out of buildings and the coverage of the rescue workers rushing into the buildings before they collapsed. Nor do I remember the resolute leadership offered by our president.

I am also reminded of the last major natural catastrophes we had in Northern Nevada. Last year’s snowfall, the effects of which by any stretch could have been diminished with a little government foresight and preparation. And let us not forget the Flood of 1997, during which shortsighted government policies opened the floodgates at Lake Tahoe for the largest eight-day outflow of water from Lake Tahoe in recorded history, augmented by failure of the Army Corp of Engineers to clean out the Truckee River channel despite their own disaster predictions.

If the Hurricane Katrina disaster proves anything, it’s that it’s not a good idea to depend on the government when the chips are genuinely down.