Upon seeing no active looting in the city of New Orleans, the media packed their bags and went home.
However, the brunt of the storm’s impact was borne by Houma (pop. 100,000 plus) and Baton Rouge (pop. 500,000 +/-). Houma is currently without water and sanitary sewers; residents will be able to get back in tomorrow to begin assessing damage.
Baton Rouge is largely without electric power and some residents are being told power restoration is up to 6 weeks away. On the way back into the state today, we saw many dozens of cherry pickers and other construction vehicles headed into the affected areas.
Governor Jindal has applied for a disaster declaration for all 64 parishes. I heard at midday today that 48% of the state was without electric power. There is a unified command structure in place that is coordinating hurricane response at the state level. (Presumably there was such a structure in place after Katrina, but Gov. Blanco was too busy at the time looking up “posse comitatus” in the dictionary.)
The governor has offered Entergy, one of the largest electric utilites, whatever it takes to speed up the recovery. I’m told that when he asked them what they needed to speed up their schedule, the first thing was five helicopters. “Done. What else do you need?” Unfortunately, these stories are receiving scant attention in the newspapers.
Gov. Jindal also cut through a ton of red tape, bypassing Corps of Engineers assessments and buying 1,000 electrical generators with state funds. These generators will be distributed to the parishes with greater than 50% power outages. They will be allocated by the locals according to a suggested formula for the benefit of vital private businesses like service stations, groceries and pharmacies.
Bobby Jindal is where he needs to be. He is a hell of a leader, and he’s going to have one damn impressive resume.