September 15th, 2005


99 years ago

Although there are obvious logistical differences between the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and hurricane Katrina, it's interesting to compare the response.
In 1906, General Funston (on his own initiative, without Presidential authority and without forms filled out in triplicate) ordered 2,000 troops in to the city. The first looter was shot by military forces less than five hours after the quake hit. Ultimately, two hundred thousand people took advantage of the offer of free transportation given by Southern Pacific railroad. Nowadays, the airlines beg for government handouts and then file bankruptcy, so they can shaft their employees.
Sure, the situation in San Francisco was shitty for months and people were being bludgeoned to death by gangs wielding gas-pipes, but the immediate response was pretty impressive, particularly considering the fact that there was zero warning. On the other hand, it helps to have an Army post inside the city.