This is a photograph from the vicinity of Galveston Texas. These fish were stranded in this fence after Hurricane Ike’s storm surge receded. This photo is one of a dozen or so I received that are allegedly being used in FEMA disaster training, and that may be true. But I think these are also circulating in connection with an internet meme claiming that a media blackout in Galveston ordered by George Bush. According to this meme, or urban myth if you like, about 15,000 people died in a particular area of the city and this is being hidden from us.
I think this meme may have originated in connection with an actual and very lengthy list of missing persons, which was perhaps in the thousands log. This is an interesting conundrum. “Privacy laws” limit the kinds of information hospitals can share. So when hospitals or similar facilities are handling refugees from a particular disaster, they can’t efficiently cross check names of individuals in given shelters with names that others (i.e. family members) are seeking contact with. So a list that starts out thousands long may take forever to shrink.
However, this is not entirely a matter of funny numbers. At the moment, about 32 people are known dead because of this storm, but between three and four hundred remain on the missing list. At this point one suspects that the list of missing is a mixture of pure clerical errors (people who can’t be found because they don’t really exist) and people who were actually killed in the hurricane but who’s bodies have not been recovered owing to the severe devastation in this area.
Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps there really is a Bush-ordered media cover up of the death of 15,000 people. But I doubt it. The stories I’ve read suggesting this smell about like I imagine those two fish smell.