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Friday, September 02, 2005

Stop talking, get 'em out

CW FISHER
As thousands of terrified Americans remain trapped in the Swamp of New Orleans, the White House worries over its reputation and asks for patience.

We are definitely on our own.

I asked myself how I'd move thousands of people out of New Orleans if I only had a few hours. This is what I came up with. The picture at left is a photoshopped illustration.

Step 1. Ask the crews of construction crane helicopters to get airborne and bring chain. These are the giants that put antennas on the tops of buildings. They can handle a big box of people.

Step 2. Instruct helicopters to locate suitable containers. It shouldn't be difficult. New Orleans is a river town on a major seaport. Boxcars and shipping containers should be easily found--at least enough to be workable.

Step 3. Deliver containers to the first neighborhood in lines of at least three helicopters. People will get the idea and run to the closest pickup spot. Three gives them hope. But if there's only one, the crowd may stampede to it, or riot, or crush each other in the container. Because they perceive they've been abandoned, they're likely to see a single helicopter as their last chance. Three helicopters splits the crowd from the center, spaces them blocks apart, and shows people for miles what's going on.

Step 4. Before the container is full of people, lift slowly and hover low so stragglers can drop off without injury. Get airborne. This is how you communicate to an entire city without communications. You have to show 'em. See? We're taking you out of here now.

Step 5. Take these people to safety, where showers, and beds, and meals and airplanes to elsewhere are ready and waiting.

Step 6. Repeat until done. Time frame: four hours. Deadline: three days ago.

A word about safety. It isn't. But then, there's nothing even remotely safe about what's happening on the streets. A trip in a box with a crowd of sweaty scared people would be a lot less scary than anything normal people do to themselves at Six Flags on purpose.

...by CW FISHER

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