Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Orleans then and now

One year ago today, I watched in disbelief the slow response of my nation's government to an unprecedented disaster. What started out as a powerful and frightening storm was transformed by broken levees into a flooded and devastated city. The full gamut of tragedy and misery unfolded before our eyes. Images of ruined homes, shattered lives, trapped and dying neighbors floated over the screen. People were in desperate straights, several days without food or water, clinging to rooftops and surrounded by water, an entire city literally drowning before the TV cameras. The Rescue and Relief efforts underway were wholly inadequate. But my goodness, how do you rescue an entire city?

Sadly it got worse, day after day. The federal emergency muckymucks were calling for calm, saying help is on the way, we prepared for this...While the stranded people and even the mayor was asking in ever shriller tones, when is help going to arrive? When?
There were some sketchy reports of looting, rape and even shooting. Panic (among the policeforce certainly) was growing, civic breakdown seemed possible. Yeah, that got somebody's attention because the national guard was finally called in. The orders were to evacuate everyone, willingly or not. Next came pictures of armed guardsmen in humvees patrolling the slightly flooded districts, with even a some snap-shots of an elderly woman being handcuffed and forcibly removed from her home (or maybe was it an old man?). Either way, it all seemed completely outrageous!
What went wrong? How did this happen? how could such a tragedy happen in the USA?

Ah yes, the blame game started...and for this Muth'a of all catastrophe's there is plenty of blame for all.
It was Katrina's fault! It was the levees fault! Why its the govenor's fault! No its the mayor's fault! No its FEMA's fault! No it was the people's fault for not evacuating!
Oh wait, some of those people were poor? They did not own SUVs to drive to the next state, or credit cards to pay for week/month long hotel stays? Or they were elderly or already being taken care of in a nursing home or hospital? And nobody told 'em to leave?

The problem is that there were two disasters in one. The first responders were caught by the disaster too. Nobody could have predicted that the levees would fail...oh wait someone did? just last week? said it to the president's face, and you have videotape? oh drat, it was that humorless fellow named Mayfield. harrumph!

What is that? some oil rigs were damaged? 3/4+? Are they gonna be okay? We gotta do something or else gasoline prices might rise. Maybe the president should fly over and get a look...
Well now its a year later. And the place is still a mess. Some signs of recovery exist, but overall it is discouraging how much remains to be done.

I don't blame the disaster on the Decider! or his cronies, although their lack of urgency and inept response certainly made it worse than it should have been.
The disaster was inevitable, the city exists below sea level and has been for decades. Eventually all levees, any structure built by man will fail.
People feel betrayed by the Army Corps, and surely they cut corners which led to the disaster occurring when it did instead of years from now.

But what I can't get my head around is how utterly clueless, grossly incompetent and criminally negligent Bush and his cronies have been. Talk about a leadership vacuum! Bush should have moved his entire cabinet/staff to New Orleans for a month. He should have camped out in the city as soon as the floodwaters receded, or after 3 months of non-action, or after 6 months (or even today--if the residents would have him). He should have knocked some heads together to get a sensible plan in place for rebuilding the city. He should have made a New Year's resolution to fix New Orleans.

No sir, after complimenting Brownie on doing "a heck of a job" and promising to help rebuild New Orleans "whatever it takes". He goes back to DC, uses the regional disaster as an excuse to implement a neo-criminal festival of victim exploitation for the good of a select few cronies/companies. He signs a $100 billion appropriations bill the legislature hands him and proceeds to tune it all out for another 12 months.

And now for this anniversary, which is just a date, he wants everyone to be patient. We must stay the course...freedom is on the march...we turned the corner...things are really better than they look on TV...criticism is unpatriotic...we learned the lessons of 9/11...the central front...the war on terror...we must fight them abroad or more cities could drown.


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