9.02.2005

Katrina

I didn't realize hurricane Katrina was of biblical tragedic proportions (a number of people has likened it to 9/11) until i saw the pics and news posted yesterday. Apart from the floods, lives lost and lives that continue to be endangered as the days pass, other realities are emerging, equally horrific as the natural results of the disaster that visited New Orleans.

"The nightmare in New Orleans has a lot to tell us about poverty: the desperate poverty of the city's African-American population, of course, but also the poverty of political debate in the U.S. today. The crisis unfolding before us -- dispossession, looting, people shooting at rescue workers, the president's dim response, and now, people dying in front of our eyes outside the Superdome -– rubs our noses in so much that's wrong in our country, it's excruciating to watch. But I'm especially struck by the inability of our existing political discourse to describe, let alone to solve, the intractable social problems that have come together in this flood whose proportions and portents seem almost biblical."

"...Thursday we saw people shooting at rescue helicopters (with guns they stole from Wal-Mart, perhaps?), at hospital supply trucks, at workers trying to evacuate the sick from hospitals, the horrifying next chapter in an already awful story. I started to feel like my indifference to yesterday's looting was morally lazy, a reflexive shrug at having to really think about the poor, who they are, why they are. What a crazy, depraved way to treat people who are trying to help. But having said that, we're not absolved from trying to understand and reckon with the chaos. Like it or not, this crisis is going to be with us for a long time, because it's been coming for a long time -– we're going to have to face issues of race, poverty and civil rights we've long chosen to ignore."

"Of course, it's unfair to blame the president for an act of nature like Katrina. And yet it's irrefutable that this administration's backward policies and politics made this disaster worse than it had to be, and its belated response will do nothing to address the problems that have suddenly been flushed out into the open. The death toll from Katrina is likely to be higher than 9/11, but most of its victims will be black and poor, and I doubt we'll wage a war on poverty and neglect to match the war on terror launched after al-Qaida struck -- and if we did, I doubt it would be any more effective. The president, who continued his vacation while Katrina raged, just the way he kept reading "My Pet Goat" on 9/11, is headed for the Gulf on Friday. I'd like him to bring some answers, but I don't expect him to."

- Flushing out the truth, Joan Walsh, salon.com

= = =

Over at Boingboing.net, there's an e-mail from a visibly shaken, tired but still determined NOLA rescuer.Part of it read:

"Who would have thought that in a country like ours. not some third world place, mind you, that there would be massive amounts of people trying to inflict harm on the very people that are putting their own lives on hold to help other. It's unreal what we're seeing. The criminal looters (if that's even a strong enough word for them) have been shooting at the helicopters that are the only hope that the city has right now of saving more lives and thereby preventing many more deaths. I can tell you that there isn't a single member of the two teams I'm with that aren't ready to go back in, shooting and all, but the fear is from the higher-ups who can't risk losing the helicopters and the boats. I can't believe it Jon. people of roof tops and in attics will die tonight because sub-human thugs are shooting at the only people who can help anyone right now."

= = =

Meanwhile Sydney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to Clinton writes in the Guardian Unlimited that the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.

"In 2001, when George Bush became president, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely potential disasters - after a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. By 2004, the Bush administration cut the corps of engineers' request for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80%. By the beginning of this year, the administration's additional cuts, reduced by 44% since 2001, forced the corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate debated adding funds for fixing levees, but it was too late."

2 Comments:

Blogger Candice said...

I am so shocked at what's been happening over at New Orleans. The effects of the natural disaster is overwhelming... But the chaos, the disorganization, the crime, the desperation, the politics, the inefficient preparations are just stupefying. Such an angry and divided community has shone through. Haay, and Bush talaga... isa pa yan.

5:17 PM  
Blogger miranila said...

Ah yes, Bush... him and his war in Iraq.

It's truly ironic that he's waging a war to "help" people elsewhere but won't lift more than a finger to help those he has sworn to serve and protect. (which also reminds me so much of our own president. ay, these two presidential brats talaga.)

5:43 PM  

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