Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Returning

Sorry for the interruption in service. It's been a long dozen days. I won't presume to bore anyone with the travails of my private life. Suffice to say, I hath returnéd.

I'm sending prayers and good wishes to anyone feeling the effects of Katrina. We're feeling the tail-end of it up here in the northeast, but frankly, we need the rain. "Sympathy" doesn't begin to cover what I feel for those who've lost everything.

When I was young and callow, I disregarded the idea that confession is good for the soul, but lately I've embraced it. So I now I will confess that when I saw all those people who had refused to evacuate before the evidence of Katrina's oncoming wrath, stubbornly clinging to their homes in the face of the storm...and then saw the lengths the rescuers were forced to go to just to pull them to safety...I made unkind remarks. I was contemptuous. Angry, even, when I witnessed tiny children left in harm's way by families who apparently didn't possess the sense God gave cabbage.

But today, while I was cruising around the 'Net, looking for a good way to procrastinate my writing time away, I stumbled upon something that made me ashamed of the conclusions I'd jumped to with regards to this issue. And while I'm sure there were and are some examples of folks in the Gulf area who were just flat-out too stubborn/stupid/prideful/mean to come in out of the rain, my thinking has been changed. Mostly, by people explaining to me in words of one syllable that when you're living from tiny paycheck to tiny paycheck, and don't own a car, and have nowhere to go, it's tough to evacuate.

Once upon a time, I lived tiny paycheck to tiny paycheck. I didn't own a car. And while there was never a time in my life when I was unlucky enough to have nowhere to go, I hope my relative good fortune hasn't turned me into the kind of person who can't imagine what that kind of desperation and hopelessness feels like.

I was wrong. I'm sorry. I take it back.

I offer links.

MAKING LIGHT

WICKED WISH

I offer quotes:

'The governor of Louisiana says everyone needs to leave New Orleans due to flooding from Hurricane Katrina. 'We’ve sent buses in. We will be either loading them by boat, helicopter, anything that is necessary,' Gov. Kathleen Blanco said.
With all due sympathy for the governor, it’s hard to avoid wondering why the heroic measures couldn’t have been taken before the storm, rather than after. Oh, wait, I know! If we’d had a plan to evacuate the tens of thousands of New Orleans residents who didn’t own cars, someone might have gotten something for free that they didn’t deserve. Which, in questions of American public policy, is always and forever the most important concern.'
--FROM
MAKING LIGHT

(And in New Orleans, they closed the Greyhound bus station on Saturday, which pretty much screwed the poorest people in terms of getting out of town, didn't it?)

'Look at the money trail. Everyone knew the levees were in trouble. The city had been begging Uncle Sam for money to fix them, but federal money had slowed to a trickle.
At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars. There's cash to be followed, if you're interested. Go here and read.' --FROM WICKED WISH

And now, the latest news:
Mayor: Katrina May Have Killed Thousands
By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press Writer
NEW ORLEANS - Hurricane Katrina probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans, the mayor said Wednesday — an estimate that, if accurate, would make the storm the nation's deadliest natural disaster since at least the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and other people dead in attics, Mayor Ray Nagin said. Asked how many, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."
The frightening estimate came as Army engineers struggled to plug New Orleans' breached levees with giant sandbags and concrete barriers, while authorities drew up plans to clear out the tens of thousands of people left in the Big Easy and all but abandon the flooded-out city.
*snipped*
If the mayor's estimate holds true, it would make Katrina the nation's deadliest hurricane since 1900, when a storm in Galveston, Texas, killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people. The death toll in the San Francisco earthquake and the resulting fire has been put at anywhere from about 500 to 6,000.
"We are looking at 12 to 16 weeks before people can come in," Nagin said on ABC's "Good Morning America, "and the other issue that's concerning me is we have dead bodies in the water. At some point in time the dead bodies are going to start to create a serious disease issue."
*snipped*

Thousands dead. I'm trying to wrap my head around that. We lost around three thousand in the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and we had no clue that was coming. But we saw Katrina from three hundred miles away, DAYS before she made landfall. Can someone explain to me how this is possible? If we can evacuate a city NOW, when it's twenty feet under water and there's no power, why couldn't we evacuate a city THEN?

7Comments:

Blogger Robin Bayne said...

MSNBC news reported today that many of the poverty-stricken residents finally admitted that they didn't have the cash to fill their cars with gas to get out of town. They decided to ride out the storm, and they are the ones now being found in the debris. It is very sad.

8/31/2005 7:26 PM  
Blogger Donald Francis said...

As long as we're talking about money trails, let's talk profiteering. Before the storm even HIT in the northern areas of the country, gas prices were soaring anew. Before dawn this morning? Regular grade was up as high as $3.15; supposedly because the refineries were damaged on the Gulf Coast...shouldn't it take more than a couple of hours to assess that kind of thing?

In time of war, people who try to make a buck off the deaths of others are called profiteers...and sometimes they hang em.

8/31/2005 8:23 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

I said the same things in complete ignorance that others may not have the $ to get out. Because I am insensitive and live in a very affluent area. The night Katrina hit oil prices hit over 70 dollars a barrel. And yes, why were there no busses sent around?

Horrific.

8/31/2005 9:25 PM  
Blogger Karen Scott said...

I don't know much about New Orleans except for the stuff I've read here and there, but I can't understand how there's so much poverty in one place.

I can't imagine anywhere here in England, where so many people are so poor, they can't afford to fill up their car with gas, and get out of the place.

Mind you, in times of crisis, our government usually provides free transportation. Did that happen at all over there?

9/01/2005 6:25 AM  
Anonymous Angelle Trieste said...

Free transporation to get people out of the city? Are you kidding me?

No offense to you, Karens -- just feeling a bit cynical here.

Bush was on a vacation when the storm hit. He FINALLY cut his vacation short TWO DAYS AFTER THE STORM because he couldn't afford to stay on his vacation and not get lynched by the American public, angry at the lack of leadership and relief.

These people who had no money to leave and no place to go to were left in the city to die. This seems to be the common theme of Bush's administration: Let the poor and the helpless (elderly, etc.) fend for themselves.

9/02/2005 11:57 AM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Thousands of people were rescued from rooftops, etc. and left at the convention center--not the Superdome, a different spot--essentially dumped there with no access to food and water--on Monday and Tuesday. In ninety degree heat.

Old women are dying in their wheelchairs. The babies won't stop crying till they pass out from hunger. They don't have enough blankets to cover the dead. The buses that were promised to come and get these folks haven't arrived. And these are the people who have been RESCUED.

Why? Because the National Guard is in Iraq, fighting to make that country safe for an Islamic regime that will strictly limit the rights of women and eventually elect some idiot who hates Americans with a fiery passion.

But let's not politicize a national tragedy. Let's not point fingers or BLAME anybody. Unless we're blaming the VICTIMS, of course. After all, if you're too poor to own a car, you clearly deserve whatever comes your way.

Gee, do I sound bitter?

9/02/2005 4:55 PM  
Blogger Angelle Trieste said...

It's really embarrassing because all my Japanese students (I live in Japan FYI) are asking me, "Why didn't the government send buses and trucks to get the poor and the elderly out of the city? Why didn't the government prepare water and food days before Katrina hit the States? Didn't the government know it was coming? Didn't they watch the news? How come Bush didn't return to Washington the second he heard about the hurricane coming to Lousiana? How come nobody from the government is taking responsibility and resign in disgrace?"

To all these questions, I said, "I have no idea. I'm angry, too."

9/02/2005 11:58 PM  

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