They’re trying to wash us away,
They’re trying to wash us away.”
— Randy Newman, Louisiana 1927
First things first. The news out of New Orleans and Gulfport/Biloxi gets worse and worse. You can do something. Give money to the Red Cross or any other charity that’s going in there and helping people. Donate blood. Urge others to do the same.
The entire city of New Orleans (and environs) is devastated. They don’t even know the death toll yet because they still can’t get to the dead. Biloxi and Gulfport aren’t a lot better.
Probably we should wait until the people still in danger are rescued and the bodies are buried before we start pointing fingers and blaming people, but the sad truth is, neither the bodies nor the survivors seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Some folks have been saying that President Bush needs to get his ass down there instead of holding rah-rah photo ops. I disagree. He needs to stay out of the way and let the people who are actually useful and good for something help people out. If he’s not planning on personally helping get people out of there, he needs to go someplace else.
It should be noted, however, that there used to be a time when the National Guard would be in there helping rescue people and stave off further disaster. Unfortunately, most of them are too busy fighting for oil in Iraq.
And why weren’t the levees shored up more to keep the water out?
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security — coming at the same time as federal tax cuts — was the reason for the strain. 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.
Yes, it’s possible that the “fiscally responsible” Bush Administration may have had a hand in the destruction of New Orleans.
But one also has to wonder why New Orleans, a city that knew it was only a matter of time before this happened, seemed to have no evacuation plan in place other than “Everyone get in their own car and drive to somewhere else”. Those who had nowhere to go and no vehicle to take them there were stranded in front of Katrina. Why are school and city busses sitting underwater when they could have ferried people out of the city on Sunday?
Mind you, I’m not blaming a natural disaster on short-sighted politicians. I’m blaming the lack of an entire city to respond to a natural disaster — one that was only a question of when rather than if — on short-sighted politicians.
And yet, what’s got everyone up in arms the most? Looters. Never mind the observation that apparently black people “loot” but white people “find things”. The simple truth is, so what if people are taking TV sets out of stores? Who gives a crap? Jesus, is there no worse suffering going on right now so that we have to be outraged about that? It’s just stuff while people stand on their rooftops hoping to be rescued. Can you read this email, allegedly from a rescue worker, and tell me that we really need to be caring if someone lifts a DVD player from a washed-out Best Buy?
So shut up about the damn looters and go give some money or blood. Right now. And if you think you can’t afford to, go right now and drink a glass of tap water and realize you’re doing something that many people there can’t do because they have no clean water or their home has been destroyed or they’re dead.