Katrina

I keep thinking about blogging about Katrina. I haven’t been able to organize my thoughts very well, so I’m just going to ramble.

I am so grateful for all I have here in the generally natural disaster free Northeast. The hurricanes we’ve seen in this area that I remember – Gloria, Isabel, Floyd – just grazed by all but the most flood prone areas. The media would provide never ending coverage of a tree falling on someone’s car, or a flooded basement, and that would be it. I once had 6 inches of water in my basement after an unusually rainy week. Big deal. My father tells stories of rescuing people from Hurricane Camille when he was in the National Guard, and of seeing the ocean meet the bay at the Jersey Shore years before that. This was all before I was born. As a child I personally saw the hardest hit areas of South Carolina a number of months after Hugo, and I will never forget it. But this kind of disaster has never really hit where I live, literally or figuratively.

I went grocery shopping with Computer Guy tonight and felt just awful as I put item after item in my cart, wishing I could mail the whole store south.

And I feel a little like ranting…
It makes me so angry that this confirms what people from the state of LA always told me – that New Orleans cares even less about its poor than my City of Brotherly Love does. Why else would you leave your sick, old, disabled and desperately poor to fend for themselves? Or tell them, well, we’ve got this big stadium y’all can hang out in. It’s got no provisions, and you’ll have to get comfy in plastic seats, and well, heck, we don’t really know if it can handle a hurricane, but come on down anyway. I keep hearing the press talk about how natural disasters are great equalizers, that thousands of people are homeless refugees, regardless of fame or fortune. Bullshit. Give me a break. Affluent people can afford to leave, to stay somewhere, at least for a while. They have an insurance policy. They are usually educated and mobile, with friends in other parts of the country with room to spare. They have skills, degrees, an understanding of how to get through the bureaucracy to get help. The poor, elderly, and disabled don’t tend to have these things.

Maybe if the city/state/feds had thought ahead of time they wouldn’t now be trying to get 25,000 people out of a disgusting stadium surrounded by a dangerous swampy war zone. It would have been a lot easier that way, and caused so much less misery and suffering. It’s like they haven’t spent generations worrying about what they’d do in this instance.

And then there are the two AP photos I saw next to each other this AM. One was of a young man with dark skin and braided hair carrying a case of pepsi. The caption read something like “A man in New Orleans carrying soda he looted”. Then I saw another photo, this one of a young white couple, both with backpacks. Maybe Tulane students. This caption said “People carry bread and soda they found at a grocery store”, Huh? Aren’t these people all looting? Does anyone else see a problem here? I can absolutely understand people taking food, water, diapers, etc. Not jewelry, tvs, cds. But what I really don’t get is how it is looting for ‘some’ people and ‘finding’ when referring to others. I think not.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the folks who maybe could have left but didn’t. People keep complaining about them, saying how stupid they are. It seems like they just couldn’t get past the denial, or face the pain of leaving all they had, even if it was contained in a 80 year old house with termites. Denial is such a universal, human emotion. We constantly tell teenagers not to think “it won’t happen to me” and we see the results of their denial in car accidents, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, etc. Are those people who stayed in their homes any different? Are they different than someone like me, when I’ve spent the last year knowing that I need to lose dozens of pounds, yet thinking of every excuse to skip the gym? Or like people who keep running up the credit cards, or staying with spouses who hurt them, or refuse to see that little Jimmy needs help for his learning disability or that Mom can’t take care of herself anymore? We all do it.

Anyway, I am praying for all those people out there suffering from this disaster, and hoping things are finally going to stop getting worse and start getting better for them. It all just makes me so so sad.

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~ by Sophia on August 31, 2005.

One Response to “Katrina”

  1. The way it is out here, is many people chose not to leave even if it’s mandatory. They stay because they’re tired of leaving or because they stayed the last time and everything was fine. They do also stay because they are poor or disabled or both. And to be honest with you, I never really thought about why people stayed before all of this. We take care of our family and look out for one another…why no one is looking out for them…I don’t understand. When the Superdome was allowed to be a refuge for Hurricane Georges in 1998…the people in there destroyed it. They were not grateful…they vandalized it and stole anything that wasn’t tied or nailed down…and complained about the food. (They had served food for that evacuation.) I suppose that’s why it was handled differently this time.Who knew how differently things would turn out?I don’t know who to blame or whether blaming is the right thing to do. The NOPD did all they could…but it was more than they could handle. There is no doubt that help came too late. I’m at a loss for words truly…I’m just grateful that help did finally come.

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