Thursday, September 01, 2005

Storm Damage

I write this sickened, curled up with a deep disgust that permeates my inside, at the awful harvest of Katrina's wake. I wouldn't blame a hurricane on politics, although the current administration doesn't even admit global warming, which played a role in the strength if not the existence of the storm, even exists. But we are left with the picture of thousands upon thousands of poor, black, elderly, disabled, and/or very young and vulnerable people suffering terribly because society simply didn't have them in its evacuation plans. Even as the media complicitly criticizes the "idiots" for not leaving while ignoring the fact that they had no means to leave, no assistance to leave before the storm from the government, we are treated to the spectacle of relief from looting taking on more importance than search and rescue. To our society, apparently, protection of worthlessly water-logged property is still more important than the chance of finding survivors. In Washington, the President mutters platitudes about everybody coming out of this stronger and things like "don't buy gas if you don't need it", his first thoughts going to his loved ones in the energy industry as gasoline lines start to appear. The Homeland Security director says things like "no one could have foreseen this", even though local New Orleans disaster preparedness officials have been begging Congress for more money for flood prevention and control. Instead they got less. The war in Iraq gets a billion dollars a day, and an extra few hundred million would have at least prevented the levee breaks. We do fullscale exercises in reacting to bioterrorism, yet we are caught completely unready for a disaster that was just a better of when, not if. And the President had to wait until a day after the hurricane to decide to cut his vacation short. Terrorist attacks, earthquakes, and the like, they may strike without warning. This hurricane was being tracked for weeks, and it was obvious that it would hit New Orleans and the gulf coast days before it actually did. Why weren't the cabinet meetings held then? Because to the mindset of this administration, nothing is anybody's fault. Anybody who has correctly predicted disaster is ignored, not consulted humbly after the fact. "There was nothing more the federal government could have done" is the mantra of those who have spent their time in power dismantling the ability of the federal government to do anything. I heard an interview with a Dutch reporter today, who was covering the disaster, who was livid, utterly angry, that all the greatest country on earth could do days and days after this disaster was sputter helplessly as the city of New Orleans became home to anarchy and firearms. The Dutch know something about flood disasters. I doubt seriously they're as unprepared as we were. The National Rifle Association has nothing on its website about Katrina's victims; poor, black, as long as they're armed, every one for himself. Great civilizations have been swallowed up by disaster time and again in history. I wonder if we hadn't been swallowed by the disaster of selfish government well before the levees every broke.

1 comment:

James said...

I knew you'd have something to say about that. I'm still too angry and too busy.