I took a break from blogging because of Hurricane Katrina. The destruction and human toll was just too much for me, so I’ve been ignoring this blog for a while. But I am back. And the hurricane deserves to be my first topic.
The major question left from the storm concerns the poor response made by emergency services to the residents of the effected areas (esepcially New Orleans). I don’t buy the theory that this was racially motivated. I think it was economically-motivated. To put it bluntly, the poor were left to live or die on their own. For example:
Many of the town’s well-off heeded authorities’ warnings to flee north, joining thousands of others who traveled from the Gulf Coast into northern Mississippi and Alabama, Georgia and other nearby states.
Hotels along the interstates and other main roads were packed with these temporary refugees. Gas stations and convenience stores — at least those that were open — sold out of water, ice and other supplies within hours.
But others could not afford to join them, either because they didn’t own a car or couldn’t raise funds for even the cheapest motel.
“No way we could do that,” said Willie Rhetta, a bus driver, who remained in his home to await Katrina.
How badly handled was this? Bad enough that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez laid a verbal smackdown on the Bush administration:
“That government had no evacuation plan, it is incredible, the first power in the world that is so involved in Iraq … and left its own population adrift,” Chavez said in a cabinet meeting broadcast live on television.
And don’t even get me started about the people who say there’s no way that the government could’ve known just how bad this hurricane would be. Researches predicted this exact type of disaster a year ago. We knew a week before Katrina hit that it had the potential to do an amazing amount of harm. And the day before the storm, weather forecasters were warning that New Orleans would probably suffer a “catastrophic blow.” If the Bush administration didn’t know that this was going to be a bad storm, then they need to pull their head out of the sand every now and then to see what’s going on in the world around them.