Katrina Rant

I wrote this yesterday, but the computer gods did not see fit to grant me internet access.
 
What She Wore: Light purple, short-sleeve tee; brown pleated skirt with teeny-tiny pleats; brown leather heels with purple tweed accents.


As some of you may know, I am deeply connected to my New Orleans heritage.  My parents and brother still live in South Louisiana and there are few aspects of my personality that I do not relate to my upbringing in that amazing city. 
 
Lately, when I think about Hurricane Katrina, I am filled with an overwheliming sense of sadness.  HBO has been running a documentary about KAtrina, and I begain sobbing as it played the other day.  Usually, I stuff down my sadness and ignore it since I know that few will understand it, but today I won’t. 
 
Juxtaposed against 9/11, I feel that our nation is ignoring the tragedy that occured in New Orleans.  I will be the first to admit that the poeple of New Orelans never made the greatest photo ops.  They didn’t wear business suits, many of them didn’t leave behind beautiful pregnant wives.  Few had gone to college or volunteered with disadvanged children.  In face, they were more likely to be receiving services than giving them.  
 
Those are the facts.  But it doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people ided in Katrina.  A lot.  Almost a thousand bodies have been counted at this point.  And they are not the only ones who suffered.  Many were left in the city for up to a week without proper food, water, or shelter.  Some of the elderly died waiting for help.  
 
I can’t imagine the horror of being trapped in an underwater city for a week.  I simply can’t imagine.
 
Some people question how you could live in a city with such geographic impracticalities, but I would argue that point.  Millions of people live in California which has forest fires, mud slides, and earthquakes–all capable of destroying huge amounts of property without warning.  Large swaths of the country are located in Tornado alley, and Las Vegas doesn’t have enough water to support its booming population.    Amersterdam and more than half of Hollad sits below sea level, but they are impervious to flooding.  The Dutch have even offered to help us rebuild protection that will work, but we will instead have our levees rebuilt by the same people who designed and executed that last sub-standard bunch.  In the fifeen years that i lived in my parents’ house, it never flooded once.  It may not have flooded during Katrina were it not for the fact that everything that was designed to protect it failed.  Where’s the accountabilty?  If I failed to teach my students, then I would DEFINITELY be held accountable.
 
In many ways, I think that this tragedy is much harder to swallow than 9/11.  On September 11th strangers invaded our home and attacked symbols of American prosperity.  When Katrina hit, mother nature attacked parts of this country that many would rather not acknowledge.  Our federal administration failed us, our city and stated leaders were pushed to the brink, and many felt that the people of New Orleans were to blame.  They should have known bettter, they should have left sooner, they should have. . .
 
Regardless of the should-haves, the government could have rushed to the aid of its people, and it did not.  Condaleeza Rice went shoe shopping as poeple in our own coutnry drowned in their homes.  It took three days for the National Guard to arrive in the city.  During 9/11 there were fighter jets in the air within the hour escorting planes that needed to land.  The Federal government failed New Orleanians then, and it continues to fail them today.  While we spend BILLIONS of dollars to rebuild Iraq, Bush categorically denied funds to New Orleans to rebuild the levees to category five protection.  We build bridges in Alaska for five-hundred people, but we refuse to protect the homes of a million Americans–not to mention all the people in surrounding areas who depend on the city for their livelihood.
 
People have callously argued that New Orleans should not be rebuilt, and I am positive that not all of it will be.  But most home-owners do not have a choice in the matter.  Mortgage companies are issued the insurance checks and they approve decisons made on the houses.  If you choose to abandon your house, you will most likely have to declare bankruptcy—you may even owe fines.  The government has agreed to pay up to 100,000 dollars to people who do not wish to rebuild.  For most, this will only cover a fraction of their mortgages.  Like many urban areas, even a modest home is priced well-above $100,000.

 

A year later, my parents’ house is almost finished.  Their kitchen was just recently installed and they are waiting on a master bath.  My mother continues to have anxiety attacks that started in the weeks she spent evacuated in Houston.  They are hopeful about the future of their city, but they are also certain that most of the nation could care less about what has happened to them.  They know without question that the president does not care. 

 

Yes.  Katrina was messy.  It leaves us with complex emotions and makes us wonder who is to blame.  Truthfully, there are a lot of people to blame, so let’s stop trying to figure that out.  Things went seriously wrong, and there’s no changing that.  Let’s look forward.  New Orleans will continue, she will change, and she will grow.  But please don’t forget what happened there.  It was its own type of tragedy.  While our people suffered, their cries were ignored.

 

Please don’t let them be ignored forever.

 

KM

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About takedeux

In one summer I had a baby who was hospitalized for five weeks, quit my job, and moved back to my hometown. This blog is about starting over.
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34 Responses to Katrina Rant

  1. Unknown says:

    I as well have a soft spot for N.O. as you know…I lived there a long time, most of my adult life. I totally agree with you, no need to say who failed, the whole situation was a failure. I still hope to hear from two of my dearest friends who lived in St. Bernard that no word has been heard from.
    hugs,
    Mercy

  2. Karla says:

    I\’m not saying you aren\’t right. Just explain to me exactly how to do that? You forget, I can be way too nice.

  3. Unknown says:

    Hey Barnyard, I\’m back bloggin
     
    Regards,

    © Al’s Blog Spot  Õ¿Õ¬  
    (www.albertkline.wordpress.com)

  4. Christi says:

    I really couldn\’t agree more.  You go girl.  That was an eloquent vent.  And it\’s true.  There is much we need to do in our own country before anything else.  I watch those shows on Katrina as well and they are horrible.  While I have no connection to New Orleans (besides you of course!), I can truly understand where you are coming from.  Hang in there.  

  5. K says:

    I couldn\’t add anymore to what you\’ve said… to hear that many said.. New Orleans should not be rebuilt is live saying New York should not be rebuilt… both were and continue to be thriving communities and truly… NO needs more attention.  I love the Ellen Show because she continues to bring awareness of what hasn\’t been done.. but truly continues to need done in NO.
     
    Well said Katie…
     
    Ciao bella,
    KC

  6. Betty says:

    Hi KM,
     
    Thank you for bringing Katrina back into discussion.  As a native New Orleanian, my heart is broken that my hometown will never again be as I knew it, but as an American, I am ashamed that my government turned away and could not bear to look at us and still ignores our cries.
     
    Yes, we live below sea level, as do many other coastal communities.  Californians live on a fault big enough to threaten to break off a hunk of the US and set it adrift in the Pacific.  The midwest floods every year and the west is consumed by fire each year.  This administration is, without a doubt, heartless, not to mention obtuse.  But, I believe that many in our nation, our fellow citizens, see New Orleans as some sleazy playground where they can go and do things in our streets that they would never think of doing in their hometown.  I don\’t believe we are seen as "like them."
     
    The feds won\’t rebuild New Orleans – the state won\’t rebuild New Orleans – not even the city government will rebuild New Orleans – WE will rebuild New Orleans.  New Orleanians are the most resourceful individuals I\’ve ever know.  Look what we did with Audubon Zoo.  The city let the zoo become a travesty and the citizens of New Orleans built the zoo they wanted with their own money, time and effort.  People come to Mardi Gras and have a great time without knowing that private citizens of our town pay for every parade, every ball.  The city does not host a single parade! 
     
    My sisters and my brother and my cousins have all finished rebuilding after the damage done by Katrina.  People like your family and mine will rebuild our city because they cannot fathom a world without New Orleans.
     
    Thanks again for the reminder
     
    Betty

  7. Stacy says:

    I am so sorry for the ways things are in NOLA.  I always wanted to visit there and see all of the history and culture.  I am not big on Mardi Gras or partying.  I certainly hope that things change around so that it can be rebuilt and restored.  I still want to go someday and want it to be the way it was.

  8. Nadine says:

    Have you ever had a task so big or a chore so overwhelming that you just didn\’t know where to start??? I have and I walk away. I think that is what has happen to the people of New Orleans. It is a situation to deal with that is so overwhelming that the powers that be do not have a clue where to start. It doesn\’t make it right. And it is not fair. You know better than anyone that you have to take it one day at a time.

  9. Becca says:

    Very well written, KM.
     
    Hugs,
    Becca

  10. Sarah says:

    Thank you for writing this and bringing these things to my attention. As a person who has never been to New Orleans, and lives on the opposite end of the Mississippi River there are all kinds of things I didn\’t know about the situation down there. Like the death toll. That is unreal. Why ARE we helping every other nation that has a problem, but we aren\’t helping our own people?

  11. Sue says:

    I so agree with you girl.  I saw that HBO special "when the levees broke" and it was heartbreaking.  It\’s infuriating.  You have said it all here.  When I was watching that program, things went through my mind as they had when it was occurring, such as "If camera crews and reporters can to that convention center and report, why the hell can\’t they get some relief?"  It seems like such a mess and so little done in the year since… overwhelming.  There was failure from all people, agencies, and politicians involved.  There is not enough shown now on the progress of NO.  I think if the cameras would get back down there and do more like Spike Lee did, but on a regular basis, there might be some progress made.  Sue

  12. Karla says:

    I am feeling really bitter. Some about life in general but mostly about my paper/boss/school/work. I don\’t like it. Bitter is not a good fit for me.

  13. Karla says:

    Oh and then I feel even worse for feeling sorry for myself. I mean what a spoiled brat?!?!?

  14. Jen says:

    Thanks for posting this, KM.  I have to admit, though, that I am kind of getting tired of hearing about Katrina.  Does that make me heartless?  I hope not.  My thought process goes this way because of what we have already heard from a comment, "This administration is, without a doubt, heartless, not to mention obtuse. … The feds won\’t rebuild New Orleans – the state won\’t rebuild New Orleans – not even the city government will rebuild New Orleans – WE will rebuild New Orleans."  When DID we become a country that relies on our government to take care of things?  Why don\’t we take care of ourselves anymore?  I just am tired of hearing about how "the government failed us" when, really, we shouldn\’t even be in a place of EXPECTING the gov\’t to take care of us.  And, really, if that\’s the only way that someone can "afford" to live…well, then maybe you need to reassess your situation so that you are living in a more affordable manner.
     
    Please don\’t get me wrong.  I truly feel for the people who have lost everything and are "starting over" and I can\’t even imagine what it must be like to be in such a situation, but STOP BLAMING THE GOVERNMENT.  We CAN manage on our own and to rely completely on their help to "fix things" is, in MY OPINION, a lazy attitude.
     
    In addition, it IS truly a sad state of affairs that we, as human beings, have created our world so that we are unwilling or unable to help EACH OTHER out in situations like this.  We have become a lazy, self-serving, selfish culture and we are unwilling to help our fellow neighbor in times of need.  There are SOME who still try to live a helpful nice and that\’s truly an inspiration to see.  I often wish, though, that we could go back to the helpful, serving ways of our parents/grandparents\’ generation (I think of "The Andy Griffith Show" when I say this).  THAT was truly what it was to help our neighbor.
     
    My thoughts and prayers ARE still with all of you out there who are still reeling from the shock.  Even though I cannot afford to be in a place to physically HELP you, I try and do what I can through prayer and HOPE that there will be something for you from that.
     
    My best to you ~ Jennifer, Wyoming, USA

  15. Jen says:

    Ugh.  I read through what I just posted and I KNOW that some of you are going to think that I\’m a heartless, malicious, evil person and I\’M NOT!!  I truly do feel sad for those who are suffering in New Orleans.  I just WISH that they could understand that they have SO much strength within themselves that they shouldn\’t feel like they have to blame someone or something for their unfortunate predicament.  *sigh*  This is about all I can say, I guess, without sounding like I\’m totally justifying myself.  I guess I should have just kept my mouth shut in the first place, eh?
     
    ~ Jennifer

  16. David says:

    Aside from voting, what can those of us in other parts of the country do?
     
    -David  //BootJockey

  17. Unknown says:

    KM…thanks for your post.  It was good to read this, and I think it is something I need to continue thinking about a bit more.  I must admit that I struggle with knowing exactly what to think/feel about N.O. or 9/11 or other tragic things that happen.  Perhaps part of that stems from the fact that I have been to several third world countries and seen so much desperation there.  I must admit that I often struggle with wondering why I was born in America…why God chose to bless me in this manner while others struggle simply to stay alive day to day…and then I think of things like Hurricane Katrina and 9/11….devastating, most definitely.  I definitely pray for those families and agree that people dropped the ball….I guess I just sometimes feel that as Americans (wherever state or area or region we live in) we can tend to get a bit prideful…as if we deserve continual blessings…and how dare something horrible should happen to AMERICANS.  That was a lot of the outcry I heard in the aftermath…not sure what I am really saying here…don\’t mean to sound heartless or unconcerned, just sorting through some of my own thoughts.

  18. barnyardmama says:

    I don\’t think that we should be in a position where we DEPEND on the government for our day-to-day lives, but most of us begin paying federal taxes at the age of eighteen.  Those taxes are SUPPOSED to be used to fund agencies like FEMA.  My parents both paid taxes for about thirty years AND had flood insurance on their home and business.  The tax dollars were clearly wasted on levees that did not work properly (it has been discovered that they were built improperly) and pumping systems that were turned off.  If I gave someone money for thirty years to provide a service than I would EXPECT that service to be performed.  Period.  I do believe that New Orleans\’ rebirth will be a grassroots effort and I also agree that reports on the rebuilding should make the news more often.   Hope that better explains my position.
     
    KM 

  19. -c says:

    We took a group of high school kids to Waveland/Bay St. Louis this summer to help a little bit in the reconstruction process. Having not been in that area before I had no idea what to expect, but I can tell you after being there for 5 days I would be back there helping in a heartbeat. The people we worked for and with were anything but beaten. They had more heart, more spirit, more humility and graciousness than I have ever experienced before.
     
    Those people need to know the rest of this country still cares about them. And it us up to all of us who live in and love our country to not forget them. Each of us has a duty to come to the aid of others – without judging who does and does not deserve our help. 
     
    I invite you over to read my series on Katrina, how it affected those of us. And thank you for speaking out on behalf of those who still have no place to call home.
     
    -cindy

  20. WINDOW LIVE says:

    I couldn\’t agree with you more. I was absolutely horrified when I saw this documentary.  I was ashamed to say I was american.  

  21. Jaysey says:

     Those taxes are SUPPOSED to be used to fund agencies like FEMA.  My parents both paid taxes for about thirty years AND had flood insurance on their home and business.  The tax dollars were clearly wasted on levees that did not work properly (it has been discovered that they were built improperly) and pumping systems that were turned off.  If I gave someone money for thirty years to provide a service than I would EXPECT that service to be performed.  Period. 
     
    This is about as well put as I\’ve seen this point made.  Good work.

  22. Wahzat says:

    Hi BYM
    I can\’t believe I haven\’t been to visit in such awhile. I have to say first that the outfit today sounds divine and I love the shoes. You are not normally so dressed up what was the special occasion 🙂
     
    Sometimes jealousy creeps up in places least expected. I have found that it goes away. Either the jealousy goes or the person does 🙂 So don\’t worry about venting. It usually helps me.
     
    The question about calculators and math and reading are so tough. I think that letting your students use their heads until it is really necessary is the best thing that you could do for your students. That is what was done with you wasn\’t it? and did it slow you down when it was time to use the calculator?
     
    I watched that documentary about Katrina and I walked away from it thinking that the key is to never, ever let this kind of tradegy ever happen again. So if it means hitting people over the head with information. Rubbing it into the faces of the politicians and the powers that be so that\’s what needs to be done. That was a ridiculous situation.
     
    Sorry for taking up so much of your space. Just wondering if you are all better (UTI) and how is it going with the soda?
    Wahzat!
     
     

  23. Cheryl says:

    It is very sad and I can\’t make myself get any further than Port Arthur Texas.  The devestation is horrid and nobody is doing anything to help.  I continue to work with survivors in Houston and they have NOTHING to go back to.  When the president and his administration responded the way they did I think that is what tilted everything as far as popularity for this administration.  This is a national tragedy of a proportion we have never seen before.  I was here in houston in 83 when we had a hurricane devestate our city.  It was horrid but everyone rushed in to help rebuild as soon as they could get here.  We did not see that in NOLA….Sad

  24. Elizabeth says:

    It\’s postively horrifying to know that so many lives were, effecitvely, destroyed by the hurricane.  Whenever I see the scenes of neighborhoods laying in ruins it breaks my heart to think how these families are living. It\’s so tragic.  The rebuilding must get kicked into high gear.

  25. Dawn says:

    that was beautifully written.

  26. David says:

    Just came back to check for today\’s update!
     
    I\’ll be back again soon, though!
     
    -David  //BootJockey

  27. Sandy says:

    I am glad that you posted this.  I for one am not tiered of hearing about Katrina because people need to remember it. I hate it when people say that they are so tired of hearing about Katrina, and I hate it when people say that those people should have left New Orleans when they were told to get out.  They were all of the poor people.  They had nowhere to go. They did not have a way to get out.  So, they were told to go to the supper dome and look what happened to them.   The ones that did have a vehicle and some gas were stranded on the freeways and overpasses.  The government did not respond because the only types of people that our country cares about had the means to leave.   It clearly paint a vivid picture of what this country thinks of is poor. 
    Raven
    I posted this in the wrong place earlier, too excited i guess.
     
     

  28. Jaysey says:

    I would love to see this little jig! I\’m sure it\’s quite the dance! 😉

  29. Nooner™ says:

    So well said, KM. What a travesty. Failure was on many fronts. The sad thing about tragedies that occur that were never foreseen is that they are never dealt with properly, yet they lead the way for being prepared for them in some sense should something similar happen in the future. It does not provide solace to the initial ones who suffered, so I pray that your parents, and friends there, and everyone who lives in that area comes out of the aftermath as best as possible.
    ~Nooner~

  30. Tiffany says:

    I don\’t think I could\’ve said that any better KM.  Just tell your parents to be strong!  I couldn\’t imagine being put through any of that.  Yes, I live in tornado alley, but have never been through anything like Katrina.  My hat comes off to the brave men/women/children that survived Katrina!
    Tiffany

  31. David says:

    Hi K!

     
    I came by to say hello, and to see if you had a new post today!  Fear not, though, for I shall return again soon!
     
    Have a GREAT day!!!
     
    -David  //BootJockey

  32. Unknown says:

    Oh man Government is a mess, and we BOTH know how N.O. is.
     
    The pumping stations never worked, not with a good hours rain. The neutral grounds ditches would be fill in a matter of minutes on every hard rain. They always knew what was coming, they just didn\’t know when. N.O. likes to take chances, it\’s the whole darn what will come will come attitude…love of life…happy go lucky. I think I have an axe in the attic story some where in my blog…I ALWAYS thought people were crazy telling me to keep an axe in my attic when I lived there! They were right.
     
    Love,
    Mercy

  33. Sheryl-Ann says:

    Well said, KM!  Katrina was a tragedy that I don\’t think too many people will forget.  It shocked people here in the USA and in other countries who were simply stunned by what they saw happening in New Orleans right before their very eyes.  After all, the USA is all over the world \’helping\’ people, and they failed in helping their own people.  My heart goes out to all who suffered and are still suffering, and I hope the Federal Gov\’t gets it right next time.

  34. Antonella says:

    Well, being from New York, I was personally effected by 9/11(I had family who worked there- no one in a business suit, that\’s for sure).I actually see a lot of similarities with the 2 events. The government failed us on 9/11, because they had the info on these men, knew they were going to attack and did nothing. With Katrina, they knew about the poor conditions of the levees, knew there was a huge storm coming, and no one did anything. I think it\’s really disgusting what happened in both situations. Everytime I see something on tv about either NO or NY, I cry about it because I think that even though you can\’t control mother nature and you can\’t control crazy terrorists, in both situations, the gov. could\’ve done a hell of a lot more in helping it\’s people. Hope you have a wonderful weekend,Antonella

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