Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Obviously, the internet is flooded with Hurricane Katrina reactions. There are many people who are quick to throw out blame - often times blame that is well deserved. However, I'm going to leave that to others. People should be able to look at the storm, look at the the effort that went into preparing the region for a catastrophic hurricane 10 years ago and look at the effort that went into getting people out of the city and coastal areas several days before the storm. Honestly, I'm sure people who look at it with any honesty and integrity will discover that there's plenty of blame to go around.

Anyway, there are two things I want to bring up. Everyone has likely seen at least some clips from President Bush's trip to tour the damage. Watching the press conference on the Mississippi coastline - with Trent Lott and the state's other prominent Republicans standing behind and beside Bush - I was astonished to hear President Bush's reaction to one of the questions he was asked. Essentially, the question was 'With the extensive damage done to the region and the incredible job loss that will result, what is the federal government going to do to help the people?' The President thought the answer was low interest loans! Well, excuse me Mr. President, but that just will not do.

Many Americans are already playing the blame game. Many people have blamed the local population. After all, the people who have had their homes destroyed could have purchased flood insurance. It's not the federal government's fault that few families bother to get flood insurance, these people would claim. At one point even I thought it was stupid that people in a coastal area who live at or below sea level would ignore an obvious threat to their homes (though I never would have gone as far as suggesting what President Bush did).

Then I found out about the incredible cost of flood insurance. It's not as if the hundreds of thousands of people who are now homeless could all afford an extra 5-10 thousand dollars a year, especially with the current state of the economy. The people of this country must band together and tell the President that he is mistaken - government low interest loans will not suffice. The government shouldn't make money, even in the long run, because of national disasters - especially when the government used 1905 levies to protect 2005 New Orleans. If hundreds of billions of dollars can be spent to build a democracy in Iraq that may or may not actually turn out to become a democracy - the same can be spent on Americans who now need as much help as anyone who had a bomb dropped on their house in Iraq.

However, maybe I shouldn't be so taken aback by Bush's statement. After all, the apples don't fall far from the tree. Here's what Barbara Bush recently had to say: "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (she chuckled slightly)--this is working very well for them."


Go figure.

The last thing I'd like to address is my concern for the displaced children of this disaster. While watching a Labor Day annual firework display at my University, I began to think about what the people in Houston's Astrodome or the survivors placed at San Antonio are doing to keep themselves busy and entertained. I realize that after experiencing the disaster of the century, entertainment is likely the last thing on people's minds. However, many of the people grouped in these large domes and other areas - by the thousands - have children. These children will go through the same scars that their parents will throughout their life. While food and water is a priority, it would be good to be holding events in these areas that can keep children and their parents occupied and maybe even entertained. Traumatic Stress Syndrome will become a huge problem after this disaster; its important to do what we can as a nation to help reduce that stress now. Hurricane Katrina has killed thousands of Americans, but it will truly only ruin the lives of millions of survivors if we let their spirits be blown away by the storm.


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