Thoughts on Katrina


Written on 10:42 PM by Jack B.

Ah, Katrina, what a lovely name for such a deadly force.

I haven't written on this because I didn't think there was anything I could say that would do justice to the horrific images and events coming from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I've seen Hurricanes before. I've seen destruction on a massive scale and death too. I'm a New Yorker. The destruction of the World Trade Center Buildings and death of 3,000 people within mere minutes is vividly on my brain. But New York survived. We're still here. But New Orleans is gone. A city founded by the French, the home to history, jazz, creoles and cajuns. All Gone. They say there might be over 10,000 people dead. I've never seen such destruction in this country. I've never seen such destruction in my lifetime. I'd like to say my heart goes out to all those who suffered but that's not saying much, is it? I mean, anyone can say that, right? But I mean it all the same. The destruction looks like something from another part of the planet, like another world, not like here in the richest and most powerful country in the world. Nature has truly humbled us in a way no human terrorist ever could.

More thoughts:
Katrina has exposed both the best and worst in human nature. The breakdown of law and order, the collapse of the NO Police Department, the failure to call out the National Guard immedietely, has led to looting and sniping as humans revert to the bestial Darwinistic survival-of-the-fittest nature. On the other side, volunteer efforts at help, little miracles of deliverance, and the absolute best side of organized religion have been out in full force. For instance, the Catholic Church Southern Baptist Association, Black Churches, Jewish, Muslim, etc. groups all have set up round the clock stations - the organized Athiests? Not so much. And Planned Parenthood has been too busy thinking about its own agenda to set up emergency medical clinics. Meanwhile churches are handing out water and food, people from all over the US are taking in complete strangers in their houses and schools are opening their doors to displaced children. Bless them all.

If there is one thing I hate more than politicians padding themselves on the backs, it's politicians pointing fingers at each. Now I've cut President Bush a lot of slack because I believe in his sincerity but I agree with Jamie at Eye of Polyphemus that was basically Bush's lowest hour as president. Where the heck was the Federal Government? Where was FEMA? How many people died waiting who could have lived? However...Democrats should look to their own glass house as well. Louisiana has an (inept) Democratic mayor, New Orleans has a (clueless) Democratic mayor with and until last year the state had TWO Democratic senators, one of whom (Mary Landrieu) is a political hack who only got her job because of her family name (her father being a former mayor of New Orleans, her brother being Lt. Governor). Its been known for years if not decades that one strong storm could destroy New Orleans. Its been known for years the levees could not hold. Here's a National Geographic Magazine article on the subject from October 2004! Within the last year alone I remember seeing an hour long report on PBS (I think on NOVA) about this very subject as well as one on an ABC news program. I knew it could happen. Where the heck was the representatives of the city? Twiddling their thumbs? Scoring political points while people drowned? Here's an excellent article by Ron Fournier entitled "Politicians Failed Storm Victims" that says it all. A telling excerpt:

On top of all this, Katrina is one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the United States. The best leaders running the most efficient agencies would have been sharply challenged.

"Look at all they've had to deal with," former President Clinton told CNN shortly after joining former President Bush on a fundraising campaign for hurricane relief. "I'm telling you, nobody every thought it would happen like this."

That's not true. Experts had predicted for years that a major hurricane would eventually hit New Orleans, swamping the levees and filling the bowl-shaped city with polluted water. The politicians are doing what they do in time of crisis - shifting the blame.

"The truth will speak for itself," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said of potential lapses by government. Later, her office blamed the White House for budget cuts.

If it's not the Republicans' fault, perhaps some in Washington would like to blame New Orleans itself. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., questioned whether a city that lies below sea level should be rebuilt. "That doesn't make sense to me," he said.

But for anybody living - or dying - in the devastated region, there are far too many villains to name. "We're out here like pure animals. We don't have help," the Rev. Issac Clark, 68, said outside the New Orleans Convention Center.

Politicans - I say a pox on them all.

And then there is the God factor. I'm notone of those who go into the "God is punishing us for our wickedness" kind of talk. New Orleans, after all, is hardly the most wicked place on Earth. But it does raise the question of "Why would a merciful God let innocent people suffer?". The eternal question. Sometimes when I think about it too hard I find myself becoming a Deist and thinking that having created the world, the Supreme Being no longer takes much of an interest in us. But most of the time I think just that God doesn't give us more than we could handle. Wars, Communism, Nazisim, gulags and death camps? All the work of man. Plague, disease and famine? If we spent half as much money on research and medical aid that we do on weapons of war, maybe we could discover cures. Not to mention the fact that many of the world's industrial nations (US, UK, France) actually pay farmers NOT to grow food. And Katrina? There was plenty of warning, plenty of time. We just did nothing. How is that God's fault? It seems humanity in general and we Americans in particular never pay much give credence to anything until it actually happens. Terrorist attacks? How much attention was paid till 9/11? Hurricane Katrina? How many people just thought they could ride out the storm? It makes me wonder what the people who build homes and businesses on the San Andreas Fault are thinking?

Finally, Trée has brought up Aaron Neville's performance of Louisiana 1927 and how moving it is. I agree. I heard it on EWTN and it moved me like few songs rarely do. I encourage everyone to listen to it here: Louisiana 1927 mp3 (link via IckMusic, an excellent music blog). Listen to the song, close your eyes, and remember the carnage and destruction, the hope and the faith and please pray. Pray for Louisiana. Pray for the Gulf Coast. Pray for everybody.

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