New Orleans Storm Politics

September 2, 2008

You will have to excuse this entry being political in nature. As you know, I do not use this blog as a space to voice opinion about current events, but there is a current event that I just could not keep my fingers away from – the advent of New Orleans Storm Politics.

After Hurricane Katrina, those in “leadership” decided to point fingers at everyone but themselves – except the federal government which actually admitted that it made mistakes in the wake of Katrina – but Mayor Nagin and former Governor Blanco pointed all fingers at the federal government while they did nothing. So after that debacle, as Gustav bore down with incredible strength, everyone in government at all levels got ready – which is a good thing. Other good things about Gustav include: 1) when it hit, it was drastically smaller and less destructive than originally expected 2) It didn’t hit New Orleans directly, 3) The improvements to the levee system prevented horrendous flooding 4) Only 10,000 residents remained at their own risk. These are all good things. Vast improvements actually. For once, folks learned a lesson from history (well, all but 10,000 of them).

However, what is not a good thing is the new age of storm politics which Gustav brought about. Both presidential candidates made a big deal about what they are doing or would do to help those in New Orleans affected. The RNC has made a center for volunteers to send packages to the affected area. Had Gustav hit during the DNC, they would’ve reacted in the same manner. Not that organizing care packages is a bad thing, but where was all this goodwill when Fay hit Florida 4 times (the most EVER in US history) and killed 14 people and left flooding throughout Florida? Where was the national media coverage and goodwill from the American people? What about Hurricane Dolly, the most damaging storm in Texas since Rita? Does Storm Politics only pertain to New Orleans? Has Katrina now turned into a ridiculous political football? (For my slower readers, that was rhetorical).

Look, I understand that Katrina was the deadliest storm in US history and one of the most damaging. Those areas of the country need our help. Fay and Dolly are dwarfs in comparison to Katrina. I understand that, but the amount of damage is not the point. I’m not cold hearted, but why do we just care about storms headed for New Orleans?

Could it be that the government only gets involved in New Orleans because the other hurricane regions of the country are inhabited by people who actually understand how to care for themselves? People who know how to prepare for a storm? People who know how to weather a storm? People who take personal initiative in their own life to keep themselves safe? The areas of Mississippi hit by Katrina were damaged far worse than New Orleans, yet those areas are much further along in rebuilding than New Orleans, despite the fact that the federal government has made $114 billion dollars available for rebuilding not to mention the other amounts of money made available by private corporations and the goodwill of donations by other Americans.

It is ridiculous that only one area of the country gets the immense national attention and goodwill of the country. It is asinine that our political landscape has become such that hurricanes in New Orleans are now a matter of politics instead a matter of helping people. But what I find even more asinine is that when government actually prepared people and when people from around the country pitched in pre-storm to help with shelters, food, medical care and are now working post-storm, and when people are still giving and working hard in New Orleans to help it recover, you get some of New Orleans residents sharing their opinions,

“People are desperate. They don’t know if they are going to have a place to go home to,” said Emma McClure, 37, who was at the shelter with her three children, three sisters and some 20 nephews. “They had three years to plan this and now I wish I had stayed in the city like I did during Katrina.”

Why, so you can sit on your roof again? Yeah, that’s logical. What more do you want us to do for you? Wipe your butt?

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