Katrina: The Screw-Up That Keeps Getting More Screwed Up

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Hurricane Katrina, the overplayed pop song of natural disasters, was the most devastating bitch-slap ever delivered to America. From personal experience (I live here) the region is not even close to recovering. Why is that? Racists think it's black people. Other racists think it's white people. Municipal politicians blame state politicians. State politicians blame federal politicians. Federal politicians blame black people (just kidding--they blame the state and municipal politicians, of course). It's not any of that--that is a distraction. I'll boil it down for you in one word--money. Here's some more: moolah, greenbacks, cheddar, dough, cash, a wad, bread, and that sign you make when you rub your index finger and thumb together. The Gulf Coast is broke. We need cash from any and all sources. Seeing the great need for recovery in this culturally rich region, the federal government has taken the important step of turning down, wasting, or just ignoring over $800 million in aid. Say what?

Scores of countries all over the world offered aid, supplies, and oil (to be sold for cash) to the tune of $854 million dollars. Some of the offers were turned down. Some still remain caught up in red tape, twenty months after Katrina touched down. Some have since been withdrawn or redirected to private organizations. Some cases are even worse--Italy took the step of shipping us medical supplies and medicine, but the government was so unprepared to handle shipments like these that the entire Italian contribution spoiled in the elements and eventually had to be destroyed. Regarding the incident, a State Department official wrote in a memo,
Tell them we blew it[...] The flip side is just to dispose of it and not come clean. I could be persuaded.
Well done. Two Greek cruise ships offered by that government for hospitals or hotels were turned down and instead the U.S. government spent $249 million on some Carnival cruise ships for the same purpose. While residents in New Orleans sat surrounded by rising waters, many offers from allies came in offering search-and-rescue teams and troops. Our government's response was a letter of thanks and a promise to keep the offer on hand.



Just Me
Posted by Okie from Tulsa on 2007-05-10 17:09:50
If you go back to the great depression, the central plains suffered greatly. And if I am recalling history correctly those in Oklahoma didn't just sit around and wait for FEMA to bring them water and and a trailer, they left. My father was born in California because my grandfather couldn't find work in Oklahoma so he left, picked grapes and made due in a hell of a situation. At what point can we expect people to solve their own problems and quit waiting for Govenment Aide to come rescue them?
Not Just You
Posted by wizeGurl on 2007-05-10 21:51:21
You're right. The government didn't help the Okies. There was no FEMA (wasn't one until the 70's), and no understanding that the government would help in a crisis. They didn't do much to help Louisiana during/after the 1927 flood, either.

But guess what? The government decided that one way to help provide for the safety and security of its citizens was to help people when they were hit with big disasters. Now, when a tornado wipes out a town in Kansas, those people don't have to start over from scratch with no help. When terrorists blow up a building in NYC, the victims get aid, and the city gets help to rebuild. (Not what it was promised, but hey, at least they got some of it.) When an earthquake hits California, or the next New Madrid earthquake hits the midwest, or a there's a huge volcanic eruption under Yellowstone, or a hurricane hits any of the coastal states, or there's a huge ice storm in the north...local and state governments have a standing promise that they will get help.

Now, if you think people should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, like your grandparents, vote for the politicians who promise it, and who tell the people plainly that they won't get any help if something bad happens. But dammit, don't tell people you'll help them in a disaster, and then just NOT. Or NOT ENOUGH. And sure as shit don't refuse help offered by other countries on the behalf of the people affected. I'll bet plenty of people on rooftops would have been pleased to have been pulled off a day or two earlier by the Mexicans, Germans, Swiss, Italians, Canadians, you name it...but no, our government obviously had everything perfectly under control. Right? And those people on the roofs, who had been told they were protected by government-built levees, well, that's what they get for believing that their taxes actually went towards keeping them safe, as promised. Remember that when your house catches fire, and the fire department doesn't show up. Because hey, they didn't have fire departments in rural Oklahoma in the 30's....
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-05-11 05:43:43
Posted by ueberbill on 2007-05-11 15:38:01
Boo-yah indeed. This isn't news to which the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" argument even applies. I'm not talking about the U.S. government's pathetic response to Katrina and Rita (I didn't hear anyone telling New Yorkers to quit their bitchin' after 9-11, and that was nowhere near as destructive). This isn't about our government's money. This is money and supplies that were already supplied- they existed. The cash was there. The cruise ships were en route. But the State Department f'ed it up and this stuff was lost or wasted.
damn straight
Posted by aaa on 2007-05-15 00:42:00
Hey mister "bootstraps"---figure out for me how to get my government to refund all of the tax money I've ever paid in, and I'll be happy to pack up and go to California to start over on my own. Hell, I'll even pick grapes the rest of my life...really! Personally, I'm not one to actually expect my government to bail me out; however, is it reasonable that the goverment can take a third of my income, hold the Patriot Act over my head, draft my son into a war nobody believes in, etc.....and if I want something in return, you tell me I'm whining? I've held up my end of the bargain---the government has not.


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