This week marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, an anniversary we’d be wise to commemorate. If history is all about lessons learned, then the complete breakdown of local, state, and federal government – the complete inability of the world’s wealthiest nation to rescue its own citizens in a disaster that had been well anticipated – should provide us with the best possible classroom for future change.
Two years later, has anything substantial changed? Or are we back to where we started, with nothing but a wrecked coast and a few thousand displaced lives to show for it?
First, let’s remember where we’re coming from:
There are so many people online whose lives were touched by Katrina, and it’s worth checking them out. Last year at dailykos, wmtriallawyer started a Katrina blog project that allowed a lot of people to discuss the ways they were affected. There’s also no shortage of survivor stories here, as well as general commentary and a useful timeline of events.
I was away at grad school when Katrina hit land, and all in all I was extremely fortunate. There was plenty of loss of property, and so many memories that can never be regained, but no close relatives or friends died.
Two years later:
– My parents and all three of my surviving grandparents have relocated out of state. Other family members have relocated within the state, and only three or four have rebuilt in the same place;
– Not one of my friends has moved back into the same house; only a small handful are even staying in the city;
– My brother was bounced from college to college, his departments closed, and his records lost or misplaced.
As I said, we were extremely extremely lucky. Two of my grandparents didn’t want to evacuate: had we let them decide, they’d have joined the list of dead when the floodwaters topped their roof in Chalmette.
Multiply this kind of disorientation by thousands, throw in plenty of lost friends and family members, and it should be no surprise that, while there has been improvement all along the Gulf Coast, the situation is still much slower and in more need of attention than you’d expect given the rare news coverage.
A handful of dailykos diarists have refused to let this story sink. Ana Maria writes constantly about the state of the Coast and the twisted politics of FEMA. Transplanted Texan has published a bunch of diaries here, and also blogs about Katrina recovery at his own site. Nightprowlkitty bangs the NOLA drum regularly. Crashing Vor has followed the broken bureaucracy as it’s found time to screw over local homeowners who want to rebuild. And there is no shortage of bloggers from the Gulf Coast who write regularly about their experiences there.
Yearlykos had an interesting but poorly-attended panel on assessing the situation post-K, particularly in New Orleans. The themes were what you’d expect: twisted politics, fraud, race and class. lasix 12.5mg Plus ça change…
So this week, please take some time to remember that there are places down South that would still appreciate the extra attention. We have a Federal Government that screwed up royally and still hasn’t found time to fix its broken arms. We have state and local governments that proved (and continue to prove) themselves incompetent, and they could use the extra push to do the right thing – fixing levees, cleaning out corruption, and taking control of the goddamned situation.
Things ARE getting better. But that’s a relative statement, and you can still drive through abandoned, untouched chunks of St. Bernard Parish and wonder that this sort of thing happens in this country.