Saturday, September 03, 2005

katrina

Just like most of you, over the past few days I have been glued to the TV in horror, watching the events unfold down south. When I heard that Katrina as coming and New Orleans was evacuating, I registered the info but rather brushed it off. I had a friend who was living there about ten years ago and was unable to evacuate as ordered from another hurricane due to lack of funds, she had come out okay. Some of us even spoke to her on the phone mid-hurricane when she was afraid. It was hard to hear, but having 'experienced' some horror and damage I assumed Katrina would be of the same kind.

Then I heard about the levee. You all do realize that normally we observe hurricane damage on homes and people, but it is the failure of this one structure that caused the complete ruin of New Orleans. What is even worse was the fact that the New Orleans newspapers foretold this EXACT tragedy years ago. Levee is getting old; structurally losing its integrity, one strong hurricane and this city that is below sea level will be obliterated. Okay. Thing is, the article did not stop there, it went on to talk about the inability to effectively evacuate, the lack of food and water at the Superdome, problems with power and sewage, and the health hazards of the water flooding the city. My god how can we be a super power and not protect our own.

As the week unfolded, we saw how ugly the citizens of our own country can be. Looting, random crimes, people shooting at police and rescue workers. Everything that could go wrong did, New Orleans became a war zone filled with sick, dying, hungry, and desperate people.

In a weird way we were spoiled by 9/11, and even the blackout. I was here in NYC, on the streets with everyone, walking home each day. Order prevailed. I remember early in the day of the blackout thinking to myself to be wary because I was sure looting was to come, as the area where I lived was ripe for that kind of crime.

No such thing happened. I stayed safe, sheltered, fed, watered, and generally unthreatened. Of course after 9/11 I was in shock and horror, but I did not fear my safety from my neighbor. We banded together, we became one proud strong city, one proud strong nation.

Why has New York stayed so safe and New Orleans such a war zone? Some people are blaming Bush, saying that our forces and resources are overseas, draining our strength. Some people are pulling the race card. I agree that these two things helped the situation go from bad to worse, but the main reasons are probably these two things:

1) The rich and the powerful had fled New Orleans. People who lead, who catalyze change and organize people tend to have a modicum of money and influence, and ran for the hills. NYC was caught by surprise and with everyone in town, not to mention they have a lot more of the leadership types by ratio to the rest of the country anyway. And no way no how were they going to allow themselves and their families to be in danger, thus mobilized to shut down any potential problems.

2) There is just more money in NYC. A whole lot more. This is a capitalistic country, and money talks, at the expense of human life.

Everyone seems overwhelmed with the events that have passed. I read a lot of blogs, this is something that none of us can ignore and all of us want to help with. As little as we can do, to be utterly cliché every little bit counts. Here is a great jumping off point.

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