Ignoring Disaster

When I wrote my last post about Katrina, I believed that the situation in New Orleans had sunk as low as it would, but I was very wrong. I knew that people had died and the city itself was devastated, but I never thought that the disaster response would be this bungled. It’s insane that dozens—if not hundreds or thousands—of people were dying of dehydration and starvation in front of American television cameras in America. In a developing nation, a nightmare of this magnitude with an inept response would still be tragic, but not surprising.

The Blame Game shifts focus away from the people to the numbers: five days without food and water, a million survivors displaced, thousands dead, two-hundred billion dollars to rebuild. Why did it happen? Who should be blamed? It doesn’t make a difference for those who suffer or those who died. But it’s important to “Make Sure It Never Happens Again.”

Tragedies of Katrina’s magnitude rarely result from one person’s actions; they’re systemic products and it’s criminal. Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans’ levees’ failures were not unimaginable events. An excellent National Geographic article clearly describes the events of the past two weeks in October 2004! It’s chilling to read history when it was predicted with crystal-clear precision a year ago. Really, I’m begging you to read it. Terrorists and tornadoes command the element of surprise, but New Orleans was declared a Federal State of Emergency the day before Katrina struck.

So when our president says that the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans was unthinkable, “he’s either lying, grossly misinformed, or thinks the American people are all idiots” (thanks, jb). The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans was foreseeable and preventable; it’s criminal that our leaders did not foresee or prevent it from happening.