Hurricane Katrina: On The Cinco

I wrote a post about Hurricane Ike on the one year annviversary of it making landfall.   That was a year ago.  In it, I applauded my fellow residents of Southeast Texas for their resiliency.  You know, that “we can do it ourselves” Texas moxie that we have because we recovered by ourselves.   I’m proud of that fact.   True, parts of downtown Houston and its poorest neighborhoods didn’t flood.  With the inctricate system of bayous around downtown, they could have, but what happened in New Orleans couldn’t and wouldn’t have happened here for a myriad of reasons.   

In my post, I specifically compared and contrasted the behavior of post storm New Orleans with that of post storm Galveston/Houston/Bolivar Penninsula.

I lauded this region for the way it handled itself.   You can read it here, if you’d like.

But not everyone agreed with what I wrote.   One person in particular disliked it immensely. That’s fine.   It’s your perogative to opine, especially about something as politically and culturally polarizing as Katrina was and is.

That’s how my post hit Randy.  I thought it best  to repost this person’s thoughts on my piece and also my rebuttal to his/her comments.    Randy’s thoughts are italicized; my response is enboldened.

Before you read any further, I want to convey something and I mean this sincerely.   I have on many occasions, injured myself while climbing down off my ‘high horse”.  I’m not always right and just because I can sometimes see the proverbial forest for the trees from my distinct vantage point, well, that rarely results in a accruing a huge fan base.   That’s OK.  

When I’m wrong, I’ll admit I am and I do so willingly…..and when others are woefully errant, I’ll go to great lengths to admit they are, as well.  

And on this, the fifth anniversary of Katrina, they’re still wrong.

I think we would do well to refrain from the comparitive judjement you engage in when compairing the plight of katrina victims to that of Ike victims. Ill give you some comparisons if you really want them. The victims of Katrina were not the citi planers of a century or more ago. They were not responsible for the poor planing that left a city in ruin. They were merely residents of that city who lost everything. when the flood waters came to their city they stayed for months destroying everything. Bolivar residents on the other hand had to know the risks associated with living near the waterfront on the gulf coast. Most homes on bolivar are owned by reasonably wealthy persons who have pretty long boot straps to pull themselves up by. I’m glad you and yours are resiliant, but quit deminishing others because they arn’t as resiliant. Truth is they dont have the resorce’s that you do. They probanbly didn’t have all the advantages you had growing up either. They probable had a better chance of winning the lottery than ever owning a beach home. The residents of bolivar had the good fortune to have the coast guard at the ready the day before the storm hit and imidiatly after rescuing people. Katrina victims were trapped for days with out adaquit food or water.

The ike flood waters came and went in a few days and then the cleanup and rebuilding could start as it did. Most Katrina victims homes were under water for a month or more and they cant rebuild even if they wanted to. As for your harrowing storie I can simpathize but I have to also say, you should have known better. You were warned and never should have stayed on bolivar risking your life and that of your children. Sorry if you find me a little harsh but I’m really tired of people trying to score political points at the expense of Katrina victims. I’v spent a lot of time on bolivar and I’m saddened by the devastation, but I also realize it is a resort comunity and many of the homes are 2ond “Vacation” homes. YOU MIGHT WANT TO REBUILD A LITTLE HIGHER UP AND A LITTLE STRONGER BECAUSE ANOTHER HURRICANE WILL COME AND WE WILL ALL PROBABLE BE A LITTLE LESS SYMPATHATIC NEXT TIME.

Let’s get something straight, Randy–Katrina was by far more of a political storm than anything produced by nature.    I’ll try my best not to play political sides here, but I’ll be happy to break it down for you..at least, as I see it.  What happened in New Orleans was an abomination before, during and after that storm ever made landfall.

Tell me the blame game that was played from Nagin’s office up to the Oval office WASN’T politicized???  

Obviously, you’re entitled to your opinion and I will allow you to voice that here, but there has to be some accountability on the part of Katrina’s victims…especially those in New Orleans.  

“Victimization” is key in the preservation of a generational welfare state and those “left” to their own devices to fend for themselves in the Ninth Ward and elsewhere in and around New Orleans, were/are prime examples of  the behavior of those who’ve survived on the dole generation after generation.   I can’t blame all, but I can blame plenty and yes “blame” is  accurate and applicabl.   I’m talking about the people who live to be told what to do and when to do it.  I also lay some of the blame partisan politics.  These people were  “victimized” by politics as they have been all of their lives.   They’ve been forgotten about because their vote doesn’t apply to one party’s cause (the Republicans) or they’ve become convenient pawns by the other party which needs them to stay down and politically beholding because their vote is pivotal (the Democrats) .

The problem is that somehow, being poor has given people an excuse to live lives completely devoid of human decency and personal responsibility.   I don’t give a goddamn how much you have or don’t have. Self preservation is an innate instinct.   I’m sure there were those that had the innate need to flee in the hours before Katrina made landfall, but couldn’t. They are the ones who are , in my are in my opinion, the true victims here.   Not the ones who waited (just as they’ve lived their lives) to be told to jump, then they waited to be instructed as to how high.   

Is this harsh?   Perhaps, not all that more than your conveyance as you see it and like you, I too am tired of everyone in New Orleans getting a pity fueled head shake INSTEAD of accepting some of the responsibility where it belongs.   We don’t do that because it’s not considered politically correct to point fingers at anyone who isn’t white.  Sorry, but that’s the reality and that reality is crap.   

As for residents who were without food and water, well I’m sorry about that and I hate it that happened  Hate it like hell, but these are people who know the Gulf and the risks of living close to such a prolific hurricane generator.  When a Category 4 storm is churning in the open sea and making a beeline toward your state, you DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  Storms that produced false alarms or near misses in the past be damned.   People were told to prepare; told to buy food and water for at least seven days.  THAT’S STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE FOR EVERYONE living on the Gulf coast or 50 miles inland.   This is beaten into our consciousness even en utero.

Yes, the levees broke and the floodwaters kept people in harm’s way longer, but again, when you live in neighborhoods that butt up against the Ponchartrain and when you look up from the sidewalk and you see boats sailing above you and all that separates you from a watery death is what amounts to a sheet metal fence, dried mud and the grace of God, should anybody really be surprised the levees broke and so much of New Orleans, a city that on average is eight feet (or more in some places) below sea level, flooded as severely as it did?  

I watched video of people stranded on the bridge near the Superdome and the Morial Center.  I saw the news reports  of elderly people who died in their wheelchairs and were left on the sidewalk in the most undignified of ways, with a sheet separating them visually from a schocked and appalled world.   What else could be done?  ConsidMering the circumstances, nothing, but it was a hell of a way to die.    I saw panic in the eyes of countless mothers who sat their helpless as they cradled hot, thirsty children in their arms.   I saw shame in the eyes of the men there, able-bodied, but helpless to fix a horrific situation.  

Inside, the dome and elsewhere, conditions were deplorable.   There were deaths, murders…rapes.  When  conditions deteriorate so, do people and they resort to ferality.  OK, that’s sociology at work, but we’re not talking about all of this unfolding in Borneo or Amazonia circa 1450.   This was New Orleans 2005.    Who was in charge inside the Superdome?  Where were the bullhorns?  Where were police?  The sheriff?    Rent a cops?   Why weren’t plans made, then implemented in case the thousands inside the dome would have to stay longer?  Surely, that was a possibility?  Why didn’t someone/anyone take charge locally?  And considering New Orleans is situated where it is and that Katrina was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall, why didn’t anyone dare to think the unthinkable as ar as the levees were concerned???    And all of this in a town that can flood after a decent spring thunderstorm???

Oh yes, make no mistake: the life was post Katrina in downtown New Orleans, the Ninth Ward and elsewhere was horrible. The word “tragic” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  But I also think the things that lead these people there,  days after the storm made landfall are just as tragic.  

That’s what makes me just as angry. 

I still get angry that a seemingly cavalier Bush seemed to emulate Nero who, as the story goes, played the fiddle while Rome burned.   I get angry at Nagin and Blanco who have been the first to blame everyone else even when they themselves have blood on their hands.  Then again, can we really blame them?   They’re just doing what scads of “Louisiana lawmakers” have done before them.   City, parish and state officials in Louisiana have spent entire careers perfecting the fine art of graft, malfeasance and extreme corruption.  Sorry Louisiana, but historically ,your politicians leave much to be desired.

Is this fromwere this generational laissez-faire attitude stems?  I don’t know, but I do know that accountability and the insane lack of it, was an issue across the board in New Orleans.  I seem to remember a countless number of school busses that could’ve been used to evacuate.  There were so many New Orleanians who didn’t have transportation.  There was one photo of these busses released after Katrina made landfall–they were all submerged under 10 feet of water.  I remember hearing about Amtrak’s willingness to use trains to evacuate and that offer apparently fell on Nagin’s deaf ears.

Again, I don’t discount the abject horror that befell parts of New Orleans and yes, I pitied and still pity the poor people who didn’t need this to happen to them, but as a whole, I resent the situation for what it was, abdominal on more levels than one can count.

Nor am I going to discount the blight Ike created in Bolivar.  Just because some of those homes were “second homes”.   In your comment, it seems to me you’re missing the big picture.  Heartache is heartache.   A rich man weeps with just as much heartfelt emotion as a poor man.   And a poor man can be just as stoic and rife with integrity  ridden as his wealthy counter part.

You’re demonstrating reverse snobbery in this case, Randy. 

Katrina’s aftermath in the Ninth Ward was conveniently morphed into a story about ethnicity and socio-economic status.  But on the flip side, it was about underlying human traits;  dignity and self-respect;  self-preservation and the courage to act responsibly and in many cases, the lack thereof.   That the bulk of those who didn’t display these traits had more melanin in their skin was simply luck of the draw and the Planning Department in the City of New Orleans.   New Orleans’ municipal government from decades ago elected to place the economically strained Ninth Ward in the shadow of the levees….not the Bush administration.  

In closing, I disagree with you wholeheartedly on what true resiliency is and isn’t, my friend.   Resiliency stems from within–underneath the skin and its whiteness, its browness…its blackness.

Lastly, you didn’t read this post very well, because I never stated or even inferred I lived in Bolivar during Ike.  I don’t own a home there. I live in Houston and evacuated to the Hill Country before the storm hit.  In my post, I was merely conveying an amalgam of about five different stories of survival that I’d heard after the storm.   And yes, if you must know, I was just as angry as those crusty “BOI”s,  those “born on the island” who refused to leave in spite of some of the most foreboding warnings ever issued before a hurricane’s landfall. 

Even so, I’m going to ask you NOT to pick and choose who gets blamed and who gets absolved from blame because of life’s circumstances and a lack of access to resources.  By the same token, it’s extremely unfair to chide people who HAD resources and opportunities or took it upon themselves to find them, then take advantage of them.  

What it all boils down to Randy is this: people are responsible for themselves everywhere  in Gilchrist…in Dallas…in Scranton, PA…in Jupiter, Florida… in Brownsville, Texas.

And yes, even in the Ninth Ward. 

Here’ your reality check, Sweetie: it ain’t all a bed of roses for all people, all the time;  the well manicured state of the rose bed not withstanding.


LK

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2 comments

  1. I remember Wandy. Such a typical long winded, wordy, uninformed pretentious jackoff. He really thought he was giving you a scolding (with misspelled words). I love how you handed his ass back to him.
    .

    Actually, I was far more long winded and pretentious than anything Randy could have attempted to be. But you know what? I really don’t care. I think that what happened before, during and after Katrina was so horrible on every level. Eighteen hundred plus people didn’t have to die (and that’s the total number of deaths in several states and countries) with the bulk occuring in New Orleans. That’s the long and short of it and who’s to blame for those deaths?

    Look just about in every direction. There’s your answer.

    You can’t control nature, you have to learn to live with it and “living” with these storms invariably means evacuating…getting the hell out of their line of fire. That so many New Orleans residents didn’t or couldn’t leave and the people who vowed to serve them in City Hall and at the state level failed them, is appalling and yes, I say Nagin and Blanco are as much if, not more to blame than Bush, Cheney, Michael Brown and a God that would allow so much heartache and suffering on a downtrodden people, kept that way because it’s politically convenient……

    And beneficial.

    LK

  2. You hit the nail on the head. I think Nagin & Blanco were completely responsible for the tragedy that unfolded in NO. The local & state leaders are responsible for prior preparation & evacuation. FEMA comes in after the fact to lend federal assistance & cleanup. That setup has changed since Katrina when everyone tried to blame Bush. If you remember heordered an evacuation several days prior to the storms landfall. It is illegal for the Feds to come in with troops to force evacuation without the consent of the Governor of the state-as it should be.

    In Texas, civilians got out & started cleaning up right after Ike. They whipped out their chain saws & started opening up the roads & city streets. The same thing happened in Mississippi after Katrina.
    In NO, the residents went after more free crap & started looting their neighbors stuff. They have been trained for generations to take rather than give.

    One thing the government doesn’t hand out is free boot straps. Boot straps are found within & strengthened throughout your life by using them after personal trials & tribulations. If the government keeps rescuing you with handouts & free stuff, your boot straps shrivel up & fall off.

    LK-I’ll bet you have some pretty big boot straps.

    *

    Ah Herb..thank you so much.

    And for all you readers of my blog, Herb was my very first boyfriend. Yes, the original love of Laurie’s young life. Now, Herb wouldn’t know about my bootstraps–our love affair ended among Clearasil, pubescence and sixth grade, but as old friends and classmates who’ve reconnected in recent years, he’d probably have a fairly good idea as to how “tugged on” mine currently are.

    LK

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