Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Grim Anniversary

Today, August 29th, marks the day that one of the worst storms in American history hit the Gulf Coast. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina killed 1,800 people and destroyed a region, but its effects were greater than its visceral impact. It exposed a leadership mired with cronyism and persons filling positions for which they were grossly unqualified. It exposed a president who was unable to lead a country through a humanitarian disaster. While 9/11 was a tragedy, it was isolate to the World Trade Center and the fortunate ones who survived only lost their jobs not their entire livelihoods. More importantly, Katrina reminded us of how fragile the human experience can be and how we need to watch out for one another.

After the national outcry that has occurred due to the Bush administration's mishandling, one would think that things had gotten better in the region. Two years later, many of the same problems that existed then still exist now. The levees that busted and led to the flooding of New Orleans are still exactly that: busted. They have had superficial repairs done, but they will still fall in a hurricane. The 9th Ward is still ashambles. There are refugees from New Orleans who are still living in trailer parks who have no chance of moving into a home. And, to add to it all, the federal money still has not come to help rebuild the city. New Orleans is on the recovery, but being on the road to recovery and recovering are two very different things. With a murder rate that rivals traditional murder capitols like Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, New Orleans is a place of lawlessness. Towns like Waveland, home of an important SNCC meeting that led to the creation of Black Power and Women's Rights within the Civil Rights movement, were wiped off the map. Even with this still the case, the money is nowhere to be seen.

I am not writing to gain sympathy for New Orleans. I've never even been there. My only connection is through a friend whose family lives in the city and was affected by the hurricane. I am only writing to remind you of what has happened in the gulf coast and what hasn't happened.