Monday, September 05, 2005

Why, America, WHY?

I am weeping for my country right now

America, why? Why?

Why did three babies in the Superdome have to die from heat exhaustion waiting to be evacuated? Why did a man’s mother have to
die in a nursing home, pleading for help from her son for five days until she drowned to death Friday night?

Why are Africans wondering what the hell happened
with the post-Katrina disaster?

Why? I want answers. I work for a charity. Yeah, we’re sending help. We’ve got the trucks delivering food, water, other aid. Yeah, we’re praying.

Prayers aren’t enough. I want answers.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew left south Dade looking like a nuclear explosion. I saw Katie Hale, then director of emergency operations for Dade County, scream on television that she needed the federal troops.

This week, I heard New Orleans mayor do the same thing. Only difference is, the victims of Andrew weren’t trapped in homes and buildings surrounded by rising water, waiting and praying for help.

Help that arrived far too late. Hurricane hit one week ago today. Five days later… the federal troops arrived.

Why wasn’t there a law created AFTER Andrew that sent in federal help IMMEDIATELY after such a disaster? Why? If there’s a law that says the federal government can’t intervene unless asked, because then it is martial law, then who gives a crap? SEND THEM IN. Hello people? There’s going to be lawlessness, shootings, you name it. It’s not rocket science.

Better to send in the military, haul these people’s asses the hell out of there and face criticism later than to let them die. I can’t imagine the horror of that poor woman in the nursing home, waiting and waiting, pleading with her helpless son to get her out of there. And then watching the flood waters rise and rise…and drowning…

And what is it with this blaming the victim crap I keep reading? "Those people in New Orleans should have evacuated. They knew better." Excuse me. If you had NO car, NO money, NO real way of getting out, what would you do?

And the mayor of N.O. himself… he’s not blameless in this. WHY did he issue a mandatory evacuation on SUNDAY when the hurricane was due to HIT MONDAY? Why didn’t he do it on Saturday? Saturday was only a voluntary evacuation. Let me tell you from living in an area where hurricanes hit down here in Florida, there is a BIG difference between a mandatory and a voluntary evacuation. Voluntary you think, "Ok, it's not going to be that bad. Maybe I'll board up."

Mandatory is, "Oh crap, they are serious!"

Did he really think it wasn’t going to be that bad? Why didn't he call in for help for buses to evacuate the poor and marginalized before the hurricane hit?

Let’s do the math… 12 foot levee facing 15-20 foot storm surge… equals…

You’re SOL.

I've heard the stories, how the federal funding for building the levees for New Orleans got cut. Or how this and that and this and that. I’m disgusted with the politicians saying blah blah blah. I’m disgusted with the finger pointing, the photo ops, the horror stories… and most of all…

I’m sick because this should not have happened. They knew what could happen to New Orleans. They knew those levees would not have held. They knew after Hurricane Andrew that local and state governments simply cannot handle the overwhelming magnitude of a catastrophic hurricane.

Why wasn’t a plan formed? Haul in the troops immediately after a hurricane to restore order. The police can’t do it (many are dead). Call it martial law. Who cares if it means lives are saved?

I’m weeping and disgusted because I work for a charity and the disaster I saw a year ago in Haiti, after 2,000 died from flooding from Hurricane Jeanne, is going to be nothing compared to this. Because I live in the greatest country in the world, and I love my country and people should not have died waiting and praying for help that arrived too late.

I’m sick of ALL politicians, Republicans and Democrats. I have a solution. Build a 12 foot levee around Washington, D.C. Get the Red Cross out of there (their base is in D.C.) and other humanitarian organizations. Then pump water slowly and steadily into Washington. See what happens. Let them call out on the phones, pleading for help.

Let’s see how fast the military can be mobilized then.

It’s too late for the victims of Katrina now. They died, waiting. It should never have happened. Tomorrow I leave for Haiti. I know people are going to look at me, an American, and ask the same question I’m asking myself.

Why, America? Why?


Mary Stella said...

I get so angry that if I spend too much time thinking about our federal government's delay in sending in help my brain threatens to explode.

Jo Ann said...

Blaming the victim is the way America officially treated the poor before LBJ's War on Poverty. It seems we've come full circle.