Katrina and Sandy.
I wasn’t going to write about it, this is one of those topics that hit hard for me and make it difficult for me to do shit like string together coherent sentences.
My initial reaction to what I’ve been hearing and seeing is fuck you, but constant reader you don’t log in to hear fuck you all of the time. Some of the time sure but not all of the time.
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States of America, on August 29, 2005 at 8:00 a.m.
It was almost a decade ago. It was a category 3 storm in an area that is used to getting hit by storms ( or at least as used to it as a person can get when the heavens vomit tons of water on your town ). It hit New Orleans, which is a town that is below sea level. The median income of households in Orleans Parrish is $37,000 per year. Almost 25% of Orleans Parrish lives under the federal poverty level) [http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22/22071.html]. Almost 60% of the people of Orleans Parrish identify as Black. [http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22/22071.html].
These are the photos that remind you of the devastation that New Orleans lived through, and is still living through, as the 9th Ward still attempts to re-build:
Tell me again, tell me one more time, real loud and real clear that what you saw in 2005 compares to what you see right here, right now, as the East Coast – specifically New Jersey and New York – struggle to repair themselves from Hurricane Sandy.
No loss of life is acceptable I want to be clear about that.
What I also want to be clear about, is that while comparisons of Sandy and Katrina will happen, they do not compare.
Staten Island New York, the area that had the most loss of life post Sandy, and where the media steps in to say there is the most suffering, is NO New Orleans Parrish.
The median household income for Staten Island is $71,000. 11% of the population identify as Black. 10% live below the poverty level. [http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/36085.html]
These are your images from Sandy:
The images alone tell the story but I am going to elaborate.
Because apparently I have to, because apparently there are those who do not understand that what we witnessed in shock and horror in the aftermath of Katrina was enabled by inept leadership, desperation, and mismanagement in ways one might not have thought were humanly possible until well you saw it with your own eyes.
Post Katrina, as the waters rose and walls designed to contain the water collapsed:
- 275,000 homes were lost
- 1,836 people lost their lives
Billions of dollars in damages were accounted for, and recovery is still happening.
We are not even a week out of Sandy, and the images we see are those who yes lost property, in some cases yes lost life.
The people of Staten Island were not shuffled off to the Superdome because they had no money to evacuate and then left for days to essentially fend for themselves as the water and food ran out, the lights went off, people died around them, and the Director of FEMA sat with his thumb up his ass unable to understand that what was happening was unprecedented, and there are no words in the English language to explain how beyond critical the situation got within HOURS.
The people of Staten Island suffer from Mayor Bloomberg being, well Mayor Bloomberg. The people of Staten Island suffer from gas being rationed.
The people of New Orleans suffered from the incompetence of Mike Brown as reflected in pages upon pages of emails released well after the Katrina waters receded [http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2005/images/11/03/brown.emails.pdf]
Suffering should be avoided at all costs when possible. Yet the magnitude of suffering that the people of New Orleans endured is beyond the amount of suffering the people of Staten Island can imagine.
The response of the government post Katrina and post Sandy are 180 degrees apart. Reactive (and poorly at that) and proactive.
Loss of life was limited because of evacuation plans, and swift response. While yes some people might not be able to sit in their living room because their boat now rests in it, but they are alive to weep about it.
Yes in part Staten Island lives on because of the lessons of Katrina, but its is beyond understanding that you HAVE to evacuate and you HAVE to have resources in place and you HAVE to have FEMA.
It is about leadership that understands and respects humanity and has the compassion to do all within their power to preserve humanity.
The people of Staten Island were treated like PEOPLE. That was a luxury not afforded to the people of New Orleans in 2005.
As you stand and applaud how civilized the people of Staten Island are, remember that the people of New Orleans were never given the opportunity to show their civility in the same fashion.