03 September 2005

Katrina

I've been getting a rather limited view about what has been going on in New Orleans because I haven't had internet access and only have CNN and Fox News, so I don't know what others are saying, but I have been disgusted by the criticism leveled against the federal government the last few days. I cannot understand why the level of government and society farthest removed from this disaster is taking most of the blame.

The city of New Orleans has always known that a disaster like this was possible, yet the levees were only designed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane. Even with that deficiency, there clearly was no plan in place to rescue what they knew could be up to 200,000 people stranded in a flooded city. Certainly federal aid would have been part of a plan, but a plan itself would have been nice. And that plan needed to include the possibility that help would have to be brought in from far away since Katrina was so devastating to around surrounding New Orleans.

I've also been very concerned about a lack of preparation on an individual and family level. People know this hurricane was coming and that flooding like this was very likely. A simple 72-hour kit would have made all the difference. Yes, many of these people didn't have much money before the hurricane, but a backpack filled with 3 days of food and water wouldn't have broken the bank for most of these people. Not having a few days worth of food was particularly shortsighted when a hurricane is bearing down!

It is also interesting to note the emergency preparedness people say you need 3 days of food and water in an emergency because you can reasonably expect it to take 3 days for help to get to you. That sounds about right in this disaster. It took weeks to get to some people in the tsunami. Rich nations are not protected from huge disasters. Great wealth cannot make trucks go faster.

I have been appalled at the crime going on in the city. The looting is awful, but rapes and murders? It's terrible to hear about people acting that way. I'm sure that everyone hopes those people don't end up being housed in their town.

In the end, we all have lessons to be learned. There's not a lot I can do about the government's level of preparation for a major disaster, but at least I can make sure my family is aware of specific risks in my town. We can get a 72-hour kit, if not more food and water stored. We can have a plan of what we will do and where we might go if we are separated. And we will heed warnings, both from the weather and the government.

7 comments:

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Lisa M. said...

Anonymous my behind. *Rolling eyes*

Amira~

Thank you for the tales thus far. We are excited for you. Any fruits that we would not be familiar with? Oh be prepared for my questions because I have tons of them.

I found in Africa the same thing, the house we had came with a cook and grounds keeper. I thought that SO bizarre. I, at first explained that I did not need their services, but eventually I finally figured out, the work is how they payed their "rent" ( a shack behind the house) and they didn't feel like they could stay with out working, as well as tips, were there only real source of income. Plus it hurt their feelings.

I have SO much to learn.

Thank you for the brief glimpes.

Keep safe.

As far as Katrina, it is AWFUL. I can't even comprehend. They have once again haulted evacuation because of the city being so unsafe.

WE have donated throught LDS humanitarian center. We, here in my ward have had impromtu service meetings where we have put together hygiene kits,and gathered flats of bottled water. Some of which they said a large cargo plane took off from Salt Lake yesterday. Even here in Utah, they are planning on thousands of evacuees coming here.

Keep safe, Keep your chin up. Ah, for the experience you are having !

Love,
Lis

Rachel said...

Here are some links to stories which may explain why many Americans are angry with the federal government:

One from the Times

One from the Sun-Sentinel

One from the Post

One from E&P

and one from Salon.

Regardless of whether you agree with these frustrations, I'd tend to argue that there's nothing wrong with criticizing one's government -- indeed, that the ability to critique the government is a clear sign that public discourse in America is healthy and thriving... :-)

Amira said...

I don't mind people criticizing the government. There's plenty there to complain about. :) But I'm just concerned about all the criticism going on *right now* and how it is so focused on the feds. After this is all done, there will be plenty of blame to be taken by the feds, but there are other levels that should take blame too.

I honestly think a lot of these problems are simply a result of a slow and cumbersome government on all levels and a sorry lack of planning. Living in New Orleans has always been a risk.

So complain away. :)

Dy said...

Amira, I think you wrote eloquently and succinctly about one of the great divisions in America that's highlighted right now by the situation. Who is ultimately responsible and to what extent? We agree with you wholeheartedly, and I hope (although not with much belief that it'll happen) that when tempers calm a bit, people will be willing to discuss Social Conditioning and how it hasn't helped people prepare to help themselves and one another, or to prepare for emergencies, or to think toward the future. It needs to be addressed, but I don't know that it will be.

In the meantime, there are heartwarming stories. The Universities here in AL have opened up to students and are helping out, there is a job fair for evacuees tomorrow, and the Red Cross is actually letting people bring homebaked goods in to the shelters (normally they're turned away and can only bring non-perishables, so the change is nice for families to have home-cooked foods to share together). There is a lot of good happening, and hearts and homes are open. We just don't hear about it on the news as often. :-(

Blessings,
Dy

Amira said...

Thanks Dy. It's nice to hear good stories. You have to dig to find them right now.

I especially like that they are allowing homemade food. It's always been hard for me to donate food because I don't have a lot of non-perishable stuff (besides bags of wheat and such, and they don't want that) so I'm glad they're easing up on some of the rules.

I think it will be interesting over the next few months and years to see what changes are made and if they really will be useful.

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