Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Back from vacation and wishing I was still gone

I really want to talk about how much fun I had on vacation, but the truth is I feel guilty for even going somewhere in the first place, especially when the chaos and confusion in the Gulf was still ongoing. But we went anyway, if nothing else than to escape the depressing and heart wrenching images on the TV and internet. So I will post about vacation another day.

What I’d like to post about now is how disappointed I am in my government over how this entire Katrina situation has been handled. I have experienced natural disaster first-hand and my experience was NOTHING like what the good people of New Orleans and Mississippi are enduring. When the tornado hit our neighborhood in 1999 it was around 7:00pm. By the next morning (LESS THAN 12 HOURS LATER), National Guardsmen were stationed at every entrance into every ruined neighborhood (and with more than 10,000 homes damaged, that’s a LOT of neighborhoods) and FEMA was on-site and doing a pretty good job coordinating search and rescue efforts. Within two days we were allowed to return to our homes and try to salvage what we could, and they allowed the Red Cross to camp out on our street and cook meals for people who had just lost everything. They also let church groups and charities into the neighborhood who passed out tons of bottled water and food items and work gloves and sunscreen. There was a real sense of hope. So WTF happened in New Orleans and Mississippi?

Now granted, when our disaster happened, it was a different time and under completely different circumstances than the people in the Gulf. We don’t live below sea level or on the coast and we didn’t have all the flooding a hurricane usually brings with people trapped on their rooftops waiting for rescue. And obviously our disaster was on a much smaller scale than the Gulf's. But we were under the Clinton administration, and regardless of anyone’s personal political preferences, he at least had the decency to be concerned about his fellow man in times of crisis. We were also not at war over ficticious WMD's so there was no shortage of National Guard soldiers. We were not experiencing a RECORD DEFICIT so there was no shortage of funding for FEMA, who it is also worth noting, was not under any “Homeland Security” department. FEMA actually seemed to care about us and they responded to our disaster swiftly and coordinated efforts between the county and city governments with ease. You didn’t read in the paper or hear on TV about any squabbling over jurisdiction. The situation was handled and it was handled well, and I am eternally grateful to everyone who was involved. I can only imagine how betrayed the people of New Orleans and Mississippi must feel right now. It makes me angry when I read how FEMA denied the Red Cross access to those still in New Orleans because they wanted to encourage people to leave. How many lives did that cost? In fact, it seems like FEMA denied a lot of resources that could have saved lives. Want to see? Go HERE and check out the links under #2 FEMA. The rest of the page is worth a read as well.

I know all this negatively isn’t helping anything and we need to get past the blame and finger-pointing, but damnit, I’m too angry to do that! I read on CNN today where Bush is saying that he takes responsibility for the government’s failure in how the Katrina disaster has been handled. That’s great – he absolutely should, but it’s a little too late. “Bush said he wants to know what went right and what went wrong so that he can determine whether the United States is prepared for another storm, or an attack.” He’s so far out of the loop that he doesn’t even know what went wrong? Pick up a freaking newspaper or watch the news on TV! You’re supposed to be the leader of this country, for Christ’s sake. Again, regardless of anyone’s personal political affiliation, no one can argue that Bush’s reaction to this entire tragedy has been anything but grossly insensitive*. He was playing golf, eating cake, and doing photo-ops the day after the hurricane came ashore. The levee had just broken, water was rising in New Orleans, and people were stranded on their rooftops, and he was doing happy photo-ops in El Mirage, AZ. He didn’t even PRETEND to be concerned until over two weeks later. Two weeks, people! Two weeks is life or death to those who are without food or water and are sitting waiting for help. Something HAS to be done. We have 3 more years of this crap and God help us if another disaster strikes because we certainly won’t be able to count on our government.

*Edited to add THIS LINK that shows exactly how insensitive he is.


Blogger KatyaR said...

Wow, I'm so proud--my little girl's turning into a real politico! :<)))

You put it better than I ever could.

12:26 PM  

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