washed away

After spending the last few days glued to the news coverage of the hurricane I thought I couldn’t possibly have any words to express my emotions.

I find I have a bunch of words after all.

I was here in 1989 for the Loma Prieta earthquake. It was really bad. But we are an organized country, we have structures and organizations and government programs in place; an emergency happens and we fix it. We pull together. I was back to work in two days.

New York 9/11 was obviously much worse and much more horrific, but it was still the strong and proud United States I know. We are knocked down and we fix it. Unfortunately then some of us use the pretense to go off and start an illegitimate war, but in terms of our national emergencies: we have the means and the infrastructure and the will to recover. This is what patriotism means to me: its not anthems and flag-waving and chest-thumping and slogans. It’s taking care of each other when things get bad.

I am just stunned at how quickly everything has fallen apart in New Orleans, at how little organization there is and continues to be to keep the city from dissolving into an apocalyptic terror zone. I am watching the news and just shaking my head in shock. Of course the magnitude of this disaster is far larger than anything we’ve seen in years, if not ever. But where is the organization? Where are the leaders? Where is the quick and confident and assured response I’ve come to expect in the face of a crisis?

It seems after four days that finally things are beginning to move, that help is finally starting to arrive. Four days is much too long. Much, much too long. We knew this was potentially the mother of all storms on Sunday. We knew the levees were breaking on Monday. Why did the president remain on vacation? And why is it taking greater than a day to get congress back in session to vote on relief funds when they came back on a sunday in a single afternoon for Terri Schiavo? Where was FEMA? Why has it taken so long to get the national guard in in any great numbers and the active military in at all? Oh wait, I know the answer to that last one — all the guard and the military have been drawn off to that illegitimate war. Right.

In the meantime I have a friend in Canada who says thousands of Canadian reserves are LINED UP on their bases to come help and we are rejecting them. I am listening to the president saying that “no one could have anticipated the levees breaking” (well, except pretty much everyone, only YOU cut the funding to pay for that ILLEGITIMATE WAR) and the head of homeland security insisting that there has only been “isolated criminality,” even as reporter after reporter after reporter chokes back tears and talks about armed thugs roaming and looting and the people calling for help and the bodies just lying in the streets because there’s no one there to deal with them. People sick and starving and being forced to drink the flood water, even when they know the flood water is toxic.

This is not the America I know. This is not the America I am supposed to be living in. I am so ashamed for my country. So very ashamed and so very, very angry.

7 thoughts on “washed away

  1. Not only is half the Louisiana national guard in Iraq. The funding for strengthening the Levee is there, too. In 2003 and 2004 the administration pretty much stopped the entire project and diverted the funds to Iraq: http://www.pnionline.com/dnblog/attytood/archives/002331.html

    President Bush says that “noone could have anticipated that the Levee would break”. Maybe what he means is “God didn’t tell me it would break”. Because his advisors must have told him. After all, a level 5 storm breaking the levee and flooding New Orleans has been on FEMA’s list of the top 3 most likely desasters to hit the US since early 2001. Together with an earthquake in SF and, guess what, a terror attack on NY:

    This is the president that people voted for because he made them “feel safe”, not because they necessarily areed with his policies. But those policies are killing americans today.

  2. I knew that there was something not right about the images I have
    seen on TV. It was looking too much like a third-world disaster instead of something in the western world. Where are the people helping each other? Where are the flags? Where are the patriotic
    people uniting in an hour of need?

    Thank you Laura, you nailed it.

  3. My heart is also broken. I am wondering about the gulf made visible between the rich and poor, the black and white. We can fund infrastructure, but how do we head these other divides.

    Who was left in NO and other parishes? Who could not leave? Who chose not to leave because of hopelessness and lack of faith in the system?

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