Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Beyond the Obvious: The Real Tragedy is No Recovery

From Bush's knowledge to Mike Brown to the FBI's investigation of fraud, reality can be summed up in suppression and denial. Tens of thousands of people have been abandoned by our Press and government. A year ago we were so worried about taking one person off life support. Thousands of disaster relief volunteers know what happened after the hurricanes hit. However, far worse is that professional and volunteer relief workers have witnessed the ongoing abandonment of tens of thousands of United States citizens in the gulf area. The "news" about who knew what when is a good thing to surface, because the notion that the details of the worst natural & man-made disaster in American history weren't being communicated when they happened is nothing short of idiotic. That is, of course they knew.

I went to Mississippi, 60-miles above New Orleans. I was there when hurricane Rita landed. The reality is mind-boggling. There are tens of thousands of people whose lives have been completely obliterated by the hurricanes. All of their belongings, records, access, information, in many cases family members, dogs, cats, barbeques, cars, trucks, credit cards, pictures albums, TVs, VCRs, radios, electricity, water, gas, toilet paper, toilets, food, resumes: you name it, it’s gone. I participated in the first financial and bulk goods “assistance” site after Katrina, and from the day I arrived until the last volunteer left, miles and miles of cars, with people inside, lined-up for help.

Then there are all of the speeches about how to move on, to rebuild, and so forth. Of course the planning is needed. However, the larger reality is that over 200,000 citizens of the United States of America are either living out of there cars (if they have them) or are being evicted (for no apparent reason) from the allocated hotel rooms they had after their lives were erased. Soon, over 165,000 people will lose their unemployment benefits.

While spin churns on and on to protect political parties and the powers financing them, the people who survived Katrina and Rita have been abandoned. You and I go along obliviously living with it. What about them? Yet should we just sit by and watch?

Some stories from my time there: A woman, who miscarried during the flooding, yet had her baby still inside her, walked for miles from one hospital to another, and no one treated her. A third hospital brought her in, got her baby out of her, and sent her on her way. She was told, “you can always have another baby.” A police officer and two assistants came up, taking a two-day break from New Orleans. Houses are marked with a red circle and a line through it, like a “no smoking” sign, to indicate that no one remains inside. An inverted triangle means there is a corpse for removal. The officer said there are not 10,000 dead, but there are probably hundreds. Rescue workers and officers tied or chained corpses to streetlight posts, signs, rails, tracks, and fences. One of the assistants said that they keep finding people in their homes. One fellow was holed up in the attic of a home marked as clear. He’d been there with minimal rations for three weeks. There are hundreds of folks still trapped in their homes. The relief and police services are undermanned. I asked how they could possibly handle so much death. The officer said one grows sort of numb to it, like how an MD might become. He said that if I dropped over in front of him, he’d check to see if I was alive and if I wasn’t, he’d just step over me and go on. Later, the assistant said that she cannot get to numb, that she’s been crying for hours in between trying to function, with each corpse is found. A man clung to his wife as they tried to get to their car when the water poured in from Lake Pontchartrain, but their hands were pulled apart suddenly and she was gone. So was his house, his pictures, all of his records, books, clothes, and he doesn’t know where the rest of his family wound up, if they made it.

Let's get real. This is a catastrophe and requires "thinking outside the box" to solve it. What were they supposed to be able to do during this time, and what are they going to do now? Put yourself in their shoes. How would you get by? What if everything you have, every record, every connection, your cars, your belongings, in many cases your family members, were suddenly gone? What would you honestly do? What would you be able to do?

Americans need our help. There is a great lesson about color that we can all take away from this situation. It’s Red, White, and Blue. Let's act like the great country we proclaim ourselves to be.


There are thousands of relief worker comments, people w/o a political or financial axe to grind. The "news" is there. Some are Blogs associated with articles.,1703,A%253D160930%2526M%253D150019,00.html