Sunday, August 31, 2008

Katrina Rewind or Gustav Redemption

Almost three years to the date, another hurricane is about to bear down on the Gulf States, promising more devastation and destruction. Gustav has already wreaked havoc, causing flooding and heavy casualties in Cuba and much like its predecessor Hurricane Katrina, its packing a mighty punch, currently listed as a Category 3 storm. There has been a mass diaspora from the area, evacuating over one million residents of The Big Easy, sending them on buses, trains and planes to far off destinations, leaving behind their belongings and pets, hoping to return to dry homes and untouched communities.

Tomorrow, the Republican National Convention is slated to begin with all the hoopla and frenzied excitement that any partisan party promises. Because of the pending storm, John McCain has decided to postpone many of the activities and speeches scheduled to kick-off the convention. He feels it's inappropriate to celebrate during what could become another major disaster to hit the Gulf Coast in three years. Hopefully this time, the Republicans will be more prepared to handle such a catastrophe instead of turning a blind eye as they have done in the past. President Bush was supposed to speak in prime-time tomorrow evening but somehow, I'm sure McCain is thanking the God's that the storm may prevent his appearance, further distancing him from the failed administration.
I've read portions of Doug Brinkley's The Great Deluge, cataloguing eyewitness accounts of people who weathered out the storm in New Orleans and other nearby, low lying areas. The book is phenomenal and horrific in how it details the tragic deaths of the city's displaced residents both in and outside of the Superdome, in swollen lakes and flooded houses and especially highlights the despair and hopelessness that sunk in soon after the storm hit. Our government failed the residents of New Orleans. FEMA failed New Orleans. George W. Bush failed New Orleans. In the richest country in the world, no person, black, white, Jewish, Christian or Muslim should be allowed to perish in the streets of a major American city, left to rot in a flooded, diseased mess that could have been prevented. The Army Corps of Engineers warned various government agency's on the risks of the Levy's failing yet pork belly politics won out again, leaving New Orleans vulnerable and Americans clueless. This was a bi-partisan failure but when a president allows thousands of people to fester in feces ridden water, fending off looters, rapists and criminals for five days before help arrived, there is something fundamentally wrong in our society.
This time, we may or may not get it right but with only a few months left to the Bush administration, I'm hopeful that with President Obama at the helm, humanism will be at the forefront and America will learn how to take care of one another again.

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