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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Katrina-Afterthoughts

First, I and my family are fine.  Though my family sustained some damage from the storm, it was, thankfully, minor, especially when compared with that which was suffered in Mississippi and Louisiana.  For those of you of a religious bent, I ask that you pray to whatever deity or deities you worship and ask them to provide comfort to those who have suffered so much.  I know people in my area who were not nearly as fortunate as we were.
Second, to everyone, religious or not, I beg you to donate to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or any of a host of other legitimate charities and earmark the funds for Hurricane relief.  Donate blood, donate an hour's pay or a day's pay or whatever else you can spare.  Donate your time to local efforts to provide relief to the disaster-stricken areas.  Or donate any supplies you can spare to legitimate food drives for disaster relief.  Just do SOMETHING to help those affected by this monstrous storm.  I have spoken to an elderly couple in their 80s, and they have never seen anything like it.  I don't think anyone, at least not in the last century or more, has seen a storm of this magnitude and destruction.  There are probably well over ten thousand people dead, and well north of a million people who are suffering as a direct result of this storm.  A major city and numerous minor cities and small towns have been erased from the landscape.  I cannot even begin to tell you the impact that this storm has had on an entire region.  Days later, I see long lines for gas at gas stations, at least at the stations that still have gas.  Curfews are finally being lifted in Southwest Alabama, and I can't even begin to express my gratitude for the National Guard and the various electric company personnel from across the nation and Canada who have assisted in the quick restoration of power to my region.
To put the destruction in perspective, it would be like Baltimore, MD, sustaining catastrophic damage from a storm, and New York City sustaining severe damage from the same storm.  Nothing like this has ever occurred in living memory, and it is for that reason that aid is so desperately needed.
I think this storm has made tragically obvious the fact that President Bush has been listening too much to the wrong people.  Once he was made aware of the devastation of the storm, first by the flyover in Air Force One, and later by his aerial view on Marine One and by tours on the ground, the response was rapidly improved by the federal government.  Part of the problem is that FEMA was ill-positioned to deal with this storm.  According to televised news, which is all I had for days, they were initially too close to the disaster area and had to rapidly redeploy farther from the coast.  The Coast Guard and other military and civilian organizations were doing the right things from the beginning.  They just weren't doing enough of it, and that fault lies in the mayors' offices, and in the governors' mansions, and in Washington, DC.  Governor Barbour of Mississippi has clearly been doing everything he can, though his capabilities are severely limited because of the damage his state took.  So my criticisms lie with the mayor of New Orleans, who was safe and detached while his people were suffering.  If Harry Connick, Jr., a private citizen who was much farther away than Baton Rouge, can make it into New Orleans and do his part to help, why wasn't the mayor of New Orleans there?  Why did Governor Riley of Alabama trust the mayor of Mobile and not order the evacuation, the four-laning of I-65, that we saw during Hurricane Dennis less than two months ago?  Why hasn't Governor Blanco of Louisiana been able to put her face on the television since earlier in the week, and why instead has she had to rely on U.S. Senator Landrieaux (sp?) to be the public face of the state of Louisiana?  These are questions that demand answers, and those responsible for these failures should face the consequences of that failure.
And finally, my deepest contempt is for those who have looted, and for those who have pillaged, and those who undoubtedly will prey on those victims who have already lost so much.  In that last group, I include those who will use this in a cynical manner to advance their political or racist agendas.  On that second note, I mean you, Kanye West.  I watched that telethon for disaster relief.  What the FUCK did you mean when you said that President Bush hates black people?  Did President Bush create Hurricane Katrina?  Did Hurricane Katrina give a damn about the race, gender, religion, sexual preference, shoe size, or political affiliation of those in her path?  Were only African-Americans hurt by this storm?  Have only African-Americans suffered the horror we've seen in New Orleans, Biloxi, Pass Christian, Pascagoula, Bayou La Batre, AL, and Baton Rouge, and to a somewhat lesser extent, in Mobile, Grand Bay, the Eastern Shore of Alabama, and to varying degrees elsewhere?  Try telling that to the people I know who suffered partial or total loss of their homes.  Try telling that to all of the people of all races, religions, etc., who have been displaced or killed by this storm.  Try telling that to the families that are separated in different refugee camps, not knowing if their loved ones are even alive.  Kanye West, I challenge you to do something novel and try actually to become a man for the first time in your miserable, pathetic, hate-filled life.  You are no better than David Duke, and I know no words to express the depth of my contempt and disgust for your unforgivable comments.

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