Friday, September 02, 2005

helplessness and anger

I'm a hunter and gatherer these days, scanning the varied medias I read for what I need. But I can't find what I need. What I need is to hear that the needs of the hundreds of thousands suffering from this disaster of a Katrina are finally beginning to be met. And on this, there is still mostly silence. So I careen back and forth between helplessness and anger. Got an email today from one of the churches we're involved with. Here's what it said:

<>"Your URGENT prayers are requested for 60 some people trapped since Sunday in the basement of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in New Orleans. This includes the Pastor, his wife, and people from the community. This is in the area where there have been reports of gangs with guns. Please pray for their safe rescue, for peace to surround them and for God's angels to protect them. "

At least they're inside, with like-minded individuals. But.

This quote from the Washington Post:

"Those left behind in the Crescent City, including many with diabetes and other worsening health conditions, clung to rooftops, gathered on overpasses and bridges, and huddled on islands of dry ground, waiting for help that never came. Parents carried small children, and grown children carried their elderly parents through the flotsam. Corpses floated in fetid waters and lay amid the crowds of refugees. Helicopters airlifted hundreds of seriously ill patients to a makeshift field hospital at the city's airport."

The news reports refer again and again to "refugee". The imagine in my mind is always of someone else. A Palestinian or an Iraqi or someone from Dafur. Then I refocus, and I see an American. And I am speechless with dismay that this could happen Here. Land of the free, home of the brave, living space of the refugees?

Most of our refugees are, however, no different from the refugees in other countries. They are poor. They are a minority; two thirds of the city are black. Folks who didn't have the funds or the wherewithal to get the hell out of Dodge before it was too late. So now they're stuck in the hellhole of NOLA. On the fetid streets in front of the Convention Center. On rooftops, still waiting.

Waiting for George Bush? He did finally arrive today. Received a public briefing, complete with maps. What was THAT about? What a photo op moment. And to dignify Trent Lott's situation (he lost a home) with comment during such a horrible disaster for so many was incredibly insensitive on Bush's part.

I heard a physical therapist speak on the radio who was trapped in Charity Hospital in NOLA. They are rationing food and water, and finally received more of such supplies only today. Folks are dying there, and more will die until they get the patients out of these, said the therapist. Plans and more plans have been made to do so, but none of them pan out. According to the Post, boats can't get to that hospital because shots continue to be fired at the boats who get close.

Again with the Post. Story about one particular refugee family--five children, mom and dad. Their youngest is a premature 3 month old sweetie. They didn't leave town because they didn't have a car big enough to hold them all, and they were afraid of being arrested. After two days, they were rescued from a rooftop. And taken to shelter?

Not exactly. A spot under a freeway." "I thought we were going to die out there," Bernadette Washington said. "We had to sleep on the ground. Use the bathroom in front of each other. Laying on that ground, I just couldn't take it. I felt like Job." After a bus trip, they've ended up in Baton Rouge, where they await help from a relative.

And they're the lucky ones who got out and got help.

The African-American community is getting riled up. With good reason. Seems like the poor and the black were pretty much ignored when it comes to planning ahead for hurricane disaster scenarios. This from the NYTimes:

"Brian Wolshon, an engineering professor at Louisiana State University who served as a consultant on the state's evacuation plan, said little attention was paid to moving out New Orleans's "low-mobility" population - the elderly, the infirm and the poor without cars or other means of fleeing the city, about 100,000 people.

At disaster planning meetings, he said, "the answer was often silence."

No need to wonder why the Washingtons, from the story above, view this whole disaster in racial overtones. The haves escaped. And the have nots, for the most part, remain. God help them, since we aren't doing a good enough job.

Until tomorrow,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh, the U.S.may be a bit slow on the uptake but the world (including Cuba, Germany, France and Venezuela by the way), have mobilised massive amounts of everything to help you out. Canada had a famed Search and Rescue Team from British Columbia there on the second day, saved 250 people "but have been sent home" for some unknown reason - guess they were an embarrassment to your adminiistration or something but never fear, FINALLY Bush has actually ASKED us for help and 4 fully equipped ships were already waiting in the Port of Halifax and are en route as of yesterday to your desperately needy people. Oh and your gas price has come down solely due to the generosity of those countries who had emergency refined stock on hand and are sending you untold millions of gallons a day, over the next 30 days anyway. (Guess your people find that refining gas is "not economically sound" and of course it is your refinery capacity which has suffered from Katrina). Well, one lives and learns....... supposedly. Best Wishes to all of you - we feel your hideous loss - and despair.

3:56 PM  

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