It only reminds me of 9/11 because it makes me feel like it doesn't belong. People wandering the streets with the blank look of being totally lost. Reports of people attacking hospitals and nursery schools, looking to loot anything contained within them. American "refugees" walking west from New Orleans to Houston. It all looks surreal, again.
You could not have thought that it would get this bad. I remember hearing about the hurricane and the potential for New Orleans to get really nailed. But still, it thought that something like Andrew in 1992 was more plausible than this devastation. I have a couple of thoughts going through my head.
I don't blame George Bush for the slow federal response to the disaster, and I certainly don't blame the Iraq War for the slow response. First of all, notice that there were little to no problems getting supplies to Mississippi, while New Orleans had major problems with the transfers. Why? First of all, the entire city was flooded. Second, the helicopters that did try and deliver supplies were shot at. The combination of the two is a recipe for disaster in an inner city setting. Notice that both Gulfport and Buloxi acquired supplies in plenty of time.
Saying that, the transfer of supplies was still inadequate for this magnitude of a disaster. Whose should take the responsibility? Both the head of FEMA and the secretary of Homeland Security should be fired (not resign, fired) and the President should be damn sure that FEMA does not let this happen again. Oh, and Congress might want to stop with this crap issue of not raising taxes. The budget had specific monies directed at reinforcing the very levy that burst from hurricane Katrina. Who is going to have the balls to make the right choices?
Are we really surprised that New Orleans turned into the classic vision of anarchy? Rule number one in dealing with a disaster is helping those that cannot help themselves. 9/11 was the perfect example of this brave human endeavor, successfully by the way. Yes, people died in the tragedy, but the image of NYPD, Port Authority, and FDNY running into the Twin Towers will be burned into our minds forever. In New Orleans, the image will be the dead next to the New Orleans Convention Center, alone and left to rot. So where was the authority, the leadership? Mayor Ray Nagin was totally ineffective during this whole tragedy. Instead of instilling direction and guidance, he immediately pointed at the federal government and asked for instruction. Katherine Blanco seemed to fall to pieces in the days after the hurricane, only to regain composure after federal aid started to flow. Let us also remember that well over a quarter of the population of New Orleans is impoverished. Nagin demanded a mandatory evacuation of the city, but left the poor to fend for themselves. The buses should have been there BEFORE the hurricane, not days after.
One final thought, and this one is the most serious point that came to my mind in the last four days. This generation of children are officially going through one of the hardest decades in modern history, and it is only halfway over. After the party at the beginning of the millennium, this generation has faced 9/11, the fear of terrorism, the War in Iraq, and now Hurricane Katrina. Yes, we all have faced challenges in our lives, but not like this. Not since the 1960's has a generation faced such calamities of the soul. However, this generation is faced with something much more deep and daunting as they have watched the entire story unfold live on television. None of us can say that we watched this kind history as it happened. These kids have watched it live, and lived it. As teachers, we must prepare them to deal with the world they are about to enter. This could be a defining generation, one that faces the challenges head on and deals with them using courage, strength, and will. Or it could be another cynical generation, full of spite and anger at the government, the world, and each other. In the end, we can affect this decision.
This is what we were hired to do.
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