Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wicked Katrina


Picture taken from BBC news


I already feel like I'm getting tired of hearing about Katrina. She's a flood of sludge and information. She's such a bad-ass, such a persistent problem, with such lingering effects. She forces so many questions: How do you rebuild an entire coast? What if the gas leaks and rampant fires meet up? Where are we going to bury the unidentified? How do we contain infection? Is New Orleans destined to be a ghost town?

Conspiracy theories are bound to abound when you consider the kinds of storms we've had this year, and how much more frequent they are, how the media is portraying the issue. A lot of times, I hear things like: "there's a lot of looting and violence, but the only people I see doing it are black people." Maybe that's because New Orleans is predominantly black. Then there's the whole PC issue of whether the victims of the hurricane are "refugees" or not, since they are displaced Americans in their own country. Is the military experimenting with weather pattern manipulation? Is there a third, new vertice of wind that throws a wrench in the meterologists cogwheel? Lots of talk on every front.

This is a national crisis, one where you'd think a president might take some responsibility, yet Bush is somehow leading an investigation, acting like the big man, getting to the bottom of things, as if he needs any more explanation from anyone than to ask himself why he did nothing. Fingers are poised to be pointed. The response to Katrina was a major disaster. Bush really doesn't give a flip and will still find a way to relate it all to terrorism, saying: "We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm" Notice how he mentions WMD before Katrina? Possibly the only person who has responded in a timely way has been the mayor, Ray Nagin, who was urging people to evacuate today, who has at least talked to people, reported on the water levels, saying the city isn't safe (which is really isn't. E. coli isn't something you want to be exposed to.)

On the other hand, with a completely nonchalant approach, FEMA told local firemen and relief services not to interfere while the hurricane was raging, and they seem to have grossly underestimated the storm's effect. Another factor contributing to the cohesion of people in the mess is that about a third of New Orlean's police force is unaccounted for, and with the mayhem of looting or 'looking for something to eat or drink,' I don't know that I really blame them (for commiting suicide, going AWOL, or trying to find their own families.

Katrina's name is bound to be mentioned at least hundreds of times more, across banner ads, television screens, radios, etc. as charities like the Red Cross and organizations like FEMA race to clean up the mess, and rescue the survivors. If I'm exhausted just hearing about it, imagine what it would be like, for people who have been trapped in their homes for four days, and are waiting for helicopters to pick them up, while they wonder what has happened to their families and friends.

I watched a touching piece of Oprah Winfrey, where she demands to see inside the dome where people were forced to wait, in the dark, amongst faeces and corpses, while gang-fights ignited over children trying to rest, and families were split apart. Some families decided that it wasn't safe in there, and they chose to take up different risks on the street.

Another segment involved a man and his dog Rafiki, shown being pet over and over by the man who was heart-broken because dogs aren't allowed to be evacuated. The rule is: people first, animals later. The man didn't want to leave without his dog, and he wouldn't. A tsunami survivor who related to the feeling of hopelessness from seeing it exemplified in both disasters explained to the man that they (Oprah Winfrey and her forces of good) were going to take the dog to a safe home where they could meet up with him. The man's emotional reaction was explicit: he reached out and hugged him. Yeah, it's just a dog but it's also a part of someone's life. These people have had everything taken away from them. It's heart-warming to see that at least they can have their dog, when there are countless stories of dogs themselves being the rescuers. Dogs are loyal. We should be too, to each other, and that meanst acting.

Québec has one advantage over the rest of the provinces in its ability to help. Although not comparable in degree or damage, they did experience a storm, albeit colder and less threatening: the ice storm. During the ice storm, there wasn't really chaos. The military was sent in, and power was out, and candle light and vigils kept people warm, but then it was over in the matter of a few weeks. New Orleans and Mississippi are different, but they still need the same basic resources that Québec has. So, they have put forth 10,000 cots for those in shelters. Canada sends cots There was also over 1 million raised across the country, which isn't bad, but it's not even close to the billions it's going to take to rebuild. Has anyone thought of inflatable rafts? They're transportable. I suppose they would have been more useful before. Of course, it would probably take a helicopter to deliver them anyway, so nevermind.

At least the water is going down. That's a good sign.

Filed under News Reviews

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4:33 PM  
Blogger sirbarrett said...

Hello


Are you trying to tell me I should just send her flowers? Would that smooth things over? No, that would probably just make her angry, especially if they were cheap ones.


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5:30 PM  
Blogger iamnasra said...

Your words are really presents the sad situation were innocent life are distorted...Thank you for touching this subject ..the reality is so bitter

10:18 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Maybe straying a bit from your central point, but I do wish it were more common for people to feel, say, a canine degree of loyalty to other people. Maybe even just because they're other people - part of the same "pack..."

12:35 PM  
Blogger sirbarrett said...

iamnasra -the reality is bitter, but there are glimpses of hope

Paul -I agree with you. We sometimes use the expression of calling those who are close to us our "dogs". Not a bad shift of nouns when you consider the loyalty often lacking among humans.

Some good news: Waterloo University (in Ontario, CAN) will be accepting displaced students from the affected areas, because life and education must go on.

Hopefully it will give the students more opportunity to mingle with our southern neighbours and hear some of their experiences first hand, gaining greater empathy.

5:22 PM  

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