Katrina, the Government and the Media....and Hurricane Andrew
I am of the opinion that everyone failed where Katrina was concerned. Katherine Blanco failed as governor, Ray Nagin failed miserably as Mayor and the federal government failed miserably.
Katrina has to be broken into two stages: pre-hurricane preparations (evacuations, shelters, supplies) and post-hurricane aid (supplies, shelters). The local government on New Orleans and Louisiana were completely incompetent and unprepared for this disaster. I don't know if they didn't get a feel for what was coming, or if they didn't feel threatened until it was impending. That no one realized that New Orleans would be an underwater city the next day is beyond me. Coming from experience (I do have many hurricanes under my belt - both in PR and FL), the best way to save lives is in pre-hurricane preparations.
That people were not evacuated and the mandatory evacuation was not until 24 hours before, that patients were left in hospitals, that elderly were left in nursing homes and hospices, that the population was taken to an impromptu shelter in downtown New Orleans are all unacceptable and irresponsible. Yet the people of New Orleans re-elected that same unacceptable and irresponsible person.
That people were stuck at the SuperDome for more than 10 days with no water, no food, no security and no way out, is also unacceptable and irresponsible - both of the local government and of the federal government for not deploying the National Guard in rafts, helicopters, or whatever was available to either get them out or bring supplies in. That the Red Cross, mismanaged the funds and stole from the victims of Katrina is beyond any human comprehension.
Much has been said that the aid was delayed because these were poor Black victims and the blame on Bush has gotten as far as almost saying that the President intentionally created hurricane Katrina and sent it to New Orleans. Much has also been said about Jeb Bush getting help b/c he was the president's brother.
Well, Florida does have one advantage when we get hurricanes, we don't flood as New Orleans did, so the trucks and the help can drive right in, shelters are in place before the hurricane strikes, and most people are prepared with food and water for about two weeks. But let's get back to Katrina being a manufactured event.
Without taking away from the devastation, the pain and the losses of the Katrina victims - all for whom my heart goes out for, and I have family members that lost everything - Katrina was in my view a manufactured event but by the media. Why do I say this?
Let's travel back to 1992, Jeb Bush wasn't governor and President Bush wasn't president. South Florida, Homestead and South Miami in particular, got blown out of the map, literally, by Hurricane Andrew. I very much remember the coverage of the devastation of houses blown away, much like the devastation in Biloxi and the areas of Mississippi (devastation that is ignored in favor of New Orleans coverage).
The cities were flattened. Yet, I have to say, not living in FL at the time, that I don't remember even seeing 50% of the coverage I've seen in the past 12 months regarding Katrina, no Andrew one year later or surviving Andrew specials, no reporter - such as Brian Williams - dedicated to the progress and reconstruction process, no outrage, nothing.
I feel like Katrina was manufactured by the media, because of the race class issue. That the media decided to make it an event. Let me explain, all circumstances being exactly the same - the poor preparation, the mishandling of aid, the devastation, the abandonment - but we change the race, instead of the Black poor, we have the White poor...would the coverage and outrage had been the same? I think not. The media wouldn't have given it as much coverage.
And I ask those of you who survived Andrew, and have seen Katrina, how do they compare? Did you feel abandoned? Was there more coverage and I'm just not remembering it? Or were the Hispanics of Homestead and South Florida ignored by the media?
Tags: Ray Nagin, George Bush, Katherine Blanco, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, Homestead, Florida, Lousiana, Hurricane Andrew