It’s the anniversary you don’t want to remember: the day a big wind drowned the city of New Orleans. The wind was Hurricane Katrina which made landfall first on August 25, 2005, reported Fox News August 21. But the day she really blasted the Big Easy was August 29. Hurricane’s Katrina’s 10th anniversary marks 10 years since the drowning of New Orleans. TV specials from Fox, ABC and others, commemorate the 1,833 souls lost. More died in Katrina than any other hurricane since 1928.
That’s an unconscionable death toll for the new millennium with all its advances. The comment is always made, when the subject of Katrina comes up that “they could have left, they were warned.” So there were advances in weather reporting. But that’s where the least change has happened. A meteorologist only predicts what might happen. She can’t guarantee. And she can’t keep residents safe when city, state and federal officials fail them. And New Orleans is always under threat from hurricane or tropical storm!
And where advances have really been made–technology, engineering, levee building, water damming, disaster recovery, construction, communication, transportation, emergency response–are precisely where New Orleans was failed. Survivors were stuck for days–not hours, days–on rooftops, in the Superdome, in cars, in attics. Dead bodies rotted in the sun. Katrina wasn’t keeping them there. The storm had abated. It was clear as a bell and hotter than h**l.
City, state and federal officials kept them there. They went without food, but more importantly without water. They didn’t just die in Katrina’s storm surge or when the levees failed. They died of exposure, dehydration, wild animal bites. When they tried to leave, many were turned away. At the Superdome, people were lined up in the blazing Louisiana heat to wait for buses that never came. Many felt that they were purposely trapped in there to die. Disaster does crazy things to your mind.
And no one but a few were able to get in and help. The Coast Guard gets a shoutout for their help. Some individuals were down there working. Foreign nations offered to send rescuers to get those people to safety. But from their own government, from President Bush, who stood there and promised they would not be abandoned: nothing. Even FEMA, which stands for Federal EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT Agency, managed to do little save give people trailers that poisoned them with formaldehyde. Insurance companies didn’t pay if people didn’t have flood insurance. Perfectly safe housing projects weren’t opened so folks could get back home.
So these TV specials are supposed to bring hope that New Orleans is recovering. Habitat for Humanity has helped. But after a decade many question why so little has changed. Why do houses still have the ominous Katrina X? Why are some still covered in vegetation? Why are there so few street lights in the lower ninth ward? So some of the cheering might be lost on those who were there, those who lost loved ones and homes. It’s been suggested, though the words are shouted down, that this was a planned disaster. Some say that certain groups of people were allowed to return and others were kept out. So maybe that’s just so much conspiracy theory talking. Maybe people are burned out from 10 years of broken promises. Maybe they’re sicking of feeling like a thorn in everyone’s side for mentioning Katrina.
Down on Bourbon Street, a woman in a wheelchair wore a T-shirt that summed up the sentiment: “If Katrina didn’t kill us, ain’t nothin’ will. Won’t bow. Don’t know how.”