The Odd Wife

Sunday, September 04, 2005

It is Time to Speak

When EH and I first fell in love, we dreamt of running away together to New Orleans. The charm and history and spirit of the place appealed to us both. EH had been there once on a school trip and I had never been.

I finally made the trip to The Big Easy 2 years ago this month. I went alone to do a mortgage tradeshow and stayed in the heart of the French Quarter. I worked my booth for the requisite 4 hours per day and then fled to explore the city.

I bypassed the cheesy tourist shops full of alligator claws, mardi gras beads and shot glasses and sought out the true charms of the city. I wandered through the cemetary's in search of both 'alleged' gravesites of Marie LaVeau, Voodoo Priestess. I sipped chicory coffee beside the Mississippi River, listening to a sexaphonist playing for change on the corner across from Jackson Square. I indulged in a carriage ride with a flirtatious driver. I sifted through the Voodoo shops. I marveled at the ancient brick walkways and alleys and gazed in pure wonder at the ancient homes and buildings. If I entered a building - be it shop, restaurant or hotel - I explored evey stair rail, bathroom and window sill in the place with a sort of reverence.

It wasn't perfect. It was dirty. It was a tad dangerous (especially for me, the foolish female who opted to wander the city alone day and night). The sidewalks were so deteriorated that I was constantly stumbling in my heels (I wear heels 24--7).

It was beautiful to me. Beautiful in it's history, it's spirit, it's darkness. Beautiful in the magic and mystery that whispered from every corner.

I no longer wanted to live there, but I felt honored to have experienced it. I looked forward to returning.

I'm sick over the devastation there. Even more sick at the aftermath.

It's difficult to blame the citizens entirely. They are cut off from all modern conveniences and communications. They are wet, hungry, afraid and they have descended into a survival mode that is rare in America, Land of Opportunity.

The media is beginning to reveal the flaws in the federal government's response and while I normally try to remain politically neutral, I am sensing great trouble ahead. Great trouble.

The downfall of this government won't be the War on Terrorism after all, but rather the reaction to Hurricane Katrina and the recapturing of New Orleans. I think many Americans are feeling much the same sense of disgust for the way this has been handled.

I am disgusted by the sudden reaction of our President to adapt a tone of concern after he was cracking jokes while touring the disaster of New Orleans. I am sickened that it was only Saturday, more than a week after the disaster that he addressed the events with a somber tone.

The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, has been quick and angry to point his finger at the Bush administration for their failure to respond - but what about Mr. Nagin's own failure?

Louisiana disaster plan, pg 13, para 5 , dated 01/00'The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating'...

Why weren't the busses deployed, Mayor Nagin?

The National Guardsmen and the New Orleans Polic force disagree on their roles in the problem. The deputy police commander, W.S. Riley (aka W.J. Riley), angrily recounts the National Guard arriving 48 hours after the storm in 40 trucks that arrived and then promptly went to sleep or played cards. The National Guard responds that they never anticipated the collapse of the police force. Rumors abound of people who were actually killed by the very forces sent to protect and help them.

200+ New Orleans police officers have abandoned their jobs. Two have committed suicide.

Thousands are dead.

The world is sitting shocked and disgusted with what this disaster has revealed about America. Kuwait has donated $500 million in oil products to the U.S. to help. Impoverished Afghanistan has donated $100,000 to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The United Nations, often harshly criticized by the Bush administration, has offered help...and the US has accepted that offer.

Most shocking to me is this article which outlines how this exact scenario was predicted for many years but the budgets to protect the levees and flooding/drainage protection were seriously cut by the US Government to allow more funds to be diverted to fighting the 'War on Terror'.

I've always been a patriotic girl. Believing the best in my country and it's leaders. But I am finding myself disappointed and disillusioned by this catastrophe.

I understand that natural disasters cannot be predicted. But I think our government has just failed an important test of its strength and I am questioning for the first time where our leader's priorities lie.

Shouldn't they lie here in our own backyard?

Posted by Red :: 4:39 PM :: |
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