Prepare? Fix the levees? Evacuate? Barbara Lee ponders:
“The slow response to the needs of the people in the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina is inexcusable. We had several days advance notice that the Hurricane was coming, but where was the preparedness? Why weren’t the hospitals, schools, and seniors evacuated immediately? Is this is an example of the Administration’s idea of homeland security? If so, we are in trouble.
If ever anyone doubted that there were two Americas, this disaster has made this division clear. The victims have largely been poor and black. The devastation from Hurricane Katrina only underscores the disastrous consequences of the Administration’s failure to take even the most basic steps to alleviate poverty in the United States. The Administration can not ignore this reality. ”
And from Republican Representative Jim McCrery:
“You might note a bit of frustration in my face and in my voice,” said Mr. McCrery, whose district in the northwest part of the state was spared by the storm but is struggling to deal with evacuees. “I will tell you: It is there. I am frustrated in my attempts to deal with a wide array of bureaucracy in trying to get assets on the ground.”
Who to blame? A hurricane or a president?
“It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.”
— Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004
MoveOn.org offers to connect beds with refugees from New Orleans, “This morning, we’ve launched an emergency national housing drive to connect your empty beds with hurricane victims who desperately need a place to wait out the storm. You can post your offer of housing (a spare room, extra bed, even a decent couch) and search for available housing online at www.hurricanehousing.org.”
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.