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Blog // Thoughts
September 3, 2005

Some Incomplete Throughts On Katrina

It has been deeply saddening to watch the devastation of Katrina on the South Coast of the USA, and then to watch to the suffering of those left behind. Like many people around the world, I have been stunned to see the scenes of anarchy on the streets of New Orleans and to see the […]

It has been deeply saddening to watch the devastation of Katrina on the South Coast of the USA, and then to watch to the suffering of those left behind. Like many people around the world, I have been stunned to see the scenes of anarchy on the streets of New Orleans and to see the way relief efforts have been to slow to save many how survived the catastrophe, particularly the poor and infirm. Several times I have read comments that these scenes are “third-world-like,” which is both telling and thought-provoking. I’ve also been following the many small narratives of how people are coping with the disaster and providing relief (e.g., Urban Onramps).

Paul Krugman has rasies some issues on the lack of quick response to the disaster,

“Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. “The New Orleans hurricane scenario,” The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, “may be the deadliest of all.” It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.”

It would seem that much of the blame is not just immediate, but flows back to a sucession of policy decisions. As the BBC points out, there are rasies serious questions about relief effort (not to mention the hard task of draining New Orleans). As Mainstream Baptist points out, the end effect of these is poor policy planning, particularly as it effects the poor. He cites Cynthia Bogard, , Professor of Sociology at Hofstra University in New York, in an article entitled Why Thousands May Die

“One observant commentator noted that the evacuation was indeed very efficiently run “if you had a car.” Those left behind were drawn disproportionately from the 30% of the city’s residents who are chronically poor. They had no cars…”

My hope, once the sick have been treated, the waters have recided and people have returned to their daily lives, is that people around the world will see this disaster and have a better understanding how close we all are to devastation in the face of these kinds of disasters and how long it takes to recover from them. Here in India, people are still living in temporary accomodation nine months on from the Tsunami and that is not through a lack of financial support, or desire to help. There is something about the way governments work, about their heart and soul when they are away from press conferences and ideological spin that is at stake here. If there is one social ethic that is constant through the Old and New Testament, it is that we are judged based on the plight of poorest amongst us.

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Steven White 17 years ago

It is so hard as an American to see the images on the television and to think it is just acouple of states over (I live in Oklahoma). I have a best friend from college who lives in Harvey (just miles from New Orleans)I have not been able to reach him and find out if he was able to get out. But what hurts me the most is every time I see the images on the television I only see minorities or the handicaped. I continue to ask myself how could we as a country not take care of these people? How could we of let them down? And how could the American church get in bed with a the government. I honestly do not know if my country is able to rebuild in such a huge way. My hope is that the American church will be the church James sought to build rather than the church pop culture has built.

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