Skip to comments.An AP Essay: Is This Happening in America?
Posted on 09/02/2005 6:52:58 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
Image after image of unrelenting sorrow, layered one atop the other like a deck of haunting cards. A baby held aloft, inches above a sea of desperate faces, gasping for air. The dead left where they've fallen, in plain view, robbed of even the simple dignity of a shroud. Survivors waiting, then begging, then fighting, finally, over food and water.
While the images of natural disasters and man-made ones alike, from Sri Lanka or Baghdad, cause despair, the pictures from New Orleans inspire not just helplessness, but disbelief. The richest, most powerful nation in the world can build schools, hospitals and shelters halfway around the globe, but it can't provide the basic necessities for its own days after a disaster that everybody saw coming?
Usually, we shudder, change the channel or turn the page, awaiting better news. But there is something too compelling about these pictures. The distance between us and the people in them has been narrowed, rendered uncomfortably close, and not just for those who are family, friends or neighbors. We recognize them. We all see people like them.
Authorities can't make the waters that did that retreat. They can't begin to rebuild the levee or the homes and businesses made uninhabitable, at least not now. They will never be able to restore much of what was washed away in the flood.
But if a reporter can interview a man standing outside a looted drugstore, and record his reluctance at having to go inside and steal pads for incontinence, why couldn't someone get medical supplies to the people huddled at the Superdome or the convention center in time, or the buses promised to evacuate them?
There are more questions than answers, and will be for years to come. That's the nature of disaster, and its aftermath. They expose our fragility, overwhelm our best intentions, mock our attempts to impose the sense of calm and order that prevails when life proceeds according to some rough plan.
Yet, ultimately, that's what is most unsettling about the constant stream of images: The suffering goes on not just for hours, but for days after we should have and could have ended it. And for all the commissions, reports and bravado that passes for preparedness, we didn't. It was a hand we never expected to be dealt.
There will be time enough, too, to assess blame, for politicians to point fingers, find and fire those deemed accountable. And maybe even to figure out how a handful of Southeast Asian governments, whose economies, armies and emergency resources could all be folded comfortably several times inside those of the United States, responded to a tsunami much larger and fiercer than Hurricane Katrina with swiftness and efficiency, and we could not. And so the frustration builds, not so much over what happened, but what did not.
In the meantime, the disturbing images keep rolling in, interrupted now and then by more hopeful ones. The trucks, jeeps, buses and helicopters so scarce the past few days are out moving in force. Police and National Guardsmen are on the streets, rescue workers are getting in place. The babies in the latest pictures are contentedly emptying bottles, pallets filled with water and food are being unloaded by human chains. One administration official after another turns up on the screen to offer reassurances and soothing words.
But the damage has been done, and it's no longer limited to the lives lost and ruined, or the property destroyed. Those are things, sadly enough, that can be totaled up over time.
Much harder to measure is the cost of all those searing images burned into the national conscience, and what they've done to the sense of security that was our last refuge when disasters wreaked havoc, and then, unnecessary suffering, in distant lands the certainty that it couldn't happen here.
Now we know better.
Terri Jones, right, and others try to cool down fellow flood victim Dorthy Divic, 89, center, who was over heated and exausted at the convention center in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005. Officials called for a mandatory evacuation of the city, but many resident remained in the city and had to be rescued from flooded homes and hotels and remain in the city awaiting a way out. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Sad that these rescue workers are not being treated the same way the ones on 911 were. This is ten times the job than 911 and these real heroes are being shit on by the MSM and the left.
Where is the mayor of New Orleans and the LA governor? There are no Gulianis and Patakis there. The relief efforts appear totally uncoordinated.
What do you mean "we" white man? I'll bet any amount of money that if another Category 5 hurricane barrels its way toward New Orleans next year, 99.9% of the same people who didn't prepare and/or didn't evacuate this year won't next year either.
Of course, the other .1% are dead so...
Will people decide that the "urban mind-set" created by the Welfare State is something that can no longer be tolerated? Will people who make their living proclaiming "I'm a victim" be rejected in the face of the knowledge of what a real victim looks like?
Will the media pull out all the stops and convince people that Republicans have successfully caused a hurricane, diverted it to a Black city, and then withheld aid from the blacks who were devastated by the hurricane?
Frankly, I don't think a middle ground is tenable any longer. Americans seem to be lining up into camp A or camp B. And I think one view will predominate.
Liberals, ever-shocked to discover that they are only human.
I am totally amazed at all the people who for all these years having believed the line, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you", are only just now waking up from their dreamstate to find out that we're on our own out here, ladies and gentlemen.
The authorities are here to help themselves, not you. The police are here to document crimes, not prevent them. And anyone who still believes that the public schools are here to teach our children, should get off the meds they're on and learn to take control of their own life.
This kills me. Comparing this to the tsunami is ridiculous. The tsunami simply killed everyone. There was no challenge to find food and water and places to go for 100,000 people because they were all dead. Those few who survived had never had much to begin with and certainyl did not have guns and start shooting at people trying to deliver aid. If this hurricane had made a direct hit on New Orleans there would have been no rescue issues either, there would have 100,000 dead people.
You're right. If NO got a direct hit from the storm that I saw on radar Saturday there would be nothing left but toothpicks and fingernails.
Cindy Sheehan, Kennedy Jr, and others have already said as much.
Why was the author so certain disaster couldn't happen here? Real stupid if so.
Not to defend Blanco and Nagin (I've taken enough shit here for giving those idiots the benefit of the doubt, even though they don't deserve it), but Giuliani and Pataki weren't faced with the total destruction of their state's largest city.
Driving Miss Daisy...
And all it's gonna cost is one American city and 10,000 lives! Yay!
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