Skip to comments.Some say Katrina victims' welcome worn out
Posted on 11/26/2005 4:40:58 PM PST by Ellesu
Get a job. Find a place to live. Pull yourself up.
These are the things some people are saying about evacuees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, about 12,000 of whom remain in taxpayer-funded hotel rooms in Georgia.
In the weeks after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, people across the country opened their wallets, homes and hearts to the victims. But three months after thousands of evacuees arrived in Georgia, some attitudes have shifted from compassion to something very different.
For Anna Corley, a 39-year-old communications worker from East Point, the change in attitude occurred while she was watching a television interview with a female evacuee. The woman was living in a Georgia hotel, in a room paid for by taxpayers, and complaining she wasn't getting enough help.
With that, Corley who had donated clothes and money, and dropped off spaghetti and tomato sauce at a supermarket bin changed her mind.
"Come on, people," Corley said. "Three months and they can't find a place to live? Oh, wait, they want to see how long Uncle Sugar will pay for it. How long did they think the gravy train ran? Have some self-respect and pride."
Corley is among a group of people disappointed, if not disgusted, with the thousands of evacuees still living in hotels a program that has cost federal taxpayers $300 million. Some of these critics initially supported the evacuees, but now believe many hurricane victims are taking advantage of the generosity.
Corley's anger is driven in part by her own experiences. She said she was homeless 20 years ago, living in a Buick, after losing her job and a place to stay.
"I think we need to give them a hand up, not a hand out," Corley said.
Veronica Jones, a 25-year-old corrections officer from Lawrenceville, feels the same way. After volunteering at a Red Cross shelter helping evacuees apply for assistance, talking them through the loss and dislocation her sympathy has run dry.
"They drink and smoke marijuana all night. Don't work or go to school," Jones said. She said she formed her opinion by observing some evacuees living in her area.
Evacuees, for their part, say they've heard the harsh remarks. Sometimes to their face.
"It just adds to the hurt. It doesn't help," said Mike Washington, who lost his home and print shop in the New Orleans flood.
It is unclear how much public sentiment has shifted regarding the evacuees. Several metro Atlanta charities say they still see strong support for the hurricane victims.
"We're not seeing that kind of backlash," said Edward Powers, executive director of Travelers Aid of Metro Atlanta.
This is a critical time for the hotel-dwelling evacuees. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given them until Jan. 7 to get out. After that, FEMA will no longer pay the hotel bills.
The deadline has sent many evacuees scrambling to find housing, but several nonprofit groups helping them say it will be difficult to move thousands of evacuees into new housing in a matter of weeks. They fear some will end up on the street.
State Senate leader Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) said FEMA's deadline provides the prodding needed to spur the evacuees into action. "At some point, the government can't be everybody's mama," he said earlier this month.
Such thinking has been bolstered by public criticism of the hotel evacuees by radio talk show hosts. Local talker Neal Boortz called them "parasites with rights."
Suzanne Phillips, a New York City psychologist who specializes in trauma, grief and loss, offered another explanation for the waning sympathy among some people. She said people feel uncomfortable that the tragedy has continued this long.
"It makes them anxious that the problem doesn't go away," she said.
As time goes on, Phillips said, people become emotionally fatigued dealing with the despair and devastation of the hurricanes. Much of the disgust over the evacuees has been directed at those still in hotels. Phillips worries those opinions will taint people's perceptions about the many other evacuees who are living in apartments and homes.
In addition, the aftermath of Katrina has brought to light the issue of poverty in New Orleans. But rather than explore the complex causes of poverty, people often politicize the issue and dismiss the victims as unworthy of their sympathy, she said.
"If you dismiss it, you don't have to deal with it," Phillips said. "People start blaming the victim for not wrapping it up and getting on with it."
Forget the discount
Stories about evacuees cashing in their assistance money on expensive purses and big televisions make it easier to write them off, said Rick Cohen, executive director of the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy.
Washington, the New Orleans evacuee who lost his home and printing shop, is living in an apartment in Smyrna with his wife and 5-year-old son, sleeping on mattresses on the floor. They don't even have a table for his son to do homework.
He said he has been offered a job at $10 an hour for 30 hours a week. But he said his time was better spent working with insurance companies, applying for loans and searching out a new location for his business in metro Atlanta.
Recently he asked a department store cashier if the store was offering a discount for evacuees. She responded, "You all want everything."
Janice Ramsey is still looking for a job, having been on 10 job interviews. A former advertising worker for a Biloxi casino, she thinks interviewers worry she will hold the job only until she can return home. But she says she plans to stay in Georgia.
She's been living with her four children in a Days Inn in Stone Mountain, in a FEMA-funded room. The criticism of evacuees, she believes, is getting worse.
"It makes it seem like I'm a freeloader," she said.
Ramsey had just gotten off Section 8 public assistance when Katrina hit. Her father drowned, and she has been back and forth to home identifying and burying his body.
Most of the $6,000 she received in storm assistance is gone, she said, but she has found a rental home.
"I don't want nobody to have sympathy for me. All I need is a boost," she said. "I want to be independent, like I was before."
How did that saying go? "God helps those that help themselves...?" Seems to sum up the displeasure with these freeloading captive democratic vote machine sprockets.
Bush's Fault! $300,000,000.00 is not enough. If he really cared about people of color, he should be a leader and guarentee them lifetime housing assistance at the Mariott of their choice.
A friend of mine is a Baptist Minister, he rented a van, drove to NO to drop off food, clothing and blankets a week or two after the hurricane. There was also room for 6 to come back to Buffalo with him, a place to stay, etc...
Not one person wanted to leave, they were all cozy in their big tent, watching TV and eating at the buffet table that was all set up and manned by the local Baptist Church.
My friend Lenny was disgusted at their lack of any desire to help themselves. He drove back here with an empty van.
We know the real answer, its Bush's fault! He should have put these people up at his ranch and taken care of them with all his Oil money. Why is he president if he can't take care of all these people and give them freebies for life? Clinton never had this problem, had it occurred during his time certainly he would have had all of them moved into his trailer. (SARC. of course.)
For more looting?
Where are all the nightly reports on the MSM about the drinking pot smoking goof balls who don't work, want more money, MO' free stuff!
This shouldn't be a surprise. All sensible sources said this was mostly a shiftless bum rot group of worthless scum.
I donated blood through The Red Cross for the cause, but I did not donate dime-one to this effort.
Call me jaded, but I knew what was ahead of us.
I have no sympathy whatsoever for these people from N.O.
We were poor when I was growing....many in the public housing project where I lived were poor.....bu poor then, meant the breadwinner lost his job. He was looking and ashamed to be living on assistance programs.
Not these N.O. leeches...most of them never worked in their lives, have lived off the taxpayer from birth.
When I look at them losers.
You know what? I want to know what happened to the Heineken guy. There's got to be an interesting story with that one.
The MSM cries foul every time FEMA tries to stop paying for the hotels.
I have a "poor" 21 year old grand son. Sorry to say but he is going to be poor all of his life, unless he learns the relationship between working and having things.
The use of the word 'victim' by the media and citizen drones is overused.
If you look at the definition of 'victim', then the rising price of gas or milk makes us all victims.
To be a victim you only need to be adversley affected.
I was adversly affected when I ran out of Vanilla extract on Thursday.
I guess that makes me a victim...
Message to Katrina 'survivors': Get off your arse, and go to work.
It used to be the day people were ashamed to be on welfare, today they brag about it. That along with being section 8, collecting SSI, heap, food stamps, living off the dime of the taxpayers is a way of life.
In the mean time, we fight to work, pay bills and do everything humanly possible to keep our heads above water. Ain't easy in Buffalo where there is no jobs, and taxes the highest in the country.
I have to balance the fact these people did suffer a tragedy in a natural disaster, maybe lost their house, job or business. But obviously many were welfare cases and the MSM has no desire to reveal that story - people who are unproductive, ungrateful, and expect the government (meaning us) to give them their entire lives, FOC.
If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it.
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