I remember well the day the storm hit. Before beginning a staff meeting, I’d read on the internets that Katrina was peeling the roof off the Astrodome. I asked my colleagues to join me in a moment of prayer for those inside. And we bent our heads in silence.

I could not have known how urgently our prayers would be needed. As seemingly every branch of government failed and we witnessed the terrible contrast between video from the aftermath and the Bush administration’s sunny reassurances that everything was fine, it was clear we’d reached a make-or-break moment in the American psyche.

On a day when the astonishing failures of the Bush administration to administer aid to those still struggling after the storm, George Bush has the audacity to ask for $50 billion more to continue waging what most sane people acknowledge is a losing battle in Iraq. What would $50 billion or even half of that do for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Recovery? What would even 10% of that money do for energy efficiency, education and healthcare in our own nation?

Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend, writing on AmericaBlog does, I think, one of the best indictments of the Bush Administration. I mean, honestly y’all, if Bush can’t take care of people here in the U.S. of A. with anything resembling adequacy (forget about compassion), why should we think he can do anything for the long-suffering people of Iraq.

Pam writes:

Billions of money designated to the effort is not getting to those in need — 42% of funds set aside for rebuilding and relief has not even been spent. The federal H2B “guestworker” visa program was set up for employers to hire people for the rebuilding effort. Because of the lack of oversight, abuse or workers, kidnapping and even modern-day slavery is occuring on the Gulf Coast.

To get a true sense of what it is like two years later, go to Voices from the Gulf from ColorofChange.org — unvarnished video perspectives from the region.

The Institute for Southern Studies has published Blueprint for Gulf Renewal: The Katrina Crisis and a Community Agenda for Action.

On September 15, 2005, President Bush pledged that our nation would “do what it takes, and stay as long as it takes,” to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Yet over 60,000 people are still in “temporary” FEMA trailers, and houses, hospitals and schools across the region remain shuttered. For thousands of people, the Katrina recovery has failed.

The study, published in collaboration with Oxfam America and the Jewish Funds for Justice, looks at 80 statistical indicators and draws on interviews with more than 40 Gulf Coast leaders to identify roadblocks to recovery, and ways federal leaders can tackle critical needs in the region like housing, jobs and coastal protection.

The study also features “Where did the Katrina money go?” — an in-depth analysis of federal Katrina spending since 2005. The Institute reveals that, out of the $116 billion in Katrina funds allocated, less than 30% has gone towards long-term rebuilding — and less than half of that 30% has been spent, much less reached those most in need.

This isn’t really a black or white issue, though certainly the nation’s underbelly of racism was exposed for all the world to see. Katrina impacts us all because, if this is the best the Bush administration can do in the aftermath of a disaster, what do you think might happen to us after a wide-scale terrorist attack? Whether it’s Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, Public Schools, Healthcare, you name it — let’s get real. Help is not on the way, no matter what Bush and his corrupt, inept cronies say.

I remember in the aftermath after days of inaction hearing Pat Buchanan of all people exclaiming — truly baffled — Why don’t they scramble the 82nd Airborne? The whole point of the 82nd Airborne is that they can be anywhere in the world in 48 hours!

I also remember talking to a friend who’d been all over the world working on humanitarian missions and hearing her say: “Even the poorest of African countries I’ve worked in never treated their people this way. I’ve never seen anything like this from a sitting government.”

And let’s be clear, even the same Commander-In-Chief did better during the Asian Tsunami:

Navy Adm. Thomas Fargo, head of U.S. Pacific Command, said PACOM began planning its relief efforts within 24 hours of the catastrophe. By Dec. 27, he said, command officials were communicating with ambassadors and senior military leaders in the countries most affected. The goal, the admiral told reporters, was to understand how U.S. military resources could be best used to assist the countries.

“We see our job as one of assistance,” Fargo said. “We are in support to the host nation who is responsible for its citizens.”

From experience in disaster relief, Fargo said, the command knew the immediate needs would be drinking water, shelter, food and medical support. That experience, he added, also taught officials the value of helicopters in the aftermath of natural disasters that obliterate roads and scatter debris.

About 45 helicopters are deployed to the region now, with about that many more on the way, Fargo said. These will join the mix of those from the USS Lincoln and the USS Bonhomme Richard as well as foreign aircraft supporting the disaster relief mission.

I’m told that the first American aid took less than 48 hours to reach Indonesia. On the other side of the world. Where were these helicopters for Katrina? Where was the clean water, food and medical support for U.S. citizens? Well here’s a clue. Instead of someone competent being in charge:

“Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort.”

Makes John Edwards’ proposal for a “Brownie’s Law” sound like a pretty good idea to me.

Related Posts with Thumbnails