Under the sun

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina - The Hows, Whys and What-might-have-beens

Some points to ponder in the aftermath of the havoc caused by Katrina, adding to Senthil's post....

  • As if the rain brought by Hurricane Katrina did not do enough, the dykes and levees built to keep the sea out of the city of New Orleans collapsed for lengths of hundreds of metres. Some experts have said the forensic task of identifying the dead will be far harder than that which followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as the bodies in Louisiana are decomposing very quickly in temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius
  • The hurricane warnings predicted an even stronger storm than Katrina turned out to be. Although the effects of such a storm and of a breach in the levees were modelled by officials a year or two ago, the federal government said there was no money to implement a practice response to such an emergency. Further, in 2004 the federal government in Washington stopped funding for maintenance and fortification work on the levees, which were therefore neglected for the first time in nearly 40 years. Environment protection is an easy target for the budget cuts central to neoliberal economics and politics
  • It took the President two days to curtail his holiday and make a flight over New Orleans in his official jet, and when he did make a ground visit he kept well away from the worst-hit areas
  • Vice-President Dick Cheney is still on holiday in Wyoming, and as the disaster took place Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was publicly seen in Manhattan shopping for shoes at $7,000 a pair
  • Even the initial relief effort, slow as it was, was hampered by the fact that some 10,000 of the Louisiana State Guard are in Iraq, pursuing a war which very large numbers of Americans are now questioning very deeply
  • Politicians in the State of Texas, to which about 100,000 refugees have fled from Louisiana, are saying they cannot take any more and that they need federal government help from Washington DC. They openly cite the fact that Texas, one of the most extreme Republican States, has no public services worth the name. Texas is most of the size of Europe, is soaking rich with oil money, and has a population of 22 million. It is not known if the Texan exchequer has offered any aid
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a socialist, has offered $1 million as aid via the Red Cross, and Cuban President Fidel Castro, a communist, has offered 1100 doctors and 26 tonnes of medicines
  • Maintaining the levees of New Orleans would have cost a few tens of millions of dollars, loose change for a country that has already spent $170 billion on its war in Iraq and is subsidising private agribusiness corporations to the tune of $180 billion
  • For centuries they (blacks in the southern states) have had next to no voice in the politics of the U.S., and it has even been said that, since the start of the Reagan presidency in 1980, significant Supreme Court rulings and federal tax cuts (such as the impending abolition of death duties on estates) have been intended to harm them and to favour the rich, who are overwhelmingly white
  • Byzantine voter-registration procedures, many of which in the southern States were designed to make it as hard as possible for black voters to register, mean that African-Americans are hugely underrepresented on the States' electoral rolls
  • When a black man takes a can of food or a soda from a store, its looting but when a white couple does it, "they're finding food"
Source: This article in The Hindu


  • I think the article paints it too much in balck and white.There are racial undertones, but not to the level that it speaks.

    The main reason for the disaster escalating was that nobody expected it to be this bad.Lot of hurricanes have been hitting US and most of the time.The state machinary manages it and there is hardly any intervention from the federal govt.This time it was huge and that was the difference.

    By Blogger sen, at Thu Sep 08, 10:02:00 PM  

  • Sen,
    The history of the U.S ever since Columbus landed there is rife with outright racist behaviour and systematic raciallly discriminative practices. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln himself endorsed or condoned slave trade in many of his public speeches? You needn't take my word but you can very well look at material available in the form of declassified documents or books like Howard Zinn's "A People's History Of America".
    Coming back to the present times, disenfranchisement of blacks and suppression of blacks and poor whites, hispanic etc is a well known and established fact.
    Katrina just brought this out in its own tragic way....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Fri Sep 09, 03:22:00 PM  

  • "The main reason for the disaster escalating was that nobody expected it to be this bad."
    WRONG. They very well this one was coming. Not only this article but many articles (independent sources) have pointed out that the Govt had the maintenance of levees pretty low in their priority list, in which WAR sits in the first place....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Fri Sep 09, 03:24:00 PM  

  • I live here and i see it happen!!!

    By Blogger Shan, at Sun Sep 11, 07:36:00 PM  

  • Bulls Eye. It is very sad that things came to such a pass, but truly the Feds were Fiddling when New Orleans flooded, burnt, and was looted and raped.

    Overwhelmingly, the old south had a majority of whites amongst survivors that had the resources to flee to a safe place.

    As for Fox News Channel, drudge report and other right wing pimps, they proved to be the assholes they are.

    By Anonymous Spider Man, at Thu Sep 15, 11:22:00 AM  

  • spider man,
    Yeah Fox (a Murdoch channel isn't it?) is the leader in the pack of the official line-towers.
    Sadly, even the Indian diaspora in general thinks pointing these out is in bad taste.....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Thu Sep 15, 12:57:00 PM  

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