Why NOT Blame George?

Squeezed September 4, 2005

Notes in the Key of C sends a message to those who were caught in the flooded areas of New Orleans:

You “choose” to live in an area that’s below sea level, refuse to evacuate when you’re asked to do so for your own safety, steal and commit other acts of violence against each other when you are given shelter from the storm and whine that you’re not getting help fast enough? So, you starting pointing fingers…….and you blame GEORGE.

Well, I’m going to entitle this the same way, except emphasize a different word, because that’s how I feel.

Why NOT Blame George?

Right off the bat, I have to say that the actions of those certain New Orleanians, looting stores and shooting at police, National Guardsmen, and relief workers is inexcusable also. On that point, I agree. That having been said, though, the federal government cannot be held blameless for this, and least of all President Bush…after all, he does head the executive branch of our government. Where was he?

First, let’s take a look at his actions when Katrina first came through. I mean, you’re talking about a Category 5 storm about to hit one of the largest cities on the Gulf Coast, and the place where much of our domestic oil production goes through. He could have done two things on Monday as the storm blew through…fly back to Washington or run things from Crawford. He did neither. Where was he?

And the requests of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin for more troops, more FEMA resources, went all but unanswered. When Nagin gave that highly emotional, inflammatory interview on Friday, he had VERY good reason for being frustrated. He did declare martial law in the city, but by definition, you can’t get martial law without soldiers. And who ultimately OKs the sending of troops? The President. Where was he?

And as for the implication that the people of New Orleans brought this on themselves:

Willfully taking on Mother Nature is one thing. Not having any alternative but to stay is another. Try getting out of a city if you are elderly and have limited mobility, and/or don’t have access to a car. (And let’s take an extreme example. Say a category 5 were headed straight for Honolulu right now. Are you going to order people to leave Oahu?)

Hawaii is in a hurricane prone area, but we’re not wrong to live there. We manage the risk as best we can. So does New Orleans; it is…was a heck of a town. New Orleans as a city is well aware that it is vulnerable to floods; thus the floodwalls and levees. But when calls to improve the system to meet the demands of a category 5 storm are met with funding cuts from the government…

And as Nagin said in his interview, there are some “knuckleheads” out there who decide a flood is a good time to get a new computer (good luck on finding a place to plug it in), but the majority of them are just trying to find food and water. Essentially, tens of thousands of people, some of whom were probably stupid, but most of whom probably had no other alternative, were reduced to survival mode. And when there’s no food or water for several days, backed up toilets, and no air conditioning in sweltering bayou heat, don’t you think even reasonable people would be…for lack of a better term…cranky?

Now, aid has finally started to flow, but the aid should have been flowing soon after the water started to flow.

After a major disaster after this, is it too much to ask that the victims’ needs be given top priority? We did in Southeast Asia after the tsunami. Why couldn’t we give our brothers…our fellow Americans, damn it…in New Orleans the same courtesy?

Our president could have made the lives of tens of thousands of people easier. Where was he?

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