I went to a play Sunday afternoon, “Rising Water” by John Biguenet. The playwright had a question-and-answer session with the audience afterwards. He told about a similar Q&A after another performance in which a older German man said that New Orleans should take heart from the example of Germany. Look where it was after World War II, he said, and where it is now. Biguenet responded, “Yes, but you had the help of the United States government.”
How ironic this morning to see a front-page headline on The Times-Picayune that read “FEMA refused overseas aid.”
New Orleans experienced the worst manmade disaster in the history of the United States.
The federal government was responsible for that disaster. The levees and flood walls failed because the Army Corps of Engineers designed them poorly and cut corners in building them. The surge rose high enough to knock down those protections because the Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi River policy results in wetland destruction.
Other than the Coast Guard (yea, Coast Guard!), no federal agency responded quickly, effectively, or adequately to the flood. More than a thousand people died.
Today we learn that foreign countries offered $800,000,000 in desperately needed aid—medical teams, body bags, bottled water, food, rescue dogs, ships to house people left homeless, and more—and our federal government turned almost all of those offers down.
What kind of government do we have, to allow such incompetence?
New Orleans is slowly rebuilding through the aid of church groups, college students, Habitat for Humanity, rock stars’ benefit concerts, modular home builders, ex-Presidents Bush and Clinton, and many, many, many other generous people and groups, aided by our own tough nature. We’ll recover. Those of us who survived, that is.
I’m spitting mad that our own government is working against us.
I hope you are, too.