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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

30 April 2007

New Orleans betrayed again

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.


Farrah Rochon said...

I saw this story on the news, and must say that I share your rage. It is hard to count the different ways the federal government has let down the city of New Orleans in these last two years. Hopefully, the volunteers will continue to offer their support until the city is able to better support itself, with or without federal help.

Shauna Roberts said...

What individual Americans have done to help us is almost beyond my ability to comprehend. Not just the people who come here to work, but also all those who took complete strangers into their homes or contributed money. What percent of Americans have helped directly or indirectly? It wouldn't surprise me if more than half have. I wish I could send thank you notes to all of them.

Charles Gramlich said...

We relocated to Austin for two months after Katrina and the people were wonderful. There were indeed many outpourings of help and concern. Too bad our government doesn’t have a clue.

Shauna, thanks for stopping by my blog. Let me know how your own work is going.

Sphinx Ink said...

You are so right, Shauna. It's outrageous. I've posted a link to this blog entry on my blog--the more people who become aware of this situation, the better.

Shauna Roberts said...

Later in the week, I read that some countries offered their aid directly to the state or city. Despite the fact that both entities were overwhelmed with dealing with the disaster, they were able to say "yes" and put the money to use.

During the American Library Association meeting in New Orleans last summer, I spoke to a man from Kuwait who was very proud that his country could help us. I can imagine that other countries whose aid was turned down took it as a slap in the face.