Saturday, September 03, 2005

Responsibility

Murder and mayhem in New Orleans' miserable shelter - Yahoo! News


"NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - With the rotors of President George W. Bush's helicopter sounding overhead, New Orleans' poor and downtrodden recounted tales of murder, rape, death threats and near starvation since Hurricane Katrina wrecked this city."
So begins Reuters' depiction of the horrors that have unfolded in the hours following New Orleans confrontation with Hurricane Katrina. After making sure to establish that President Bush was living the life of luxury safely removed from the devastation below him, the article then proceeds to interview survivors who hurled invective after invective at the President for seemingly ignoring their plight.

The anger and dismay of these folks is certainly understandable. But I have to ask... what the heck where they still doing in New Orleans facing a Category 5 Hurricane!!!

Reuters interviewed a 37 year old mother who was forced to take shelter in the infamous Convention Center. Why was she even in New Orleans on Monday defying the mandatory evactuation order, risking the life of her young child? Perhaps a "news" service such as Reuters could ask these questions... but I doubt it will. Indeed, on the Sunday before landfall, Fox News was continuously reporting projections that the loss of life in New Orleans from a Cat 5 Hurricane such as Katrina (at that point in time) could exceed 50,000 people! 50,000! And yet, this mother and daughter remained in New Orleans despite the risks of death and mayhem. Why?!?

Likewise, Richard Dunbar, 60, another survivor at the Convention Center also apparently defied the mandatory evacuation order (first requested by President Bush) and instead weathered the storm in a city most of which is below sea level. I have questions for you Richard. Richard, you seem to be relatively young and in good health... why did you stay in this city when all levels of government were telling you to run for your very life in the days before the storm struck? And now that you defied those orders and have seen the absolute destruction wrought by Katrina, what makes you so certain that the Federal government could so quickly alleviate the suffering that you chose to endure despite its warnings?

I understand that there were obviously some residents who were too infirm, too young or otherwise physically incapable of making it out of the city in time. And for them, words cannot describe their grief and the pain all Americans feel for their horrific plight.

But footage after footage shows young, seemingly healthy survivors who obviously made a choice whether to evacuate... and then made the worst decision possible by remaining in the city. Frankly, I am simply not buying into the theme making the airwaves that all of the poor and downtrodden lacked the means to escape. I see some survivors ingeniously crafting the means to float big screen televisions down flooded streets and yet these same folks are now claimed to have lacked the wherewithall to evacuate the city?

Their choice has landed them in the terrible plight they are now experiencing. That is not to say the federal government shouldn't do everything in its power to save and care for them. But there should be some balance in the media treatment of the federal government's role in providing relief for the largest natural disaster to afflict the United States.

There are limits to what anyone could do to alleviate the suffering in the Gulf region... communications were down, roads impassable... and yet, President Bush is accused of indifference or even down right hostility to the plight of blacks and the poor although the federal government was able to reach the area in force within only 3 days of the breaching of the levies this past Tuesday.

Perhaps Reuters could do us a service (and again I am not holding my breathe) and either detail for us how the National Guard and the feds could have either bypassed these obstacles and reached the survivors faster or explain to its readers what conditions existed that prevented aid from reaching any faster. Without that information, all we can react to is the raw emotion of the survivors who decided to take their chances against a Category 5 Hurricane and are boiling mad that the predictions of devastation came true.
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