Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Hard Topic - Fixing Blame

After President Bush's speech yesterday there has been quite an uproar in New Orleans. It seems everyone is desperate to fix blame for the tragedy of Katrina on someone else. I liken it to trying to pour water into the skinny end of a funnel. They are starting at the wrong end to fix blame.

If there is any blame we in the area must first point at ourselves. Help must first begin with your neighbor, then local government, then state, and then federal. Most of all you must prepare and depend on yourself and God for your basic needs.

A lot of excuses for the failures of Katrina are cloaked in the shroud of the poor. They are too poor to evacuate. Maybe New Orleans isn't a very good place for the very poor to reside. Yearly evacuations are part of our lives here and they can be quite costly.

I do live in an area where potential disaster is a threat we deal with every year. It's something that in the past had been relegated as a vague menacing shadow in the background. Almost like a mugger that lurks in the murky shadows of city alleys, they always mug the other guy.

Katrina changed all that. We know that we can relive Katrina any hurricane season. My family and I constantly make plans on how we can keep our family safe and those who depend on us - elderly, the sick, our animals etc... Because we can. I believe one day I will reap what I sow. If I help my neighbor one day they will help me.

If blame can be fixed, (as far as the humanitarian aspects) this is how I fix it: (In order of the most to blame to the least)

1. Those who could and refused to leave.

2. Those who left and didn't bring their elderly and sick or assist the poor they knew. (Emergency responders had their hands full with those in hospitals)

3. The local government. (Mayor Nagin (Democrat) left a fleet of city buses to drown in the flood that could have bused the poor out of the city.)

4. The State Government (Governor Blanco (Democrat) for not shutting down Louisiana immediately by calling a state of disaster, then mobilizing the resources of our state to evacuate and care for their neighbors in the south. She stalled and called meetings after the storm hit. These resources should have been mobilized and working at least 48 hours before the storm hit.)

5. The National Government (President Bush (Republican) In my opinion the least blame belongs on them. Although they can improve as well. They provided the residents with temporary housing. Fema trailers which the residents complained about incessantly. I guess they've never seen refugee camps in third world countries. They have provided our local and state government with the funds needed to rebuild most of our lost infrastructure and to keep local government functioning until the tax base was back in place. They also provided individuals with funds to rebuild their lives and homes. I know that there was a lot of red tape to go through to get the help you needed, but with any government entity, that is to be expected to screen out fraud.)

It's as simple as this: You may not ever live where you will be hit by a devastating hurricane, but there is not an area in our country that doesn't have some type of natural disaster. Whether it directly affects millions of people like Katrina or several hundred in a small town, you must be aware of the danger and make plans to deal with it if you ever have to. It is not the government's responsibility to coddle us nor do I want them to. It is your responsibility. You must care for yourself, your family and your neighbors who are in need.

If you would like to know more about our personal story, our church is selling a cookbook with a free DVD that chronicles our church families' stories. The cookbook also contains personal stories of individuals. You can click on the picture in the side bar of go here to find out how to purchase one. We are using the proceeds to finish the details on our church's reconstruction.

This is my brother (in the yellow shirt) who who was able to get in through homeland security shortly after Katrina and a friend. Their shell shocked look just epitomizes the feeling everyone had.
My parents house. It is built up off of the ground and it still had about four feet of water in it. This is their portrait my sister did of them. It has since been cleaned up. It didn't just flood, the water sat there for days and days turning everything into a soupy muddy mess.
The four wheelers floated and turned upside down. I guess because they are light and the air in the tires flipped them.
Some photos from one of the neighbor hoods. Yes that truck floated or was pushed there by the wall of water. That is how high the water was. Anyone who stayed in this neighborhood had a tough time surviving and many did die.
There were houses here. They recieved the brunt of the storm surge coming up from the Gulf, lakes and Mr. Go (Mississippi Gulf Outlet). This manmade outlet was blamed for flooding St. Bernard Parish. It is a large manmade canal that is rarely used and recently approval was obtained to shut it. This hasn't happened yet. In a lot of ways this was a man made disaster. Much of the wetlands have been lost because of canals built to accomadate the oil industry. So our country can be supplied with cheap oil. Maybe our whole nation deserves a little bit of the blame.
The inside of Ms. Riyas house. You can see her blog here.
Now our houses are rebuilt and things are looking better, but.....that's a whole "nuther" story. Let's see who tries to take credit for that!!!


Tipper said...

Interesting to hear someones thoughts on Katrina-that actually knows something about it. Amazing photos and thoughts you shared.

Sandy said...

thanks for your refreshing point of view. -sandy

Pony and Petey said...

My mom and I still talk about the other post that you did on people who should be working to rebuild their lives rather than waiting around for a handout and someone else to do the work. It was so very well written!

Now you've done it again!! Thanks for thinking this through and organizing your thoughts and then sharing with us.

You make perfect sense and inspire me to continue to think and plan ahead for whatever comes my way!

Pony = )

meboo said...

Hi Kristi,

My opinion is yes, many mistakes were made from the bottom (meaning by me and the individuals affected by Katrina) all the way up. Some minor, and some major. It happened! Most of us were not prepared--not really considering that it could actually happen. Minor issues such as leaving heirloom pictures behind, to somewhat major issues such as not having flood insurance, to major issues such as help not arriving when it should have. We can point fingers at each other, at the government, at public officials, and on and on. Others can point fingers at us, the government, and at public officials. The fact is it HAPPENED and sadly, none of us can go back and correct our mistakes. I am sure that if the mistakes could be corrected that they would be. I know that I would correct mine.

PS:Thought that I would add.....I am very proud of the people from St. Bernard, LA and how they joined together and began rescue operations even before help arrived. No waiting around for the government----there was no time to waste! People were dying! It is quite amazing the stories of heroic measures taken to save the lives of others.

Egghead said...

Kristi a great post again. It is so interesting to see this through your eyes. Wow the look on your brothers face and that last photo of Ms. Riyas house bring it to life.

Anonymous said...

What was amazing and unbelieving to me was all the church groups who came down bringing with them hope. They held us, they cried with us, they prayed for us; then they put on their boots and gloves and helped us clean the whole stinking mess up.

What did they ask for in return? Nothing. But We have personally donated as much money and good things back to them as we could and as we are able we will give much more.

As for me, one thing I learned was love can help you overcome any obstacle. I saw love personified in those people. They didn't criticize me; they didn't tell me what I should have done; I knew all of that already. They loved me and my family. And because of that I am a different person today than I was before the storm.

Even though I hurt so badly in my heart, The pain was hardly bearable, the compassion I felt from others made all the difference to me.

P.S. I have two teenage sons and they too have changed to become so caring and compassionate to others because of the suffering they experienced and the guidance and love they were shown.