Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster out of our control. However, it's the government's response to Katrina and frankly our response as American people that can be looked at under the microscope of the moral compass. Why didn't we do more?
On August 29, 2005 Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana as well as Texas and Mississippi. The city of New Orleans was the hardest hit. Much of New Orleans lies below sea level and was protected by a levee system which kept the low lying areas from being flooded. The sheer force of Katrina caused the levee system to fail and most of New Orleans was under water right after the storm. A natural disaster is out of our control, however our government's response to the needs of the people affected by Katrina was totally inadequate and incompetent. It's the government's response to Katrina and frankly our response as American people that can be looked at under the microscope of the moral compass.
First of all, after Katrina hit it is the federal government that has the most resources to bring. The federal government's agency for dealing with an emergency of this sort is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The head of this agency should be experienced in dealing with large scale disaster situations, however the head of the agency Michael Brown had little such experience. Within 2 weeks of Katrina hitting, Brown was replaced as head of the agency. The question is why did President Bush appoint him in the first place? Perhaps Brown was a loyal conservative Republican who was well connected. A lot of good that does us when we need an expert in disaster services.
The real tragedy of Katrina was the feeble response to help New Orleans. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco sent President Bush a plea for help two days before Katrina hit. She received no response. After the hurricane hit and the levees failed, the city was completely under water. It was like a 3rd world country in a war zone. Most of the city's residents had to be evacuated and needed shelter and food to survive. By January 30, 2006 the confirmed death toll from Katrina was 1322. This is nearly half of the death toll from 9/11, where the country was mobilized and resources came pouring into New York City and the other sites where the planes hit. Famous people held telethons to raise money for victims of 9/11, and the news media was non-stop in reporting the on the victims and heroes of 9/11. By contrast, President Bush did not even mention Katrina in the State of the Union address in early 2006. There were no telethons, and many Americans wished they'd donated more to Katrina victims but they didn't know how bad it was.
There were many heroes in the Katrina story. New Orleans police, firefighters, and National Guardsmen worked tirelessly with inadequate resources to save as many lives as they could. These people should be praised for having the courage and commitment for doing the right thing amidst an impossible situation.
Why did our national government and America as a whole respond so poorly to Katrina, when they responded to 9/11 with such force? 9/11 was a terrorist attack whereas Katrina was a natural disaster. So what? 9/11 had a common enemy - the terrorists. We could mobilize with the energy of a pure moral slam dunk. 9/11 was about good and evil. Katrina on the other hand, had no such common enemy. Are you going to mobilize against the common enemy of - Mother Nature? Katrina's victims in New Orleans were largely poor people of color. Victims on the 9/11 planes and in the World Trade Center were - largely not poor people of color. I'm not sure I buy the theory that we didn't respond to Katrina because of racism. I think it had more to do with it being a natural disaster. Everyone's juices were flowing after 9/11 from the government on down. The Bush administration could push its conservative agenda of fighting the bad guys with military power, and from the start 9/11 was all about making Iraq the villain. With Katrina, what was needed was a strong response and more resources from a government agency, FEMA, which runs counter to that conservative agenda of less government and budget cuts. It's a shame New Orleans got such a raw deal in their time of need. We can only hope that we don't need terrorists to mobilize in a time of need, and can act and do the right thing in the future when Mother Nature strikes.