Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina


This Blog was started as a way for me to discuss my favorite (and least favorite) aspects of Movies, TV, Music & Comic Books. By the pathetic number of posts I've made since I started this little project (two?! Are you kidding me?) its obvious I haven't taken it that seriously or not set aside enough time. But the events of the past few days in the Gulf Coast lit a fire, so to speak, and I feel compelled to share my thoughts on the devastation down there.

I work in TV news, so a good part of my job is watching all the tape coming in and seeing what the other networks are doing. And words simply don't do the situation justice.

Shock, depression, disgust, heartbreak, frustration -- and anger. Mind-bending, fist-pounding, shout-at-the-top-of-your-lungs anger.

Anger at the delay in responding to help the people of New Orleans, Gulfport & Biloxi, Miss. Their governments, on a local, state and national level, have let them down. Many feel, and rightfully so, like they've been abandoned.

I don't know, maybe the Louisiana Governor's office was too busy congratulating themselves for dodging another Hurricane bullet on Monday to listen to what New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was saying -- that even though Katrina did not deliver the direct hit experts had predicted, the damage was still extensive.

WHY WASN'T THE NATIONAL GUARD SENT IN IMMEDIATELY? I'm from Miami; after Andrew hit the area in 1992 .. looting never became a widespread problem because the Guard was mobilized immediately .. for that exact reason.

In the months and years to come, as the aftermath of this storm is debated and discussed, one of the decisions I'm sure will be dissected over and over, is the one made on Monday to ingore the looting and focus on rescuing people. Admirable in intent, disastrous in result.

Not that there is a guidebook for this sort of tragedy .. but if there was one, you can bet one of the main rules would be to always, ALWAYS, maintain order. Without it, you have no chance to maintain any semblance of a civilized society. And New Orleans officials tossed out the opportunity to maintain order without a second thought. Now, order has slipped out of their grasp and chaos has taken over.

Some people will say, like the President, that the lawlessness must be dealt with. The looters should be dealt with harshly and ruthlessly. Initially, I was one of those. The scenes of people looting stores and stealing anything they could angered me. Then I paused for a moment and put myself in their shoes.

If I was trapped inside my own city, seeing no signs of help coming our way, what would I do? How far would I go to help my friends and family? As far as I had to, I realized. I know if that was me, I'd be carrying all the water and food I could carry out of whatever store I found.

That said, those people stealing laptops and TVs are annoying me .. more for the fact that they are wasting precious looting time grabbing items they have absolutely no use for. What are you going to do, pull a Macgyver and jerry-rig a power source for the laptop with Duracell batteries?

I heard something tonight on Nightly News that I never thought I would hear in connection with the United States. A reporter was discussing the deteriorating situation when he mentioned helicopters were having trouble making food drops in the area.

FOOD DROPS! In the land of plenty .. of super-sized fries, double-whoppers, sugar-laden cereals, $4.99 all-you-can-eat buffets and half-chicken platters with four sides of your choosing .. we are having trouble making food drops.

For Goodness sake, this is America, not Ethiopa. What I was watching and hearing was something I thought I would only ever experience in a report on the NBC Nightly or CNN at about 45 minutes past the hour. But it was happening here in one of the most unique cities in the U.S. A city that has seen its identity, its past, its civility and hope -- and perhaps its future -- washed away.

Four days into this disaster .. those poor people feel like they have been tossed aside and forgotten. Who can blame them? Where is the help? Where is the help?

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