Category Archives: Katrina

National tragedy

Katrina – 10 years later

new orleans post katrina VIII

From the Center for American Progress:

Tomorrow marks ten years since Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans. The storm flattened entire communities, took the lives of 1,800 people, displaced more than one million others, and caused more than $100 billion in damages, making it the costliest national disaster in our nation’s history. Hurricane Katrina drew attention to the consequences of poverty, segregation, and police brutality, a decade before Black Lives Matter activists began fighting to protect and invest in black communities. (Editor’s note – Although Katrina was a Catergory 3 hurricane, the real damage to New Orleans came from the Levees failing. This should never be forgotten. Most if not all of the pain and severing that is associated with Katrina was man-made. )

The storm devastated the city of New Orleans, but the damage was not equally distributed. As a result of years of segregation and disinvestment, the city’s poor and African American communities were disproportionately harmed. Today, most of the city’s neighborhoods have restored 90 percent of their pre-storm populations, but in the Lower Ninth Ward, the city’s poorest neighborhood, only 37 percent of households have returned. The Lower Ninth Ward also suffered the most in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. For weeks after the storm, up to 12 feet of water remained stagnant, leaving many people stuck without power or water service. Under those dire circumstances African American residents were quickly labeled “looters,” and automatically seen as criminals.

The chaos after the storm led to police brutality not unlike the kind that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. In the time immediately following the storm 11 people were shot by law enforcement officials. These incidents helped sparked a wave of activists speaking out about the relationship between police and African American communities. Indeed, there is a connection between today’s Black Lives Matter movement and the violence seen after Katrina, as Tracey Ross explains here.

Yesterday President Obama visited New Orleans to commemorate Katrina and celebrate how far the city has come. In his speech at a new community center in the Lower Ninth Ward he spoke of the city’s resilience in the face of the storm and the growing threat of extreme weather events. Across the country, as in New Orleans, African American and poorer communities are much more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including the risk of being permanently displaced from their homes.

And as climate change threatens to make severe storms more extreme, these communities are increasingly at risk. Because of its disproportionate impact on African American and poor communities, climate change has become a civil rights issue, but it is one that can be addressed with investment in at-risk communities. In this video, Sam Fulwood, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, discusses the aftermath of the storm and what we’ve learned since.

BOTTOM LINE: Hurricane Katrina was the costliest storm in our nation’s history, but climate change threatens to make storms that severe the new norm. Without investing in our most vulnerable areas the same issues of poverty, segregation, and police brutality will continue to devastate communities across the country.

Katrina underscores the issues in the Bush Administration

Hurricane Katrina 003  view of Thrift Shop and Water Well 1

For the next several days, I will re-post some of the things that I typed more than 10 years ago about Hurricane Katrina.

From the Center for American Progress:

1,833 lives lost. 270,000 homes destroyed. $55 billion in insured damage. Up to $1.4 billion in American tax dollars wasted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Today, the costs of Hurricane Katrina are still staggering. But even more staggering has been the slow pace of recovery on the Gulf Coast. No one was happy with the federal government’s initial response to the hurricane. Eighty percent of the American public think the federal government’s response could have been “much better,” and in September President Bush stated, “This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.”

But at Katrina’s one-year anniversary, it is clear that the nation is still waiting for the help Bush promised. Sunday, as part of the White House’s “public relations blitz,” Bush trumpeted in his weekly radio address that the federal government has “committed $110 billion to the recovery effort.”

But those billions of dollars have yet “to translate into billions in building.” Perhaps most disappointingly, Bush has forgotten about his promise to the nation to confront poverty “with bold action.

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Bush has clearly said that he doesn’t care.  When his poll numbers tanked, he tried to pretend that he cared.  Fortunately, America didn’t buy it.

We have made more progress in Iraq than we have in New Orleans and we haven’t done squat in Iraq.