Tag Archives: disaster

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.

West, Texas

I find it funny that Texas government officials are falling all over themselves to let the residents of West, Texas know that they are large and in charge. I know that many in Texas and around the country believe with all of their hearts that the government is useless. The scariest thing is that old Ronald Reagan line, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Well, now, the good folks of West need help. They need someone to check the air quality and make sure that it is safe. Who’s going to do that? They need low-interest long- and short-term loans so that they can rebuild. Who’s going to do that? The town will need grants to rebuild infrastructure. This is where the government needs to step up and do their jobs.

Now, I don’t know what caused the explosion in West, Texas. I do know that for the most part plants do not spontaneously combust. Ammonium nitrate is the compound that was made at the West plant. This product is made by a simple chemical reaction. The chemical reaction gives off an enormous amount of heat.

Texas should be very aware of the dangers of ammonium nitrate. A vessel carrying tons of the material exploded in the Texas City harbor in 1947. 581 people died. This disaster resulted in one of the first class action lawsuits.

Disaster in Dallas

I grew in the ’60s and ’70s. The Dallas Cowboys won. They were a team that other teams tried to be. Now, not so much. The Dallas Cowboys are awful. I can’t explain a five-interception performance by Tony Romo. Miscommunication. Sloppy ball handling. Dropped passes. The Cowboys were simply awful. The only hope is for some type of New York Giants turnaround of the season. Jason Garrett is not Tom Coughlin. Tony Romo is not Eli Manning.

The score 34-18 does not tell the story. The Chicago Bears destroyed the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. This wasn’t as bad as the 44-0 beat down that the Bears laid on the Cowboys back in 1985, but it was close. Jay Cutler looked like a seasoned veteran who was cool in the pocket. Tony Romo looked like a rookie. I have made hundreds of excuses for Tony because there are times when he looks great. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have the ability to fix badness in the middle of a game. He doesn’t seem to be able to turn it up a notch. It is what it is with Tony. If he comes out hot, then the Cowboys have a chance to win. If he doesn’t… well, then the Cowboys are going to lose.

I could almost excuse the interceptions, but we were playing the Bears. They weren’t mixing up their coverages. Romo forced some balls into their patented cover to defense. Dez Bryant dropped a touchdown. Romo overthrew to a wide-open Miles Austin. Brandon Marshall was running through our “upgraded” secondary like it was last year’s secondary. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

The problem with the Cowboys is their offense. They can’t run the ball. They can’t run block. They can’t pass block. They can’t catch (Dez Bryant and Jason Witten have dropped more balls in the first four games of this year than they did all of last year). Only Jacksonville and the Colts have scored fewer points over the course of four games. At this rate, it might be time to call Terrell Owens and see if he is interested in playing some wide receiver. It is time for Jerry Jones to do something. This is embarrassing. (I’m thinking of burning my Cowboys t-shirts, baseball caps and other stuff in protest.)

I hate to say that the season is over after four games, but without some significant changes, the season is over. Where are Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin? It brings a tear to my eye to remember that kind of excellence.