Katrina’s Wrath Remain Harsh Long After The Storm

An American daily called it “hell in new Orleans”, and by the manner by which we now witness the ultimate devastation and ruin brought forth by the now legendary hurricane, then it might as well be. Hell it is and if it had a fury like a woman scorned, then the woman must come in no other name but “Katrina”.

I was glued the whole time yesterday to the international coverage of the giant storm’s aftermath on cable television and I was hoping I could catch a glimpse (by way of video documentation the actual onslaught of the hurricane) of how strong and ferocious it had been---did the houses sprung up into the air like broken dollhouses. Unfortunately, CNN had no such videos or if they had, they did not replay it anymore. Maybe, they were just too gruesome for comfort.

So I had to see the devastation through the flooded streets and overcrowding, and the misery painted in the faces of those who got stranded, the babies crying while being carried by their sweating mothers and old women drooping like they got the whole world on their shoulders. Apparently, Katrina’s aftermath had become such a colossal logistical crisis where flooding waters and smashed-up streets and bridges had made rescue efforts so darn difficult to carry out. It had also become a gung-ho police problem for the New Orleans authorities as lootings had become so widespread. There were reports of child-rape committed in one of the temporary shelters where overcrowding had rendered the situation there maddening and hellish. Some thugs have even controlled some areas of the locality that at one point, helicopters trying to deliver food and water encountered gunfires from what was reported to be random snipers. This could be what anarchy in America looks like---if it is not already.

As of this morning, President George W. Bush was speaking to reporters about how the rescue operations would entail huge amount of federal funds while his father, former President George Bush and former President Bill Clinton looked on at the wayside. Apparently, the White House was still in the stage of sourcing funds for the much-needed rescue operations and acted as if nothing was really urgent happening over there in New Orleans. Some dailies have reported how it took quite a while for the White House to get notice that there are actually thousands and thousands of hurricane victims being stranded in temporary shelters throughout New Orleans, Houston and San Antonio, without food, water and medical help in sight. People were actually dying there and President Bush was still “looking up for funds”. This seeming lack of action and urgency in Katrina’s aftermath is so unlikely of the American authorities and I couldn’t believe that the mayhem and devastation I was seeing on television was actually happening in America, the most progressive state in the world, and not in Jamaica or Somalia.

Where were the Chinooks and hummers that the U.S. Government used to flaunt all over the world? It seems to me that every modern equipment, materiel and gadgets that there is to have, the U.S. military has it. They are even giving them like peanuts to countries like the Philippines for anti-terrorism purposes, among other reasons. But now that their country needs it most, these useful equipments are nowhere to be seen. Perhaps, they were all already sent overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan among other places, and America has already none of them in their homeland. Now tell me if this is such "a responsible conduct".

What we see here perhaps is a symptom of President Bush’s overly outward sense of priority where White House had become so foreign-centered that whenever problems arises in their own country of the magnitude of Katrina, it becomes completely inutile in handling it, becoming overly-used already outside actions.

And one thought does not seem to escape my mind. Why is it that there is a very patent delay and laxity in responding to the devastation in New Orleans? I have noticed that those who were stranded and lay helpless in the streets of New Orleans were mostly black Americans. Would help had come much faster if those who lay homeless were mostly whites and not colored ones?

I could not believe my eyes that the most powerful country in the whole world struggles so pitifully in handling a giant storm’s wrath when they all have the much-needed resources in their hand. And I wish I am wrong but in this very modern age, America is still showing some hang-ups about its racist past, where there still remains alienation and prejudice against the colored people, and marginalization of those who are in the minority.

What was devastated was “black America”. And help had not come so soon. And it makes me wonder.

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