Katrina exposes problems

by Beacon Staff • April 12, 2006

That place is Mississippi, and, unfortunately, it has been left behind by Washington.

Allison surrendered a portion of her spring break to aid in the reconstruction efforts underway throughout the Gulf Coast and to help rebuild what was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.,Recently, my friend Allison traveled to an obscure place, far south of Boston, where the people live in poverty and suffer at the whim of an indifferent government.

That place is Mississippi, and, unfortunately, it has been left behind by Washington.

Allison surrendered a portion of her spring break to aid in the reconstruction efforts underway throughout the Gulf Coast and to help rebuild what was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

When she came back, she described the minimal progress made towards reconstruction and the lack of government assistance.

"It still looks like the storm just happened, so I can only imagine what it looked like when it really did first happen," she told me.

She reported that the walls of buildings were spray-painted with numbers indicating the amount of bodies found inside. She said the largest number she saw was 16.

There were deserted neighborhoods and debris scattered everywhere, boats washed miles inland and clothing tangled in tree branches.

A man told her the body count, which was recently reported at about 1,600, only included those carrying identification.

The rest, apparently, were not worthy of the official tally.

It is hard to believe any of this could happen in a country that prides itself on a high standard of living and a well-organized, responsive military.

Hurricane Katrina continues to get news coverage, and the public responds to stories about life after the disaster: the accounts of struggle, triumph and hope, especially when they concern New Orleans.

But seven months later, the nation has returned to business as usual. There has since been little regard for that slice of coastline whose inhabitants experienced one of the worst natural disasters in our history.

Not only was the federal government completely aware of the danger posed by Katrina before it occurred, the relief was botched by inadequate planning.

Errors in communication and incompetence in the emergency and relief arrangements left many displaced civilians stranded without food, clean water, shelter or a way to leave.

What happened to the President Bush who acted strongly and swiftly immediately after the 9/11 attacks?

I get the uneasy feeling that if Hurricane Katrina had plowed through New York City or leveled Greenwich, Conn., the relief and rebuilding efforts would have been colossal.

The last time I checked the Constitution, the federal government works for us.

When is it going to start acting like it? The president has far more vacation time under his big Texas belt buckle than any of his predecessors in recent memory.

The frailties Katrina exposes in our government and our social structure are disturbing and alarming.

The government is currently conducting a grandiose war against terror and tyranny which is costing billions. But what prevents them from directly devoting more manpower and resources towards rebuilding communities throughout the Gulf Coast?

It makes little sense that reconstruction in the United States is seemingly a lower priority than in Iraq.

U.S. troops would be far more welcome along the Gulf Coast than they are abroad.

With the government's failure fresh in my mind, I fear what may be brewing in the future.

What if another category five hurricane tears through the south? Worse yet, what if the bird flu actually lives up to the hype? What if some grandly orchestrated terrorist attack spurs a nightmare scenario?

I do not fear those things in and of themselves. I fear that the government will again fail to help fix them.