Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...
Joie Jager-Hyman
Kidz Today: Kidz Today are Screwed
3 Comments | posted March 21st, 2007 at 12:35 pm by Joie Jager-Hyman

Imagine this:

You are in your own house. It is the place where you wake up each morning and lay your head each night. It is your refuge from the world’s turmoil. It is the structure that contains your life’s possessions.

All of the sudden, there is water everywhere. And it is rising fast, seeping in through the walls, gushing in from the windows. Outside, you can see floating red balls. They are massive nests of fire ants with a queen that is surely in panic. They take loft to escape the water moccasins, poisonous water snakes that threaten humans and ants alike.

The water continues to rise. Cockroaches and rats come up from the sewers and canals seeking dry land all around you. You pile up your furniture to get to higher ground. The water keeps rising.

Your only route of escape is through the roof. You grab a hatchet and hack through the ceiling that used to provide you with shelter. Now you are in the hot sun, baking in 100 degree heat.

You have no food.

You have no water.

You have no medication to sooth your itchy athletes foot and the other skin infections that are rapidly invading your body, which has been basting in bacterial water.

Everything is silent, except for the ominous sound of rising water and the beat beat beat of your pounding heart. No birds chirping, no cars driving by, no leaves rustling in the wind.

The pitch black of night falls.

You are engulfed by a psychological terror that even Dante could not have imagined.

It is three days before anyone finds you.

***

About a year and a half ago, the good people of Louisiana who would or not could not evacuate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina lived through the hell I have just described.

Tens of thousands of people were stranded here while local, state and federal agencies did nothing to evacuate them. Those that were strong enough to walk towards the bridges leading out of the city were met with armed gunmen ordering them to turn back. Rumors of a Sodom and Gomorra redux were rampant. People had nowhere to go.

The most painful thing about this American tragedy is that it was entirely preventable. The Hurricane did not destroy the city of New Orleans, the United States Army Corps of Engineers failed these people. What few of us living outside this area realize is that the Hurricane actually missed the city. The flooding was caused by 170 separate breaches in the levees that were meant to protect it from winds and water. They could not withstand the equivalent force of a Category 1 storm.

Katrina was not a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster.

After the levees breached, 80 percent of the city was flooded.

30,000 people evacuated to the Convention Center, where they remained without food, water or sanitation for FOUR DAYS.

Most of them are now scattered across the country—from New York to New Mexico—separated from their families and their homes. The city is struggling to rebuild. It has received only a fraction of the money it was promised (the best figures I could find report that New Orleans got $102 million of the $8 billion in federal funds that President Bush announced would be sent).

Those who could not afford to evacuate cannot afford to come home. Those that managed to come back have nowhere to live (FEMA trailers are supposed to be returned to the government at the end of this month). They are dying of heart break, trauma and depression. Every day obituaries in local papers report funeral after funeral.

I have been in New Orleans for ten days, learning as much as I can about the post-Katrina devastation. The scariest thing about my experience is how little I knew before I came down here. The main stream media has been grossly negligent in covering this American tragedy.

I plan to write more about this soon. However, if this can happen in America, all I can say is that kidz today are screwed.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 at 12:35 pm and is filed under Politics, Health, Class. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 3 responses

  1. Josh

    Thanks for getting the word out! Awesome post.

    March 21st, 2007 | 3:08 pm
  2. Felice

    I actually have family members who relocated to Orlando after Katrina. I’d be happy to put you in touch. Also, Spike Lee’s documentary — When the Levees Broke — heartbreakingly captures so much of what you’re seeing firsthand. It’’s brutal.

    March 22nd, 2007 | 9:13 am
  3. “Those who could not afford to evacuate cannot afford to come home.”

    This is tragic, and you’re right, it’s lost its place in the consciousness of many Americans.

    Thank you for covering this.

    March 22nd, 2007 | 7:33 pm

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