Shock over the events and situation in New Orleans has turned to anger. I'm not alone in this. I've talked to other people who are also outraged at what they are seeing on tv and reading online, and our inability to positively affect the situation right now just makes it all the more frustrating.
After the terror attacks in 2001, the whole country shut down for a couple of days. Part of that was fear, part of it shock, and part of it was just an immeasurable sense of loss and grief that made pushing papers at a desk or flipping burgers at a restaurant seem too trivial to bother with. Eventually people realized that life has to go on; that the best way to recover from that tragedy was to resume 'normalcy' at whatever pace was comfortable. The terror attacks left everyone a little shaken and fearful that something so devastating and violent could happen anywhere. Now, we're faced with a natural disaster and a disaster of planning and response and while there's no terror or malice involved in the event's genesis, the results are the same or worse.
Unlike in 2001, sports are going on as normal. Television news is focused on the hurricane but sitcoms and reality tv continues unabated. Concerts aren't cancelled, vacations are still on, planes are still flying, and life for most Americans hasn't changed at all. Why is there such a drastic difference in the response? Is it because so many people feel that those left behind in New Orleans and other coastal areas should have known better than to stay? Is it because those affected are overwhelmingly black and/or poor? Are the looters who have taken the situation and made the worst of it losing sympathy for the whole situation as Americans watch an entire city devolve into chaos? Are we maybe just so complacent that we figure that it's 'their problem'? I have so many questions about this, but no answers.
The head of FEMA was interviewed on NPR click 'listen' and when the interviewer mentioned reports that thousands of people were stranded at the convention center with no supplies and no sign of help, the FEMA guy just argued and dismissed the claims and completely walked around the idea. All he needed to do was say "oh, I hadn't heard that, thanks, I will get someone in a helicopter to go look at that situation right now" and he would have been acting. Instead, he called the situation an 'anecdote' and repeated that they were getting supplies to the Superdome. That's not the attitude you want from someone in charge of disaster recovery. In fact, he shouldn't be on the news at all. Every motherfucking member of FEMA down to the guy who distributes the mail in the building should be working on a solution, not pissing around with reporters and talking about how fast and hard they are trying. How does it take this long to get helicopters loaded up with supplies? How can it possibly take this long to mobilize and organize troops to secure things, and why can't those troops differentiate between looters and reporters and common homeless families who are being intimidated? If they'd let people into the city to help, and if people in trucks with water and ramen noodles could help, I know there would be people driving there en masse.
I know all that we can do right now is bitch about the situation and donate money, so that's what we're doing. I know that none of these blogs are helping and that we're all just yelling in circles, but it's so frustrating to watch and humiliating to think that no one is reasonably in control.