Thursday, August 30, 2007


Yes, it was yesterday. The anniversary was yesterday. And I missed the anniversary. But when it first happened, it took me a week to bring myself to write something about Katrina, because as I said at the time, every time I tried I was
stymied not only by the magnitude of the event but even more by the fact that every time I start, I come across some new outrage, some new fact or revelation that points out in ever-sharper relief the devastation, the pain - the appallingly unnecessary pain - the loss, the murderous indifference of those who were warned, who were told in so many words that this could happen but who ignored it because, why, because it wasn't politically useful? Because the people at risk were poor and black and so no one cared?
Of course it wasn't true that "no one" cared. But it was true that the only entity with the resources to move effectively - the executive branch of the federal government - certainly didn't seem to at the time and even nearly eighteen months, even two years, later, seemingly still doesn't.

There has been a good deal of coverage of the anniversary both in the regular media and on the blogs. So rather than try to cover the same ground that others are, I just wanted to snap off a few items that seemed to illustrate the anniversary, at least to me.

- WDSU in New Orleans reports that black contractors claim they've been "frozen out" of federal contracts awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA for rebuilding work in the city while the agencies continue to "dole out billions of dollars to large corporations."

- The Institute for Southern Studies says that of the federal money that came into the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Katrina, only $35 billion - less than a third of the total - was for reconstruction and recovery. And now, two years later, only 42% of that has been spent. As of July, the group says, only one-fifth of the money appropriated to the Corps of Engineers to rebuild New Orleans' levees has been spent and the Corps admits the work won't be finished for another four years.

- In the wake of the hurricane, two nurses and a physician were arrested and charged with the mercy killings of nine patients in a hospital who could not be evacuated because of the slow and inept response of FEMA. The charges against the nurses were dropped in exchange for grand jury testimony. In late July, the grand jury refused to indict the physician, Dr. Anna Pou. Newsweek has an article about the case and an interview with Dr. Pou.

- Senator Chris Dodd (D-WeCouldDoWorse) has a decent bill for Gulf Coast relief and reconstruction which has the support of the producers of a short film about the on-going aftermath of Katrina called "When the Saints Go Marching In," the video displayed at the top of the post. More personal stories can be found at Voices From the Gulf.

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