It was an unprecedented storm that no one was prepared for, but the bitter taste that remains, was not born out of the fierceness of mother nature, but rather it is the result of the inhumanity that followed.
Last night I watched Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke” and watched the devastation and degradation that the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast had to endure. Other communities in the United States have felt the impact of hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes before. But Katrina turned New Orleans into a third world country. And the response that followed was inadequate and riddled with decisions that cost these citizens their dignity and their lives. None of us can really understand what they lived through. But I hope that we can learn a few lessons from their suffering. There needs to be a greater response to such a disaster and it needs to come quicker than it did. There may be an order to triage, but you do not have to wait until every person has been plucked from a rooftop before you start giving live-saving water to the people who are dying of thirst. Both operations should be simultaneous and a country like the United States should have resources to supply both immediately.
I can’t imagine my mother dying in her wheelchair as we wait for a bus to transport us out of the brutal onslaught of the summer sun without even a bottle of water for comfort and aid. I can’t imagine being forced to leave her behind to rot in that sun for days without any compassion. I cannot imagine being separated from my family, my children, and not knowing how to find them again. I cannot imagine the suffering of pets left to fend for themselves among the moldy debris. I cannot imagine the cries of the children who were starving and dying of thirst and how that must have sounded to the ears of their parents. I cannot imagine my country sending armed guards to point their weapons at me when I was trying to help myself and my family after waiting for days in the heat for my government to rescue me. I can’t imagine it. I hope and pray that we have learned the lessons and that it will never happen again.
We cannot control the forces of nature, but we can choose how to respond and to help people in the aftermath.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy