10 years after Hurricane Katrina, US still lacks comprehensive strategy to …

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

George W. Bush never recovered politically from Katrina.

Like many Americans who witnessed the effects of Hurricane Katrina, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was hoping never to hear again from disgraced former FEMA Director Michael Brown.Above: Aerial images show the evolution of one block in the Lower Ninth Ward that was situated directly in front of a levee that breached along the Industrial Canal 10 years ago. Bush never recovered politically from the perception that the federal government’s failure to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina extended the misery for tens of thousands of New Orleans area residents.

In an article in Politico titled “Stop Blaming Me For Hurricane Katrina,” Brown suggested storm-stricken residents of the Gulf Coast shouldn’t blame him for falling victim to the natural disaster — they should blame themselves. “The American public needs to learn not to rely on the government to save them when a crisis hits,” he wrote. “Firefighters and rescue workers would all agree the true first responders are individual citizens who take care of themselves.” On Thursday, Maddow had the perfect response to Brown’s pathetic attempt to repair his image: “We need to learn not to rely on people who don’t believe in government to run government in any sort of decent fashion, particularly when a crisis hits,” she said. Writing in his 2010 memoir, “Decision Points,” the 43rd president said “in a national catastrophe the easiest person to blame is the president,” and “Katrina presented a political opportunity that some critics exploited for years.” He said the poor Katrina response, combined with the “drumbeat of violence in Iraq,” made “the fall of 2005 a damaging period in my presidency.” The fallout from Katrina also dusted his Democratic successor, Barack Obama. A 2013 poll by Public Policy Polling found 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans blamed Obama for the government’s failed response — even though he didn’t take office until 3½ years after the hurricane struck. Whenever there was a problem – whether the BP oil spill, the Ebola crisis or even his decision not to attend a memorial march for victims of the terrorist killings at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris – his critics suggested it could be “Obama’s Katrina.” Bush, whose brother, Jeb, is now running for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination and whose father, George H.W.

Obama visited New Orleans on Thursday, and former President Bill Clinton, whose wife, Hillary, is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, arrives Saturday. Before Katrina, 17 families lived on the block bounded by Jourdan Avenue to the west, Johnson Street to the north, Deslonde Street to the east and Prieur Street to the south. The black population has dropped from nearly 67 percent in 2000 to 59 percent today; whites, once about one-quarter of residents, now account for nearly a third. “The people who have not returned have been disproportionately African-American, renters, low-income, single mothers and persons with disabilities,” says Lori Peek, an associate professor of sociology at Colorado State University and co-editor, with Weber, of the book, “Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora.” Following Katrina, officials demolished four of the city’s notorious projects, vowing to replace them with modern, mixed-income developments. But Bush admits he should have acted sooner. “I should have recognized the deficiencies sooner and intervened faster,” Bush wrote in his 481-page memoir on his two-term presidency. “The problem was not that I made the wrong decisions; it was that I took too long to decide.” Some asserted that Bush didn’t care about the tragedy. A refrigerator and her grandson’s basinet swirled up toward her, “like trying to see who was going to get up the stairs first.” The Washingtons managed to find space in the hometown Saints’ end zone.

Chevelle talked of a friend who moved her family back — only to have three of her boys killed in a drive-by shooting, victims of apparent mistaken identity. At least one bona fide legend was living in the Ninth when Katrina struck: Fats Domino, the now-elderly pianist who recorded “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill.” But the Ninth’s musical heritage was far richer, studded with local heroes.

It’s not that life in Houston was horrible, says Chevelle’s son Steven, who lives in a one-story apartment complex halfway between Treasure and Abundance streets in New Orleans. Kermit Ruffins and Keith “Wolf” Anderson, neighbors to the Allens, developed solo careers after stints with the renowned Rebirth Brass Band, a New Orleans institution founded in 1983.

Haley Barbour whether they were getting the federal support they needed, and both said they were. “That Mike Brown is doing a heck of a job,” Bush quotes Riley as telling him. “I knew Mike was under pressure, and I wanted to boost his morale. But off the field, it seemed he was forever trying to dodge tensions — like the taunt “N-O!” that the Houston kids would shout whenever New Orleans refugees passed in the hallways. The place cultivated musicians, little kids playing horns and drums, the community celebrating its high school band, each generation of musicians passing their experience onto the next.

As a child, Allen said he would sit on the front porch or up on the levee for hours practicing new songs, and Ruffins or Anderson would come by, offering pointers. It was a natural disaster but also a manmade catastrophe — a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, and women, and children abandoned and alone. “In the years that followed, New Orleans could have remained a symbol of destruction and decay, of a storm that came and the inadequate response that followed. Although he says he has no regrets about coming back to New Orleans, his advice to other young people is: Unless you’re returning for a good job or to study, stay where you are. It was not hard to imagine a day when we’d tell our children that a once vibrant and wonderful city had been laid low by indifference and neglect. … And the victories on the football field. “The Superdome that once housed thousands of Katrina victims became the proud home of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints,” Bush wrote.

Sheehan, director of a nonprofit group that seeks to help residents return. “People say, ‘Well, it’s 10 years later,’ and they’re not back yet. A former chemist with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Weber loved the “Lower Nine.” “It was a nice place to live, a family atmosphere,” she said. “We left the door open.

We’ve always wanted to return.” “You would look at the water and then look back at the land, and you’d go ‘whoa!’ The water level was higher than the street! One day, he hopes, they will scrape together the money to rebuild. “You need to be home, passing on the tradition,” he said. “Even if it’s just one person or two people, you need to be there passing it along.”

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