Saturday, January 9, 2010

Katrina victims still hanging out to dry

With all the riveting headline issues - Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, unemployment, terrorist bombing attempts - not to mention health care reform and the U.S. Senate race - it's easier to forget the continuing effects of hurricane Katrina on the least powerful residents of New Orleans. Levelled by winds, rain and flooding back in 2005, thousands are being ground down still further by unrelenting government bureaucracy as they try to get help for their desperate circumstances. Take the case of Chris Meehan, (son of a classmate of mine), whom the New Orleans Times-Picayune editorialized about yesterday.

The details of his case were laid out dramatically in a Times-Picayune article by reporter David Hammer on December 23. Only one outrage among many was when Meehan's application for assistance was rejected on the basis of fraud. An inspector, Meehan says, from Boston, claimed Meehan couldn't possibly live where he said he lived because "a white person wouldn't live in a black neighborhood." Meehan was cleared of fraud. Will Boston ever be cleared of charges of racism?

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you bringing some more attention to the ongoing suffering of the people of the greater New Orleans area.

    I have to point out, though, that the causes of their distress were not natural ("winds, rain and flooding"). The destruction of huge swaths of New Orleans was a direct result of decades of mismanagement and neglect on the part of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The levee failures were predictable, and their consequences foreseen.

    “The failure of the New Orleans regional flood protection systems,” wrote Raymond Seed, a professor civil engineering at the University of California Berkeley in an October 30, 2007 letter to the American Society of Civil Engineers, “was one of the two most costly failures of engineered systems in history, rivaled only by the Chernobyl meltdown.”

    There are some fantastic resources available at levees[dot]org ( if links are allowed), including a video documentary called "The Katrina Myth: The Truth About a Thoroughly Unnatural Disaster."