Illegal Jesus

A national failing

I’m sitting here in the living room of my two-bedroom apartment, safe and warm with a belly full of dinner I cooked in my small but comfortable kitchen. My house doesn’t has wheels. I have a box of pictures in my closet that I like to look at sometimes. I am not uprooted, nor am I attempting to iron out a new identity for myself.

I am not a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. I am lucky, for reasons I don’t understand.

This weekend, we watched When the Levees Broke, a four-part documentary directed by Spike Lee. It is at times amusing, at times disturbing, and most times heartbreaking. Most of the interviews told us things we already knew about the generalities of the storm, the evacuations, the failings of the levees, with the poignant touch of personality. Tears. Anger.

I teared up many times and cried openly several times. The biggest emotional reaction I had was in response to then President George W. Bush reassuring the nation that we would help New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast area. I can’t find video of it on YouTube, nor can I remember his exact words, but I remember my reaction. I shook with anger. Then I started crying, which is an unfortunate response I have in cases of extreme emotional stress. All of it was, of course, tempered by how, during his last press conference, he defended his actions during Katrina.

It took him nearly three weeks to put his feet on the ground in New Orleans.

The Army Corps of Engineers knew the levees could not withstand a strong storm.

It has been three and a half years and areas of New Orleans are still in shambles, still waiting to be bulldozed or cleaned up or repaired. It is the city that has been forgotten. I was glad for the press grilling President Bush on Katrina during his last press conference. It brought it all back to the surface, back to the public eye. I’ll admit to letting the issue fall to the back burner and I’m not proud of it. Everyone needs to remember. Something needs to be done. The job needs to be finished.

A month or so ago, Rachel Maddow reported on storm damage from Hurricane Ike. It still hasn’t been cleaned up. Along the coast, tangles of trash and debris float, polluting the water and the soil with toxins and waste. It’s shocking. Our government doesn’t care. I can’t say that the Obama administration cares. I haven’t really heard much of a plan from Obama; maybe I’ve missed it (feel free to point me to any statements Obama or his administration has made on Katrina and/or Ike damage cleanup).

This week, I’m going to try to send some letters and emails to people about New Orleans, Katrina, and Ike. I encourage you to do the same.

Advertisements