The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and surrounding has been pretty well described by major news media and other bloggers, so I'll skip it. I haven't seen TV coverage of course, which means that it's that much less real to me. The tsunami was harder and worse to live through, being closer and in places I actually had visited and could visualize.
Is is not amazing, though, that there were SO MANY disaster scenarios that predicted this? And is it not criminal that the Bush Admin had basically gutted FEMA and Army Corps of Engineers funding to pay for Iraq? And is it a coincidence that in a majority Black city the scale of the disaster was under-predicted, even as it was unfolding, and under-appreciated until they had to evacuate the Superdrome? Perhaps this is the easy response of a person (me) who's been trained to look for prejudice to a disaster that stymies the blame game. Any disaster does that, but I claim the right to ask, what could have been better or worse about this?
Having dabbled in disaster-relief and disaster-mitigation-planning this year (tsunami/dam project) I know that in America these events may be catastrophic and costly but they are not usually chaotic and fatal in a way comparable to this. Not at all. That was something we talked about post-tsunami, that Time magazine write about; the First World has systems and people set up to manage these crises, with the result that more is predicted and more is prevented. Also the emergency response is coordinated. Obviously.
I can't imagine why, with so many predictions and speculations about the conditions for New Orleans flood disasters, this wasn't seen as clearly as Katrina itself, whirling around in the Gulf for five days like a demented Eastern Bloc figure skater. That's what the name sounds like, anyway. Those hit hardest are the poorest of the poor, as everywhere, but the apparent blind eye turned by the Powers That Be to their plight (hundreds told to head to a convention center for relief arrived to find no relief and no coordinating authorities there) is tragic and gives me pause when I think about the role of the American government in protecting our people.
The only thing I can imagine in terms of a governemental bias, besides a persistent racial prejudice that says heavily Black areas can be neglected with respect to just about anything, is the perhaps more damning (and I mean that) belief by Bush and Co. that God and America have a special cozy relationship. The man does think so, I'm sure of it. Therefore natural disasters are God's Will, and additionally fit nicely with the current aura of contemporary millenarian End Times fantasies.
It's quite simple to neglect disaster planning and public schooling and economic responsibility and foreign policy and whatever else when you (and a sizable number of your constituents) actually think that the Rapture is coming. The Administration has been quite silent, it seems, on the topic of the Gaza pullout; maybe they're discouraged as Jews must hold the Holy Land for the Antichrist to arise! Not sure if the Antichrist is looking for ancient or 1949 or 1967 or 2005 borders.
In any case it wouldn't surprise me if they see the past year-of-natural-disasters as another Sign. To them, the Day After Tomorrow isn't about climate change or oil prices or transportation policy, no, it's about punishing the deviants (including, um, the rest of the world) who didn't line up for Jesus, Coca-Cola, white America, Iraq liberation, vanilla heterosexuality, and Bush/Cheney 2004.
On a more personal note, I left Kandy yesterday (going back in two weeks, ha) and have settled in some nice people's house in Colombo. I'm down the street from the best theatre and gallery in the city! And close to the embassy pool. They have a yellow Lab puppy. My cell phone works again. I am starting to see myself in America in six weeks, which is daunting but exciting. I don't feel in-between yet, but I will soon. Going to India (Chennai-Pondicherry-Ellora-Cochin-Trivandrum, I think) on the 25th of September for two weeks and I actually bought a ticket and everything. Hooray planning.