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05 September 2005

Cyclone Sadness

Damitt I know I should be blogging about the hurricane right now, but I couldn't bring myself to do it until now. This is a f***ing travestry of not only justice, but humanity. This hurricane disaster should serve notice on the world about the shape the planet is in, the ineffiecencies of our US government to respond to the disaster effectively, the plight of poor americans, and the lunacy of the media to even get the damn story right! I live in Atlanta, which other than Houston and maybe Dallas Texas, is the most populated area closest to the affected area. New Orelans is only a 5-6 hour drive from here, and I have been to the Crecent City about 3 times now. It will never be the same again... Let me repeat that for you, IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN---EVER! Let me state the facts for you if you've never been to N.O., or you,ve never been north of I-10 in the city, and just stayed your ass in the French Quarter, RIverfront, and CBD the whole time....

From Wikipedia: New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French as La Nouvelle-Orléans, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. The site was selected because it was a rare bit of natural high ground along the flood-prone banks of the lower Mississippi, and was adjacent to a Native American trading route and portage between the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain via Bayou St. John (known to the natives as Bayou Choupique). A community of French fur trappers and traders had existed along the bayou (in what is now the middle of New Orleans) for at least a decade before the official founding of the city.

Much of the city is located below sea level between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, so the city is surrounded by levees. Until the early 20th century, construction was largely limited to the slightly higher ground along old natural river levees and bayous, since much of the rest of the land was swampy and subject to frequent flooding. This gave the 19th century city the shape of a crescent along a bend of the Mississippi, the origin of the nickname The Crescent City. In the 1910s engineer and inventor A. Baldwin Wood enacted his ambitious plan to drain the city, including large pumps of his own design which are still used. All rain water must be pumped up to the canals which drain into Lake Pontchartrain. Wood's pumps and drainage allowed the city to expand greatly in area. However, pumping of groundwater from underneath the city has resulted in subsidence. The subsidence greatly increased the flood risk, should the levees be breached or precipitation be in excess of pumping capacity. There were many warnings in the late 20th century that a major hurricane or a Mississippi flood could create a lake in the central city as much as 9 m (30 ft) deep, which could take months to pump dry.

OK... This was a known risk. And New Orleans was drained 100 years ago, and the creator of the levee and pump system there said even back then that this is a system that must be maintained and upgraded as technology advances. The US Army Corps of Engineers (which oversees the entire Mississippi River system of locks and dams and levees), and the Louisiana state government came up with an $11 billion plan to upgrade the pumps and levees that protect the city in early 2000. It came before congress in 2002, but in the wake of 9-11 and most recently the Iraq War, it got turned down... Now I can think of other plans which still got built for more than that during this presidents administration... Boston's Big Dig for example... You mean to tell me that protecting a major city (where 15% of our oil is brought from the Gulf, and refined, then sent on to points in the US via pipeline) isn't important?

Then it hit me... If you walk out of the French Quarter, north along Canal St, or down Rampart St, something happens... You walk into a predominatly Black section of town... This is the real NOLA. This also happens to be the part of N.O. that is below sea level! New Orleans is about 74% African American, and the population has 30% living at or below the poverty line. So I guess poor folks don't need to have protection from the elements by the very government they pay taxes to support. Im no race card player (see my other posts, and you'll see that I equally blast everyone; If you're wrong, you're wrong!) but when I see a... ...trend, yeah thats a nice word for it, a trend, then I call it how I see it.

On TV I see poor whites, blacks and more in a f***ed up situation. This government sat on its collective ass for 3 whole days before responding. The mayor of New Orleans had to cuss and cry on the radio before the Feds came outta their comas to notice. Folks had to break into stores just to get food. People have been trapped in attics and rooftops for nearly a week. People have died in the streets waiting to get out... The scenes look like Mogadishu, or even Baghdad, more than a major US city now. I've talked to several New Orleanians-- Atlanta is overcrowded with storm evacuees this weekend, and you cannot find gas hardly nowhere in this town! But I'm not shocked. Not in the least, for you see, I am used to the disenfranchisement of this government when it comes to the poor. The faces I see are like those I see in my neighboorhood back home in St. Louis. During the Flood of 1993, it was the same BS; if you were rich or a corporation, then the Feds would be out there sandbagging with you. But if you aren't financially "viable", or the "wrong color," then you're assed out as we see in this latest crisis...

Its all the same... Flood of '93, LA riots of '65 and '92, and any other major crisis that I can think of, it would almost seem like its a reason to go ahead and kick the disenfranchised to the wayside. Welcome to the new Fudalist States of America.
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