We received this comment from a reader and thought it compelling enough to share as a featured story .–Editor
Dear Guardian: Thank you for your story on Kantankerous Katrina. I have a friend who lives near Baton Rouge and she wrote this to me. Thought you would like to hear another perspctive on things, Bill Heath
“We have had a battery operated TV, so we’ve been getting local channels focusing on the situation there and here. I’m just getting the ‘national perspective’ and its pissing me off. First, this is not a racial thing.
I’m sorry if all reporters are seeing are black faces, but if they would take their cameras to places like Slidell, Mandeville, Metairie and Chalmett, they would see several thousand white faces being affected by
Most of the tip of the boot that is Louisiana south and east of Baton Rouge is under water. Those people are stuck too, waiting for help, dying, but all the news people can focus on is the Superdome. Another misconception.
The violence going on there is not the reaction of desperate people. Its
typical New Orleans on any give Tuesday!!! It’s a cangerous, dirty,
drug-infested place where the city police and city government is corrupt and
useless. Volunteers are getting shot at and their cars vandalized.
Helicopters are being shot at. Just another day in the city.
Another misconception. These poor people couldn’tt get out because they don’t have cars. If the cameras show the city once the waters recede, you’ll notice all the flooded-out cars littering the streets. They couldn’t all have been broken down before the storm hit. Yes, there are always people who do not have transpotation.
Part of making the call for amandatory evacuation is that the city has to provide for transportation and/or shelter in the city. People stayed for the same reasons they always stay. They think the storm will turn and go in another direction. They think they can “ride it out.” Or, they’re just too lazy to pack up and
Another misconception. The federal government was slow to respond. The president issued a state of emergency BEFORE the storm ever hit, unprecedented. This means that the full access of the federal government, be it military or civil, were at our governor’s disposal. The levee broke early Monday afternoon. She did not call evacuation until Tuesday morning. You cannot call up National Guard units in 20 minutes. It takes time.
The governor and mayor are in high CYA mode at the moment. The situation is bad here. Crime is becoming a problem in Gonzales and Baton Rouge where the evacuees are being housed. We live between the two cities and there is a pistol on my desk shelf as I type (yes, I know how to use it). Helicopters flying overhead all day, gas is running out, store shelves becoming empty.Its like a war zone. Our kids are both here and are staying here until the
crime situation gets in control. I fear it will get worse before it gets better. Pray for us. I’ll write more later.’
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Sep 8, 2005, 6:30 pm
It is obvious that Mr.Heath’s friend is far better off than most we hear about and see on television. She, afterall, has internet or postal service, neither of which are available to those hit hardest. I think there isn’t much in this letter most people of any cerebral nature haven’t already figured out. However, after several travels in that part of the country I will say that there are places one can go and see no white faces for literally days. I thought the media (msnbc, cnn, fox, etc) had done well showing the multi-racial faces of the refugees. I call them refugees because they are those seeking refuge, and I’ll not be caught up in somebody’s idea of political correctness which is really just a way to bastardize the English language. That aside, most Americans are aware of the high crime rate, drug addiction rate and alcoholism rate in some parts of New Orleans. I expect Biloxi may be similar in certain areas of town and in fact Baton Rouge is known to have many areas of town where those of sound mind know better than to travel after dusk for fear of being mugged or worse. The facts are that New Orleans has a poverty rate of over two times the national average. It’s a stretch to say that those who failed to leave are “too lazy”, when wolf has been shouted in the face of these folks for most of their lives. I’ll not be faulting them for their own situation. I’m not sure anyone has to be faulted, although that seems to be the only thing to pacify some. I know of one medical team specially trained to respond to emergencies which has been moved 7 times by FEMA orders from STATE TO STATE and has treated one small cut thus far. See, I think that is just someone (perhaps not Geo. W) who WILL NOT make a decision with authority. If it’s not about the man with whom the buck stops…it surely may be about those with whom he surrounds himself. I expect when it’s all said and done a FEMA director will be standing in the cheese line on a rainy day and we will ALL be better for learning the lessons to be learned from Katrina.