Gustav v. Katrina?
September 2, 2008 1:02am CST
I am so tired of people in the media placing so much blame on how things were handled during Katrina. My parents are from Pascagoula, MS, one of the hardest hit places by Katrina. I grew up spending summers on the coast of Mississippi and time in New Orleans. My family has been there for over 250 years and my aunt lost her home in Katrina. No one was prepared for what Katrina did and if you've spent any time in that area, you would know that the roadways that were washed out and destroyed made it virtually impossible to get to people. Helicopters tried to help but they were unable to get too close because the people who were on the ground were desperate and were grabbing at the legs of the helicopters and were endangering the people on board. That made rescuing people or even getting supplies to them almost impossible. Another thing people need to understand is that there hadn't been a storm like Katrina to hit there since Camille back in '69. That's 36 years. People had gotten comfortable and weren't concerned enough about the storm because they'd seen so many storms before. I remember going down after Camille hit and seeing the devastation along the coast. I guess my strongest memory was of front porch steps that used to lead to a house that was no longer there. For an 11 year old, that was a strange experience. The saddest thing was seeing the destruction of all of the beautiful old homes along the coast. I guess my point is that no one was prepared for Katrina because people who lived down there had become complacent because they'd ridden out so many storms since Camille. Like I said, my family has been there for a long time. In fact, when Katrina hit, it took days and even weeks to find out how everyone was. Initially, I was told that my grandparents' former house was destroyed. That was a very emotional time because when I was growing up that was the only place I really felt safe. I later found out that the house was okay but that my aunt's house two doors down was severely damaged and flooded. In fact, when my aunt went down to check the damage, she found a picture of my grandmother floating in the kitchen. My great Aunt Archie's house was two doors down from my Aunt Jane's and my other great Aunt's (Hattie's) house was next door up the hill. My cousin lives in Aunt Archie's house and it took months before I could get hold of her and find out how she and the house were doing. You have to understand that I spent almost as much time in Aunt Archie's house growing up as I did my grandparents' house. The house had been flooded but was salvageable. My cousin and her husband are still living in the garage apartment since Katrina so I'm relieved that Gustav wasn't so bad. However, the family who lived across the street from my grandparents' lost their house. Our families have lived next to each other for almost 100 years and have been friends for three or four generations. Again, I spent a lot of time in their house growing up and the matriarch of their family lived in the house across the street to the south and I think that house survived. And, it was closer to the ocean. I'm saying all of this because I want you to understand from a personal perspective that the media shouldn't blame the government for not being prepared for Katrina because the only way to really be prepared for something like Katrina is to be constantly prepared for each and every storm every year and that would create a constant sense of fear. It's like living in California, where I live, and being constantly aware of the possibility of a massive earthquake. You can only be so prepared and when years go by and nothing really massive happens, people relax. Just like people have relaxed about the possibility of terrorist attacks since 9/11. No one expected that anymore than people expected Katrina or the '94 earthquake here in L.A. that was so destructive. I just don't think it's fair to blame the government for natural disasters that no one in their right mind are going to anticipate. If we all sat around wondering and preparing for the next disaster to come, we'd all go crazy. The good think about Katrina is that people now pay more attention to warnings about hurricanes coming their way. However, if there is no other massive hurricane like Katrina for another 35 years, people will become complacent again. It's human nature. So, give the authorities a break and realize that everyone is human and we all do the best that we can do in certain situations. Placing blame never helped anyone.