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While Bush was on vacation

by Victor Saraiva


Wind and rain, lots and lots of rain, and  water came rushing in, within minutes rising by feet at a time.  People drowned, hundreds of thousands lost their homes, and America lost New Orleans.  What happened? Or should we ask ourselves why did it happen this way?  Levees that kept the sea out failed because they were not strong enough to hold back the water.  Why, because the money that was supposed to be used to fix the levees, which was put aside during the Clinton administration, was taken by Bush in 2003 and used instead for the Iraq war. 


Meanwhile, after the storm hit, Homeland Security instead of getting people evacuated and saving lives just sat on its hands.  Hundreds of volunteer rescuers who were headed to New Orleans with food, water and small boats were turned back on highway 10 and not allowed to go into the city.  The Red Cross wasn’t allowed in, planes from other countries carrying medical supplies, food and water were turned back.  Offers of help from other countries were turned down. Food from Israel, Spain, and England was not distributed, it was burned on orders from the Food and Drug Administration. Why?  No one seems to understand what is going on but Bush seems to be mainly interested in “cash money and oil” from other countries instead.


Nearly a week into the crisis New Orleans Mayor Nagin screamed: “I don’t want to hear any more press conferences… Get off your asses and lets do something.  Lets fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country!”  It took the United States of America almost one week to send aid to the people of New Orleans, while Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security chief, was saying how proud he was of the way his department had handled the crisis. During this time President Bush was still on vacation, and  V.P. Dick Cheney was also too busy having fun, he stayed on vacation, nearly two weeks after the crisis hit. I guess lives don’t matter much to either Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney.


Hurricane Katrina has served as proof that Homeland Security and President Bush’s administration are not ready for a national emergency.  Sure we cannot avoid a hurricane hitting our shores, but we can prepare for one ahead of time.  New Orleans had plenty of warning.  Those who had cars, got out, and those who didn’t  couldn’t, because they were poor and didn’t have a way to get out of the city. Why weren’t city buses and school buses used to get people out?  Maybe what we saw broadcast on network TV could give us a clue; we saw those who got caught by Katrina were mainly black and mostly poor.  Reporters who saw white and black people on the ground carrying bags of food, described those who were black as looters, while those who were white as scrambling to find food to survive. Racism is alive and well in America. 


Why did it take a week before food and clean water was distributed to the survivors? Why did it take a week before the survivors finally get evacuated? Why were people at some Hotels evacuated before people at the convention center or at the Superdome?  Those at the Hotels had food.  The others did not.  Those at the Hotels, were not poor, but the others at the Superdome who were mainly black, were. Inequality is alive and well in America.


We should ask ourselves, is this how Bush responds to a national emergency?  Should rich white lives be more important than other lives? This is not the America I have been brought up to believe in, nor the one described in history books. Bush has failed our country.  We expect our president to protect all Americans, all the people, whether they are rich or poor, black, or white.  Bush has failed and the people of New Orleans are paying the price.


Victor Saraiva is senior editor, he can be reached by email


Posted  October 05, 2005

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