Killing Them Softly… from Firedoglake by Christy Hardin Smith
Scout Prime has gone down to NOLA for the second annual Rising Tide conference of NOLA and Katrina bloggers, community and political activitists. As Scout says, there are going to be some fantastic speakers on a host of important issues, including the ever-present questions on the engineering (or lack thereof) of the current levee system around New Orleans.
And with Katrina aide incentives going to build luxury football condos in Alabama, rather than for housing projects or other relief for the 45,000 potentially carcinogenic FEMA trailers in the NOLA area alone (yes, you read that correctly — heckuva job, Chertoff!) and the rest of them all along the Gulf Coast, one has to wonder what the Bush Administration’s priorities really are? Or maybe that’s already abundantly clear:
Concerns about formaldehyde contamination have existed for more than a year, but FEMA was slow to react, and when it did, downplayed the health risk. But lawsuits, environmental groups and warnings by independent experts and doctors have pushed FEMA to seriously re-evaluate the risks….
At such high levels, he said people, especially children younger than 6, are likely be affected. (emphasis mine)
The fact that FEMA has been re-selling these trailers isn’t exactly going to make things easier, now is it? I’d say some Congressional oversight is in order, but with Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins at the helm of the Senate’s homeland security committee, I’m not exactly counting on any materializing there, now am I?
I listened to a poignant story the other morning on NPR — an interview with a Katrina survivor who has an incredible amount of grit and determination, something that I have seen and heard from others in this situation as well. (Some of whom are our readers who have shared their stories with all of us over the past two years.) My heart just aches for her, and for everyone still battling to get back on their feet, only to be knocked down again and again by the morass of red tape (something which the luxury condo builders were able to buy their way past with lawyers and PR personnel, no doubt).
If you watched Spike Lee’s “When The Levees Broke,” you heard the mournful yet strong music in the background from composer Terence Blanchard. He has taken that score and expanded it into a jazz requiem which is amazing. (You can listen to excerpts at this Amazon link.) The music will pierce your heart with its fierceness and sorrow, and haunt you well after the fact.
There will be a reckoning in this country some day for the shameful way we have treated our fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast. For their neglect and the willful disregard of conscience and lack of hard work, and instead going for the expedient PR maneuver and lack of substance that is the hallmark of the Bush Administration.
Shame on us all but, truly, shame on a leadership that has failed to actually lead when our nation needed them most.
We need real leadership and real compassion, not some trumped up play-acting and klieg lights. The Bush Administration has learned no lessons from their failures here. God help us all of there is another disaster like Katrina.
It took them more than a year to act on highly toxic and carcinogenic FEMA trailers — more than a year! (Thank you Rep. Waxman for actually having hearings on this issue.) And then they tried to hide the dangers and their own incomptence until they were forced to own up to it by the courts. The levees are likely flawed, and people who have filed lawful claims are still dealing with the appallingly Kafka-esque paperwork nightmare that has been set up to prevent them from getting paid claims, from federal and private insurers alike.
Our own government, killing these people softly after all they have already had to endure with the losses in Katrina. Before you rush off to the rest of your day remember: this could be you…