Katrina and the continuing tragedy

Hurricane Katrina is now five years into our past and yet the cost in terms of being a social disaster and human tragedy continues on through until today and shows no sign of changing. While the hurricane itself was a brief show of strength by Mother Nature the cost in terms of lost human dignity is still climbing. In the months immediately following the hurricane the relief efforts were fraught with scandal and some of the worst examples of greed one could imagine.

Granted some of that greed and abuse happened on both sides, those needing help and those providing that help, but that won’t change how history looks upon how we treated the survivors of one of the deadliest hurricanes in US history. Now though is it only a faded memory of powerful images that flashed across our screen. Yet there are still people, mostly the very poor, who are being victimized day after day even now.

Stories of contractors who either did shoddy below standards work or just left once they had the money, to FEMA official who say one thing to the press and something totally different to the affected people are told to whoever will listen. Most of the time though it seems that no-one wants to hear because nothing changes, except maybe for the worse

Once more this horrendous treatment of Katrina survivors gets front page press not because of changes being made but because they are once more being victimized by the very agency tasked with helping them. As of the end of May FEMA will be taking back the trailers provided to survivors following Katrina, following many delays mind you. For the 3,000 people currently living in these trailers they are the only home that they have, or will have. In turn FEMA will be either selling off the trailers for a fraction of what they are worth or – scrapping them.

Of those in trailers, more than 2,000 are homeowners who fear that the progress they are making in rebuilding will come to a halt if their trailers are taken.

“They had helped me out up until this point, and I couldn’t believe that they suddenly decided, no, we’re not going to let you finish the house, we’re just going to take the trailer, and you can sit here on an empty lot,” said Philipp Seelig, 70, a retired handyman. He said he was about two months from being able to move back into his duplex in the Broadmoor neighborhood. A grant to elevate his house to the required height did not come until December.

Source: Shaila Dewan – New York Times

As we head into another hurricane season I can only hope that we don’t see a repeat of that deadliest season but given the continuing tragedy that is the Katrina aftermath I don’t hold out much hope.