While the city of Philadelphia, Temple and countless other institutions are swiftly doing all they can to aid in the New Orleans hurricane crisis, the federal government’s response remains embarrassingly inadequate. The world now perceives, and with good reason, that the leading superpower is incapable of handling its own catastrophes, even of natural cause.
The destruction that Hurricane Katrina has wrought upon New Orleans, one of the country’s most cultural and historical cities, is horrifying.
Yet the more horrifying aspect is that the federal government lacked the foresight to act at the crisis’s early stages or even in the years of warning it had received.
Three years ago in the New Orleans newspaper the Times-Picayune, writers John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein in an award-winning five-part series outlined how vulnerable the Louisiana city was to a major hurricane and that it was a question of “when,” not “if” it happened.
Instead of the government anticipating disaster, they actually took the opposite course of action. President Bush cut catastrophe budgets in order to further fund the war in Iraq. He halted funding of the Army Corps of Engineers, the organization responsible for protecting areas of the country from natural disasters, of around $4.7 billion.
No one, not even the leaders of the United States, can stop the weather; yet they did have the ability to prevent many of its aftereffects.
In its aftermath, Katrina left hundreds dead and homeless; but nature’s consequences do not seem to be the worst of what has resulted in the rubble. The U.S. government didn’t even send the National Guard in until days after the storm had subsided.
National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice said, “We’re all going to need to be in this together.” Yet it seems that in all these events, the party responsible for abandonment was the U.S. government. U.S. leaders should have been proactive enough to send in the National Guard while the storm was in motion. Instead they arrived like overeager soldiers after a battle had been fought.
Not only has this Category 4 storm left irrevocable damages upon a famed U.S. city and tore apart the lives of countless people, it has also put our country’s credibility to shame in front of the watchful eyes of the world.