I bet if there was a missing white teenage girl it would get reported non-stop. But when it is nearly 1,200 families in St. Bernard Parish who are still homeless nearly a full year after Hurricane Katrina, well, that doesn't need to be reported.
With hurricane season upon us and nary a word about New Orleans for lord knows how many months now, it is absolutely disgusting to hear of the lack of progress in helping to rebuild the lives of the thousands of families who lost everything. Last week, one of my buddies, who has relatives in Metairie, LA showed me some pictures and videos of his trip to the Ninth Ward and New Orleans earlier in the year. To say that I was blown away at the devastation and destruction that still lines every corner is a huge understatement.
And now we hear that there are trailers that are sitting on people's home sites but are locked and the families have been unable to get FEMA to help. This is a full year after the mass devastation and FEMA is still giving excuses as opposed to assistance.
The amount of neglect that these families have received, as well as the complete ass-backwards handling of just about everything since before Katrina even touched down is staggering. Yet, we can find a few extra billions on no notice from "supplemental emergency spending bills" to send over to Halliburton or Big Oil.
We heard back in March that there were approximately 10,000 mobile homes which were stored in Arkansas but can't be shipped to the Gulf Coast because they can't be placed in a floodplain. And what are we hearing now from FEMA officials when it comes to these roughly 1,200 families?
FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said that he understands people are frustrated with the wait but that workers are filling requests as fast as they can. He notes the agency has provided housing assistance to more than 900,000 people regionwide since the Aug. 29 storm. Most years, the agency handles only 2,000 to 3,000 people.
"If you look at the sheer numbers, we've been very successful," he said.
Gee, that's just great. If we take that same logical approach, than I guess we can say that we've been very successful in Iraq, since most of our troops haven't been killed or injured. And most of the Iraqis are still alive. But why stop there? Nearly 2/3 of this country DOES have health care coverage, so we must be very successful there too. And most of the states and localities haven't yet sued the Federal government over the No Child Left Behind Act, so it must have been very successful too.
But I digress.
To give you a small idea of how bad the situation still is in St. Bernard Parish:
In this parish adjoining New Orleans, virtually no one was spared massive flooding from the storm surge and breaks in the flood-control system; all but a handful of the 27,000 homes belonging to mostly working-class residents were inundated. Very few have been repaired yet.
These are people who can't afford to just pick up and leave to find work, schooling for their children and housing elsewhere. These are people who are elderly and disabled.
The disabled couple -- she's blind and he lost part of a foot in an industrial accident -- had been trying to get a trailer since shortly after the storm so they could begin working on their house, which was flooded and slicked by oil.
These are people who are having health problems for which they STILL have not received proper care and assistance nearly one year later:
Almost one year later restoration of federal funding for reconstruction -- and for the support of medical teams coming into the area from across the country -- have been tied up in congressional budget talks.
Meanwhile, patients still need treatment for skin problems and respiratory conditions caused by mold and dust, along with other illnesses prevalent in the area such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. And there are mental health problems to deal with as well.
Let me repeat a part of that once again: federal funding for the support of medical teams has been tied up in congressional budget talks.
Hmmmm....where have I heard that one before? Oh yeah, when Congress went on vacation for Memorial Day without approving emergency and necessary spending for supplies and armor for our troops.
And for all you Jesus freaks out there who are so quick to quote "the Lord" when it comes to smiting those damn gays or people who actually don't want someone else suppressing their rights and freedoms, lest we forget what the Bible says about the poor.
But we shouldn't forget these families who have had to endure a year of living hell, and sadly there doesn't appear to be an end in sight.
Are we a third world country yet?