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Katrina Response

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Racism and classism are very big issues in the world today. The state, local and federal government's slow response to assist and evacuate the left behind poor, mostly Black people of Katrina is an example of racism and classism today. As explained by reporter Mike Davis (2005), "the ultimate revelation of Katrina was how the promise of equal rights for poor African Americans has been dishonored and betrayed by every level of government."(Johnson) I feel the response of the local, state and federal authorities to the Katrina disaster was inadequate and it demonstrated the continuing relevance of race and class for many reasons. They had a plan in place for an evacuation, there were resources to help people they just weren't used, and if the circumstances were different it wouldn't have happened the way it did.

Thousands of people watched their homes, loved ones, memories and lives be washed away with nowhere to go. The state and local officials are supposed to by law, be responsible for the management of the first response to any disaster.(Williams) Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin did not do their part. There was a plan in place, it just was not followed. "The actions and inactions of Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin are a national disgrace due to their failure to apply the previously established evacuation plans of the state and city." (the heartland institution) Their lack of taking action was the cause of many peoples lives. Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin cannot claim they were surprised by the extent of the damage and the need to evacuate so many people. There were detailed written plans in place and they were ready to evacuate more than a million people.(heartland) The thing that bothers me the most, is that lives could have been saved. If the plan was implemented than a lot of lives would have been saved. There were so many buses that could have been used to evacuate people. Though they gave the warning that a hurricane was coming, they failed to provide help to the people who couldn't afford to just leave.

Response plans at all levels of government lacked flexibility and adaptability. They were not flexible, and acted as if they couldn't adapt once it happened. Officials at all levels seemed to be waiting for the disaster that fit their plans, rather than planning and building scalable capacities to meet whatever Mother Nature threw at them. The fact that the people there were majority black I believe didn't make them speed the process up. The city's evacuation plan states, "The city of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas." The city had enough school and transit buses to evacuate over 12,000 citizens for one trip.(Gonzales) Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin delayed ordering a mandatory evacuation 19 hours before the disaster. (Tom Foreman and Mike Ahlers) The failure to order timely mandatory evacuations, the decision to shelter and not evacuate the remaining population led to deaths, thousands of dangerous rescues, and horrible conditions for those who remained.( (Tom Foreman and Mike Ahlers) It was an incomplete evacuation. We really can't just blame one person, every person that was supposed to be of authority played a part in the slow response. The people of New Orleans counted on the people that are supposed to be of high authority to do their best to save them, and they failed. (Stapp, Katherine)

After speaking with some family member who lived in New Orleans, all of the people I spoke with believe the slow response was based on race and class. This topic is very touchy, people lost their lives, family, friends and homes. My aunt was living in New Orleans; she was trapped in her house. Though I didn't experience it, it did affect me. I haven't seen one of my cousins since before Katrina. No one knows what happened. He wanted to evacuate but he didn't have the finances too. It makes me mad that he had to lose his life because transportation wasn't provided for people who were not financially right. Speaking with one of my cousins "water was not given to us until four days." My uncle said "I was trapped in my house for four days." To me this is ridiculous, especially when in California, when that fire started; the response didn't take any time. The response was different when the circumstances were different.

In conclusion racism and classism has always been a big issue and still is today. I do believe the response of local, state, and federal authorities to the Katrina was inadequate. I also believe the slow response was based on race and class. There were so many things



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