How many Katrina victims still forgotten?
September 5, 2005 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I know we're all burnt out on this--but that's exactly my point. As the national mood turns to relief at the cavalry finally arriving, how many are still out there, in the most extreme need and still ignored or unknown?

The national attention span is awfully short in this country . . .

From the Baltimore Sun link:
"The federal people don't have a clue," said U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Democrat who represents southeastern Louisiana. "They know where New Orleans is, period." . . .

It was not until Saturday, six days after Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast, that federal assistance finally arrived in Plaquemines Parish, a community of 27,000 southeast of New Orleans, said Amos Cormier, chairman of the Plaquemines Parish Council.

Asked what kind of assistance the Federal Emergency Management Agency brought Saturday, Cormier said, "They were two guys in a car."
And from the Oxfam link:
"It’s going to be a long time before they get to us," she said. "That’s my overall impression. There’s not much help out there. But it’s amazing, because they’re scrapping for themselves: There’s Cajun people, Creoles, Vietnamese."

In the days following the widespread destruction, damage in the rural regions of Louisiana and Mississippi has yet to draw national sympathy—and shock—the way the devastation in coastal areas and urban centers has. With trees down, power out, and communication between some parishes virtually impossible, no one knows the full extent of losses faced by farming and fishing communities. . . .

"Every storm I’ve been in, we always got some help, but it’ll be two or three years before you get any," said Ben Burkett, state coordinator for the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives . . .
posted by flug at 11:58 AM on September 5, 2005

"But how many people may remain in mortal peril?"

A hell of a lot I'm sure but I suspect the responders are able to multi-task. Isn't this just a rehashing of so many other FPP's already on the blue? Not sure what the national sympathy and shock statement is in regards to that article. If you're suggesting there isn't any, I'd be wondering what you've been watching or reading the last week.
posted by j.p. Hung at 11:59 AM on September 5, 2005

I know we're all burnt out on this

Yeah, let's just not worry about it anymore


Lawn darts, anyone?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:03 PM on September 5, 2005

If you're suggesting there isn't any, I'd be wondering what you've been watching or reading the last week.

The problem is, we've been watching and reading it, but much of the nation has been shopping and barbecuing. Once you step outside of the zone where you actively seek information, it's pretty much business as usual out there. I'm ashamed for us.
posted by Miko at 12:07 PM on September 5, 2005

A couple more stories showing some of the picture outside of New Orleans: posted by flug at 12:10 PM on September 5, 2005

"80 people are trapped in the Medical Residence Hall at LSU Health Science Center there are three buildings located at the corner of Tulane and Caiborne, about a mile from the Superdome, they have a very limited supply of water and food. They can't break out of the building or go to the roof. Please let the rescue teams know about their situation."

80 people? EIGHTY?!!!
posted by abbyladybug at 12:18 PM on September 5, 2005

Just heard about the hurricance. It's hard to believe that they knew about this possibility (c'mon, we all did) and were as badly prepared as they were. I mean Ivan almost hit it last year ...

I'm chipping in to the Red Cross, but I'm not sure what else I should do. Disaster relief is one obvious reason why we should have a federal goverment (so all states will help). It's too bad the federal relief has been so ineffective. Again, still catching up on the news ..
posted by mrgrimm at 12:26 PM on September 5, 2005

This made me feel a little hopeful about the whole thing.

via Hot Links, who got it from Andy Baio, who got it from #1's tags who (I assume) got it from zcasper at Flickr. Thanks

I wasn't sure which thread to put this in and I didn't want to post YAKT to the front page and I thought maybe this was posted in one of the other Katrina threads, but I didn't see it, not that I've been keeping up with ALL of them...
posted by jaronson at 12:29 PM on September 5, 2005

Very hard to read: missing persons database.
posted by moonbird at 12:33 PM on September 5, 2005

Oh and about being 'burnt out,' I may be slightly less inclined to spend all day datamining this, but the scale is so utterly surreal that I don't see how one could just get bored with it. Somewhere I read a quote from someone that after 9/11, everyone was crying and hugging, but the nation hasn't really responded that way. While there have been huge donations coming in, it only takes a few minutes to plug in a CC# on your computer and be done with it. Also, flags were apparently ordered at half-staff for Rehnquist yesterday, but what about for our own citizens? There is no burning out for me anyway until there are answers and accountability, and until people are in real homes instead of Thunderdomes.
posted by moonbird at 12:40 PM on September 5, 2005

Thank you moonbird.
posted by Balisong at 12:44 PM on September 5, 2005

Not sure what the national sympathy and shock statement is in regards to that article. If you're suggesting there isn't any, I'd be wondering what you've been watching or reading the last week.

From the linked article, here is the bit I quoted:
In the days following the widespread destruction, damage in the rural regions of Louisiana and Mississippi has yet to draw national sympathy—and shock—the way the devastation in coastal areas and urban centers has. With trees down, power out, and communication between some parishes virtually impossible, no one knows the full extent of losses faced by farming and fishing communities.
Part of my point is, it took days and days of front-page coverage of thousands of desparate people at the Superdome, before action was finally taken.

I'll wager that when you sum up these rural areas, there are many tens of thousands stranded or in need--people who need everything from food to water, fuel, medicine, physical security, and so on.

But the media spotlight isn't on them the way it was on the Superdome or, in general, the city of New Orleans.

Meanwhile, the federal gov't has pretty well proven that the only thing that makes them spring into action quickly is intense, embarassing, media exposure.

So what's going to happen to these rural folks, who seem to be far from the media spotlight? And who, as of TODAY (yes, that is ONE FULL WEEK after the hurricane struck), seem to be receiving NO HELP AT ALL.

They'll be left to fend for themselves is my bet . . . and the indications in the articles linked in the OP.

Somebody please prove me wrong . . .
posted by flug at 12:45 PM on September 5, 2005

What about the floating balls of stinging ants? Anyone heard more about that? I know there were nests all around the convention center, with people from SIGGRAPH being stung if they sat on the grass.

Now I hear something about more than one nest per square meter, on average?

Not that it's anyones biggest threat right now, but it has a poignantly apocalyptic dimension.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:12 PM on September 5, 2005

I'm chipping in to the Red Cross, but I'm not sure what else I should do.

Well, mrgrimm, whatever you do, don't try to keep your life as normal as possible... we don't want to bring further shame to Miko. .. . a real trooper and role model for all of us.

I too, contributed some cash to Red Cross. But apparently I'm supposed to turn my life upside down over this debacle, even though everyone has been telling us that the best any of us can do is to send money. While I WILL be attending a BBQ later today, I will also, no doubt, drop some more money into the fireman's boot at any/every insection in my town. The clothes I've gathered will be dropped off as soon as I find exactly where I'm supposed to take them. I wonder how well all the car washes and other fund-raisers the local sports teams and sororities have been hosting did in raising money for the relief funds. It goes on and on. I live 1,000 miles from N.O. and we're all doing what we can, when we can, where we can... BUT we still have lives of our own and we can't and shouldn't ignore. Bring on the ribs... and as I suck that sweet meat from every bone, I'll do so in honor of all my Cajun brothuhs and sistuhs. Miko just like to say things to make him or herself feel better than everyone else.
posted by Witty at 1:13 PM on September 5, 2005

Witty: Those affected would probably be Creole rather than Cajun. The Cajuns are in S. West La.. Just so you'll know which brothuhs and sistuhs to honor.
posted by Carbolic at 1:25 PM on September 5, 2005


"Did we have a request?" said David Passey, a FEMA spokesman. "We're here supporting the state. Requests come from the locals to the state, from the state to the feds. ... We're sensitive to the fact that this is the state of Louisiana. We don't want to just go places where the state says there isn't a need."

So basically "Well if you idiots would have mailed or faxed in the appropriate FEMA Hurricane Help Request Forms, we would have sent help right away!"
posted by eatyourlunch at 1:31 PM on September 5, 2005

Personally, I support the transformation of MetaFilter into a bulletin board devoted to the federal government's poor response to the hurricane in Louisiana. The front page used to get cluttered with addictive flash games and fascinating bits of information. Sometimes, it took me 10-15 minutes to read, even when I was just skimming for front-page posts that looked interesting to me.

Now, I only have to glance into the blue for a second or two and I have my choice of front page posts flagellating FEMA, the Bush Administration, the National Guard, and the federal government. I can get my quota of self-righteous anger in less than a minute, without being distracted by any entertainment or edification. Much more efficient than the old way.
posted by esquire at 1:39 PM on September 5, 2005

Carbolic - Right on... thanks!
posted by Witty at 1:41 PM on September 5, 2005

Witty, I'm glad your community is so much more responsive than mine. I can only speak for what I see here. There are no firemen with boots in my city. There are no car washes. The difference between local response to this and local response to 9/11 is glaring. I agree with moonbird - there's a lot yet to be done. And yes, I am ashamed of what we've allowed to happen. Aren't you?
posted by Miko at 1:46 PM on September 5, 2005

thnaks for posting this, flug. I was flipping through the NOLA board posts last night and had the same thoughts that you did, apparently.

and the rest of y'all can go fuck y'all.
posted by mwhybark at 1:47 PM on September 5, 2005

Miko - I gotta ask... did you, yourself, try to get something going in your community... a fund-raiser of some sort? I mean, it only takes one person to get something started. Hopefully you've at least made some kind of reasonable donation to something. Giving money is the best anyone can do, as the logistics (gathering, sorting, shipping, distributing) surrounding other types of donations (food, water, clothes, etc.) are just too much to make it worth the effort in the short term.
posted by Witty at 2:03 PM on September 5, 2005

This is not a comment regarding the lack of quick response on the part of the Feds or lack of planning on the part of state and local authorities. Just a point of information.

A big part of the problem they are facing at this point is that NOLA is now basically a toxic waste marsh surrounded by water with one viable route of access. The causeway from the north is gone and I don't think I-10 from the east is of any use. All they have is I-10 coming in from the west. The only way they can get to the people in NOLA, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parish is by helicopter or small flat bottom boats. This is why people are able to return to Jefferson Parish ("high" ground west of NOLA and accessable by I-10) while there are folks still stranded in other areas.
posted by Carbolic at 2:06 PM on September 5, 2005

"Did we have a request?" said David Passey, a FEMA spokesman. "We're here supporting the state. Requests come from the locals to the state, from the state to the feds. Unfortunately, as they did not use a correctly completed 27B-6 requisition form, we were unable to stamp it and therefore could not respond with any assistance."

Passey went on to say that while the 27B-6 form must be both signed and stamped, a form that is only signed may not be stamped, as all forms must first be stamped, and then signed.
posted by nlindstrom at 4:25 PM on September 5, 2005

WItty, I'm happy to tell you.

1. On Thursday, I'd already donated the maximum amount I keep available in my budget for charitable contributions. I gave to the Red Cross, the NAACP relief fund, and Habitat for Humanity.

2. A friend and I made and sold ribbons downtown on the street and at work Saturday and Sunday to raise further money for the Red Cross.

3. I used Craigslist to coordinate with a guy in Boston who was collecting clothing/food/etc. and driving it down to the new evacuee center at Otis. I helped him sort and load it in a truck yesterday afternoon.

4. I've been communicating with another MeFi member in Portland, ME. She is working to coordinate a restaurant donation night in her community. She's meeting with the state rep tomorrow and will be letting me know how to coordinate it in my own city. I tried to call the Chamber of Commerce about it already to see if there is interest, but they were closed Sunday and Monday. I'll call tomorrow when I get the details.

5. Evacuees are coming to Otis AFB in Mass. I called the Friends Meeting near Otis AFB and the NAACP chapter there to try to connect with someone who could collect donations from my workplace. I had to leave messages at both places, but will call them again tomorrow.

6. I wrote to my state rep, my rep in Congress, and my two state senators asking them to authorize any and all immediate assistance and to work toward legislation to improve the social safety net so similar disasters would not be so disastrous in future.

7. I emailed everyone in my address book and asked them to write their reps, too. I included a link that makes it easy to look up your Congresspeople. I included links to the three organizations I donated to.

8. I contacted a musician friend of mine - he's in a Zydeco band - about setting up a music/dance party in a club in his city as a fundraiser. We'll move ahead with that; it might even happen in Nov. and December when this is further out of the headlines, yet the need is still there.

10. I've followed the story carefully and tried to gather as many facts as I possibly can so that I'll have an informed sense of what's going on. This will better enable me to speak to others in the coming days about the issues it raises.

11. Because I'm a museum administrator, I posted a link on my blog for the AAM's fund which will go to salvaging and conserving museum collections in the affected areas.

Is that enough for you yet?

I'm not sure why you tried to call me out. I'm not trying to feel like I'm 'better than' other people. Usually, that's not the motivation of volunteers. If you feel somehow inferior after reading my short, on-the-fly, sarcastic comment, you've gotta own that. I don't even know who you are; it wasn't aimed at you.

I am interested in cultures and in history; it's part of my job. In recent years I've become concerned that our culture is losing some of the hallmarks that Americans have always been proud of: civic service, honor, pride, honesty, generosity. There is a strong trend toward individualism. People are fairly well drugged with consumerism -- as long as we can buy, we're quiet and happy. I don't want to feel better than other Americans; I want to feel better about America. We've fallen into a complacent sense that a few clickity-clicks on the website of the nearest faith-based organization will buy a person enough indulgences to cleanse the conscience until the next crisis. Believe me, I'm all for donating. It's job one. It's necessary and it's what we've been asked to do. But I don't think it's the best we can do, I think it's the least we can do. Kind of like voting - it's hugely important, but it's just the first step to being an involved citizen.

I don't begrudge you your barbecue. I had lobster last night, went out; I'm not a nun. But I'm just disturbed at how often I'm interacting with people who, unlike you, haven't donated, never got a grip on what's going on, or have already stopped paying attention. I'm not seeing the others out there around me. Look at the Craigslist volunteers page for where I live vs. the one for where you live; (and keep in mind, the Portland one covers everything from North Shore Mass. all the way through Portsmouth, Portland, Augusta, Bangor, and the rest of Maine - it's not just one city). It sounds like the response around you is pretty good. It's not so here. We should be doing a lot better. This kind of complacency is not the reason my father and grandparents signed up for national service. They were willing to give a lot because they were proud of the nation. We've got some high standards to uphold in our country, and we've cut ourselves enough slack as a society already. It's high time we upgraded performance.
posted by Miko at 4:53 PM on September 5, 2005

1000 Words
posted by blasdelf at 5:18 PM on September 5, 2005

Not sure if this has been mentioned anywhere else, but when I did a quick look-up on Google Maps for 1737 Valence Street, NOLA, I noticed a red button for "Katrina" next to the resently added "Hybrid" button. It appears that these maps represent a fairly current picture of New Orleans.
posted by placebo_addict at 5:24 PM on September 5, 2005

Great pic, blasdelf. I love that he's still got his pink pocket square.

btw, Interdictor's career is made forever, huh?
posted by Miko at 5:32 PM on September 5, 2005

That GoogleMaps Katrina is great, but there's a doggone cloud blocking the view of my brother's old place off Magazine.
posted by Miko at 5:35 PM on September 5, 2005

You can lose all semblance of society due to the gross incompetence of the Executive Branch and survive, but not without a bandana to wipe the sweat from your brow.
posted by blasdelf at 6:38 PM on September 5, 2005

I know there has been little to no mention of this in the national press, but what about the cajun population? Doesn't this make you wonder? These are supposed to be the consumate backwoods swampland survivors but not one peep about them. What about the cajuns? What has happened to them? If anyone is to survive a natural disaster of this magnitude it would be them, but so far not one word in the national media. I think that by itself would speak volumes. A people that is acclimatized to survive in the swamps and bayous in the worst of conditions and not one word about them. Where are the cajuns?
posted by mk1gti at 8:10 PM on September 5, 2005

'scuse me, as has been pointed out above, the creole, the cajun, the vietnamese population in the outlying areas. What about the rural areas of Louisiana? Those who seemingly would be best able to take care of themselves but who very well may no longer exist because of this natural disaster. What about them? What does this say about the overall seriousness of this devastation?
posted by mk1gti at 8:21 PM on September 5, 2005

I already cursed that same cloud, Miko--it's hiding our old place on Jefferson Ave.
posted by muckster at 8:33 PM on September 5, 2005

good questions, mkgti.
posted by Miko at 8:40 PM on September 5, 2005

Good Lord - I just heard this on CNN: CNN's Drew Griffin in New Orleans, Louisiana

I am stunned by an interview I conducted with New Orleans Detective Lawrence Dupree. He told me they were trying to rescue people with a helicopter and the people were so poor they were afraid it would cost too much to get a ride and they had no money for a "ticket." Dupree was shaken telling us the story. He just couldn't believe these people were afraid they'd be charged for a rescue.

posted by Serena at 9:29 PM on September 5, 2005

From here, comments by George Bush, visiting the Red Cross headquarters:

"I just passed the place where volunteers and staffers are taking calls from around the country, and the response has been good, but there's more that needs to be done." he said. "Remember, it's the Red Cross that provides much of the first compassion that a person finds…it's the Red Cross that helps feed. And so the Red Cross needs money."

Of course when disaster strikes poor African or Asian countries, help organizations need fast money, from induviduals who wish to help.

But in the US? The president urges private citizens to contribute by donation? What stops him from issuing the Red Cross a carte blanche, settling the bill when people no longer stand with shit up to their ears?
posted by springload at 12:19 AM on September 6, 2005

'well show us what you've got'

posted by homunculus at 12:32 AM on September 6, 2005

Miko - What you've done and what you're doing is all quite fantastic. I'm sorry if my comment came across as some kind of challenge. I was just trying to say that if you don't think your community is doing enough (or anything at all), you could always try to get something going yourself... which it looks as though you have. Your original comment made it sound as though you were taking a (all too common) cheapshot at Americans for being too "busy" with their own lives to care about other people. Perhaps I misread... and tried to suggest otherwise. Anyway, we're both glad to help.
posted by Witty at 8:20 AM on September 6, 2005

'well show us what you've got'

that made me want to vomit.
posted by poweredbybeard at 10:01 AM on September 6, 2005

Oh come on Witty.
You were being your usual smartass self and Miko has made you ashamed for it.
"Mistakes were made."
posted by nofundy at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2005

Well, not true. But I can see why you think that (coming from you especially). Had she hinted, in her first comment, at the fact that she, herself, had made some contributions, I would have never questioned her. But she didn't. It sounded as though she thought everyone else should be doing something and was ashamed that no one was (which I attempted to prove otherwise). I've explained myself enough.
posted by Witty at 10:00 AM on September 7, 2005

You've explained that you were a presumptuous ass, yes.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:01 AM on September 7, 2005

Stop following me around, beanbag.
posted by Witty at 10:58 AM on September 7, 2005

Get over yourself. You just keep turning up in threads I'm interested in and spouting nonsense.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:01 AM on September 7, 2005

Seriously. And don't email me anymore either.
posted by Witty at 11:07 AM on September 7, 2005

I think you are joking but... I've never emailed you.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:17 AM on September 7, 2005

Don't make me post it to MeTa. Worm.
posted by Witty at 11:20 AM on September 7, 2005

Go ahead. I've never emailed you.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:25 AM on September 7, 2005

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