This week's newsletter is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This is for two reasons: (1) It's important that we remember how horrifically we responded to this terrible event; (2) We may be living in a different time now, where we are at least a little more aware of our country'
This week's newsletter is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This is for two reasons: (1) It's important that we remember how horrifically we responded to this terrible event; (2) We may be living in a different time now, where we are at least a little more aware of our country's racism, and our own. (It may be hard to read these articles, but give at least one or two a try. They're worth it.)
Soon after the hurricane, I learned from the school counselor that a boy named S. would be joining my Advisory. "S. is a Katrina refugee," I was told. "He was in Houston, and now he's here." That year, I didn't serve S. well, and he floundered, and we exchanged maybe 100 words back and forth, because he was in trauma, and despite my attempts, and the resources the school offered, I didn't know what to do. And then S. was gone.
Like S., Kathy Phipps felt the trauma of relocation. A resident of the New Orleans's ravaged Lower Ninth Ward, Ms. Phipps received a plane ticket from FEMA to move to Utah, a state she didn't know existed. After years there, bouncing from house to house, setback to setback, Ms. Phipps grew despondent. “The suicidal thoughts got strong, strong,” she said. “I was a disappointment to my children, a disappointment to myself.”
This 2012 piece about the Lower Ninth Ward, like many things about Hurricane Katrina, is very disturbing. The author's focus on aggressive vegetation growth ("the jungleland"), callous for-profit tours, and the Nuisance Lot Maintenance program reminded me of Heart of Darkness (for all you literary types out there).
Former FEMA director Michael Brown (who now works in the Department of Homeland Security — should we feel safe?) says he is not to blame for the government's tragic lack of response to the hurricane. Maybe. But this firsthand account does nothing to help his cause. Rather, he comes across as another Important White Man explaining away other people's misery.
* * * Have a wonderful week, let me know what you think, and if you like, please get the word out about this newsletter! j.mp/iserotopeextras