Tuesday, August 29, 2006

one year later...part one

I had planned to post a full-scale DannyRant on here this evening...about the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina...about the shameful, sickening events that took place in New Orleans afterward...about the mind-bogglingly incompetent and criminally negligent "efforts" of FEMA...about the breathtaking indifference and willful ignorance our government (state, local and federal) bestowed upon the people and the area in response...and mostly - even more shameful and sickening - the fact that a full year later, virtually nothing has changed in New Orleans.

If the levees hadn't given way, Katrina would still have been a historical natural disaster. The areas from far southern Louisiana to the far western Florida panhandle - Biloxi and Gulfport, in particular - were just flat destroyed. What remained looked like Hiroshima. A lot of those folks probably feel like they've gotten little in the way of attention and assistance because so much of the public's attention was on New Orleans. I'd probably feel that way too.

But this country has never seen anything like what happened in New Orleans. For me, it was similar to the week after September 11, 2001. I was glued to the news on TV, the internet, the radio...I couldn't wrap my head around what was happening. It looked like something from a movie. It looked like something that couldn't possibly take place in a country as "advanced" as ours. This was the kind of shit you saw happening in, pardon my tactlessness, third-world countries...countries without stable governments, without modern resources, infrastructure and finances. I don't think it was until a few months later when I realized why it looked the way it did to me. Look at the events that took place, how and when they took place, and you'll see what I saw: that the poorest areas of our country are "third-world" in comparison to the majority of folks like myself who live comfortably, in safer areas, with ready access to people who can help if needed. Katrina exposed more than just a large metropolitan area, poorly protected from the elements, and sitting on the edge of natural disaster. Katrina exposed an unspoken, discreetly waged civil war. Kanye West was right - George Bush doesn't care about black people. But Kanye didn't go far enough with his comments. George Bush also doesn't care about any other people of color, unless they have money he can bank. George Bush doesn't care about poor people. If the president is upset by hearing people suggest he's a racist...well, I'm not just suggesting it. He is a racist. His entire adminstration - and, in fairness to George, he doesn't really do anything...he's just the CEO/figurehead of a racist, obscenely greedy network of people who feed him his lines for the day and tell him to just keep repeating them should anything sticky come up (that's why he always looks so befuddled) - has one objective: to make the rich richer. The people upon whose throats the government has its collective boot are collateral damage. We try to avoid that kind of ugliness when possible, but, hey...war's war, after all. And collateral damage happens in war zones. That's what Katrina exposed. And the only reason so many of us witnessed it was because the media beat the government to the scene. (Imagine what we might see if they could report without being "embedded" in Iraq...)

If we spent literally a fraction of a fraction on the recovery of Katrina's victims for a month what we spend in Iraq on any given day, this glacial pace of rebuilding and reassimilating New Orleans now - a year later - would not be taking place. People would be moving back home. The levees would be rebuilt to withstand a Category Five. There would not still be hundreds of people unaccounted for. But money talks. People - indeed, tragedy and inhumanity - can be ignored.

I started this post by implying that I wouldn't be soapboxing tonight. Believe me, I'm holding back. (There will be a part two at some point.) But with "Nova" and "Frontline" playing on TV behind me, revisiting the storm itself and the horror that followed, I got sidetracked. My apologies. I actually have a somewhat nice, somehow appropriate story to share...

Those of you who know me know I spent a couple weeks helping care for rescued animals last year just north of the Mississippi border. It was a life-changing experience in ways I'm still seeing. A new part of my life has opened up and I'm doing my damndest to keep it on the front-burner. Because of the nature of the experiences and what I've learned about myself, it's not hard to do, though.

Anyway, for the past few weeks, my sister and I have been trying to find a caring person to foster and/or adopt what might be considered a "special needs" animal. The following is my post regarding this wonderful dog on the equally wonderful Moonlady Yahoo Newsgroup in Dallas...

I am desperately trying to help a very sweet, very friendly shepherd/collie mix who is badly in need of a new home. His name is Thunder, though you could certainly change his name to anything you want. He's somewhere between 1-1/2 to 2 years old. He's healthy, though I don't know if he's been fixed or is up to date on his shots. I'm guessing he might not be since his living arrangement is basically that he's tethered to a tree in his owner's back yard, never gets to go inside, and never gets any attention."He originally belonged to an older man who passed away a few months ago and the man's widow wants nothing to do with the dog....thus, the neglect."This dog loves kids and all people, but will need a special home as he's probably never been housebroken. He so deserves a good home and nice people to care for him."Is there anybody who might be interested in taking him in either as a foster or a permanent addition? If not, could you please pass this along to anyone else who might be able to help?"I have images of the dog I can email any interested parties. Please contact me directly...

I'd attach images of this sweet dog if I were a little more computer savvy. And I mention this story not because we're still trying to find a home for him. But because, by a nice coincidence, we officially found him a new home tonight. Just a few minutes ago, a nice family in southern Oklahoma told me they'd love to foster the dog with the intention of adopting him permanently. Hopefully, they'll be picking him up this weekend to help him start a new, happier life.

Congratulations, pup and new family. Enjoy your new lives together. Thanks for the opportunity to be of assistance.

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