CommunityPam's House Blend

There was never a plan for the poor, sick and elderly in New Orleans

“City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans’ poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you’re on your own.”

— from a July 24, 2005 New Orleans Times Picayune article.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times in the last few days, everyone, from Mayor Ray Nagin all the way up to the top of the Chimp cycle, has shown that they have contempt for the poor. I believed that there was no priority to find a way to evacuate or save them in the event of a disaster like this. Racism only exacerbated the problem (Shakes Sis has an excellent post that you should read).

John Byrne at Raw Story points to an article back in July that illuminates quite clearly the fact that proves no plan existed – these people were on their own. (The article is not available online).

The article was first discovered in a detailed piece by the Philadelphia Daily News’ Will Bunch.

The local Red Cross executive director was quoted as saying, “You’re responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you. If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you. But we don’t have the transportation.”

Selected excerpts from July Picayune article by Bruce Nolan appear below.

In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm’s way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation

Officials are recording the evacuation message even as recent research by the University of New Orleans indicated that as many as 60 percent of the residents of most southeast Louisiana parishes would remain in their homes in the event of a Category 3 hurricane.

Their message will be distributed on hundreds of DVDs across the city. The DVDs’ basic get-out-of-town message applies to all audiences, but the it is especially targeted to scores of churches and other groups heavily concentrated in Central City and other vulnerable, low-income neighborhoods, said the Rev. Marshall Truehill, head of Total Community Action.

The primary message is that each person is primarily responsible for themselves, for their own family and friends,” Truehill said. Production likely will continue through August. Officials want to get the DVDs into the hands of pastors and community leaders as hurricane season reaches its height in September, Katz said.

The vast majority of the poor, sick, undereducated people of New Orleans happened to be black. The fact that you add race on top of it all just plays into the biases ingrained in our culture

After seeing so many posts on the post-Katrina disaster, the one thing I see very little of in most discussions on this topic is the fact black and poor have been paired together as black=poor, which, granted our culture, is an assumption too many white people make.

I think it is telling that the black mayor also had contempt for the poor of his city, after all he made sure the clean, dry folks in the Hyatt cut in line to get on an evacuee bus. For many blacks of the middle/upper middle class, they have equal disregard for the poor of all colors. No one is off the hook.

Also see: Contempt for the masses starts at the conservative top

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding