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"Katrina Two Years Later: Like It Was Yesterday"


Kirby Sommers and Linda Berman for KATRINA HOME DRIVE

“Katrina Two Years Later: Like It Was Yesterday”
August 29, 2007

On the day the waters rose in the Gulf Coast, obliterating not just communities, but lives, on this day we remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina. We honor the dead, we grieve, and we reaffirm our commitment to stand by you as we look back over the past two years. It seems like yesterday, but it is today.

There is nothing to celebrate, there is nothing fun or festive about thousands of people trapped, without food and water, without the basic necessities of life, without medical care. There is nothing to rejoice in remembering the mass devastation or the mass neglect that began two years ago and is still with us today.

Emotions remain raw. Hope exists alongside rage. Mass devastation followed by mass neglect cannot be forgotten. The stings of federal neglect, like whiplashes across one’s back, have left open wounds. Primal pleas for help like unrelenting sirens are literally shaking the walls of our country to its core cutting through the deaf ears of humanity with razor like precision.

Congress has finally changed a requirement in the Stafford Act that mandates local governments pay 10 percent (down from the original 25 percent) before receiving federal aid. A federally imposed and incomprehensible rule which kept grounded countless projects; and which further devastated communities both in Louisiana and hard-hit Mississippi’s Hancock County, who lost most of their tax base after Katrina.

It should have happened two years ago. But it is today and finally there is a slight flutter in the hallways of government and in the offices of the people who sit behind stiff desks wearing stiff shirts who have just begun to hear of civil unrest in the streets. There is acknowledgement, finally, of the mournful sounds of sorrow of a people in pain and until now, forgotten.

Volunteers were the first to respond to their pleas for help. It was the largest volunteer response in this nation’s history. Over 1.1 million volunteers (and counting) have provided more than 14 million hours of heartfelt service.

The publicity generated by a Katrina Two Year Anniversary will once again reaffirm and acknowledge the collapse in leadership. In that knowledge and reiteration, there can only be a solution: A plan at last for getting help to those who need it. For that is what should be done if we are to truly pay tribute to the men, women and children who perished; and to those who continue to survive Katrina day by day. A plan, a real plan, is more of a commemorative effort than any public demonstration anywhere.

We have great hope in that plan, for in the absence of that plan, we will bring before Congress one of our own. In the aftermath of 9/11 the government acted quickly to compensate the richest of the rich. Two years later, if there is no plan, we must come together and demand one. A plan to compensate the poorest of the poor. That is justice. It would immediately help victims and have the double advantage of putting tax dollars back into ravaged and needy communities. For those who have forgotten: the hardest hit are also taxpayers. The needs are unprecedented and the time has come. There is no lack of resources for a raging war in Iraq; there should be no lack of resources for a Katrina Compensation Fund.

The spin machines have moved so fast it was hard for many to see the truth. It is out now. We hope there will be true accountability for the terrible and tragic loss of life and property which could have been prevented by a true and caring plan.

Katrina two years later, but for many “like it was yesterday.”

Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.



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