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Hurricane Katrina: The Aftermath of a Government Failure

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  1. The days leading up to Hurricane Katrina's landfall in New Orleans
  2. The ability to act fast
  3. The problems at FEMA
  4. The fifth day after Katrina's devastation
  5. Rapper Kanye West's public statement about the President
  6. The overabundance of refugees remaining in the city
  7. The devastation in New Orleans today
  8. Conclusion
  9. Works cited

In the late days of August 2005, forecasters and meteorologists closely watched a storm soon to be named Katrina brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. Like many other infamous hurricanes of similar magnitude, the tropical storm began rather quietly and only caused initial high winds and some tangential storms off the Florida coast. But after coming ashore in Florida on August 27, the National Weather Service advised that the Gulf coast along Louisiana and Mississippi should prepare for the worst, fearing that the storm, after returning to the Gulf, would again pick up speed and head for more vulnerable areas (Knabb 2). They were right. Mere days later, a storm surge ravaged the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana unlike any in recent history. New Orleans, protected from the Gulf by doomed-to-fail levees in many lower income parts of the historic city, was violently attacked by gusting winds and heavy rain, and areas near the levees were completely destroyed by the hurricane's floodwaters when the weak barricades collapsed. Wiping out entire neighborhoods and city boroughs, Katrina's wrath left New Orleans under several feet of water and made damage incalculable for days and weeks after the terror had begun. Countless city residents were left homeless and without temporary shelter less despite the mandatory and volunteer evacuation efforts that had begun before the storm came ashore. Disease spread through the area as mold and rodents soon took to the damp environment (Cooper 54). Further exploiting the tragedy, scenes of helpless people clinging to trees and living on their rooftops for days became regular B-roll footage for cable news stations, as did disturbing reports and imagery of accumulating dead bodies floating through the flooded city (Roig-Franzia).

[...] The charm of the historic city remains in areas, but a general feeling of despair has settled into many older neighborhoods where many residents still feel betrayed by government leaders, city officials, and neighborhood relief that never came (Cooper 136). Relief work continues, and many of the original recipients of FEMA trailers remain in makeshift parks and temporary homes. Many schools have reopened; much tourism has resumed; yet trailer residents are being asked to purchase their unstable from the government agencies that provided the shelter. [...]

[...] Instead of responding helpfully to these accusations and critical statements, Bush refused to take responsibility for the failure to handle the situation and used his first weekly radio address post-Katrina to admonish lower government officials, particularly those on the state level, for not better responding to the situation (Roig-Franzia 1). This sparked intense debate between Nagin and Bush in the weeks and months to follow, and it has been cited as a major roadblock in Gulf Coast reconstruction efforts (Cooper 123). [...]

[...] In stark contrast to the praise he received for a quick response to the September attacks on New York City, Bush was angrily criticized for not acting more quickly to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. His response to the situation in the southern states was likened to his leisurely response to the Asian tsunami disaster as well, though it was often noted that tsunami victims in India received federal assistance more quickly than those trapped in New Orleans following Katrina (Grumbel 1). [...]

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