Even before Hurricane Katrina hit, the folks of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, knew they would be on their own with no state or federal assistance. The same thing had happened to them decades before after another hurricane. It took twenty years but the people of Plaquemines Parish, in exemplar American fashion, rebuilt their communities on their own. Sadly, the parish has been destroyed once again.
The failure of our government to protect the gulf coast is no surprise to the people of Plaquemines. For those of us watching these events unfold it should come as no surprise that some of the newly homeless and decimated Plaquemines residents were evicted from the Baton Rouge hotels they had taken shelter in to make way for FEMA representatives that have yet to visit their parish.
Whether the plucky souls of Plaquemines Parish will ignore or overcome the bureaucratic bungling of an impotent FEMA and rebuild again, remains to be seen. The example they set long ago is being reenacted today as they comb the rubble for their dead and clear their own debris without any fuel, services or government aid.
The exact numbers may never be known but many lives were saved by the private and charitable organizations, individuals and local police that broke through the, real and metaphoric, government road blocks. Lives were saved in New Orleans because individuals saw past the blundering idiocy of bureaucratic policy, saw people dying and took matters into their own hands.
A complete lack of resources prevented that American spirit that famed Yankee ingenuity from saving more lives. Whether those resources are in Iraq or held up in a dispute over state and federal sovereignty the Bush administration again failed the people of America when it abandoned the gulf coast.
In any war, it is not the generals and junior officers that fight the battles. It is the grunts, the men and women on the ground and in the trenches that take all the risks and suffer all the consequences. The members of the Congress and the Senate that allowed money to shore up the levies to be diverted to Iraq and â€˜Homeland Securityâ€™ did not unsurprisingly spend a day in the Super Dome.
The Bush presidency has brought about the deaths of over 2,000 coalition troops and an estimated 115,000 Iraqis. We have seen our national debt soar to almost $8 trillion and the global outpouring of goodwill after 9/11, squandered. Now with our inability to protect and save our own, our collective dignity has been stripped away as surely as the dignity of Katrinaâ€™s victims.
It is past time for us, the troops in the trenches, the average American to break through the road blocks, look past the bureaucracy, bear witness to these atrocities, really see them and reclaim our nation. Write your congressman and senator and demand accountability, demand impeachment. As the death toll estimates in New Orleans approach 20,000, demand prosecution for criminal negligence and do it before the President sets in place his personal Chief Justice.