the nation honors those who perished on September 11, little
attention is paid to the watery graves of the Gulf Coast. The 13th
anniversary of Katrina’s devastation barely gets a blip in the
news. The names are 9/11 victims are read aloud, one by one, so that
their precious lives are remembered. Katrina and Maria victims
deserve the same. What constitutes the differences in our
recognition, in our grieving?
August 29, 2005, the trauma of Katrina still haunts this nation and
for the residents of the Gulf Coast, life will never be the same. A
year out from Hurricane Maria, the lives of Puerto Ricans are still
turned upside down with no relief in sight. The facts are clear and
irrefutable for both situations.
renown chef Jose’ Andres called out the U.S. government’s
insensitive response to Hurricane Maria. Andres took initiative and
his culinary skills and organized getting food to people in the
aftermath of one of the worst natural disaster in the island’s
history. He righteously questioned the concept of “emergency”
in the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Thirteen years out from
Hurricane Katrina, it appears that there’s little change in
FEMA’s effectiveness when it comes to Black and Brown people.
George W. Bush patted then-FEMA head, Michael D. Brown on the back
for a great job during the Katrina un-recovery efforts. Williams
Brock Long was appointed to head FEMA by trump who declared he was
doing a “fabulous” job in the Puerto Rican un-recovery.
I’m thinking if you look at both these president’s racist
policies towards Black and Brown people in general, then you can
conclude that Brown and Long were doing
a great job of following policy.
levees broke in New Orleans based upon governmental negligence.
Unconfirmed reports state that approximately 1800 people died
directly or indirectly because of Katrina. The storm’s damage
was estimated at $125 billion. One million people were displaced. The
Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that about $1
billion of the FEMA payouts were fraudulent. Translation to me is
that the hustlers who knew the system were the beneficiaries and the
others who didn’t have the hook-up were taken through miles of
red tape and most never received the funds needed to rebuild. The
population of New Orleans was cut in half with many residents never
able to return.
Rico is a colonized island of the U.S. and has no political
representation in Congress. Like Katrina, the death toll is
under-estimated. We now know the death count is way more than the
original count of 64; it’s closer to 5,000. After a year, the
island still doesn’t have complete power. There are food
shortages and other services are not at capacity. The estimated cost
of fully recover is set at $140 billion but Congress has only
approved $5 billion in aid.
World Trade Center is a distant memory. The only way to remember it
now is through photographs. In the place of tons of rubble and human
carnage has emerged the tallest building in the country at 104
stories, 1 World Trade Center. There’s also a memorial and a
museum over 16 acres. The whole project—delayed for years due
to infighting—cost about $4 billion, double the original
estimate. But who care? It was for a worthy cause.
rural Pennsylvania, a new structure now sits on the crash site of
United Airlines Flight 93. It’s called Tower of Voices, a
memorial for the 40 passengers who lost their lives on September 11.
There will be 40 chimes on the monument to memorialize their silenced
must fight for meaningful relief of those still living. We must
advocate for humble remembrances of the Black and Brown lives
tragically lost in disasters, whether man-made or natural.
grand piano of Fats Domino was almost a casualty of Hurricane
Katrina. The piano was literally dismantled piece by piece to be
cleaned of mold and debris. It was restored to its original and
historic status because somebodies thought it was worth it.
same passion and serious attention to detail must be applied to the
restoration of human lives and their communities. A life is worth
more than a piano—even one owned by Fats Domino.