A Look Back at Hurricane Katrina


It’s been nearly a year since Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. This weekend, AP reported (and this one’s a shocker folks) that “the federal government has proven slow and unreliable in keeping the president’s promises” to supply aid to the region.

NeworleansFor example, NPR reports that the home of 74-year-old Ethel Williams, which Bush promised in an April 2006 photo-op would be rebuilt, still sits untouched. Says Williams: “[W]e all disappointed because nothing’s been done.”

Is anyone surprised?

Tonight, the first part of Spike Lee’s documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, premieres on HBO from 9-11. The second part airs tomorrow evening. In it, Lee reports on the city of New Orleans and key figures surrounding the government’s inept response to the natural disaster. Some, like Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, talk. Others, like Homeland Security Chief and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, wouldn’t. La Times writer Patrick Goldstein notes that Lee goes after Rice with particular interest (“When you’re going to buy shoes while people are standing on the rooftops, waving brooms, you’re part of the problem…”).

Said Lee: “I just hope people come away from this film realizing this disaster didn’t just happen to dumb-ass people who wanted to live below sea level. This was about the choices of our government. The National Guard was in Iraq, not in New Orleans.”

The LA Times reports that Lee is not too favorable toward Mayor Ray Nagin either: “Even though Lee is often critical of Nagin, the film largely portrays him as an irrepressible New Orleans politico, especially when he recounts taking his first post-Katrina shower on Bush’s plush Air Force One, which he describes as the ultimate ‘pimp mobile.'”

Nagin recently slammed the Feds at a meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists in Indianapolis:

“Very little of those dollars have gotten to the local governments or to the people themselves. We are being strangled, and they’re using the money to set local policies to try to take control of the city to do things that they had in mind all along, and that’s to shrink the footprint, get a bunch of developers in the city, and try to do things in a different way. We’re not going to let that happen. They’re going to give us our money, and we’re going to rebuild this city.”

So what does Labor Day hold in store for us this year? Last year, while watching the parade of reactions on national news to the lack of movement from our government, it was hard to believe what we were seeing. A city being virtually ignored, left to die. A year later there are no bodies left sitting outside the Superdome but that city must still stink of tragedy.

Celine Dion’s appearance on Larry King Live.

TOP PHOTO: A flyer stapled to a telephone pole on the streets of Provincetown, Massachusetts, July 2006.

Bush’s Empty Promises: Katrina Victims Still Waiting For Homes To Be Rebuilt [think progress]
Eye of Hurricane Spike [la times]

Katrina Updates [tr]