Hurricane Katrina: Three years ago today

Bush and McCain share cake for McCain’s 69th birthday as Hurricane Katrina hits Gulf Coast.
With all the election news and the impending landfall of Hurricane Gustav, let’s not forget that today marks the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Salon has an interview with Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc, who appears in Spike Lee’s documentary about Katrina, “When the Levees Break.” She describes her experiences:

Yeah, just as we were getting up to leave, a helicopter came by and we were like, “We can go now, we’re saved.” They came right in front of our faces, and the [pilot] looked at me, but they left. I couldn’t believe they were leaving us and they were that close. But my thinking afterward, after reason hit, was that there was only 5 feet of water [where we were] and they had to go and get other people who were in more dire need. I understand that now. And I have great respect for those people, the Coast Guard, because they helped us a lot. They’re heroes. But when you’re in a situation where water’s rising, and you don’t know whether people are drowning, it’s a different story.
So we were stuck there, looking at two blocks of water, before we could get to higher ground. It was me, my husband, Ron, my sister Catherine and my mom, and she can’t swim, and we’ve got my nephew Nicholas, and he’s autistic and he can’t swim either. We had to get to higher ground, so we got them on refrigerators, and facing us was the longest two blocks I’ve ever seen in my life. And then there were the alligators and snakes that we’d heard about being in the water, eating bodies and stuff. It was beyond horrific. There was just two blocks, but you’re thinking you may not be able to make it even two blocks. And the water smelled horrible. I can still smell it to this day.

Think Progress has a timeline of how events unfolded — including a mention of the fact that Bush and McCain were eating cake together on this date three years ago. It helpfully illustrates the extent to which the Bush administration fucked up — but I think stories like Montana-LeBlanc’s are even more compelling. It’s no wonder New Orleans is still struggling to recover.

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