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.

Join the Conversation

  • Mystery Dyke Squadron (Bombing Division)

    I give up.
    I don’t have the words to express my contempt for this vile rich bastards.

  • emmy

    I really hate to be a contrarian on this, but I’d really like for some media outlet, even a blog, to recognize that Katrina did not ONLY hit N.O. Whole cities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast were flattened. True, there weren’t people floating down blocks on refrigerators, because those city blocks were gone. Just completely gone. NOLA got the storm surge, which sucks, but we got the brunt of the wind. I live about 75 miles inland in MS, and could show you pictures from my city that would shock you. Oak trees hundreds of years old lying across streets that have shattered from the impact, telephone poles hanging from wires, with the bottom of them God knows where, cars and houses flattened like pancakes under five, six, seven fallen trees.
    I feel for New Orleans, I really do. I grew up there, and to see the city struggling the way it has been for the last 3 years breaks my heart. But we’re forever changed here in MS, where the eye of the hurricane passed over our heads, but the eye of the media and the relief agencies never turned our way.
    I’m still waiting for that FEMA inspector to come and determine whether I qualify for any aid to fix my house. Good thing I had some savings, I guess.

  • eruvande

    Emmy, I was in Hattiesburg when the storm hit. I too have been frustrated that none of the MS Gulf Coast stories seem to get out. One of my friends lost an uncle there who had lived and worked on the coast all his life…when he saw that everything he’d worked for was destroyed, he just gave up, and they found his corpse a few days later.
    I often wonder if there isn’t an element of (for lack of a better term) “place-ism”…NO is urban and therefore worthy of attention, MS is inherently rural and therefore unworthy.
    I truly don’t want to deny NO the attention and help it needs. I just would like for those who are still hurting here in MS to get the attention and help they need. There were still people living in tents beside their ruined houses as recently as last year (I haven’t been back to the coast since).

  • eruvande

    Also, I would like to express (once more) my utter hatred for those two rich bastards. Thanks, you guys, for enjoying delicious cake while we had to beg our neighbors for ice to keep my father’s insulin chilled. Heckuva job.