Sep 10, 2007
On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, George Bush actually dared to visit New Orleans.
“This town is better today than it was yesterday, and it’s going to be better tomorrow than it was today,” he prattled, adding, “We’re still paying attention. We understand.”
And that’s a boldfaced lie.
The population of the city is only 68% of its level before the hurricane. Those who returned have received little help in rebuilding their lives. Only 22% of the 180,000 families who applied for Road Home grants to help in rebuilding their homes have received any money.
There still are few public services available in the city. Many hospitals remain closed, including all public hospitals.
Bus service is way down compared to before the hurricane. Out of 368 buses running in Orleans Parish before Katrina, only 69 have been put back into operation.
Only 83 out of 128 public schools have reopened. Of those that have reopened, 70% are now charter schools, run for profit, without proper teacher certification. These schools can only be worse than those that existed before.
Despite the experience of Katrina, residents of New Orleans are no better protected from future hurricanes than before the storm. The levees have not been rebuilt even to their pre-Katrina level. They are not strong enough to withstand a Category 3 storm, let alone a Category 5.
Conditions are worse in the poorer areas of the city. Much of the Lower Ninth Ward remains vacant lots. The Army Corps of Engineers has been quicker to rebuild the levees in wealthier parts of the area like Lakeview than in the Ninth Ward.
Scientists had warned well before the storm that the city’s levee system was inadequate. Thousands lost their lives as a results and hundreds of thousands had their lives turned upside down.
The government, at every level, ignored the warnings. Today, Busy says the government is “still paying attention” – with exactly the same level of criminal negligence that produced the first catastrophe.