On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans. Among Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth most powerful since these things have been recorded, with an estimated pressure of 902. Supposedly, it was a category 3 hurricane when it hit New Orleans – winds between 111 and 129 miles per hour.
By contrast, Hurricane Andrew, which hit Homestead in 1992, was a category 5 storm, with winds in excess of 157 miles per hour. Yet, Katrina was the costliest natural disaster and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the U.S. It killed over 1,800 people, the levees that surround the city failed, and the disaster cost more than $81 billion, nearly five times the cost of Hurricane Andrew.
Hurricane Katrina was probably the lowest point in George W. Bush’s presidency. This was the president who, in a news conference about Katrina, said to Michael Brown, then the administrator for FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Administration, “You’ve done a heck of a job, Brownie.” Yet, it was obvious to anyone watching the TV coverage of the disaster that Brownie hadn’t done his job at all. Brownie had been unconscious at the wheel, just like Bush himself.
Thousands of people were displaced, rescued from rooftops, and struggled to survive in the astrodome, deemed a shelter of last resort, that was breached early on in the storm. And the most Bush could muster was a flyover several days after the hurricane. His negligent incompetence is not something that the current Republican candidate wants the American people to remember. Bush, in fact, won’t even be at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. So, it looks as if nature will remind us, in a rather stunning synchro.
As of late tonight on August 28, the National Hurricane Center says that Isaac is a Category 1 hurricane and its eye is about 80 miles offshore of Louisiana. Already, tremendous storm surges have been recorded. Districts in New Orleans have been evacuated. The Army Corps of Engineers has rebuilt the levees since Katrina and are confident they will hold. By the time the eye comes ashore, it will be seven years to the day that Katrina devastated News Orleans and the Gulf coast. And it will hit while the Repubs are carousing and celebrating their candidates in Tampa.
Granted, Isaac isn’t as powerful as Katrina, and things in New Orleans are much improved. But given our recent experience with this storm, we know how sprawling it is and that it’s pregnant with rain.
In that video above, about 5 minutes and 30 seconds into it, is an exchange between Anderson Cooper and then Senator Mary Landreau. As she went on at great length, thanking various politicians for their help in this “disaster,” Cooper interrupted her and said something to the effect of: “Excuse me, senator. But there are dead bodies in the streets…and one of them has been lying there for 48 hours and rats are eating it.” You can hear the tension in Cooper’s voice. That confrontation made him famous. It came from his heart.
This period is particularly vivid for me. Two days after the hurricane, I got a call from my editor at the time, Kate Duffy, who asked if I would do some radio shows about Katrina. I had a novel coming out in October, Category 5, about a hurricane that hits my fictional island, Tango Key, and because people were so eager for information, that novel apparently made me some sort of expert on hurricanes.
I did more than 20 radio shows in three days. It became a part-time job. I don’t think these shows resulted in the sales of more books. But it was infuriating – and fun – sparring with some of these ring-wing nuts who claimed that the loss of mangroves and the rampant construction along the Gulf coast and the failure of the levees had nothing to do with the damage in New Orleans. And, oh yes, Bush was not to blame.
So Republicans, party on as Isaac goes wherever it’s going, and hits whatever it hits on the Gulf coast, on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Party on, Romney, as your wife tries to convince the rest of us that she buys your shirts at Costco.
You are a political party composed of incompetent ideologues who seek to control women’s bodies, women’s reproductive rights, who cater to the one percent and hope to end any kind of government aid to the most vulnerable people in society. We won’t forget that.
You are the party who loves life until the infant is actually born and then, so sorry, you’re on your own. We won’t forget that.
You are the party that loves life so much you send innocents off to fight in horrid countries, in illegal wars. And then you perpetuate a Pentagon budget that grows fatter every year, and when these soldiers return missing limbs, their minds blown apart by what they have experienced, you cut their health care and benefits. We won’t forget that.
You are a party that claims to want small government, but under your last Repub guy, we got the TSA and Homeland Security and we don’t even know exactly how many people they employ – a million? Twice that? We won’t forget that, either.
You are the party that plans to issue vouchers for Medicare – and then lie and say you’re going to save Medicare. In fact, you lie about nearly everything. We definitely won’t forget that.
You are the party of the old paradigm as it gasps for a final breath, a final grab at life and relevance.
You re the party that for some reason reminds me of the 1973 star-kist tuna ad:
Sorry, Repubs. You are NOT the 100 percent prime fillet.