Katrina Forgotten

This year marks the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina not only for our campus, but also for those affected by the destruction it caused. Yet the anniversary of the hurricane, the costliest and one of the deadliest natural disasters in United States’ history, was given little attention. With over $100 billion dollars in damage done and the untold losses of millions, six years later, their stories have not been fully told. While many were occupied by another potential disaster, its significance was put aside, forgetting the more than 1,800 who died.

I believe part of this issue has to do with media coverage. We share the blame and should not readily leave behind those who still need help, given the longevity of the affects. While mounting natural disasters are easy graphics, people with nary a house to go back to in New Orleans need to be made public knowledge.  Take Hurricane Irene for example.  It is the most current and prime example of the media hype machine that can potentially ruin lives of future generations by undermining the seriousness of these hurricanes when images of complete devastation aren’t met.

In a serious matter like a hurricane, why do we have to see footage of random news reporters out in the very elements they warn others to stay away from?  I can do nothing but laugh as a person gets too close to the storm surge and gets knocked to their feet or speak loud enough into the microphone as wind gusts nearly blow them away.  Are field reporters pressured into doing something that is dangerous and pointless or do they believe that this coverage will earn them something?  I would rather have a camera shot of the outside from someone inside a safe location, with the reporter right beside so I can hear what he or she is saying.  Natural disasters should be covered with a grain of salt and a ton of intelligence.  It would be so horrible for one of those reporters to die in a situation, when there is so much protection available and preventative measures that could have easily been taken.

This type of shock reporting is then allowing the hurricane or other natural disasters to live up to the hype.  They are hoping that it becomes deadly so that they can have this footage to show or these stories to write.  The last time I checked, a hurricane doesn’t have a will: nature controls it.  No one ever wants to play God, so why tempt Mother Nature?  In the case of Irene, it thankfully spared millions of people from a fate similar to those six years ago.  Unfortunately, people were affected from the coastal flooding on the Atlantic coast to the massive flooding in Vermont.  

Yet you can find little coverage of news reporters in boring old Vermont, right?  The transfixing point in all of this hype was the potential of New York being destroyed. Plenty of reporters were there waiting for the sky to fall, but these helpless people in Vermont, who were expecting New York to get hit, never fully understood what could happen to them.  The building up of these hurricanes will cause others to think less of the damage that can happen.  The next time, and there will be one, a hurricane barrels through that region, people may believe it will be okay because they weren’t devastated the last time.  This notion is completely false.

Let me put numbers to the devastation I speak of, which no one else will even mention. Orleans and Plaquemines Parish saw severe damage, more than or equal to $30,000, to more than 40 percent of homes. Bernard Parish had more than 50 percent of their homes severely damaged.  Going deeper, districts Gentilly, Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans East, Village de L’Est and Venetian Isles saw more than 60 percent of their homes severely damaged. Levees were breached in eight places and were mainly the cause of the flooding in New Orleans, as they were supposed to keep the water out.  Ecologically, the severity of Katrina’s winds and tidal surge saw a major negative impact on the barrier islands and wetlands that protect Louisiana from such hurricanes and provide habitats for many of the local wildlife found in this region.

Things were destroyed, people lost and some wildlife may never return because of this event.  People should understand this could happen to any state along the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean, as far north as Vermont.  Even more so, it’s the effects that people should realize that will happen to anyone, not just New Orleans as a city, but as one person in a population.  This goes for those in North Carolina and Vermont: just because they lack major cities, their pain and suffering matter no less.