Thursday, January 6, 2011

Knock, Knock, Would You Like Our Help?

I wanted to take this time to thank each and every one of the Bonner Staff for giving me the opportunity to go to New Orleans in order to give back and help improve lives. After watching the heartfelt documentary, “When the Levees Broke,” of the disaster that Hurricane Katrina left behind, I became inspired and motivated to do all I can in the short time we will be spending in New Orleans to aid others. The resulting devastation from Katrina to the entire Gulf Coast caused $80 billion in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in American history, with an estimated economic impact of over $150 billion. New Orleans was hit particularly hard, with more than 80 percent of the city submerged after the failure of its antiquated levee system.

Even though a mandatory evacuation order was issued, persuading citizens to evacuate the city had been met with a surprising amount of resistance, be it for financial or medical reasons, or simple personal preference. It goes without saying that the residents who stayed did not quite realize how bad things were going to get until their houses started collapsing. By then, it was far too late for anyone to get out of New Orleans. As the days mounted up like corpses, it became alarmingly clear to the trapped residents of New Orleans, news stations, and the public at large that federal assistance was not coming. As conditions became worse, the death tolls rose and looting became commonplace. Then began the finger-pointing; the federal government accused local government of mismanaging its own affairs, while local government accused the federal government of ignoring its request for aid and assistance, and on and on. Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco would take shots at each other before teaming up to collectively rain fire down upon FEMA and George W. Bush. Katrina was the hottest of hot potatoes, and nobody wanted to be stuck with it when the music stopped.

It took almost five days before the full resources of the American government mobilized its resources to rescue the residents of New Orleans and evacuate the city. Soon, displaced Americans were hurled out of New Orleans and dropped onto all four corners of the nation, left to fend for themselves. I liked the documentary because not only did it chronicle the events surrounding the catastrophic downfall of New Orleans but it also made apparent the political and social fallout that affected the residents, who were displaced across America after their homes were destroyed in the Crescent City.

The injustices suffered by the New Orleanians cannot be forgotten and if the federal government refuses to do anything to help, then it will be up to the people themselves to do something to alleviate the pains and concerns of our fellow citizens. The people of New Orleans need our help more than ever and it is up to us to help them rebuild their trust in people because there are people like us who care and wish to avoid any catastrophe such as this again. The levees broke, their spirits broke, and families were broke away; we need to fix those broken times and ties to remend their faith in hope and others. I am extremely excited to embark on this new journey and finally see face to face the damages made by all the contributing factors. I also look forward to meeting other Bonners and making stronger relationships and ultimately building a bond that will reinforce our enthusiasm for giving back and connect us in a better light.

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