Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"They're tryin' to wash us away"

This week, as we observe the first anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, I'm filled with a variety of feelings and emotions from anger to resolve to depression to strength.

There have been, and will continue to be, many tributes in the various media. Probably the best I've seen so far was on NBC the other night. Brian Williams shared his personal experience of having spent several days in the Super Dome. There was some video that we'd seen, but more that had not been previously on network TV, and follow-up interviews with several of the survivors they'd taped in those first five days.

What I found most powerful about the Brian Williams tribute was that he did not hesitate to express exactly how he felt about the government's response - or lack of it. Williams is an excellent journalist, and knows that the journalist is not supposed to be the focus of the story, and he knows not to mix editorial with news - but he also knows when and how to bend those rules.

Katrina was a natural disaster, but it was a man-made disaster as well. From the neglect of the levees beforehand (money earmarked for repairs and reinforcement was diverted to "more pressing" homeland security issues), to the snail's pace of the response following Katrina, there is a lesson here we should all pay attention to.

My personal experience of natural disasters (being in Santa Cruz during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake) was bad enough. Thanks to Katrina, I now know that when "the big one" hits I should not be expecting any assistance in the early weeks.

But I didn't want to get off on a political tangent today. I just wanted to share the video above - a moving and powerful montage of Katrina scenes from New Orleans, set to the Aaron Neville recording of Randy Newman's Louisiana 1927.

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