What happened in New Orleans?

See a full report with many links at Food First: Hurricane Katrina: An Unacceptable Failure to Value Human Life.
And read Jordan Flaherty's excellent "Notes from Inside New Orleans"

How to help?
see our page with organizations seeking support for their work

Ecologists comment: from Worldwatch Institute: Unnatural disaster: The lessons of Katrina

Health problems abound months after Katrina roared ashore

November 29, 2005. By Seth Borenstein and Chris Adams Knight Ridder Newspapers
BILOXI, Miss. - Three months after Hurricane Katrina raked the Gulf Coast, a major health crisis is emerging as residents struggle with the fouled air, moldy houses and the numbing stress the killer storm left behind...

"The first web site in America dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the connection between hurricane Katrina and global warming." With articles and analysis on the ecological problems that made the Katrina event a disaster: Read author Mike Tidwell’s most recent essay that explains how climate change could soon turn every coastal city in America into another New Orleans unless we make a rapid switch to clean, renewable energy.

Women's views and actions

Bioremediation in New Orleans Nov. 23, 2005 By Starhawk
I’m just back from another week in New Orleans. This time three of us, myself, Juniper and Scotty, had a special mission—to set up a small bioremediation demonstration as a beginning seed for a long term project. Over Thanksgiving Week, Common Ground has sponsored the Road Trip for Relief, an effort to bring hundreds of volunteers into the Ninth Ward, one of the areas most devastated by Hurricane Katrina...

Two Months Later, Katrina Survivors are Losing the Battle to Return Home
By Medea Benjamin; Code Pink

" Two months after Katrina, the residents of New Orleans most traumatized by the hurricane and its aftermath are now traumatized in their battle to return home. And many of the city's poor, black "Katrina survivors" are losing this second battle..."

A CODEPINK volunteer delegation will be spending the Thanksgiving week working in New Orleans' 9th Ward, in solidarity with local folks, the common Ground Collective and other volunteers from around the country. Information here

What To Take From the Flood
By Kristin Van Tassel, AlterNet, November 10, 2005.

" The New Orleans disaster startled us into several lessons. Now we're talking about the need for coordinated, effective disaster plans everywhere. We're seeing the harms that follow when the ecological integrity of a place is disrupted. We're openly discussing the specter of systemic racial discrimination that continues to haunt us"

Another Case of Government for Some
By Makani Themba-Nixon, AlterNet Posted on September 6, 2005, Printed on November 11, 2005

Katrina: The Movement
By Makani Themba-Nixon, AlterNet Posted on October 27, 2005, Printed on November 11, 2005

" All around the country, a storm is gathering. The aftermath of Katrina is gaining power and energy in churches, barbershops and rec rooms, on campuses and online. A growing number of advocates are finding common cause in preventing the next "perfect storm" of racism, government neglect and divestment. And they are already chalking up some victories..."

Disaster Profiteering: Purging the Poor in the New New Orleans
Democracy Now speaks with writer and author Naomi Klein about what some are calling the real looting of New Orleans. In this week's cover story in The Nation magazine, Klein reports on how the city's poorest evacuees are being kept out of thousands of perfectly livable empty homes.

Wal-Mart to the Rescue!
Liza Featherstone, Wal-Mart Nation | posted September 13, 2005

"...When Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, most of us were stunned by the poverty of government response at all levels--from the failure to rescue grandmothers stranded on their rooftops to the babies and diabetics languishing without food and water at designated emergency "shelters." Thank goodness, then, for Wal-Mart, which immediately sent 1,900 truckloads of water and other emergency supplies to the afflicted. The company has also contributed $17 million to the hurricane relief effort, and more than $3 million in merchandise..."

Deja Vu All Over Again
By Arianna Huffington, AlterNet. September 19, 2005...

"The feeling that the Katrina relief effort is going to be Iraq all over again is unavoidable when you look at the list of the companies already being awarded clean up and reconstruction contracts. It's that old gang from Baghdad: Halliburton, Bechtel, Fluor, and the Shaw Group (which has a tasteful notice on its website saying "Hurricane Recovery Projects -- Apply Here!"). Together again. A veritable moveable feast of crony capitalism..."

An Ill Wind That Can Blow Texas Some Good
By Molly Ivins, 19 September 2005
" Thanks to some well-connected cronies, Texas is standing right in the path of some beneficial fallout from Hurricane Katrina..."

A Pagan Response to Katrina Sept. 14, 2005 By Starhawk

"...Global warming increases the intensity of storms. Turn up the fire under a pot of water, and the bubbles will be bigger, faster and stronger. Hurricanes draw their energy from the heat in seawater. The Gulf of Mexico is abnormally warm—and hurricanes have doubled in average intensity in the last decade and a half. Hurricane Katrina was a natural phenomenon, but Katrina’s progression from a Category Two up to a Category Five as she crossed the gulf was a human-caused phenomenon, a function of our choices and decisions, our failure to steer a different course..."

From The Black Commentator columnist Margaret Kimberley:

New Orleans and the Demise of the Democrats

"... The degree of Democratic callousness in the New Orleans tragedy may be shocking at first, but it is actually consistent with the direction the party has taken for the past two decades. The Democrats are dying a slow political death. Their inaction and acquiescence in New Orleans is just the latest symptom presented by a terminal patient..."


Grace Lee Boggs: Where do we go from here:­ Chaos or Community?

"Those marginalized by race and class oppression have always suffered the most from natural disasters. But the Auschwitz-like hell that hundreds of thousands of black, poor and elderly New Orleanians were forced to endure because of the racism, classism and sheer incompetence of governmental bodies on all levels tells us that it is now up to “we the people” to develop programs “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.” ...

Welcome to the 'Third World,' America
By Sarita Sarvate, Pacific News Service. Posted September 12, 2005.
"...Ironically, America's response to the predicament and suffering of Katrina's victims has been eerily reminiscent of that of a Third World country..."

What Would Martin Luther King, Jr. Say Now? WLOE correspondent Elayne Clift writes from Thailand:

"...how on earth do you begin to explain why healthy personnel from the posh and private Tulane University were evacuated from rooftops while the poor, black patients at Mercy Hospital watched and waited for rescue from the roof of their sanctuary? What would happen if there was a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant, they ask? Would the poor black people be abandoned?"

George Bush Investigates! By Molly Ivins, AlterNet. Posted September 9, 2005.

"...Exactly why the right-wing Republicans chose to make FEMA a political football was never clear -- unless you subscribe to the theory that they particularly dislike any government agency that helps people, since that makes government popular and they are bent on making government unpopular..."

From writer-activist Starhawk: Casualties of War: Camp Casey and New Orleans

"...The petrochemical industry and the developers have long ruled in the Gulf, with free reign to destroy the wetlands that are nature's buffer against storms. A huge proportion of the Louisiana National Guard, which is supposed to take charge during natural disasters, was in Iraq. The rest were apparently in Florida, moving military equipment out of the path of the storm. The funds for flood control and reinforcing the levees had been systematically cut by the Bush administration in order to fund our attacks on Baghdad and Fallujah.

Hurricanes are fueled by the warmth of the ocean, and the Gulf is abnormally hot due to global warming, which Bush and his allies will not admit is happening. Global warming may not have caused Hurricane Katrina, but it undoubtedly amplified its power and fury.
New Orleans, like Casey Sheehan, is a casualty of war..."

The One That's Left Behind by Dorothy Gaines, Pacific News Service/Alternet, with discussion.

"...People are talking about this as a race issue now. I can't say it's a race issue -- you do have whites mixed in with it. It's a class issue. It's a poor issue.

Upper-class people can leave. They've got money in the bank, they've got credit cards, they can go stay in a hotel until the storm is over. If you don't have money -- whether poor white, poor black, poor Hispanic, whatever -- you stay. You get what's left over, which is nothing..."

And also Laura Barcella's How to Help.