When The Levees Broke

Last night we watched Act I and Act II of When The Levees Broke, a documentary by Spike Lee on Hurricane Katrina and the Federal response (or lack thereof) to New Orleans in its aftermath.  It is the most disturbing movie I ever watched.  My emotions ranged from shock at how the same levees that were breached twice before were never repaired, to grief at seeing bodies left in the water or under blankets while their loved ones painfully searched for their own salvation, to rage at how poorly the entire situation was handled by the federal government before, during and after the storm struck.   There were interviews with a wide range of individuals, from survivors to the mayor of New Orleans to residents of the city that were able to evacuate.

This storm hit home hard for me since it hit within a month of when I moved back to PA from Key West.  I was through three hurricanes while living in the Keys but none of them were over a Category 2; the winds and water I experienced were tame in comparison to Katrina's.  Those of us that were crazy enough to stay in town for the hurricanes after the mandatory evacuations were posted would have 'hurricane parties' as the storm was closing in on us.  We played it off just as another excuse to party but it was largely a cover to drink a lot so we were able to sleep through the maddening sound of wind tearing at the roof and siding and the thought that your end may be imminent.  I didn't necessarily choose to stay for the hurricanes but I did not have any vehicle and no spare cash and no credit card.  There is no way I could rent a car, drive to wherever safety was, rent a hotel room for several nights and pay for three meals a day out.  I already was losing up to a week of work that I wasn't getting paid for.  I really felt so horrible for the individuals that could not afford to leave New Orleans (despite the mandatory evacuation) and then didn't receive necessary food and water and medical care for over 5 days.  I've been there; the only difference was that I was not through Katrina.  This is America.  There is no excuse.  

I am still disgusted and still disturbed and still thinking about all the images I saw last night.  This is a film that everyone should watch.  We need to be aware of what happened so history does not just get forgotten and brushed under the carpet.  If honest citizens don't stand up and educate themselves on current events then the dishonest will simply rewrite our own history while we stand with our heads stuck in the sand.  It's so important to always learn, always talk, and always keep an open mind.  Go watch it.  

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