I think one of the things that made Hurricane Katrina unique was its impact on a major city - complete with inner city, poverty stricken neighborhoods. I heard that the last time a major city was completely evacuated in the U.S. was during the civil war. People are shocked and saddened that such chaos and devastation can occur in our country today. It's not just the natural disaster, of course, but the response problems from those who should be helping and the additional havoc wrought by some of the victims.
But in a way, how can we be so shocked at this when we allow inner cities to be the way they are? One of the ironic things about this whole disaster is that it might turn out to be a long-term way out for some of the victims of both the hurricane and the inner cities. Some of these souls in major cities have never been outside the city limits. They may have never even visited the seashore that would be a short drive for most. Imagine your life like that. Wouldn't evacuation orders seem like something from a different world even if you had the means to go somewhere else?
Next time around, we of course need a plan to evacuate inner city and needy people BEFORE a storm hits. I have seen pictures of hundreds of flooded school buses in New Orleans that were clearly never put into use when they were most needed.
I'd like to see a real forum after the mess is cleaned up to coordinate future responses to major disaters. It's awful to see people like Anne Rice claiming that no one cared about what happened in New Orleans because that is baloney (tempted to use a less polite term, though). Everyone wants to help. I drove around our Midwestern town Saturday and saw a number of lemonade stands run by children and teens to raise money for the Hurricane. I went to a church rummage sale that was planning to truck remaining clothing down to the hurricane victims and were also collecting cash donations to help out (ladies were even negotiating prices based on donating the difference to the hurricane victims!!). There are thousands and thousands of people on every level of society trying to do things to help out. There is no lack of generosity, compassion and concern on the whole. What is needed is better coordination and greater cooperation and creativity between various organizations. If we could get together a team comprised of members of government, business, charity organizations and the media, I think the results COULD be amazing.
Another thing, though, would be to gather ideas and information over time from the displaced victims of the hurricane - particularly those who lived in the inner cities. Perhaps some what we learn from them could be used to help solve the problems, or at least alleviate them where possible, for those trapped in the often chaotic and tragic circumstances of inner-city 21st century American life.