Drowning Again

by d
Woman walking on OS-Blx Bridge.JPG

via Flickr

This weekend marks the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst disasters in American history. A category 1 storm slammed into the US Gulf Coast, ripping the region apart with 175mph winds, and water flooded over and through barricades. But the devastation did not end with the storm. In the immediate aftermath, people were left stranded without supplies, begging television crews for aid that should have come from government agencies. The failure of emergency systems has become synonymous with Katrina. In the five years since the great disaster everyone has limped along, picking through the debris and looking for ways to start over.

American media is featuring stories of both devastation and triumph. There is much to celebrate and much to mourn; much to wonder at and much to make you angry.

In the wake of such indiscriminate pain the conversation rightly focuses on the needs of all. People are suffering; it does not matter who or what they are, they all need help. But help comes more quickly to some than to others. What is frustrating in daily life turns into fatal injustice.

This is why groups like Eve Ensler’s V-DAY dedicate their efforts to specific groups. V-DAY works to help women and girls, particularly against violence. when the floods or the flames or the battles die down, domestic violence goes up. When people feel powerless they look for ways to exert what little power they have. Too often they do so with their fists and make women and children, traditionally the weakest among us, their victims.

V-DAY is featuring the ongoing efforts of so-called Katrina Warriors. These are women in the Gulf working tirelessly to help other women. You can read more about these inspiring women here.

As we wipe our brows — Surely nearing the end of labors caused by Katrina? Maybe? — we are faced with another calamity.

One fifth of the nation of Pakistan is underwater. The Indus river is unable to drain into the swelled ocean, so it is spreading outward, over its banks. Imagine the whole of Florida disappearing into the sea.

Little attention has been paid in the US to this calamity. Pakistan is hardly America’s favorite country right now, but even so, this is not an event like Katrina. No one thing swept in and destroyed the nation. The UN has described it as a ‘slow burn’, water rising ceaselessly over several weeks.

To my knowledge, relief efforts are coming from local and international groups, little of it rooted in the US. This is necessary right now. Disaster knocks us all down to the same level.

But someone must look out for the weakest. Someone must look out for the strongest — a mother who sacrifices her own rations so her children may live deserves better than to be passed over. When everyone stops running, the cunning will see victims in such good nature.

To help relief efforts in Pakistan, go to http://www.state.gov/p/sca/ci/pk/flood/index.htm.

One Comment to “Drowning Again”

  1. I’ve been reading about both the devastation of Katrina now 5 years later and the continuing atrocities that are going on, even perpetrated by the government itself and the local authorities. Especially in New Orleans. And, I’ve been reading about the floods going on in Pakistan. Not only are floods going on in Pakistan, but there is a heat wave going on in Russia. These are odd things to happen to both of these countries, but I’ve been reading and watching clips about how it is connected to global warming. In fact, I’ve got a good link for the global warming thing, and several good links for what I said about Katrina ravaged areas. If you’d like them, I’d be more than happy to get them for you. 🙂

    I agree with you. For one thing, the hatred for all Muslims and all things Islam is ridiculous, anyway. And to punish the people of Pakistan this way, by withholding relief efforts, is ridiculous. The vast majority of Pakistani populace are NOT terrorists and do NOT deserve our scorn or punishment. They did NOTHING. And, yet, we’re punishing them as if they did it all personally. That’s disgusting, despicable, and it portrays the worst out of human nature right here in the US. AND, it plays right into the hands of terrorists. Now, they can say, “see? the US doesn’t care about you! America hates you!” and what evidence is there in Pakistan to prove them wrong? Very fucking little.

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