2 1/2 Years Later: Some Katrina Survivors Still Living Off Government

I can understand the government providing assistance for maybe six months. I don’t understand waiting around for a miracle.

Yes, Katrina was awful. The government response before, during and after was a fucking nightmare. You have no right to live where you used to live. I know that sounds heartless but it is true. Displacement sucks. Gentrification sucks. But in a capitalist economy that places more value on disaster real estate bargains, people will fall by the wayside:

[H]e sat outside his trailer this week, chain-smoking as workmen hauled another empty trailer away. He had already loaded all of his belongings — a television and some dishes and clothes — into his white Jeep Cherokee. But he was not sure how far the old Jeep would make it. With the motor mounts broken, he had rigged the engine on wooden sticks. In any case, he was not sure where to go. He had barely a day to meet the deadline to vacate the Renaissance Village trailer park, and he didn’t know whether he could pay $400 a month for an apartment in nearby Baton Rouge. So he just sat there, waiting.

What do these people expect? That we’re going to pay for them to sit in a trailer doing nothing for the rest of their lives?

Maybe I’m blanket-statementing here. I’m sure most of those affected by the hurricane and it’s aftermath are either back to work or have moved to an area with better opportunities.

Yet critics accuse the agency of pressing residents to leave before they have found permanent housing. With affordable apartments in short supply, some are relocating to motels — they can stay there for up to 30 days while they hunt for a new residence. Even those who have found rental apartments and houses do not necessarily have a plan for paying the rent when the government’s emergency subsidies run out.

Again: If you can’t find a residence where you used to live, shouldn’t you maybe look outside the area?

“They just want you to get out of here, but they don’t care where you move… I just pray to God and hope he brings me the answer,” he said as he dipped a saltine cracker into a can of tuna.

Why do people wait on God to save them like this? That drives me nuts. If God was going to save you why would he wait two-and-a-half years to do it? You’re not Job. This isn’t a test. Move to a better city.

This brings out my inner Republican. Make no mistake: The Katrina response was an absolute clusterfuck and it is a national embarrassment that we still have third-world conditions inside this country (not to mention the centuries hellholes in Appalachia). I’d use a sentence with the phrase ‘richest country in the world’ but I don’t think that is really true anymore.

Hell, move them to Phuket: they rebuilt that place in months after the tsunami.

What do you think? Should we continue to offer this kind of extensive assistance to those affected by Katrina – a whole 2 1/2 years later? What would you have done?

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Gay Hoosier Taurus INFJ ex-playwright pianist gymbunny published author in San Francisco. Tw · Fb

3 thoughts on “2 1/2 Years Later: Some Katrina Survivors Still Living Off Government

  1. JustinFeed

    Andy:

    As much as I hate it, I also feel very strongly about stories like this. Too many people expect the government and/or God to provide for them without trying to provide for themselves. This isn’t about short-term assistance, which is critical, this is about those that do nothing and expect that doing nothing will get them through.

    The government has a role in protecting the least of us, but that does not commit the government to a lifetime of support. Katrina was a terrible tragedy, and I can’t imagine losing my home, my neighborhood, and my city. However, when did Americans like this gentleman lose their survival instinct?

    I live in Oklahoma, an area that was devastated by the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. My great-grandparents survived and flourished, but not because they did nothing. They made hard choices, they found a place to live and work, and they raised their children. They knew they had to do it own their own or they would never make it. Somewhere along the way this lesson has been lost on some people.

    I am as liberal as they come, but I find myself frustrated and angry when I hear about people like this. People need to remember that they are responsible for themselves and that no one is going to carry them through life, not God, and not the Government.

    Justin

  2. sam

    I try to reserve judgment because I wasn’t there and nothing like this has ever happened to me, but praying and waiting probably won’t yield much in the way of results. I will say I’ve met and work with people who have pulled themselves out of this mess but they are people with skills who weren’t exactly living the low-life before Katrina.

  3. Daniel

    What amazes me is that Florida and South Texas is regularly hit by hurricanes, yet they don’t need government assistance like those in NOLA. My boyfriend is a housing inspector for HUD and I hear way more than I ever wanted to (or should) hear.

    Another thing that gets me is the Congressional hearings from those who accepted the trailers provided by FEMA, yet bitched and complained because of the formaldehyde. They sell the same trailers everyday, yet when those in NOLA were given the trailers, they found something to collectively bitch about. If the formaldehyde was so bad, I would think the government would step in and either ban them altogether or make the manufacturers change the manufacturing process.

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