The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers
Expect UN-Natural Disasters to
same as for white, middle-class people. The same inequalities that persisted years before the flooding were exposed as contributing factors to
the cause and effect.
The other commonality is that these environmental disasters resulted in greed and poor planning. I rely on Dr. Robert Bullard to give me
perspective on the ravages of capitalism on our environment. Bullard has been writing and talking about environmental racism for decades.
He has warned us about the biological and chemical warfare being waged on poor communities of color, particularly in the South. A current
resident of Houston, Bullard is an eye witness to the unfettered growth of chemical companies and oil refineries in the only U.S. city without
zoning laws. Some of these companies pose new threats to the community should there be explosions or leaks based upon the trillions of
gallons of rain that fell.
Most of us who don’t live in flood plains or hurricane regions really didn’t start paying attention to this phenomenon until Hurricane Katrina.
Since that infamous breaking of the levees, there have been thirteen hurricanes. Yes, that unlucky number should have provided us with
many valuable lessons, but our policy makers and elected officials seem to be tone deaf. No lessons learned here and I haven’t even included
other types of storms like tornados, along with mud slides, wildfires, etc. Lessons about the scientific impact of global warming and climate
change. Lessons about efficient evacuations. Lessons about development in risky areas.
I have so many questions when I look at these disasters. Why is the Federal Management Agency (FEMA) in billions of dollars of debt? Why is
president trump trying to cut the FEMA budget by a half billion? Why is the rescue process lagging behind the science of predicting the
weather? Why does the building and/or relocation process take so long for traumatized victims? If we know many residents can’t afford flood
insurance, why haven’t we come up with an alternative plan? Why don’t we have an evacuation plan relative to the various cities? Oh, do I
have questions. That those questions are rhetorical in the face of human tragedy is criminal.
I’m calling on all informed, critical thinkers to ramp up the agitation around climate change so that we can brainstorm realistic solutions. We
can’t wait for the orange man in the White House to understand these complex issues.
The first chance that I got to go to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, I received a valuable lesson from The
People. Stop blaming the problem on the hurricane, they said. The flooding that enveloped the city and other
parts of the Gulf Coast was about the levees breaking. The residents’ view was that disaster was not primarily
about Mother Nature’s wrath, but more about man’s negligence and greed. Point well taken. Twelve years later,
Hurricane Harvey is getting a bad rap.
There are obvious and distinct differences between the two hurricanes in terms of lives lost and cost in
damages. Katrina was a Category 3 storm and Harvey registered in as a Category 4 but the ultimate destruction
of both is incalculable in terms of human suffering.
What the two hurricanes have in common are the rescue and recovery responses were and are rooted in race
and class. The residents of the predominantly Black districts — the “Bloody 5th” Ward in Houston and the Lower
Ninth in New Orleans — all sang the same refrain. The urgency of rescues, services and supplies is not the