Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina: One year later...

I've been watching several shows and documentaries recounting the horrible events that took place one year ago in the gulf region as Hurricane Katrina battered that area. It's still unbelievable to me that this country could have failed the people of New Orleans in a time when they needed help the most.

I remember going on the air a day or so after the storm hit, and talking about how the New Orleans area came out of it better than was expected, and that was the common believe. Streets were dry, and damage, although substantial, could have been much worse.

Then the levees broke, and, well we know what happened next. So much blame to go around. Former FEMA chief Michael Brown got the majority of it, but that was mainly due to the fact that he was one of the only government officials that was brave enough to be interviewed during the first few days after the hurricane hit. Brown, while certainly deserving plenty of blame, was not alone. Bush, Chertoff, the Army Corps of Engineers, and to a certain extent, Nagin, and Blanco, all had their fingerprints on this mess.

"Brownie" agreed to be interviewed on various TV shows, but I like the one Ted Koppel did on Nightline the best. You can see it here. He really starts to squirm at about the five-minute mark. Koppel was relentless, as he should have been.

Recounting an event like this is never easy. The images are as brutal today as they were then. The memories still fresh. We'll be going through this again in two weeks when the 9/11 tragedy hits the 5th anniversary milestone.

It's important that we remind ourselves of what happened, and in the Katrina tragedy, why it happened and how so much of the aftermath of the storm could have been avoided. Many people agree that it was TV, print, and radio journalists regained some bite to go along with their bark during that event. Koppel, Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper, and many others made themselves heard and helped get the word out as to what was going on and what needed to be done.

Too bad the people that had the power to help, didn't take notice until it was too late.

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