The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is turning into one of the worst domestic episodes in American history. We started with a hurricane that could possibly destroy a major city, but did anyone really believe that could happen? Well, it’s in the process of happening and while it will not be as fast as the collapse of the Twin Towers, we are just beginning to understand the ramifications of the event, from the structural issues in the city to the sociological issues in dealing with people who have essentially become refuges.
Local government officials are reporting a bleak depiction of the state of affairs while federal officials attempt to calm people and assure them that everything that can be done is in fact being done. The sociological factors of the disaster — looters, lack of law and order — are also playing out slowly as a handful of bad people are making a mess of the recovery efforts.
A few observations on the media’s coverage of the tragedy that is Hurricane Katrina:
- Why no mention of the obvious race and class issues surrounding the recovery efforts and the images we see on our televisions? I saw CNN dance around the issue by reading a letter from a viewer, but so far the issue has largely been ignored.
- When the federal government stops putting out official announcements on its actions, speculation runs amok among the talking heads as to the feds’ efforts to help the people affected by the disaster.
- President Bush is likely to be pummeled for not responding faster and more often on television. He will also be criticized for failing to visit the region (I hear that he is likely to drop in Friday). But there is little he himself can do by visiting the region, and saying stuff on TV doesn’t help the situation, other than boosting morale.
Overall this is a huge challenge for President Bush that rivals the situation on Sept. 11, 2001. May God be with him and all those affected by this disaster.