SENTINEL 8-26-2010
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Snap, Crackle, & the King of Pop

Hurricane Katrina & California fires: rescuing racism

by Firpo Carr

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The generation Michael Joseph Jackson and I grew up in enjoyed Kellogg's Rice Krispies, the breakfast cereal that ‘snapped, crackled, and popped' when milk was added. And, no, it didn't matter if you were Black or White (1991), everyone liked Rice Krispies treats. However, natural disasters like hurricanes, or manmade ones like wildfires, take the concept of ‘snap, crackle and pop' to a whole new level as trees "snap," fires "crackle," and combustibles "pop"! Regrettably, five years after Hurricane Katrina and three years after California's wildfires one is reminded of racist rescue attempts. This reality is very difficult to stomach.

Katrina's "Coloreds": Blacks living in and around Louisiana were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the government's irresponsible and inadequate response to it. Regarding the magnitude of Katrina one source states: "Hurricane Katrina was a seminal event in American history. The sheer scope of the catastrophe was far beyond any other natural disaster that America had ever faced." Various other sources offer these statistics:

"'Hurricane Katrina, its 115-130 mph winds, and the accompanying storm surge it created as high as 27 feet along a stretch of the Northern Gulf Coast from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans, impacted nearly 93,000 square miles of our Nation--roughly an area the size of Great Britain.' This area encompassed 138 parishes and counties across several states." "Hurricane Katrina devastated far more residential property than had any other recent hurricane, completely destroying or making uninhabitable an estimated 300,000 homes."

"The estimated damage from Hurricane Katrina exceeded $96 billion." "Approximately 1,330 people died during Hurricane Katrina." "The storm destroyed so many homes, buildings, forests, and green spaces that an extraordinary amount of debris was left behind--118 million cubic yards all told." "More than 1.1 million people over the age of 16 were evacuated, resulting in roughly 770,000 people being displaced for an extended period of time from their homes-‘the largest [number] since the Dust Bowl migration from the southern Great Plains region in the 1930s.'"

The Bush administration bragged about its response to the California wildfires where, incidentally, mostly Whites live. "Compared to Hurricane Katrina," one source retorts, "the California wildfires in October 2007 were insignificant. The 2007 fires were even less severe than the October 2003 California wildfires that burned a greater area and destroyed more homes and commercial buildings."

California's Caucasians: "The [2007] wildfires affected seven counties in southern California and burned just over 781 square miles." "Roughly 1,760 homes were destroyed and 338 commercial buildings lost." "The damage is estimated at $2.5 billion." "Nine people died as a result of the wildfires." "While public officials initially claimed that more than 1 million people had been evacuated as a result of the fires, the confirmed number of evacuees was closer to 500,000." "At the peak, 27,000 people had registered at public shelters. Based on 2000 census data, the total number of people displaced for an extended period of time was about 3,000 people."

"Unlike the evacuees at the Convention Center and the Super Dome in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, wildfire evacuees to Qualcomm Stadium in California experienced FEMA's new approach to caring for victims, which involves providing much more than the basics of food, water, shelter, and clothing. As The New York Times reported:

‘Over by Gate A you can get a free massage or acupuncture treatment. Up on the Plaza Level are group counseling sessions and medical checkups. There's yoga class in the morning and live music--roving mariachi bands, rock ‘n' roll acts, singers with acoustic guitars--at night. Hungry? Go to Gate F for hot meals--Gate D if you want kosher or Gate N if you want Mexican. On the way, stop at a table for candy, lip balm or sunscreen. It's all for free. Is this a giant health fair or vacation theme park? No, it's San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, the primary wildfire evacuation center."

Conclusion: Blacks in Louisiana were burned as if in the California wildfires by the Bush White House's inept response while Whites figuratively lounged (with their inflatable ducks) in the waters of Katrina. No, this isn't a criticism of my White brothers and sisters here in California. I myself would've been at Gate N (delicious Mexican food) after having relaxed with a massage! I am, however, critical of the racist, discriminatory government response to Katrina. Better days for all races, though, are ahead, dear brothers and sisters. (Isa. 25:6-8) See you there. Peace and blessings to all. Amen.