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America's Forgotten Citizens

People displaced by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, especially the poor, are America's forgotten citizens. In a CNN report of November 17, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said, "We feel like we are citizens of the United States who are nearly forgotten." Many reasons have been given for the slow response and subsequent lack of adequate services to victims of the storm. Most of the blame falls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) first for their slow response, and second for their recent announcement that the agency will stop paying hotel bills December 1 for most of the 53,000 families still displaced. Blame is also placed on the administration of President George W. Bush for its lack of immediate aid. The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, is also criticized for his handling of transportation after the storm hit largely because he failed to provide public transportation to the many poor people, mostly African American, and the elderly and infirm who lacked cars and had no where to go. Although the initial public response of individuals and charitable organizations was heartwarming and generous, the government at all levels did not sufficiently respond to the enormity of the disaster, leaving many victims of Hurricane Katrina homeless and "nearly forgotten" to this day.

FEMA, notably its chief Michael Brown who was put in charge of federal response, did not appear to be on top of things, as for example knowing about the 20,000 homeless people who were put in the New Orleans Superdome with unsanitary conditions and insufficient supplies, and no authority figure to direct the evacuation. I recall reading a newspaper story reporting that Wal-Mart sent a truck containing water to New Orleans when it found out the city was left without running water, electricity or gas. The Wal-Mart truck was ordered back by FEMA representatives who appeared unwilling to acknowledge that in a dire emergency


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America's Forgotten Citizens. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:58, February 21, 2017, from