The latest estimates on the death toll for hurricane Katrina is that there are over 126 confirmed dead in New Orleans alone and that the death toll could go into the thousands. So much attention has been focused on the suffering of those in New Orleans, I have stopped noticing numbers for Biloxi, though those people are hardly better off.
Reading blogs, news articles, and websites, watching the news on television and discussing with friends, it seems that deep down everyone wants to place blame. I read in the local paper that one man blames the liberals with their godlessness for the storm. Liberal reports are that George Bush cut funding to the programs that would have shorn up the levees and seawalls. Intellectuals are laying the blame at the feet of the founder of New Orleans because what was he thinking placing a city on land that was below sea level?
All the while we are blaming, people are dying. People in the United States, which is by any standards a very rich, very industrialized nation, are dying of hunger and thirst because they don't have any food or water. For the most part these were the people too poor to evacuate, though some were perhaps a bit more stubborn or had family who couldn't evacuate--perhaps at a hospital--and now they are being forced out of the city. They are walking in hot temperatures and sleeping on the highway and they are not being given any water.
I realize there is not much water to be had there and the problems getting it to the people who need it are many. It does not change the fact that people are dying. As these people die, not because of a direct hit from a hurricane that no one would could prevent, but because we as a nation are unable to act in any coordinated way, we should all feel a small part of us die as well. These people are dying. They are part of our community--as residents of New Orleans, Lousiana, as citizens of the United States, as fellow human beings--and we are letting them die because the rest of us can't work together.
There are rays of hope as I continue to read. One such place that is pulling something together is
http://hurricaid.com/ It's devoted to pulling together links to other sites for people who want to donate to the human and animal victims of the hurricane as well as sites to help those looking for assistance in the aftermath of Katrina. Granted it won't reach those in the most dire straights but it can some others.