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The Northerner

The Issue: Hurricane Katrina relief counterpoint

Gabe Cronon

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The United States is the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. We elect our representatives under a system of one-person-one-vote, and the majority vote winner is elected. Once elected, we allow that representative to make decisions on our safety, well-being and prosperity. We place our trust in those people to make the correct decision and take appropriate actions when necessary.

There are points of blame to be taken by all of the leaders in government. No one person or party is more to blame than the one that sets the policies and procedures. The actions of local representatives are established by executive guidelines and must be followed despite party affiliation. If we chose to point fingers, the only direction should be up the chain of command to the very top.

I believe that President Bush has once again failed us. He has failed the people whom live on the Gulf Coast. As you read this article another human is being rescued, another is dying and another is already dead. A once vibrant and prospering region now lies in ruins, flooded and broken, like the hopes and dreams of the people that live along the Gulf Coast.

The president failed us before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. In fact the failure for this topic begins in 2002 when the president moved FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) under the control of the Department of Homeland Security. By doing so he added more red tape to activate disaster relief. To further complicate the scenario, the Department of Homeland Security repeatedly places priority on terror-based emergencies and not on natural disasters. This cut the budget for FEMA and delineated much needed resources.

He failed us by supporting the war in Iraq over the safety of those within U.S. borders. He spread the money for numerous programs too thin in order to fund the war. Most notably and directly related to the catastrophe is the decrease in funding over years to the Army Corps of Engineers based in New Orleans. According to the Washington Post, “(the President) repeatedly sought to slice the Army Corps of Engineers’ funding.” The main purpose of the Army Corps of Engineers is to protect and maintain the coastal waterways and shorelines from natural disasters. So why, considering the advanced notice of increased hurricane activity would the president be willing to place the safety of millions in America in jeopardy?

Once again, the president failed to address these issues in a timely manner; instead he chose to visit the disaster stricken areas days – not hours – after Hurricane Katrina hit. We know the response was slow. We know information was hard to come by. People were dying, deserted and left without basic human necessities. Isn’t it amazing that just hours after President Bush visited the region relief seemed to arrive? Coincidence? I think not. It sounds like another incident of Karl Rove and poll-bolstering tactics to hide the fact that the government was crippled under this presidents’ administration.

We have all heard the stories and the cries for action, yet the president chose to wait. He chose not to show force until the force was already in motion. What took so long, Mr. President? Your party controls congress, it controls FEMA and it ultimately controls the aid. How many more people must die before you realize the impact of your actions?

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
The Issue: Hurricane Katrina relief counterpoint