Katrina and the Lessons Not Learned

New documentary about Hurricane Katrina uses old footage to teach the same lessons.

In January, Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina stood in front of conservative think tank the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin and said, "(Hurricane) Katrina did not unearth poverty but something more unsettling, particularly as a conservative, and that’s dependency.” Those people stuck on roofs, he implied, were in a mental boating recession.

Which is fascinating, because one of the key stories in remarkable Katrina documentary Trouble the Waters (which had one of its very first screenings yesterday at the Netroots Nation convention) is that of Larry.

A resident of the poverty-stricken Lower Ninth Ward, he used a punching bag as a floatation device in the flooded streets. He was pushing it from house to house to help rescue his neighbors, trapped in their homes. He couldn't get them out of New Orleans, but he could at least get them to taller house with a stronger attic while they waited for someone, anyone, to help them. This isn't "formaldehyde-drenched trailer" help, or "delayed Road Home cash" help. This is "not die" help, which never came. As producer/director Tia Lessin explained, "They had no expectations of the U.S. Government providing anything. They were their own first responders."

Of course, the U.S Government's preparations for another Katrina-Rita hammerblow to the Gulf Coast are much more advanced than they were in 2005. Now it is spending a fortune on a TV advertising campaign telling viewers it is terribly important that they buy flood insurance. Looks like everyone should invest in a punching bag.

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Netroots Nation, Trouble the Water, Hurricane Katrina, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Gov. Mark Sanford

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