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Hurricane Katrina’s Catastrophic Impact on the Gulf Coast Essay

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Updated: Jan 2nd, 2022

The inhabitants of the Gulf Coast experienced a crisis well before Hurricane Katrina stroke relative peace. However, the aftermath of the hurricane left an enormous degree of families’ sorrows and household breakdowns. The disastrous hurricane impact on New Orleans and the other four Gulf states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida is dramatically depicted in the video ‘When the Levees Broke’ by Lee Spike. The storyline is absolutely dramatic and somewhat controversial to what had been considered a governmental report about the catastrophe that took place in August 2005. The documentary has definitely made an unforgettable impression. This is a well-filmed video that serves a proof of the event to be a national tragedy of the United States of America.

The paper will be focused on the fact that the government of the US had outrageously ignored the necessity of responding to the disaster that made the American citizens of the low-income literary fight for survival within five days.

First of all the beginning of the video emphasizes the changes New Orleans had gone through. Namely, showing the black-and-white scenes of a nice town in the past and then the colorful festivals held in the city with smiling faces make you think how pathetic this all looks in comparison with the shots shown in between those peaceful sights: the aftermath of the hurricane. Subsequently, it is evident that the entire introduction of the requiem foresees what will be next, though yet incomprehensible how deep and unbelievably unexpected Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath will be revealed.

Of course, when watching the video a person subconsciously comes to the conclusion of complete ignorance of government to the disaster. Whether it happened due to racial, gender, or class reasons, every average American feels sympathetic to the utmost because those victims were just people who needed help desperately despite their skin color.

Needless to say that a Spike Lee film reveals unexpected episodes of the Bush governing times, besides, some of them really stun and arouse nothing but a mere feeling of anger. To be verbose, it is necessary to present some scenes the movie showed. For example, the doorplate saying ‘Dead body inside, help!’ makes a great impression of how people were made to be locked within the situation with no help and no possible hope for rescuing.

The purpose of this paper is not to look for someone to blame, neither it is an attempt to establish justice within the situation discussed. However, it is necessary to point out the people were merely cut off from civilization when they lost power and could not watch the news and weather forecasts, meanwhile, the hurricane moved up closer while the rate moved up to point five. Moreover, people were left without food and drink within the four days for sure. This is an outrageous fact that cannot be omitted anyway.

Once again the mass media’s representation of the disaster was completely opposite to the one of people who happened to be the victims by a dramatic coincidence. The video gives us an interview of people who said that the helicopter came by and left without even trying to help or save people. Survived victims were seen all over the roofs and on the surface of the water. The appealing inscriptions on the roofs were dramatic enough to understand that people are suffering from a great lack of water, food, and medical help. Some of them said ‘some can’t swim, medical care needed’ and the most frequent one is ‘S.O.S.’ that could be understood by everyone. People were waving the white sheets and words of help written on the colorful umbrella. The question is why it was not responded to.

Going back to the discussion about racial prejudices, it has to be noticed that those summer days were extremely hot. This resulted in extra troubles for victims surviving the hit, which gave an opportunity to some people to claim the fact that the hit was about the African’s level, therefore, the African-American should have returned to Africa if they did not like something.

Heartbreaking is the scene when people are saying they were treated like cattle. This is probably the hardest thing to believe in, but the reason for that would be the issues of poverty in those regions. People kept on saying that it does not matter whether someone is poor or rich, what mattered those days are people – human beings who deserved to be rescued by any means.

The good impression about the video was the disapproval of rumors that got very spread during the time of complete disaster; such as, for example raping of babies. This would mean a total end of civilization within the tragedy. However, what is definitely tragic, is the denial of the police to let people go over the Mississippi Bridge by pointing guns at them.

This documentary definitely serves as a good ground to say that the responsibility of the government during that catastrophe was reduced to a minimum. The interviews with different people support the facts that the National Guard together with the military did nothing to save people due to the absence of order. This is also a good issue to consider within the topic of governmental irresponsibility because while the agencies were waiting for the order to fulfill, George Bush was giving a speech in Iraq about free democracy, which happens to be extremely ridiculous.

Of course, the entire situation is totally mind-blowing. The number of victims of the tragedy would have been less if the mandatory evacuation order was made on time. Also, if the military, the National Guard, and the agencies were not waiting for official reports (which is also a ridiculous thing) everything could have been different. This is what the video reveals. The documentary filmed by Lee Spike is wonderfully unearthed information that gives us an opportunity to talk about the civil rights being shaken.

Of course, the video represents the deeds that police and all other relevant agencies proceeded to after the tragedy. However, there still were those shortcomings that people could not just take into consideration and manage everything perfectly. For instance, the reportage from the convention center explained how the dead body across the street was not picked even the next day. So, the only thing that can be mentioned here is, once more, a poor organization of the rescuing procedures. This all was due to the time shortage, which could have been avoided if the preparations were made on time and, moreover if people were warned in advance.

So, as per my personal opinion about the movie, I think that this is a great chance for every American to understand and realize how huge the tragedy really was. I had no idea about its dimension also. However, now after watching the actual people’s interviews and the revealing facts of the governmental ignorance, I can definitely say that I was shocked. The feeling of anger and somewhat disgust could not leave me for some time. It is unbelievable how the people of America, the citizens of the most democratic country and society of the world were merely left to die without food and water.

My response to the video is the controversial feelings acquired about the nation’s capability to stand for the civil rights of Afro-Americans and white poor people. Still, what is the most outrageous about the catastrophe is that it happened in a powerful state – the United States of America – that could not help people move to the safe ground. It is impossible to stress enough how ridiculous the excuses to slow federal response are. ‘However, instead of sympathy and support, some conservative pundits have sought to link the suffering caused by Katrina to the lack of patriarchal Black family structures, which they argue could have helped individuals survive in the crisis.’ (Ransby, p.215)

It is a pity that the government told people that the levees were not possible to fix because they cost a lot of money. Hence, it broke and as a result, even more, funds were spent for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. All the more, any reports of mass media were wrong according to Horne: ‘Journalism under any circumstances is a competitive business and the timely report has a preemptive power to shape opinion.’ (p. XVI)

Some of the families were able to leave New Orleans before the levees broke, but some did not. ‘Driving winds had torn doors off houses bent trailers like horseshoes…’ (Brinkley, p.3) The damage is huge, the losses are great. Therefore, in memoriam of the elderly, young, black, and white victims I have to express my utmost belief that this will never happen again. And if the hurricane returns the American nation should be prepared perfectly well disregarding the racial or class issues.

Works Cited

Brinkley, D. The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers. 2006, Print.

Horne, J. Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City. New York, NY: the Random House Publishing Group. 2008, Print.

Ransby, B (2006). Katrina, Black Women, and the Deadly Discourse on Black Poverty in America. Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 3, pp 215-222.

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