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The Irresponse to Hurricane Katrina:
Looking at The Effect of Classism on New Orleans’ Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina in the Lower Ninth Ward
By: Jamie Luedtke
Hurricane Katrina is considered the second worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. (
) In Louisiana alone, over 1 million people were displaced by the storm (
) and over 1,800 people died. In a country as technologically advanced as the United States, 1,836 deaths resulting from a forecasted natural disaster is a staggering figure. No one can say how it is possible that no one implemented a mandatory evacuation until a mere 20 hours before the storm made landfall. No one can give a reason why fellow Americans were stranded without water, food, or medical attention in almost 100 degree heat for days. It was not that no one knew about the storms or the victims; there is news footage to prove it. Yet, our brothers and sisters were stranded. Some say these are unanswerable questions, but that is unreasonable.
It is not coincidental that those left behind were overwhelmingly members of the low-income bracket (this wiki will use low-income, poor, and low class synonymously, and does not intend to offend by semantics). It is also not a coincidence that almost four years after the storm the section of the city that still looks the most desolate and has made the least progress is the Lower Ninth Ward, the poorest and blackest neighborhood in New Orleans. It is important to note that critics are split as to whether “race or class determines the fate of poor blacks.” (
). Race and class are intertwined, making it impossible to separate them. The information in this wiki is based on the assumption that all members of the lower-income bracket, racial and ethnic minorities included, were mistreated and neglected solely because of their class. Acknowledging that it is simplistic and unrealistic, this wiki clumps all low class people together, allowing for more insight into the injustices against members of low class victims of Katrina – black, white, brown, Hispanic, Asian, female, elderly, and disabled alike. The reasoning for their class distinction is unspecified and unnecessary for this wiki. The Lower Ninth residents have been considered voiceless and disenfranchised (
). They were virtually ignored as the city prepared for, initially reacted to, and continue to respond to Katrina.
The foundational principle of Catholic Social Teaching is the dignity of the human person. The Catechism states, “‘God shows no partiality’ (
Acts 10:34; cf. Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9
), since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in his image and likeness” (
). The people in the Lower Ninth Ward were not shown the same dignity and respect as those in other parts of the city. This wiki was not created to place the blame on specific parties – plenty of sources already do that. It is intended to show that the poor of New Orleanians were neglected, illustrate the neglect and failure in the eyes of Catholic Social Thought, and suggest strategies that could be implemented to avoid a repeat of the catastrophe.
Strategies for Social Change
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