September 3, 2005
New Orleans: no evacuation plan for the poor
The poor were always going to be on their own if disaster struck New Orleans:
[M]any are starting to ask why - with mounting evidence that the below-sea-level metropolis might not survive a Category 3 or stronger hurricane - there was no plan for getting New Orleans’ poorest residents out of town.
When the Crescent City went through an evacuation - and a near miss - with last year’s Hurricane Ivan, critics complained about poor traffic management for those who tried to leave by car, as well as the fact that so many in poorer areas didn’t leave at all.
For those who could drive, local officials developed a new counter-flow traffic plan that worked much better for Katrina.
For the estimated 134,000 New Orleans residents without vehicles, the city produced a DVD that was sent out to churches and community groups, urging them to leave town but admitting the government could not take them.
“You’re responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you,” local Red Cross executive director Kay Wilkins explained to the Times-Picayune six weeks ago.
“If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you, but we don’t have the transportation.”
The Rivera/Smith video on Crooks and Liars—perhaps the most harrowing report to come out of New Orleans so far—captures the result of that indifference.
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