Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gulf Coast commemorates fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

To say time heals all wounds seems a woefully insensitive thing to say as the country marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall on the southeast Louisiana coast.

It’s geographically ironic that I am writing this blog entry on Fire Island. I was packing my bags in Tekla van der Plas’ house in Ocean Beach on the morning of Aug. 28, 2005. The last issue of that summer’s Fire Island News had hit the beach a few days earlier—with a story about the dangers hurricanes and tropical storms pose to the particularly vulnerable barrier beach—I was planning to return to Brooklyn. Everyone in the house that morning (myself included), however, was watching cable news reports on the category five hurricane that was about to make landfall near New Orleans. None of us in Tekla's house that morning had any idea how calamitous Katrina (and its aftermath) would possibly be. And it proved far more disastrous (and far more disturbing) than any of us could have possibly imagined.

Politicians spent years pointing fingers for abysmal response to Katrina after it made landfall near Buras, La., but five years later, this blame game arguably matters little to the millions of people in the Crescent City and along the Gulf Coast who were so tragically affected. The region has slowly begun to rise from the destruction this hurricane and its aftermath brought, but the Deepwater Horizon oil spill provided a stark reminder the path forward for the Gulf Coast remains painfully fragile. And this country must never forget the painful lessons Katrina continues to teach us all five years later.

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