Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a horrific incident that caused more than $108 billion in damages and led to an estimated 1,836 fatalities. The aftermath of Katrina led to even more devastation for America’s elite. FEMA officials were forced to resign, while New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, and President George W. Bush were criticized relentlessly. Lessons learned? The Hurricane Katrina event was devastating, but the ongoing Hurricane Harvey saga has been far more eye-opening, thanks to social media. Lessons were not learned.
While the media and politicians insist the recovery efforts have gone smoothly, this is likely far from the truth. Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, I have been watching the coverage. I started with storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski and eventually switched over to Steve Lookner with Right Side Broadcasting. My newfound obsession has been eye-opening, frightening, frustrating, and uplifting at times.
First and foremost, it is blatantly obvious that Texas officials were not prepared in the least. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already attempted to shift the blame onto Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and vice versa. Both men will likely receive tons of criticism once all is said and done.
The main stream media should also feel the ire of the average American. Perhaps the “fake” media is more incompetent or selective in their coverage than just being fake. During the lead up to the hurricane, CNN, Fox and even The Weather Channel were more interested in Trump’s handling of the potential disaster than the people or the devastation it could ultimately cause.
Even today, the media has been selective in their coverage, often failing to be honest about the severity and enormity of the situation. On late Sunday night, CNN, Fox and MSNBC all three offered insufficient coverage of the event. The local media has done a decent job, but those in the eye of the storm have offered the most stunning coverage. Local Texans have broadcasted their struggles live on Facebook Live, Periscope and other platforms. The content has been stunning, frustrating and heart wrenching.
How bad has it gotten? Shortly after the touchdown of Hurricane Harvey, a retirement center was damaged. The unwillingness to evacuate the state’s most vulnerable left those in the senior housing complex stuck for hours. The recovery efforts have been equally lackluster and excellent. Unfortunately, it is the local, state and federal coordinated recoveries that have been so poor.
Texans have flooded social media begging for help. Those responding to the pleas are not with any police department or federal agency. They’re Americans from across the country. Two years ago, the Houston Fire Department claimed a lack of boats hampered flood rescues during the Memorial Day flooding. During that time, additional funding for rescue operations was ultimately voted down.
The state and local rescue efforts have been abysmal. The Houston Police Department Facebook page is overflowing with pleas for help. Most have received no responses. Just last night, city officials announced it would be draining two reservoirs. An evacuation order was put out in an area that had no evacuation order prior. Unfortunately, the streets were already flooded and the locals had nowhere to go.
Even worse is the fact that some local shelters have already reached capacity. Many are full and some are half full. To make up for the failure of the state and local officials, local residents have stepped up. Local businesses have opened their doors to those displaced, neighbors have helped neighbors and those outside of the state have offered their assistance. Governor Greg Abbott has finally unleashed the National Guard, but it is simply too little too late. For a population of 2.3 million, 12,000 National Guard members is simply not enough. Other cities have sent additional resources, but it comes too late. Many being rescued are not being taken to shelters. They’re been dumped on solid ground.
One thing I have noticed from the local streamers is that they want their stories told. They want people from across the nation to see how bad they’ve been let down by their politicians and officials. They also want the truth out there. They realize that the media is not going to tell the truth. The disaster is undeniably far from over and it will likely and unfortunately get worse from here on out.
The fun and laughter from the first few days of the flooding have long faded. Now, residents have turned to anger and despair. Ordinary Americans have repeatedly been let down from Katrina to Oroville to Gatlinburg and now Texas. Thankfully, Americans have looked after Americans. The elite have sat in the backrooms laying out their strategies to further develop their political careers at the sake of fellow Americans. And of course, the media is complicit in it all.
Hopefully, the social media coverage will promote change and hopefully the loss of life is minimized. Unfortunately, it feels like the agencies and politicians involved are looking at the recovery efforts, while ignoring the current situation. People are in dire need of help now. Two days from now might be shockingly too late.