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The realities of hurricane season

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As I am writing this article on the evening of the 28th of August, Hurricane Isaac is on a direct line to New Orleans and increasing in velocity as it nears. 

I cannot deliberate, debate or offer any new or valid opinions on whether or not the storm will hit or how much damage will be caused if it does. What I can do is hypothesise as to what the news of its imminent arrival would mean for the people of New Orleans and ask you to do the same.

Exactly seven years after complete destruction was brought to a city packed with wonderful culture we may be on the eve of a repeat event. But try putting yourself in the shoes of the residents.

Those who left the city when Katrina struck returned to find their homes and belongings gone or ruined beyond repair. Their lives as they knew them had ended and as they stood amid the rubble they must have known they would have been facing an uphill battle to reach normality once again. These people were the lucky ones.

The people who stayed, many of whom were too poor to own a car to carry them to safety, became trapped in their own homes. If they survived the hurricane they then had to survive the flood. Many people lived for days in their attics. Horror stories went round of people entering attics where corpses lay and finding scratch marks on the roof through which they had tried to escape. They were tortured by nature and then left to die.

The people who were lucky enough to survive or make it out of the city were then treated atrociously by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more commonly known as FEMA. A pitiful amount of aid was given out, and the project homes in New Orleans, which stayed strong in the storm and kept out the water, were declared as derelict. This rendered the poorest of the poor homeless for no good reason.

This amount of trauma is hard to imagine for anyone who didn’t experience it, but we can only do our best. We can only try our hardest to picture how difficult it must be to completely rebuild everything you have worked so hard for in life.

So then imagine seven years to the day since Katrina struck you get news of another hurricane heading your way. As I write an evacuation has still not been called and Hurricane Isaac is not predicted to be as bad as Katrina. But I do hope it still makes you think. Because although this has been a special summer for Great Britain in its hosting of the Olympic Games it has not for the people of Syria as fighting continues there. It has not been special for the family of Rachel Corrie who have just lost a court case in which they were attempting to gain justice for her death. And it could, again, be catastrophic for the people of New Orleans.

I had set aside some time tonight to write a festival review for Leeds. I thought my opinion on how good the Foo Fighters were would be interesting to read. But after seeing the news this morning I knew that I would be writing something else instead. I believe it is of the utmost importance that if Hurricane Isaac does strike in New Orleans then everyone is aware of how difficult it was for them seven years ago. Because if they are aware of this then if the worst does happen and Isaac does strike then they can go to every one they know and let them know why their time, money or both would be well invested in helping the people of New Orleans rebuild. No one deserves to go through what they did once, but if it happens again I believe that people have a social and moral responsibility to get involved and help.

But for now all that can be done now is hope that not too much devastation is brought to the people of New Orleans.

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