Raping Louisiana: A Diary of Deceit [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Phillip F. Harris
eBook Category: General Nonfiction/People
eBook Description: Raping Louisiana: A Diary of Deceit is a non-fictional account of clean-up efforts after the devastations caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is not, however, your normal story filled with facts, figures and statistics. This story puts a human face on an area that was raped by nature and deceived by its government. Based upon the diary of a truck driver by the name of Steve, we see a first hand account of the daily routine, the challenges and the bureaucratic ineptness that have, and still plague the residents of Louisiana. From leaving his family in northern New York to his daily runs removing mountains of trash, the remnants of lives destroyed, Steve tells a story in his diary entries that is far removed from the "official accounts of government agencies and "spin doctors." Author, Philip Harris uses these diary entries to masterfully create a new mural of the despair and frustration that still exists in Louisiana. If this account reflects and accurate portrait of our nation's emergency preparedness system, you may want to be sure you have your own personal emergency plan ready.
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net/ebooksonthe.net, Published: ebook, 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2007
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2 Reader Ratings:
We are all familiar with Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused the Gulf Coast and its residents. The purpose of this work is not to retell that drama, which is still being played out, but rather to put a human face on the numbers and dollar signs associated with that tragedy. In the fall of 2005 many made their way to Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and other parts south to aid the victims of this most costly hurricane in history. One such person was a man by the name of Steve Burgoyne, a resident of upstate New York. This book is about Steve, his family and those he encountered during his over twelve month odyssey in the Louisiana area. No last names are used in this book. This is done to protect those who are mentioned in the story from any and all kinds of reprisals from government agencies. Is this being a little paranoid? Yes, but in these times a little paranoia, followed by a dose of caution, mandates erring on the side of wisdom.
Before he left on his new job to help clean up Louisiana, I asked Steve and his wife Kathy to keep a journal of his travels, his activities and the situations he encountered. I also conducted an internet radio interview with Steve and Kathy on my show, ALL THINGS THAT MATTER on BlogTalkRadio, had numerous phone conversations and I had Steve fill out a questionnaire. These communications form the basis for the book.
As early as several months after the hurricane's winds passed into meteorological history, it was clear that things were not and would not go right in the cleaning up and relief efforts. This book is the result of Steve's journal entries. They reflect what he saw, how he felt, and the issues he personally faced in trying to aid those in need. The focus of the book is upon the events of the witnessed activities and not the failings or concerns of any particular person or persons. The key to keep in mind is that this is not a work of fiction. It is a first hand, eyewitness account of the "Raping of Louisiana." The journal presents a chilling tale of heartbreak, ineptness and bureaucratic inertia and is vividly told in this "Diary of Deceit."
As back round, Steve and Kathy are "salt of the earth" people. They have struggled to make ends meet and flit in and out of blue collar social status and occasionally enter into the lower rungs of the middle class. They would do anything for anyone and their assistance is only a phone call away. Steve has worked as a truck driver and has also spent many years working on a potato farm both in the fields and repairing equipment. Kathy, once a certified nurse, is now disabled. They have raised goats, sheep, cows, pigs, horses and chickens to make ends meet. They represent those people that, while certainly attempting to improve their financial position, would give up the comfort of a close knit family to help others in need. In all likelihood, Steve was not atypical of those who went to assist those devastated by Katrina. Seeking the promise of higher wages that could help make ends meet at a time when employment at home was scarce, many individuals like Steve packed a few belongings and set off to the promise of better wages in the South.
With families left behind, those with needed skills went to places like Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, ready to do what needed to be done to assist those whose lives and homes had literally been uprooted. Much like the migrant worker, they kept only a living wage and sent most of their pay home. But the promises of higher and steady pay were soon dashed as government agencies got mired in bureaucratic red tape. Lacking leadership and an effective strategy, funds were misspent and long delays forced many to abandon their plans to improve their financial status. Long delays between paychecks and irregular paydays forced many to go back home.
In his diary, we see the daily life of many who went south. Plagued by constant vehicle breakdowns, inadequate shelter, lack of direction, conflicting rules and regulations, substandard living conditions and those who cared more about paperwork than people, many workers simply gave up out of frustration. The diary is filled with bits of humor, observations of incompetence, local color and the concerns of those who left loved ones for an unknown adventure that left many with a taste of bitterness. Were fortunes made? Maybe by a few that were in charge, but certainly not by those who worked fourteen to twenty-four hours a day in the hot tepid climes where sewage and toxic waste covered the ground they worked.
Tragedies are often reported in gross numbers. They are dollars lost, numbers killed, costs to rebuild or numbers displaced. Such numbers are so common in the world's news that we have grown numb to stories of wars, typhoons, tsunamis, floods and fires. Studies have shown that when a human face is put with a story, people pay more attention. In the "Diary of Deceit" it is hoped that the human face of a person named Steve will make more people pay attention to this tragedy which was severely aggravated by those who perpetrated the Raping of Louisiana.
In the aftermath of Katrina, many widely published accusations and revelations have been made by the nation's leading news services regarding the government's gross mishandling of relief and clean up efforts in the Gulf States. Readers can easily "Google" Katrina and read some of these reports. Since memory can be fleeting, it will be worth re-setting the stage.
Beginning as a tropical depression on August 23, 2005, Katrina became a Category 5 hurricane on August 28th with sustained winds of 175mph. After the hurricane passed over Florida it had weakened over land but then hit the warm waters of the Gulf. After nearly doubling in size, Katrina made landfall once again at Buras-Triumph, Louisiana on August 29th and then again on the Louisiana-Mississippi border. The storm continued inland and finally lost all semblance of its former self in the Great Lakes region around August 30th. In 2005 it was estimated that the storm caused over $82 billion in damage and loss of life was over 1800 people. More recent estimates place damage in the $110 billion range. Some 400,000 jobs were lost and over 15 million people were directly or indirectly impacted by the storm.
On August 26th, Mississippi ordered the evacuation of 11 counties. This number was later increased to 41 counties. It had been estimated that 1.8 million residents of the greater New Orleans area were evacuated. On August 29th the storm battered New Orleans and as we all know, some 53 levees bust and the city was flooded. Some 8-15 inches of rain forced streams and rivers to overflow their banks. With winds up to 120mph and storm surges up to twenty-six feet, there was no question that massive destruction was inevitable. With the loss of roads, bridges and buildings, the infrastructure of the entire area were practically non-existent.
The economic, social and environmental impact of Katrina is still being calculated. Aside from the over $100 billion in physical damage, the costs of lost jobs, destroyed businesses, oil supply disruptions, and loss of tax revenues, timber destruction and more is probably incalculable. Further, there were extensive losses of wildlife habitat, beach erosion and major pollution of waterways and soils due to toxic waste and sewage overflows. This health hazard still plagues many areas to this day.
The government response, or lack thereof, to this catastrophe was characterized by mismanagement and incompetence. Despite appearances, there is in the United States a National Response Plan to deal with issues like Katrina. Primary responsibility is at the local level and as resources are spent it moves up the political ladder to the county, state and then the federal government. At the federal level we are all now familiar with the Federal Emergency Management Administration of FEMA. There is no doubt that Katrina revealed many flaws in our nation's ability to respond to major disasters; lessons that need to be, but have not been totally rectified. In some ways Katrina was a wake up call that will open eyes as to what may need to be done as we continue to face growing environmental related disasters. It is also hoped that this diary will also open some eyes as to the impact of poor government planning and mismanagement as it affects people on a day to day basis. If what has occurred in Louisiana and surrounding states is any foreshadow of what we can expect as a result of future disasters, we are all well advised to be prepared to care for ourselves, families and neighbors should, or rather when, nature decides to wreak havoc on the world.