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By: Bill Locke After the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast was left a disaster area, filled with angry and homeless citizens. First of all, I am very empathetic towards the evacuated citizens of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who no longer have homes to return to. What I don't understand though is how those that chose not to leave are upset at the government. Why would a person not evacuate an area that rests below sea level? These people had ample time to leave the Coast, but chose to ride out the storm. They had three days to evacuate the area when the storm was deemed a Category 3 hurricane. Once the storm grew to a Category 5, the citizens of the Gulf Coast still had another day and half to leave. Thus, thousands are stranded in the Superdome in New Orleans. Why would anyone want to put their lives or their family's lives at risk by trying to "ride out" the storm? They had the money to leave, since most people brought expensive luggage to the Superdome. There is no excuse whatsoever to stay. The area has already experienced a Category 5 storm when Hurricane Camille struck in 1969. When hundreds of people are killed from a storm, the citizens should know how dangerous a hurricane is. To make matters worse, the citizens blame the government for lack of aid. What do they expect? New Orleans is underwater, while riots and uncivilized people are destroying property and stealing from crushed buildings. The government can't even get into some of these cities, because they are underwater. If these people had left, then billions of tax dollars wouldn't be spent on people that refuse to evacuate. When citizens are making statements such as, "This doesn't happen in America. This is only something that happens in foreign countries," then you know how ignorant they really are. Thousands of lives could have been saved if people had evacuated. If people are not going to heed the warnings given to them, then they should not be given so much compassion. First of all, I think a lot of you seem to have a problem with reading. Many of you have misquoted things that I wrote in my editorial. I have had several people misquote me about when Hurricane Katrina became a Category 4 hurricane. I never mentioned anything about Katrina becoming a Category 4. If you are going to respond in your bits of anger and rage, make sure that you properly quote me.
Granted, some people could not leave New Orleans, because they were physically unable to do so. But that does not make up the entire population of New Orleans, or a majority of it. Many of these people may live in poverty, but they still have some money available to them. Is it that difficult for people to pool their money together, and just leave? I'm sure that people have at least one family friend that has a working vehicle. Gather your funds together, and escape Katrina. These families maybe on the roads for a few extra hours, but at least they will be out of harm's way. Let’s assume that they don't even have a vehicle to help them. People can still walk, assuming their legs aren't broken. All they had to do was walk westward. By vehicle, it takes 4 hours to get to Beaumont, Texas. Even if people had only made it half way out of the state, they still would have been safer. Heaven forbid that a person may have to walk. Granted, they may not have somewhere to stay, but at least families will be out of the carnage of the storm. Why would anyone travel north? That was the direction the storm was heading. If you are going to try and out-run the storm, then that just shows a person's true ignorance. Also, many of you seem to forget that New Orleans was not the hardest hit city. Gulfport, Mississippi is no longer in existence. 90 percent of the city is no longer standing. New Orleans was not directly hit by the storm. Maybe more of you should be focusing your attention to the residents of Gulfport, where they don't have a city to return to, unlike the residents of New Orleans. Another problem with all of your arguments is that you keep quoting that 30 percent of the population exists below the poverty line. Once again, you are incorrect. Only 23 percent exist below the poverty line, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Since the population of New Orleans was 484,674 in 2000, that equates to 111,475 people live below the poverty line. The United States determines the poverty line to be $18,000 annual income for a family of four. So if 40,000 people were trapped in the Superdome, them what happened to the other 70,000 plus people? All of them were below the poverty line as well. Maybe they were just smart enough to leave, unlike those that chose to wait it out. Maybe they decided it was best not to buy the handfuls of lottery tickets, or to save their booze money to help support their families. So when you tell me that people can't leave, because they don't have the funds, maybe you are being ignorant about how irrational some of these people really are. Also, for those of you that think I have never left my "sheltered existence in Ames, IA", you would be dead wrong. First of all, I am from the east side of Cleveland. East Cleveland alone is one of the poorest cities that I have seen, with an unemployment rate very similar to that of New Orleans. Cleveland also has 23 percent of its families living below the poverty line. With a population very similar to that of New Orleans, the city seems to have similar poverty issues. I have been to East Cleveland on several occasions, and most people still have a car to rely on. Granted, many do rely on public transportation, yet a majority of citizens do have a car to travel in. So next time you think that I have never seen a poverty stricken area, make sure you know what you are talking about. If the citizens of Cleveland can afford a car, so can the citizens of New Orleans.
The citizens of New Orleans need to be able to have some self-responsibility, and not place all blame on the government. Do these people have to rely on the government for all of their living needs? Can't these people take care of themselves, or does the government have to be there to help with everything? Do not blame the government for these people's mistakes. People cannot rely on someone to take care of them forever, and need to learn to come together as a community, instead of looting destroyed businesses. It is appalling how people can just blame the government for everything that has gone wrong, instead of looking at the citizens of New Orleans who should have some responsibility in the predicament that they are in.