Thursday, September 01, 2005

Louisiana and Mississippi

[UPDATE: some minor editing. Thanks to Wally.]

A little searching found me the webpage of the Louisiana School for the Deaf which states:

The devastation in south Louisiana is extreme and the LSD community is greatly saddened and concerned, especially for our students and families from the affected areas. As of Wednesday, August 31, school is back in session. Any LSD staff members who are in an emergency situation should contact their supervisors as soon as possible. As of Wednesday morning, we have no Internet access at school, but our school e-mail and telephone systems are working.

We hope that all of our students and their families are safe and sound. We are very anxious to hear from all of them.

So. I would really like to find out more about what's happening down south with Deaf people. A quick search shows some interesting links:

  • Catholic Parishes in the south: "I am Richard Luberti, a Redemptorist priest of the Vice-province of New Orleans. In July 1988, I began ministering to the Catholic deaf communities of the dioceses of Lafayette, Louisiana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi. All three dioceses have long-established deaf communities. Each diocese has a center for the Catholic deaf and an administrator." Sounds like the hurricane hit some pretty big Deaf communities.
  • Greater New Orleans Association of the Deaf: Doesn't seem to have been updated for a while.
  • Deaf Action Center of New Orleans. This webpage really showcases the vibrancy of Deaf culture in NOLA. Again, does ANYONE know of anything we can do to help Deaf people down there?
  • Another Catholic Charities of New Orleans webpage - when I see it on the list in Google, it says "Hurricane Help for Deaf!!!!!!!" But the webpage will not load - server problems in New Orleans? That kind of sucks.

Anyways, the situation is getting pretty damned serious and people are looking for someone to blame. George makes it so easy. From Wonkette:

That the Bush administration diverted funds from the rebuilding of the New Orleans levees to Iraq is by now well-known. What you might not have heard is that the people cleaning up the mess are really pissed about it. A tipster informs us that down in New Orleans, they have a name for the flood waters that have invaded the city: Lake George.

From kos:

The administration specifically cut the funds to fix these specific levees, in order to specifically divert that Corps money to Iraq, despite urgent warnings and predictions of catastrophic disaster if the levees were breeched. The administration specifically cancelled the Clinton-backed flood control program to preserve and restore the wetlands between New Orleans and the gulf, instead specifically opening parts of that buffer zone for development.

Nobody anticipated this disaster? It was identified by FEMA as one of the top three likeliest major disasters to strike America. (That link, one of countless stories, was from 2001, by the way.) It has been a major disaster scenario for years. Everybody anticipated it, which makes this single statement by George W. Bush possibly the most dishonest, lying, craptacularly false thing he has ever said in his presidency -- even surpassing his now-infamous State of the Union Address. Truly, this is President Bush's blue-dress moment.

So there's some serious concerns, legitimate concerns. And what does this president do when people share their concerns? Blames them, of course. Hunter of Daily Kos has the response:

Oh, I'm touched. Utterly touched. After 9/11, the entire Republican Party went en masse to get Twin Towers ass tattoos. The Republican convention was a wholesale tribute to crass exploitation, the sets themselves designed to evoke the aftermath of the attack. Every domestic and international policy this administration -- no, this entire Republican government -- has produced has been heaved up before the public while waving the spectre of 9/11 as the catch-all vindication of every administration whim. Every tax cut, every civil rights issue, every budget cut, every budget expansion, no matter how tortured the logic must be, has some Republican senator standing on the Senate floor and proudly raping the corpses of that day as justification for their particular agenda item.

Meanwhile, what are our Deaf organizations doing to help alleviate the suffering of Deaf people in New Orleans and Mississippi? National Association of the Deaf rushes to let people know that the hotel they're using for the upcoming fundraiser is okay (not that it matters. Apparently at the last fundraiser they had people dress up as homeless bag ladies to beg attendees for money. So, now they can hire real bag ladies.) From their press release:

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) will monitor the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the surrounding areas and the possible impact on holding the 48th Biennial NAD Conference there. A Marriott representative recently informed the NAD that there was no structural damage to the New Orleans Marriott Hotel where the 2006 NAD Conference will be held.

Well, thank the Heavens for sparing that, although in the face of thousands of dead people it seems a little insensitive for the first concern to be the location of a conference. They do have some words for any Deaf people who might have been hurt in one of the largest disasters in American history:

"The NAD has been asked by some what we are doing for deaf people in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. At this time it is best to leave rescue efforts to the professionals. Once the lines of communication are re-established, the NAD will be in touch with State Association presidents in the affected areas to assess their needs. NAD members are urged to monitor communication issues encountered during this difficult time, so that we can better educate emergency personnel on the importance of getting visual information out to the public,” he continued.

Ok, cool. I'm glad NAD made the attempt to communicate with the rescue professionals. It would be great if NAD could coordinate efforts with local deafies to find temporary homes for Deaf refugees and maybe start a fund for people to donate so we can get interpreters for Deaf people who need emergency medical services... and homes, and clothes. We should try to support our own, don't you think? What about contacting local Deaf organizations to do the coordinating? Look, I understand the rescue professionals need to do their job first, but it'll be a hella lot easier later on if we have the Plan Planned.

1 comment:

Keri said...

AMEN to that!