Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina Blew Off Our Cover

Before Katrina hit, one half of the children in the city of New Orleans were in families below the poverty level. HALF!! We like to think of ourselves as the greatest nation in the world. We like to think of ourselves as the richest nation in the world. We like to think of ourselves as the nation the rest of the world envies. We like to think of ourselves as the land of the American dream. We like to think of ourselves as the great land of human and civil rights. We like to think of ourselves as civilized. We like to think if disaster strikes that Americans when treated like animals will not behave like animals. We like to think we are the best. Katrina blew our cover.

As I watch the TV and as the world watches us, the reality of what we are has been unmasked. Our cities---all of them large and small---have vast numbers of human beings living lives of desperation. We overlook our people; we forget about our people; we do not care about our people; we wish them to be bulldozed into oblivion so we do not have to deal with their angst; we pretend drug addiction and violence do not exist; we hide from the truth. We believe we are amazing and that our technology is unmatched; we believe our leaders are truthful and competent. Katrina blew our cover.

And now the entire world knows.

Through e-mail at UW, Dave finds out what happens from the small world of scientists and doctors. His friend was caught in the tsunami last Christmas and relayed his story. Here is the story of a doctor caught in New Orleans. This is from last TUESDAY!! Shocking how this "great" country of ours didn't do anything until yesterday:

authored by Sean Hart, physician in New Orleans>>>> Letter from New Orleans 8/30/05>>>>> "Thanks to all of you who have sent your notes of concern and your>> prayers. I am writing this note on Tuesday at 2 p.m.. I wanted to>> update all of you as to the situation here. I don't know how much>> information you are getting but I am certain it is more than we are>> getting. Be advised that almost everything I am telling you is from>> direct observation or rumor from reasonable sources. They are allowing>> limited internet access, so I hope to send this dispatch today.>>>> Personally, my family and I are fine. My family is safe in Jackson,>> Miss., and I am now a temporary resident of the Ritz Carleton Hotel in>> New Orleans. I figured if it was my time to go, I wanted to go in a>> place with a good wine list. In addition, this hotel is in a very old>> building on Canal Street that could and did sustain little damage.>> Many of the other hotels sustained significant loss of windows, and we>> expect that many of the guests may be evacuated here.>>>> Things were obviously bad yesterday, but they are much worse today.>> Overnight the water arrived. Now Canal Street (true to its origins) is>> indeed a canal. The first floor of all downtown buildings is>> underwater. I have heard that Charity Hospital and Tulane are limited>> in their ability to care for patients because of water. Ochsner is the>> only hospital that remains fully functional. However, I spoke with>> them today and they too are on generator and losing food and water>> fast.>>>> The city now has no clean water, no sewerage system, no electricity,>> and no real communications. Bodies are still being recovered floating>> in the floods. We are worried about a cholera epidemic. Even the>> police are without effective communications. We have a group of armed>> police here with us at the hotel that is admirably trying to exert>> some local law enforcement. This is tough because looting is now>> rampant. Most of it is not malicious looting. These are poor and>> desperate people with no housing and no medical care and no food or>> water trying to take care of themselves and their families.>>>> Unfortunately, the people are armed and dangerous. We hear gunshots>> frequently. Most of Canal street is occupied by armed looters who have>> a low threshold for discharging their weapons. We hear gunshots>> frequently. The looters are using makeshift boats made of pieces of>> styrofoam to access. We are still waiting for a significant national>> guard presence.>>>> The health care situation here has dramatically worsened overnight.>> Many people in the hotel are elderly and small children. Many other>> guests have unusual diseases. ... There are (Infectious Disease)>> physicians in at this hotel attending an HIV confection. We have>> commandered the world famous French Quarter Bar to turn into an>> makeshift clinic. There is a team of about seven doctors and PAs and>> pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical>> facility in the central business district and French Quarter.>>>> Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreens on Canal under>> police escort. The pharmacy was dark and full of water. We basically>> scooped the entire drug sets into garbage bags and removed them. All>> under police excort. The looters had to be held back at gunpoint.>> After a dose of prophylactic Cipro I hope to be fine.>>>> In all we are faring well. We have set up a hospital in the the French>> Qarter bar in the hotel, and will start admitting patients today. Many>> will be from the hotel, but many will not. We are anticipating dealing>> with multiple medical problems, medications and and acute injuries.>> Infection and perhaps even cholera are anticipated major problems.>> Food and water shortages are imminent.>>>> The biggest question to all of us is where is the National Guard. We>> hear jet fignters and helicopters, but no real armed presence, and>> hence the rampant looting. There is no Red Cross and no Salvation>> Army.>>>> In a sort of cliché way, this is an edifying experience. One is>> rapidly focused away from the transient and material to the bare>> necessities of life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be>> a primary care phyisican. We are under martial law so return to our>> homes is impossible. I don't know how long it will be and this is my>> greatest fear. Despite it all, this is a soul-edifying experience. The>> greatest pain is to think about the loss. And how long the rebuid will>> take. And the horror of so many dead people . PLEASE SEND THIS>> DISPATCH TO ALL YOU THING MAY BE INTERSTED IN A DISPATCH from the>> front. I will send more according to your interest. Hopefully their>> collective prayers will be answered. By the way, suture packs, sterile>> gloves and stethoscopes will be needed as the Ritz turns into a MASH."