New Orleans, 2005

New Orleans, 2005

Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

Unless it changes course (which it may), Hurricane Gustav will make landfall very near New Orleans on Tuesday. My girlfriend’s sister is packing up and heading to Houston, which will likely also be affected.

Today, coincidentally, marks the anniversary of the 2005 levee failures following Hurricane Katrina. When last year I interviewed Lydia Lunch (she lived in New Orleans a while back), she made an angry (no, really?) plea for people to stop using “Katrina” as shorthand for the 2005 disaster — it was the levee failures that were the problem. It was a failure of human infrastructure, not the assault of Mother Nature. Mr. Obama implied as much in his speech last night, taking the Bush administration to task for standing around with their thumbs up their asses while a major American city drowned (earthy colloquialism mine).

The mainstream media has been talking about how this will “test” what New Orleans has rebuilt, trying to offer the heartfelt human side of the story and succeeding only in shooting lameass sticky glurge all over my computer screen.

If there is any widespread destruction or loss of life in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, what it will test is whether the America of 2008 is the same place it was in 2005, or whether the government, this time, will be held responsible.

Godspeed to everyone evacuating.


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