Foreshadowing Of Katrina Debacle Seen In Florida In 2004

Good afternoon everyone. It has been well documented over the past nearly three years about the debacle that took place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August and September 2005. What people don’t know, and honestly, this even sneaked under my radar, was that this actually should have been expected. During the course of the 2004 season, which is now overshadowed by what happened in 2005, there were four significant hurricanes that rolled through Florida over a six week period between the middle of August and the end of September.

Starting with Hurricane Charley, a Category Four storm that made a sudden right turn into the Punta Gorda area of Florida near Port Charlotte in mid-August, and followed by Frances, Ivan, and finally ended with Jeanne, the Sunshine State was ravaged like it had never been before. However, a story that should have been more of a harbinger of things to come at FEMA, was getting started. In an episode of the PBS series, Expose, The Sun-Sentinel, a major newspaper of South Florida located in Fort Lauderdale, began investigating the misallocation of funds for people that were apparently affected by Hurricane Frances in September 2004. During the course of the investigation, the Sun-Sentinel discovered that money was being sent to residents in Dade County, which hardly got any damage from the storm.

These findings was just the first layer of an onion that was peeled, which led to a number of other findings. You can see all the details of this investigation online at the Expose web site. In the wake of Katrina, a lot of the same things happened in terms of mismanagement and fraud. Another similarity was how this and the aftermaths of both Rita and Wilma never seemed to catch on in the media and the general public. It was as if these matters were just swept under the rug. The point of all this though is that FEMA should have had a major overhaul well before Katrina, and the Sun-Sentinel had shined the light on it. However, nobody in the government with the exception of some in Congress such as Maine senator, Susan Collins, really followed through on this, and demanded the ouster of then chief and former Bush ally, Michael Brown.

Perhaps this was just overlooked due to the fact that it was an election year, and the Iraq war was foremost on everyone’s minds. Unfortunately though, many more people suffered because of this out of control agency, which actually hired ex-convicts to perform damage assessments in the wake of these storms in Florida according to the Expose show. Most importantly though, these revelations as well as what happened in 2005 should serve as a reminder that people throughout the United States should strongly consider what they are voting for on Election Day 2008. Do fringe or wedge issues such as guns and religion really that important? I say that because look what has happened in the last eight years. President Bush was elected on the mantra that he was a “Compassionate Conservative.” He was the choice of many Americans largely because he believed in so called values issues that many identify with even in the face of economic hardships such as those we are presently seeing.

States such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida were states that went Republican in 2000 and 2004 largely because of these wedge issues. And, in light of these findings on an agency in a Republican administration that these people gave their trust and faith to, I find it very perplexing to see how people could vote that way knowing that despite whatever assurances the government has given, they’ve not come through for them. Just ask those in South Florida still trying to find adequate housing nearly three years after Hurricane Wilma, or people in Lousiana and Mississippi, who may be dealing with health issues from FEMA trailers that had too much formaldehyde. It just doesn’t make sense.