Via Making Light, two hurricane survivor stories that come off as a microcosm of all that is purely, hideously fucked in American society. First, Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, two paramedics visiting New Orleans for a conference:
As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.
We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.
And secondly, Charmaine Neville, musician, New Orleans resident and hero. (video interview)
It's stories like this that have me wondering how much of the hurricane relief fuckup is the result of mere widespread organizational failure, and how much is actually deliberate malice.