The Floods of Katrina

Because the Bible Told Me So
“I, on my part, am about to bring the flood [waters] on the earth, to destroy everywhere all creatures in which there is the breath of life; everything on earth shall perish,” the Lord told Noah (Genesis 6: 17).

For Hurricane Katrina victims, everything on their earth did perish. “Everybody lost everything around here. Everything of value except our lives,” Kimberly told cameras.  And the government didn’t do anything to stop it.

“We’re actually prepared for the worse by hoping for the best,” former President George W. Bush told cameras. No evacuation was prepared and Bush dismissed calls to bring in troops to help New Orleans victims. However, that optimistic nature didn’t save the 1,836 lives lost to Hurricane Katrina.

As Kimberly Roberts said: “You have people who couldn’t leave like me. But I believe in the Lord Jesus.” So did Noah. And both Kimberly and Noah, and all the animals that marched in two by two, made it out of their “flood” alive.

Kimberly and Scott Roberts

Government’s Gonna Trouble the Water

The screening of Trouble the Waters, an award-winning documentary produced by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, was well received at 7 p.m. on September 15th, 2009 in that Emerson Suites of Ithaca College. It is an epic story of faith and survival as Trouble the Water takes us directly into the lives of an African American couple: Kimberly Rivers Roberts and Scott Michael Roberts. “We were there the night New Orleans went underwater,” the Roberts described.

Like Noah, the Roberts made an ark—theirs was a little green rowboat by the name of Duachita, with the words “wet dream” graffiti-ed on her hull. (Katrina sure was a “wet” dream, however, for Katrina victims, they might never get a chance to wake up.) Like Noah, the Roberts saved a community—they drove 30 people out of New Orleans by a pick-up truck. (Kimberly described the worse thing as seeing people in the streets, streaming out of the Red Cross shelter, and knowing that there wasn’t anything she could do to help them. There were just so many people who lost their homes, their jobs, and their lifestyles.)

As with Exoduses, this one failed in a major way. “They left her behind. They left my mom behind,” Kimberly accused the government. Before the Hurricane hit, Kimberly was told that all the patients of the hospital were to be evacuated. Weeks later, Kimberly Roberts found out that the evacuation never took place.  Like in Genesis 19 when the Lord took Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt, Kimberly’s mother was left behind.

Moreover, as Kimberly, Scott and her 12 kids were confined to an attic with no food or clean water, the 911 Operator chillingly replayed, “The police are not rescuing at this time.”

Even as Roberts made her plea: “I’m gonna drown! I have children!”

The operator repeated her noncommittal response: “The police are not rescuing at this time.”

“What am I going to do? I have children.

Meanwhile, the blades of the helicopters roared above.

Serving One’s Country

Photo taken by Karen Larkin.

Imagine your home country, the land in which you defended with your life.  Imagine coming home from days, months, or years at war, and the satisfaction you feel for doing one’s part for one’s country. For the soldier coming home to New Orleans from Iraq, however, they had no “home” to go to. Their “home” was in ruins, and even as they were off in Iraq, defending their country from the savages of war, no one defended their homes, jobs, or livelihood.

“The government let us down. What good is it to even serve us?” many wondered.

“I don’t want to fight for a government that doesn’t give a damn for you,” someone told cameras.

If you don’t have money and you don’t have status, you don’t have a government.”

As Producer Tia Lessin said: “The levees breaking were foul play. [The government] knew for years that the levees in New Orleans were vulnerable.” It was a crime to not evacuate the city, and it is a crime where no one is accounted for. And while, $350 million is spent in tax dollars to fight the War on Terror, what money is being spent to rebuild the homes, jobs, or livelihoods of the citizens of New Orleans? Meanwhile, the commercial and tourist attractions of New Orleans are restored just in time for Mardi Gras.

The Never-Ending Nightmare

“This must be a dream,” Kimberly’s younger brother Wink said when he emerged from prison to find his grandmother dead and his home ruined. However, Wink and his family never work up from their nightmare.

“Katrina is still going on. She’s still trying to do damage,” someone describes.

“New Orleans felt completely left behind,” producer Tia Lessin told the audience at Emerson Suites. “They felt that the rest of the country moved on and they haven’t.”

In the beginning, there have been great floods – floods that lasted 40 days and 40 nights. For Katrina victims however, the effects of their “great flood” may last a lifetime. After Katrina, most white have returned to their homes, however, most of the black community still have no homes to go to. As rent increases in new homes rebuilt in the New Orleans area, the homeless population also increases. And lastly, the levees still remain vulnerable.

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