Thursday, August 29, 2013

Katrina: Eight Years Later

August 29,2013 marks the eighth anniversary that Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the port city of New Orleans, LA. The category 4 storm wreaked havoc on the city and destroyed businesses, homes, displaced families and resulted in over 1,800 deaths and $103 billion in damages. The storm was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history next to the 1900 hurricane that met the shores of Galveston, TX. A fellow classmate and Louisiana native Reggie Dominique (@iamReGGO ) tweeted how his family rode out the storm and had no running water or electricity for about two weeks. Despite the hurricane flooding 80 percent of the city, it wasn’t as disastrous as the governmental response and news coverage soon before, during and after the catastrophe. I remember discussing the coverage of the hurricane in my Intro to Reporting class while as a freshman at Texas Southern and we found it weird how the media depicted the Katrina survivors as “refugees.” I thought it to be rather crass and not in the best interest of the media outlets to refer to them in that manner. The following article from Real Clear Politics tells a vivid account of how the media let on that what actually happened. Here is the link. However, I can say that some of the coverage where reporters interviewed survivors and giving viewers a close-up account of the damage was superb. It was equally sad how the PR teams from the governor’s office in Baton Rouge handled it as well. I doubt there was a communication plan in place in case of a natural disaster of Katrina’s magnitude. The FEMA response was porous and President George W. Bush’s response to the tragedy was a defining moment in his administration aside from declaring war on Iraq. It took him four days to get to New Orleans to assess the damage but when hurricanes hit Florida a few years prior; he was there in a moment’s notice. The lesson learned here is to be prepared for all natural disasters big and small and for the media to just report the facts and not have a set agenda.