Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Katrina on Wheelz

"The disaster, it seems to me, is the failure of a philosophy. A philosophy of small government, tax cuts, deficits and privatization. The federal government should have arrived sooner but the federal government was doing other things." ~Stephen Elliott at Salon

That says everything I've been scribbling and scratching out, ranting and ruminating about for a week now. Well, almost:

How does a mayor call for manditory evacuation without evacuating the Intensive Care units in his hospitals?

How many people drowned strapped into their wheelchairs, or on their stairways as they crawled up on their bellies to escape rising water?

How many people starved and dehydrated in close proximity to food, water and help, because their power wheelchair batteries had died during the second day after the storm?

How many people died from insulin shock with dose after dose of ruined insulin in their laps?

After 9/11, the President called for disaster response plans that addressed the needs of people with disabilities. Did anyone actually work on that? Was any provision made in the days leading up to Katrina to evacuate people with disabilities before the catastrophe turned their city into a deathtrap? When Michael Chertoff and Michael Brown were smugly suggesting that the citizens of New Orleans had a responsibility to "Get to a distribution center," did anyone remind them that not everyone can just jump up and wade through the mess?

Katrina proved to me that our nation still forgets the disabled. We are unimportant to our government, the moment hard times arrive. How can we, wheelchair users still living, working, and paying taxes, get big enough, loud enough, to matter?