In2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans and led to thedestruction of property and loss of human lives. Statistics indicatethat the hurricane killed 1400 people and destroyed property worth$108 billion. The photos by John Hughes, a renowned photographer,reveal a city submerged under the flooding water, thereby castingaspersions on the feasibility of its planning policy and design. Thephotos reveal poor urban planning and design especially in the LowerNinth Ward (Gary 1). They reveal the emptiness that has characterizedthe sides of the street due to the absence of single-family homesthat previously occupied it. John Hughes’s images reveal electricposts lying on the ground. This implies that the raging waters couldhave swept away the poles. Many families try to save their lives whenthe water level rises to critical heights. They clutch on floatingobjects to save their lives. The photos include dead bodies of peoplethat the hurricane killed. These bodies lie in various places. Hughesphotos reveal titled images of buildings. These buildings are tiltedbecause the weight of the flooding water is likely to have affectedtheir foundation. The photos reveal poor urban spacing and planning.The buildings consist of flats and bungalows. The most affected areain New Orleans was the Lower Ninth Ward. The tilting of the buildingsin the photos symbolizes poor housing design policy. Houses with gooddesign system could survive the impact of the hurricane.
Relationto the topic discussed in the two articles
Thetwo articles are related to the topic because they are focusing onthe lapses that existed in the planning of the city. Although variousefforts have been directed at rebuilding the city, the city of NewOrleans is yet to get back to its original form. Ten years havepassed since the hurricane hit the city yet large stretches of theLower Ninth Ward do not show improvement. This article reports thatnothing could be saved during the period of the earthquake because ofpoor planning. The city had two main streets that bisected theneighborhood (Gary 1). These streets include Claiborne and St. Claudeavenues. The assumption that Lower Ninth was vulnerable to floodinginspired false policy decisions regarding the city planning after thehurricane. Residents of this community were denied a chance toexamine the extent of the damage. The decision by the city tobulldoze the Lower Ninth in the pretext that it was in a flood-pronezone prompted the residents to seek legal interventions.
TheNew York Times article buttresses the notion of poor planning andsocial policy when it reports that the city of New Orleans underwentartless re-arrangement after the disaster. This implies that therewere no policy dictates to inform the reconstruction process. The oldinequalities that characterized the city prior to the hurricane seemto confront the new city, decades after the hurricane. Socialproblems such as violent crime, child poverty rate and overallpoverty rate have increased (Campbell & Fausset 1). Manyresidents are not able to afford housing due to increasing rent ratesand low wages. Theimages of falling-down houses buttress the absence of planningpolicies and design problems. In the corner of the community, thereare house blocks choked with vegetation. Getting to Lower Ninth fromUptown could only be possible when one gets there by the bridge. Onlya single bridge connects the community and Uptown, thereby increasesthe vulnerability of the community in the event of a disaster. Properplanning and design could open exit routes where people can run forsafety during disasters. Racially misinformed myths about Lower NinthWard formed a backdrop for misguided policy and design choices.
Part2: Similarities of Hurricane Katrina and riots in Los Angeles
Racialdiscrimination played out in the handling of Hurricane Katrina in LosAngeles. Many similarities can be drawn from the behavior ofauthorities during these events. In Los Angeles, riots erupted in1992 when four white police officers beat a black motorist. Thecriminal justice system acquitted the officers of charges. Thisoutcome sparked riots and led to looting and burning of property. 54people died, and property worth $1 billion was destroyed. Racialdiscrimination played out when white officers that were mandated toprotect African-Americans described them as monkeys and gorillas. Anindependent investigator found out that a culture of racism and abusewas prevalent with Los Angeles Police Division (LAPD). The officersregarded themselves as being above the law. The police division waspredominantly white, with white officers accounting for 68% of theentire police division (Regan 1). Clearly, the dominance of thepolice force by white officers cast aspersions on the viability ofthe justice system to rake in white offenders.
Theriots in Los Angeles and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina drawcertain parallels. First, racial prejudice has played out in themanner Hurricane Katrina was handled. Lower Ninth Ward was an areapredominantly occupied by people of the black race (VanZandt 7). Eventhough it was less prone to flooding than other areas occupied bywhite people, a narrative had been created that Lower Ninth grade wassusceptible to the hurricane. Schools in this community were closedfor several months while pupils in other communities attended school.The residents of this area were denied access to their homes. In thisregard, they could not access the extent of damage since a contingentof security personnel had been deployed to prevent them fromaccessing their homes. This situation is similar to the hatred thatthe white population in Los Angeles has towards people of color. Byallowing the white officers to go free, the jury had confirmed whitesupremacy over black people. These events led to the destruction ofproperty and loss of human lives. The similarities in these eventsmake it clear to notice the atrocities that have confronted blackpeople in their quest for equality and fairness. These eventsdemonstrate the reluctance of white people to uphold the virtues offairness and equality as envisaged in the founding documents of theUnited States.
Theaftermath of Hurricane Katrina increased efforts by variousstakeholders to invest money in recovery plans. The city, state andfederal governments invested $600 million in the Lower Ninth Wardtowards flood mitigation. Various foundations contributed millions ofdollars to the assist mitigation efforts while many volunteers havemade a significant contribution to the community. On the other hand,the riots that sparked violence in Los Angeles did not attract littletowards promoting fairness in the criminal justice system. Thejustice system is full of prejudice. The second difference is thatwhile 1400 people died after Hurricane Katrina, only 54 people diedin Los Angeles following riots. While Hurricane Katrina hadfar-reaching implications for all residents of New Orleans, LosAngeles police shooting targeted the black population.
Campbell,Robertson, & Fausset, Richard. “10 years after Katrina.” NewYork Times.(August 6, 2015). Available athttp://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/26/us/ten-years-after-katrina.html?_r=1
Dave,Zirin. “Want to understand the 1992 LA riots? Start with the 1984LA Olympics.” TheNation.(April 30, 2012). Available athttp://www.thenation.com/article/want-understand1992-la-riots-start-1984-la-olympics/
Gary,Rivlin. “Why the Lower Ninth Ward looks like the hurricane justhit.” TheNation.(August 13, 2015). Available athttp://www.thenation.com/article/why-the-lower-ninth-wardlooks-like-the-hurricane-just-hit/
Jonathan,Alexander. “Unnatural disasters or queering Katrina.” LosAngeles review of Books.Available athttps://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/unnatural-disasters-or-queering-katrina
Regan,Morris. “LA riots: How 1992 change the police.” BBCNews.(April 12, 2012). Available athttp://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-17878180
VanZandt,Linda. Katrinaten years after.(2015). Available at http://katrinatenyearsafter.com/book-preview/