The evacuation of New Orleans began this morning at 8 am. The city provided motor coaches to those without their own transportation, asking them to line up at the main city transportation terminals. They do not plan to re-open the superdome for those who stay behind stating:
There is no last resort shelter. Anyone who stays behind takes responsibility for themselves and their loved ones.
Given the images from Katrina, the stories of prisoners abandoned in their cells, hospitals “euthanizing” their wards, and differently-abled elders who had to be cut out of their houses, I find myself wondering who exactly is caring for the sick, the elderly, and the incarcerated in the ” no last resort” shelter plan?
Undocumented workers are also wary of evacuation. When the national guard and FEMA did finally arrive, many undocumented immigrants with both new and generations of roots in New Orleans told stories of being carded during evacuation (at shelters, at checkpoints, retrieving water) etc. Stories of deportation started to filter through in the months after Katrina. Now, undocumented workers recruited to help with the rebuild, stand around wondering how they will survive the storm.
There has been no statement about how the rights of transgendered evacuees will be maintained. It is expected however that the core group of queer community members that banded together post-Katrina and the service providers in bordering regions that helped and continue to help with medication, therapy, etc. will be mobilizing to ensure what the state did not provide last time will be provided this time around, if only by them.
Both Obama and McCain have issued statements about the importance of learning from Katrina and ensuring the safe evacuation of NOLA residents. McCain and Palin planned to visit New Orleans to help, b/c a photo op is exactly what poor, marginalized, people need in a trauma triggering hurricane.
Gustav is scheduled to be a category 5 by the time it hits the Gulf. It is unclear whether the levies will hold.
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Ricardo Levins Morales.
NY Daily News Photo/Theordorakis