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Bassel Hamieh
Doctor Kenneth William Bagley
Freshman Inquiry - Design and Society
4 February 2014
Hurricane Katrina An Unfair Fate
Hurricane Katrina Week in Design and Society has been a very educational, eye opening,
and mostly shocking and emotional experience for me. When the Levees Broke, a four-part
documentary of the disaster, sparked tremendous amounts of anger and frustration among our
class. As each day passed and as I learned more and more about the history and presence of this
Hurricane, I grew more interest and wanted to understand why the people of New Orleans and
the Gulf of Mexico had to suffer through it why no one stepped up immediately and helped.
Through the countless days that it took our government to respond to Hurricane Katrina and the
disaster it brought with it, the failed and unordered attempt of evacuation, the break of the levees,
the numerous rejection of outside help, and the slow and unfair restoration of the cities that were
demolished by it, it is evident that our government failed, horribly, at protecting its own citizens.
On August 27
, 2005, Hurricane Katrina reached the Golf of Mexico and demolished
anything that lay in its path. Stated by, on Saturday August 27, at 5:00pm, the
Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, called for a voluntary evacuation of New Orleans and the
next morning switched it to a mandatory evacuation. Though it seems like a good idea to order
people to move out of the city, the many sickly, old, poor, and disabled had no money or
physical ability to evacuate. What is appalling about this situation is that it could have been
prevented. Though the government knew this about the people of New Orleans, no troops or aid
was sent to help these people evacuate. All that the abandoned citizens were given was the

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Superdome, the New Orleans convention center, as refuge. However, there was a problem; it fit
only about 26,000 people, which means that over 270,000 people were left in the dangerous,
below sea level, terrain of New Orleans.
Contrary to popular belief, it wasnt the storm that demolished New Orleans, the failure
of the levees, which are walls built to prevent flooding in below sea level areas, was at blame.
According to The Journal of American History, The Army Corps of Engineers are the ones who
built and managed these levees. Though they were very well budgeted, the levees were not built
according to the regulations and original plans. We still, to this date, have no clue why they
would build it in that manner. These levees needed to have the capability to withstand at least a
level 3 hurricane, however the disappointing fact is that they couldnt withstand even a level 1
hurricane. I found it incredibly unbelievable that The Army Corps of Engineers would be ok and
have the audacity to build lower quality levees, as if they had the right to juggle around with the
lives of thousands of American citizens.
What was most puzzling about this whole event is the fact that the United States
Government allowed the rejection of any outside help in order to follow government regulations.
According to Robert Murphys article Hurricane Katrina Shows That Government Is Too
Small?, The real damage done by the federal government lay in FEMAs rebuff of private and
local-government help, which is because FEMA officials rejected trucks of supplies and food
from Wal-Mart and the Red Cross, refused the Coast Guards offering to deliver fuel, and even
sent out an alert, nationwide, telling first responders not to aid or be involved with the disaster. In
this situation, following government regulations should not have been a priority, but helping
the dying and sick citizens should have had immediate response. It is absolutely outrageous and

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incomprehensible why human beings and government officials would reject the kind and needed
help that was offered.
After all these disappointments from our government, Army Corps of Engineers, and
FEMA, these organizations still had the nerve to take over 9 whole months to begin the process
of cleaning and rebuilding the city for its people. By doing so, they left possible dead bodies to
rote in there houses to the point where they are not recognizable, they left people sleeping on the
streets, and left orphaned children wondering without care. How is this ok or fair? The
government later called in the National Guard, many weeks after the event, to help lower child
crime rates. Why not right when it happened? And finally, people whose houses had been wiped
away had to wait over a year to get a trailer to sleep in. Why did it take this long to shelter our
There are many unanswered questions that these victims ask themselves everyday. If only
there was immediate help, maybe children would not have died from heat strokes, or maybe the
elderly could have gotten some medication, or maybe people could have been treated from
infections and survived instead of died. Now, many of the people who lived in New Orleans
before Hurricane Katrina live all around the United States, Canada, and even Alaska. I cannot
imagine the pain, suffering, and depression each of them had to go through and still currently are
going through after loosing every single thing the identified with - there origin, history, photos,
documents, and loved ones. This tragedy was the worst disaster in the history of the United
States and I am hoping that we, as a nation, our government, and FEMA, could learn from all of
the mistakes that took hold on this hell of an event.

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"Background on Hurricane Katrina." Do Something. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2014.
Lee, Spike. When the Levees Broke. N.p.: HBO, 2006. Documentary. 04 Feb. 2014.
Murphy, Robert P. "Hurricane Katrina Shows That Government Is Too Small?" : The Freeman :
Foundation for Economic Education. Foundation for Economic Education, 01 Dec. 2005.
Web. 03 Feb. 2014. <
"New Orleans's Levee System: Timeline." Through the Eye of Katrina, The Journal of American
History. Organization of American Historians, Dec. 2006. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.