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ScrappleFace -->August 29, 2006
One Year Later, Some Katrina Victims Still Slow to Respond
by Scott Ott
(2006-08-29) — One year after hurricane Katrina, despite an outpouring of billions of dollars from government, church and private charity, and countless teams of volunteers who have come to their aid, many residents of New Orleans have still failed to restore their homes and neighborhoods, or even to clean up the storm-tossed debris, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA.
“Katrina was a tragedy in itself,” Rep. Pelosi said at a news conference in a neighborhood where moldy furniture still lay in front yards, “but it exposed a tragedy of greater proportions. Some people in this region have lost the spirit of our forefathers — the work ethic, the persistence, the determination to overcome adversity.”
The California lawmaker said that when she becomes the next Speaker of the House she plans to use her new prominence to tell Americans to “stop expecting the federal government to protect you from natural disasters, and to bail you out afterward.”
When reporters asked what might be learned in the aftermath of Katrina, Rep. Pelosi said there were at least three lessons.
“One: don’t buy a house between a lake and the sea that’s built below sea level,” she said. “Lesson two: if there’s a hurricane coming, get out of town. And lesson three: if your home gets wrecked, clean up the mess and start rebuilding — like many people on the Gulf Coast have already done — or at least rip it down, cart off the debris and start over on higher ground.”
Rep. Pelosi reserved her harshest comments for people who have “made a lifestyle out of blaming President Bush for everything.”
“Were you expecting President Bush to show up at your door and whisk you to safety in his armored SUV?” she asked rhetorically. “After the storm, did you think he was going to skydive out of Air Force One and start shoveling the junk out of your living room? Wake up and smell the personal responsibility. What have you been doing for the last 360 days? Get off your keister, organize your neighbors and get this mess straightened up.”
Asked if she was concerned that her remarks might be perceived as “less than compassionate,” the lawmaker said, “Compassion does not mean fostering a culture of dependency that leaves people vulnerable and helpless when the inevitable trials come.”
“Sometimes the greater part of compassion,” she added, “is challenging people to use their God-given abilities in a way that preserves their human dignity and strengthens them for the next crisis. “