Monday, October 12, 2009

President Obama Disses Mississippi

Photo: Biloxi, Miss., September 3, 2005 -- Damage and destruction to houses in Biloxi, Mississippi. Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage all along the Mississippi gulf coast. FEMA/Mark Wolfe

The White House recently announced that President Obama would be making a post-Katrina visit to New Orleans on October 15th, but apparently the president does not have time to visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, because he has some high dollar fund raising event to attend in San Franciso the same day.

This makes a pretty powerful statement to us Mississippians about how our president feels towards us in the south, and particularly the State of Mississippi and those of us along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Perhaps he would have been better served to come down here when he had a little more time on his hands - you know, between those vacations and international visits.

Let me first say, I love New Orleans and the people of New Orleans. Always have. Always will. I even lived there for a time.

And let me get one thing straight. The atrocities that occurred in New Orleans post-Katrina were deplorable and broke my heart.  No human being should have to suffer the way that those folks at the Dome did. But that was not a Katrina problem. That was a governmental problem beginning with the City of New Orleans all the way up to the Governor's office.  It should have never happened.

Let me set the record straight on another thing too.  The flooding that occurred as a result of the breaks in the levees were also not a Hurricane Katrina problem.  It was a man-made problem.  That happened after the passing of the storm. Due to, once again, governmental failures from the Mayor's office up to the Governor's office, who for years ignored the fact that the levees would not be able to support storm surge from a powerful hurricane - known well in advance of Katrina.

And last, let me say that while Hurricane Katrina did brush New Orleans with hurricane force winds, had there not been a failure of the levees, New Orleans would have been left fairly unscathed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina because Hurricane Katrina did NOT make a direct hit on New Orleans.  Hurricane Katrina did make a direct hit on those areas of Louisiana on the eastern border of the state - you know, those cities and towns that you did not hear about?  But, even those areas on the Eastern border of Louisiana that were hit hard, were actually on the "good" side of the storm.  While eastern Louisiana was hit hard and incurred substantial damage, their neighbor to the west got all of the attention.

For the record, Hurricane Katrina, the hurricane itself, made a direct hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

We were on the worse side of the storm - what is called the dirty side, where the most powerful hurricane force winds and highest storm surge are. The ENTIRE Mississippi Gulf Coast was obliterated. See that picture up there from Biloxi? That was only a small segment located in the middle of what our entire coastline looked like.

From Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula, and even beyond, to our neighbors in Alabama and all the way to Florida, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the entire coastline.  The ENTIRE Mississippi coastline looked like that picture up there.  Not from the catastrophic failure of a levee system, but from direct force hurricane winds, and tidal storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico. Not a man-made event, but a natural disaster.  Even though I live on the eastern side of our coastline, half of my neighborhood is gone now, leaving behind only concrete slab remnants still today of a once vital neighborhood that on August 28, 2005 was full of families and children and life, now... empty and dead, a daily reminder of what happened that next day.

Yet, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans got all the media, and all of the attention, and if you were sitting in a kitchen in Boise, Idaho, listening to the news coverage, you probably had no idea what happened here in Mississippi. And, now in this administration's first presidential visit to the hurricane zone, only New Orleans is worthy, and even then only worthy of a quick fly-by visit from a President who has time to vacation multiple times already in his quick stint in office, and to travel the world apologizing for our great country to other foreign leaders.

He just doesn't have "time" to come to the place where Hurricane Katrina actually hit. Or perhaps this is Obama's way of thumbing his nose at Mississippi's red state status, even though he did get 43% of the vote. Hmm... funny, but I thought I recalled that he said even for those who did not vote for him, he would be "our president too." You remember that speech ... you know... the kind of speech that wins a Nobel Peace Prize?


  1. Mary, when I was a little girl in New Orleans, and the Army Corps of Engineers was busy working with Boh Bros. and sucking the money up for substandard levees and dredging and pumping and so on, we all said, "It's just a matter of time until the levees fail, a kid with a spoon could dig into them and make them fail. And more than that, the pumps don't work right and a big rain could drown this city."

    My parent's house was flooded 3 times, nearly up to the second story, from RAINS, much less breached levees.

    New Orleans has been a derelict city since the mid-1960's. It went from half-way working to totally non-working. It was like living on another planet, one where nothing worked and graft was EVERYWHERE and in EVERY nook and cranny but the parades rolled on...

    I am sorry for what happened to N.O. when the levee broke and the pumps couldn't keep up. But it wasn't a surprise. And I was heartbroken for what happened to the little communities along the Mississippi coast. They were poor to start with and not a thing is left of them. But don't they count? Aren't those people still grieving?

    I don't get real mad at the President because I never did believe any of them running for president were anything but political creatures. I'm very cynical towards these career politicians. I think that with only a handful of exceptions, no matter the party, they are just the same-old same-old power-nutty uncaring greedy-guts as always.

  2. Mary, such a powerful post - it should be sent to the President. Honestly.

    My parents live in Northwest Florida, so our route from DFW area on I-10 takes us through the areas - Biloxi, Slidell, Pass Christian, Waveland, even Mobile...

    So many small towns touched and then forgotten because the media couldn't find the time. Why would they, Bush can't be blamed for natural destruction.

    I'm surprised they didn't find some way to pin that on him too.

    It all makes my head spin with anger. Hope Obama enjoys NOLA. Wonder if Brad Pitt will be there to greet him?

  3. We vacationed In the Missisppi gulf coast many years ago and recently I was looking at my beautiful photos- full of old mansions- huge old trees- beautiful surroundings- and I know that those places were all wiped out. So sad- such a rich heritage. If it weren't for my brother and his church who STILL visit and help those of that area, I would have no idea about the damage there and that treatment of this tragedy for this area.

    Shame on Obama for continuing the neglect.

  4. Very well written!! Coming from the north, you're right... all we heard about then (and still today) is how bad New Orleans got hit. I do recall one small mention of Mississippi, but only because I think Faith Hill comes from there and she was trying to raise awareness of the catastrophic state it was in after Katrina.
    As for the president - well honestly it doesn't surprise me. He didn't do anything for the state of IL in the very, very short time he was a jr senator here, so I guess I'm not surprised that it's no different with this new higher position. He can talk the talk, but he doesn't seem to be able to walk the walk.

  5. This was wonderful Mary, and so well written. It took us nearly 3 years to rebuild our home and there are still others rebuilding. I have family that live up north that have seen the destruction here and couldn't believe how little coverage we got.

    I agree with Em ~ this should be sent to the President.

  6. Clearly none of you voted for Obama which is fine. And I do agree that Mary's note should be seen by the President as well. However I don't recall Bush visiting Mississippi even while all of this was going on.

    As a matter of's an excerpt from an article that might help ya'll out which was posted on 8/29/07, two years after Katrina...

    15th Katrina visit
    It is the president’s 15th visit to the Gulf Coast since the massive hurricane obliterated coastal Mississippi, inundated most of the Big Easy with floodwaters and killed 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi when it roared onto land the morning of Aug. 29, 2005 — but only his second stop in these parts since last year’s anniversary.

    So let's see - We have a President who was in office during the events and only went there not even a handful of times while being in office 3 years after the storm happened and we have another President who has only been in office for how many months now?

    Yes I do agree that President Obama should have stopped in Mississippi, but at the same time if ya'll are going to comment on his lack of concern, be fair.

    Nevertheless, Mary I enjoy your sight. Take Care!

    You can read the whole article here:

  7. While I don't understand why you posted anonymously, I respect your right to disagree, though I think you would have been better validated not to hide behind an anonymous post.

    First, how do you know who anybody voted for? There are a lot of folks who did vote for Obama who are very sorry now that they did.

    Second, there is absolutely NO excuse for Obama not to come to Mississippi, when New Orleans is an hour away - even less time with a presidential motorcade.

    President Bush was here on the ground immediately after Katrina, and several times after, but this post has nothing to do with President Bush.

    Why do Obama supporters think that they have to justify his failures or lack by focusing on what Bush did or did not do?

    Obama is our president now, not Bush. He should be able to stand on his own.

    For the record, our local government and our governor acted in hand once President Bush got the ball rolling for the help we needed, so he didn't NEED to come here every month to hold our hands in Mississippi. HE did his job.

    Obama has NO idea what happened down here. He is clueless.

    AGAIN, this post was about a president who is doing a quick fly by to New Orleans and not even bothering to come where Hurricane Katrina ACTUALLY hit.

    If he wants to see a hurricane zone in recovery, he needs to come HERE.

    I have no idea what point you are trying to make with that article - it is moot. Besides the fact that I wouldn't read anything from MSNBC if it were the last news reporting agency on earth. THEY clearly have a very clear and clouded love affair with the president. I want a news organization that keeps an eye on our government, no matter WHO is in office, not act like blubbering teenagers in love.

    And thanks, but I don't need any "help" understanding what happened after Katrina ... I LIVE here.

    Apparently you do not.

  8. I am not sure I totally understand the comment made by "anonymous". If there is a question about President Bush visiting the Coast after Katrina, I can vouch for that. I was standing on the destroyed Waveland beachfront in October of 2005 when he drove by with a flurry of secret service helicopters in the air and speed boats on the water. I believe he was going to speak at one of the schools there.

    Mary you definitely touched on a subject heavy in my heart. I still get so angry when I recall how Mississippi was ignored during and after Katrina. I had evacuated to Arkansas and didn't know what happened to my home because all the news talked about was New Orleans.

    On the other hand, we can be proud of the fact that as Mississippians that we have the tenacity and spirit to pick up the pieces and carry on after the storm.

  9. Hey Mary, I don't think anything will change the path of this president! He believes he is of "the new generation"... just look at his logo. It's almost identical to Pepsi! Now you know I'm a Philly born and raised now southern girl. I have experience on both sides. I love the south, and many people could learn a great deal from it's people. I know I did.

    I agree with everything you said about Katrina and New Orleans. Facts are facts.

    Hope you feel better after posting this but watch out or you might just wind up on that white house list!


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