Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's Statement on Hurricane Katrina
I thank the Mayor and my colleagues for convening this press conference to express solidarity in our concern for the plight of Katrina’s victims. The message today is that while we are watching this tragedy unfold, we are not sitting idly by.
The Office of the Fourth Congressional District has adopted Baton Rouge Mosque #65 which is housing 100 New Orleans residents. They need dry goods, food, and hygiene kits. Anyone interested in helping us help these 100 people, please bring donations to our Congressional office as soon as possible.
As we open our hearts, pocketbooks, and homes to Katrina’s victims, it is now imperative that the Government do its part.
To see it coming is not enough. The Administration appears flat-footed as its actions have not been fast enough and remain slower than most Americans can comprehend. A responsive government would:
1. Maximize the use of U.S. Customs air assets to drop badly needed food and supplies to the people. Sadly, I have been told by an investigative journalist that precious Customs air assets are available, but are not being used to ferry badly-needed food, radios, and supplies. We dropped food in Afghanistan, certainly we can drop food in the United States.
2. Tell the people what they can expect from their leadership in authority. Clear lines of authority should have been established and the people informed of what the government was going to do to alleviate their suffering. Much of the confusion and chaos we are witnessing is due to ineffective communication of the plan of action to the people in the affected areas.
3. Preposition necessities. It is clear that the Administration failed to preposition hospital ships, pumps, and supplies, in the face of a Category 5 hurricane barreling toward the Gulf States. The Administration is just now mobilizing to satisfy the massive and desperate need. And sadly, 40% of the Mississippi National Guard are in Iraq; 35% of the Louisiana National Guard are in Iraq; for Florida, the figure is 25%; Alabama has 23% of its Guard stationed in Iraq.
4. Be careful of the language used. What media bright light decided to term the New Orleans residents as “refugees”? It is insulting and should be stopped immediately. And, how dare anyone talk down to a devastated population while Bunnatine Greenhouse sits busted from her job because she dared to pull the plug on Halliburton’s looting of the US Treasury of billions of dollars. The President asks for patience and lends Katrina’s victims his thoughts and prayers. That is not enough given the magnitude of the problem. And FEMA should not now tell victims to take responsibility, but must instead deal with its own responsibility to care for a devastated population. And finally, talk from Speaker Hastert and others questioning the value of rebuilding the City of New Orleans should be arrested immediately.
5. Recalibrate its values and priorities. New Orleans is not just a home for hundreds of thousands; its ports form the heart of America’s domestic and international commerce, and our oil and gas nerve center. Shame on this Administration for slashing money to protect New Orleans and shifting it to Halliburton and Iraq. Shame on this Administration for not curtailing our dependency on overconsumption of oil; and for not recognizing global warming. Shame on this Administration for failing to take care of the American people.
6. Offer maximum assistance to people in need. Houston’s Astrodome has already reached its capacity. Atlanta has the capacity to give and a desire to share.
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Friday, September 2, 2005