Reported by Liku Zelleke
A new book shedding light on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the blunderings in response and aid that followed it, is causing a stir after it pointed out that former Mayor Ray Nagin played a big part in the total failure.
“Katrina: After the Flood” by Gary Rivlin, a former New York Times reporter, is a book that has been described as being both “riveting” and “harrowing”.
Rivlin was one of the thousands of reporters who were witnesses to the disaster that occurred 10 years ago in New Orleans. His compilation of the names in the book points the finger at everyone that was responsible for the wrongdoings that came after the storm had passed.
Although he made it to the Mayor’s Office unexpectedly, and with the help of his kingmaker Jimmy Reiss who comes from old money, Nagin was at first an impressive sight to behold.
But when it came to actually doing things, he was totally ineffective – so much so that, even Reiss was soon having second thoughts about him.
And when Katrina hit, Nagin’s faults were exposed to the hilt.
President George W. Bush, who was himself being battered from every direction for taking his time following the disaster, arrived five days after the hurricane. Nagin was invited to shower on Air Force One before he was seen “wild-eyed and trembling” at the conference table.
The two enjoyed photo ops and ten days later, Nagin was flown out to Dallas in a private jet as New Orleans lay immersed under water.
On “Oprah” Nagin alleged that atrocities were being committed in the Superdome and that would be the onset of a disastrous media tour that would haunt him for a long time to come.
A year later, the extent of corruption and how deep it had buried its roots in everyone’s pocket would become evident as The Lower Ninth – a poor neighborhood – appeared just like it had the day after Katrina.
When asked about it, Nagin would compare it to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and say, “You guys in New York can’t get a hole in the ground fixed, and it is five years later.”
Nagin would eventually go to prison after being sentenced to 10 years behind bars and fined over $500,000 dollars.
His explanation would be: “Some of the stances I took after Katrina didn’t sit well with some very powerful people. So now I’m paying the price for that.”