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9/3/2005

Why didn’t they leave?

Filed under:General — eric @ 9:33 pm

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I’ve heard, from the president to the FEMA director down to the talking heads on FoxNews, subtle and not-so-subtle blame being placed on those who “chose not to leave” along the Gulf Coast, particularly those in the poor sections of New Orleans.

It’s true that some of those who remained behind chose for varying reasons to do so. But for many of those that stayed, it was no choice. The evacuation plans relied on the evacuees having their own transportation out in a city where over 40% of the population didn’t own a car (N.O. bus service was shut down within hours of the evacuation order). Once again, those in power and those who speak for them show that they have no idea what it’s like to be poor.

These people do.

  • Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.
  • Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
  • Being poor means your money is eaten away by fees: for money orders, for cashing a paycheck.
  • Being poor is hearing your daughter tell you twenty years later that she finally realized that ‘Mommy already ate, sweetie’ was a lie.
  • Being poor is people wondering why you didn’t leave.