FOR THE WEEK OF AUG. 31, 2005
Coping in the aftermath of Katrina
News stories report how families were forced to flee their homes with few belongings. Ask students to think about how they would help their families prepare for such an emergency. Ask them to make a list of steps they would take and list what decisions might be mistakes.
After going over the newspaper coverage of the catastrophe ask students to write an essay about the one incident that most deeply affected them.
Watching news reports about the catastrophe and reading news reports in the newspaper are vastly different experiences. Why? Television provides immediacy. Newspapers provide depth. Is that true? What do students remember from what they've seen in the TV coverage? What do students remember from the newspaper accounts?
As Hurricane Katrina's death toll rises, as looting runs rampant across the Gulf Coast, as flooding swallows New Orleans and gasoline prices across the nation soar, Americans once again are confronted with the overwhelming power of nature.
For a nation long proud of being "can do" people, the aftermath of Katrina is indeed a humbling moment.
One report suggests that the flooding and resulting sanitation catastrophe could make New Orleans a ghost town for three to six months. That means a half million to a million metro New Orleans residents are facing a life as long-term refugees. And those are the lucky ones.
Why focus on New Orleans? Most of the news coverage has focused on New Orleans. But other areas in Mississippi like Biloxi and Gulfport likely sustained even more damage. Why focus just on New Orleans?
Is looting justified? Reports have shown widespread looting and lawlessness gripped New Orleans late in the week as victims of the hurricane endured days of deprivation. When do you think looting would be justified? Is there a difference between someone who steals food and someone who steals a color TV?
Who is to blame? Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster. But there has been a lot of criticism flying over the response to the disaster by various government units. Some blame the mayor of New Orleans, others the governor of Louisiana and still others blame the Bush administration. Who do you think is to blame for the long wait? Did we do the best we could under the circumstances?
Should they rebuild? New Orleans was especially vulnerable to flooding because most of the city is below sea level. Should the city be rebuilt as it existed? Should it be moved? Should it be rebuilt using local, state or federal dollars? What's the difference?
How does this affect you? The catastrophe may have occured far from your home, but you and your family will still be affected by it in the months to come. HIgher gas prices may only be the start. What other effects can we expect?
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