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The Gross National Debt

Friday, December 30, 2005

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

This is the Green Family Tree.

At first glance, they look remarkably similar to many American families.  Only the Green's are different in one very significant way: they have all been uniquely affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Make the jump.

Look especially at the left-hand side of the picture.  Already Joyce Green and Shenae Green are lost to the hurricane.  The family's tale is harrowing - when a barge smashed through a levy close to Robert Green's home, the area quickly flooded with 20 ft. of water.  Green and his twin brother ran into the attic of the home and kicked a hole in the roof.  They pulled themselves, three small chidren, a 51-year old mentally disabled cousin and their ailing 73-year old mother onto what they thought would be the safety of the roof.

Then their house ripped free of its foundation.

This forced them all to be on the move to escape the peril of a house floating (and sinking) in the flood waters.  The family members moved from rooftop to truck beds to other rooftops.  Along the way, 3-year old Shenae and 73-year old Joyce fell into the water.  Shenae wasn't seen again.  They pulled Joyce out of the water and tried to revive her to no avail.  The placed her on the roof and forced themselves to move so that surviving family members had a chance at life.

The Green family in total experienced, as a family, virtually all of the horrors we have heard about on the news.  I'm not going to go into the survivor's experiences in the Superdome and the Astrodome and with the Red Cross - you can read the whole series, courtesy of CNN, here.  

Robert Green had a simple wish: to bury his mother and say a proper goodbye.  Shenae's body was located in early November by recovery workers.  His mother is and was a different issue.  He left her body on the roof of a 9th ward house, a house that you could see from the Claiborne Bridge, a house upon which anyone could clearly make out the body of Joyce Green.  Robert Green even managed to ascertain the exact address of the house on which his mother's body lay: 1617 Tennessee Street.  He told everyone - National Guard, Red Cross, Federal emergency officials, police officers - the exact location of his mother's body.

Robert Green naturally assumed that his mother's body would be found in the recovery effort and would be taken to - well, to wherever the bodies of the victims of Katrina were taken.  The process he had to go through to even get that information was ridiculous.  For weeks after the hurricane he literally got the runaround.  Finally, they provided Joyce's X-rays and their own DNA samples to what seemed like the right agency to locate his mother's remains.  They called the Coroner's office every day.  Nothing.  No Joyce.

Finally Robert's twin, David, had had enough.  Enough of being forgotten, enough of the runaround, enough of being told that their mother's body couldn't be located.  He loaded up on shovels and a pick axe and tools and returned to the vicinity in the 9th ward where he thought his mother's body may be located.  He recognized a landmark from that harrowing day and, not three minutes later, found the remains of his mother.  This happened today.  He didn't have to dig - he didn't need the pick axe or saw or shovel.

All that was left of Joyce was her skull, clothes, and skeleton - the ravages of four months of being the abandoned dead had taken its toll.

There are many, many more like Joyce.

The Greens lay the blame equally on Federal and State officials.  While they didn not express anger in their tone or words, they simply say that they had to come in and do the job that others were supposed to do for them.  The only solace the Green brothers have, in having lost everything and having been through hell, is that they will get to bury their mother and put her as well as their minds at peace - at least on this issue.

I can't even begin to tell you how viscerally this article hit me - those of you who were reading here when Katrina was still 24 x 7 news surely remember RobertInWisconsin's diary AMERICAN SHAME: The Edgar Hollingsworth Story.  If you didn't read it, go read it now.  The tribulations experienced by the Green family is no less shameful.  The injustice suffered by Katrina victims every day, especially those people of modest means and minority status, is shameful.  And the shame just continues - four months later.

posted by RenaRF at 1:20 PM 8 comments links to this post


Blogger JP said...

This post, bringing the tragedy down to a personal level, is fantastic--thanks for sharing it! (at dKos, which led me here!)

10:34 PM  
Blogger sage said...

what a heart breaking and gut ripping story... blessings to you in the New Year.

9:02 AM  
Blogger RenaRF said...

It's a bummer post, I know - but it is a tiny fraction of the horrendous things these survivors are experiencing. I have to wonder at the "official" death toll, which seems to be about 1,300 - vs. the "missing", who are over 6,000. How many are now just bones beneath the rubble?

The comment thread at Daily Kos was rife with speculation about purposefully leaving remains so as to keep the official death count low... I don't know anything but that it's wrong and a tragedy that these people are still being treated this way.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Orikinla Osinachi. said...

If anyone told me that this could happen in America, I would have said tell that to the Marines.

What happened to America?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Don Meaker said...

How much have you contributed to the effort to identify the dead? Why were they living X feet below sea level?

Odd thing. In a city were the large majority were black, the majority of those killed by the storm/flood/ ectera were white.

This makes this sad story Not Representative.

Tragedy: A story where minor failings of several characters combine to create a situation with bad results and strong emotion in the audience.

Atrocity: a story where intentional evil on the part of some characters create a situation of horrible results, and strong emotion in the audience

9:04 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

This is unbelievable and so saddening, so maddening as well. Thanks for keeping at this story, which the country still doesn’t adequately understand. Four months later, and still the victims of this unnatural disaster are being left to fend for themselves.

It's an incredible shame on this nation.

8:29 AM  
Blogger RenaRF said...


Against my better judgment I'll ask you cite a source for the claim that the "majority of those killed" were white. The National Enquirer doesn't count.

I think it's shameful for you or anyone else to blame the victims. Did you follow the link in the story and read all of the backing material? I'm guessing you didn't or you wouldn't have said such a ridiculous and callous thing.

Not representative? Of what? What are you talking about?

Thanks for the dictionary definitions, though I'm not sure what you want me to take away from having provided them.

Happy new year.

Oh - and as to your email, it doesn't even make sense. The only thing it showed is that you are an attacker of the beliefs of other people without warrant or backup. Go read some more Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and visit Free Republic for peo9ple with similar (mis)information.

Yes I'm proud - prouder than I am with our lying, lazy President.

10:50 AM  
Blogger 木須炒餅Jerry said...


9:55 PM  

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