COLUMN: Personal reflections on Katrina

Michael McLaughlin

As everyone else seems to be doing, I’ve spent most of the last two weeks transfixed in front of the television watching the coverage of the effects of Hurricane Katrina. However, I had a personal reason for watching the coverage. One of my close friends from high school is a graduate student at Tulane University and, being a massive worrywart in general, by the time Wednesday night rolled around, I was a nervous wreck.

Eventually I got in touch with her on Thursday and we proceeded to have a conversation which began with her lecturing me on thinking that she might still be down there (she had returned to Cleveland Wednesday night) and ended with a discussion on cat vomit (don’t ask).

While the one person I knew in the Gulf Coast area wasn’t in any physical danger, it’s probably the no-crap statement of the millennium to say that not everyone at Kent State had the same good fortune with his or her friends and family. So, obviously, if any of your friends or faculty (or students) or staff members have been a little short with you as of late, keep in mind that they might have other, more important, things on their minds. Also, if you’re looking for information regarding the well-being of someone in the Gulf Coast, a good Web site is

It’s rather tempting to play the “blame game,” but there are more important things that need to be done instead of trying to score political points off of the worst natural disaster in United States history since Galveston, if not ever. And for the record, both the left and right are guilty. Yeah, the head of FEMA spent ten years running a horse association and got fired from that for incompetence. However, the disaster would have hit hard no matter what President Bush did or didn’t do.

On the flip side, there will be a time to assess the blame eventually, whether the administration likes it or not. The head of Homeland Security blamed the newspapers’ headlines Tuesday morning for the slow response (as stated on “Meet the Press”), and the head of FEMA didn’t know that the Convention Center was packed with refugees until he was told by a reporter (as seen on CNN). Can anybody in this administration just admit that they screwed up?

While the hurricane would have hit regardless, a timelier and better-prepared response would have saved lives. People have been predicting horrible loss of life and property if a Category 4 or 5 hurricane hit New Orleans for years, and the president has the audacity to claim that nobody could have predicted that the levees would fail?

Finally, if you have any extra funds sitting around burning a hole in your pocket, consider donating it to the Red Cross ( If a disaster of similar magnitude happened here, we’d appreciate it if everyone pitched in. Anyway, one can probably spare some beer money to help out. Every dollar one gives can help ease the suffering in the Gulf Coast.

Yeah, that’s kind of trite, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

Michael McLaughlin is a senior history major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].