Sunday, September 03, 2017
Unhinged Rant about Harvey
Fuck you, AP. I've seen three different websites now start the story about Trump coming to Houston with the idea Trump has "returned" to Houston, and I know that stupid mistake started with you. It wasn't a week ago everyone was complaining how Trump had never tried to visit Houston, and now he's visited twice? Because why, it's all Texas and who gives a shit anyway?
And fuck you, Mr. President, for insisting the "recovery" is well underway. You were in a football stadium turned into a shelter for 10,000 people, handing them hot dogs because they cannot cook for themselves or feed themselves a hot meal, and you call that "recovery"? What kind of amoral blind stupid idiot are you? There are parts of town where "recovery" means they've started stripping out the sheetrock and the wood floors and the carpet and padding, and piling ruined furniture and major appliances on the street. It may take the city weeks just to pick up the trash. There are parts of town still underwater, and likely to be underwater for 6 more weeks at least. "Recovery" for them will begin when the bulldozers clear off, leaving scraped ground behind. There are people from apartments who won't return to them because they will be uninhabitable, and the fight over who owes money on the lease will begin in earnest and drag on for years. And where will they live in the meantime? FEMA trailers that aren't here yet?
More and more I see the difference between Houston and New Orleans is that Houston is not seen as primarily black and poor and inaccessible when the floods come. No police are standing on the roads and bridges out of town telling the poor blacks to get back into that hell, because they ain't bringin' it here. This is a lesson in institutional racism that many, many people will ignore. We're doomed to repeat this history over and over and over again, because the only parts of the Gulf Coast that really matter are Florida and Houston. Hearing anything about Rockport, or Beaumont, or Victoria? No, but the POTUS came to Houston, finally, and before that he stayed high and dry away from people in Corpus Christi, then skedaddled to Austin, in the middle of the state, as far from floodwaters as you can get in Texas and still see 'em. Except AP has everyone saying he came to this city twice, because "Texas" and who gives a shit about Texas geography anyway?
So fuck that shit about "comforting words." 75 schools in one of the largest school districts in the country are closed for the foreseeable future. People are still being found in houses now draining of flood water; other houses won't drain for weeks, what will we find there? You want everything to be normal and to be comforted by your President because the sight of all this upsets you? Fuck you. We don't have any need of your need to be comforted right now. Helicopters are still criss-crossing the skies above my neighborhood, everything from small ones that look like traffic copters, to the big two rotor jobs meant to carry a lot of something. The recovery hasn't started yet, we're still coping with the disaster. "Comforting words"! Fuck those "comforting words." The only person Trump comforted was himself.
Shit is real down here. Property values are going to plummet, which means city revenues will plummet, school revenues will plummet, county revenues will plummet, people will be dislocated for months, maybe years. The neighborhoods being flooded right now will be razed in two months. People lived there for the school district and the good neighborhoods, and now the flood control plan designed to save the city of Houston from flooding is flooding the city of Houston, and those neighborhoods are not fit for frogs and alligators. People who never bothered with flood insurance have lost everything, and recovery is gonna be on their dime. FEMA will help? Tell that to the people of New Jersey. How many renters had flood insurance? How many have lost everything, and how will they recover? Yeah, it's "beautiful." Yeah, there's a "lot of love." Yeah, we've heard "comforting words." Fuck 'em. We've got shit to deal with, literally. Reports are the e. coli count in the floodwaters are so far above normal the water was toxic. Incidents of illness and disease may soon run rampant, just because people waded through that water to get out of their homes, just because volunteers got in that water to rescue strangers. "Comforting words"? How stupid are you?
"Comforting words" are fit only for the people who parachute in to see the destruction, then need something to make them feel better about what they're seeing, and who it's being done to. This story is literally so big no one can wrap their head around it. So they'll stop trying to, and instead they'll tell themselves it's gone away, and everything is going to be fine.
New Orleans is not really the same city it was, after Katrina. Houston will not be the same after Harvey. These things we can live with. And to the national press and the journalists who don't live here, and to the President, I say: if you can't get the story right, don't bother at all. We've got enough to deal with without bearing the burdens of your self-concern. If you can't accept that "disaster" means bad things happen to good people, and that recovery is not the same thing as "it never happened" or "it didn't really matter," then we have no use for you down here.
This is real life. This is reality. This is, in fact, the consequences of ignoring reality, of thinking the free market knows best, that engineering will save us even when we ignore it and live in defiance of it, that everything is taken care of in this best of all possible worlds because "invisible hand"! The Dutch plan for 10,000 year floods; much of Europe builds to a 1000 year flood standard. We've had two 500 year floods in a row before this, and it didn't even teach us to be prepared for Harvey, because flood control doesn't increase property sales, it's not an engine of economic opportunity. We don't even plan to a 100 year flood, and look where it got us. We don't need comforting words about "recovery." We need the truth about what we've done to ourselves and what we can do about it.
If you can't handle the truth, then get out of the way. We've got a recovery to get started on. And it's gonna take years, and if we do it right, it's gonna reshape this city.
Posted by Rmj at 12:58 PM