What I learned many years ago and was reinforced by the Katrina articles is that what I perceive to be a home life is not necessarily what another may. We all think we know what everyone needs but that is based upon what we have grown up to think is a normal family life.
Not everyone will see that home life in the same light when they have lived theirs for years in a different manner. When change occurs, you take that familiarness away and it causes a sense of being adrift. Whether the change follows a major disaster or not, it adds a traumatic experience to the mix. Does that mean we should not continue to help those less fortunate? Absolutely not — just realize their need may be different to what you assume.
Hopefully we have learned that donations in such mass quantity need to be monitored so that one family is not completely overwhelmed. The second and more important lesson is to provide funds for case workers to assist them not only while the families are receiving these donations but on a long-term basis.
Once helped, they need to continue to have someone to whom they are accountable, someone they can go to for assistance not just for financial needs but as an advisor. This would allow people to adjust to their new way of life in the manner that they want for their family and hopefully learning the coping skills to do so.
Not all will respond, but to those that do it could make the difference they need to continue upon their new path with success.
The series "being Katrina" has succeeded at something it probably didn't intend to do at all — that is, be a perfect indictment of the horrible mistake that is the welfare system in this country. When first introduced in 1936, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (as it was known then) was never intended to be a way of life for generations of families.
It was to be a temporary helping hand, to assist families with children in a severe time of need. Instead, it has morphed into a "family tradition" that has done absolutely nothing to better those who collect the benefits. It has fostered a sense of entitlement, a complete and utter lack of ambition to better oneself, and a terrible lack of respect . . . both of oneself and one's surroundings. For a 48-year-old woman to never have known the responsibilities of rent, utilities, etc., is unbelievable.
Does the realization that your hard-earned tax dollars are at the root of this nightmare, make you sick to your stomach? It should. It is time to put an end to this cycle of dependency A one-year limit to any kind of benefits should be the maximum that the government offers. If, after a year of government assistance, a family still finds itself struggling, that is where private charities come in.
Some you can’t help
First of all, the horrendous damage to New Orleans was not caused by Hurricane Katrina. It was caused by government (federal, state and local) negligence.
As to the story printed in the Tribune, there are some people you simply cannot help. They do not know how to accept a hand up rather than a handout. They have lived on the dole for generations and have lost hope of ever having anything better. Or, they have lived on the dole as victims and enjoy living in that state because it gives them an excuse to blame someone or something other than themselves. If anyone really wants help there are many places for them to go , and they will find those places. They will take hold of the hands of others and work through the tragedy. This particular family had always been dysfunctional and regardless of how much others try to help them, it will never be enough. Yes, they need help, but they must also be willing to help themselves.
Too many questions
What I have learned is shame on our federal government. Shame on my fellow Americans for not understanding and pitying this family, and the unfortunate victims of Katrina from the neighborhoods of the Davis-Drummer family.
Where is the education? The birth control? The parenting classes and public services in this area of Louisiana?
Where was the follow-up for the Drummer family once they were in Arizona low-income housing? Why wasn't there a case manager, a church volunteer or someone involved to oversee the donations and family? Why weren't the excessive amounts redistributed? When it became apparent that this family was so uneducated and ignorant to what we call a normal way of living, wasn't it addressed immediately by our social services? Where was Child Protection Services that should of been involved from the beginning?
The five-day series about the family of Katrina was perhaps an eye-opener to many. But after reading about their struggles and hard times, and to see where they have ended up after the outpouring of help, just makes me sick. The generosity and kindness of so many people during Katrina and afterward is a true test to the good in most of us. But there are many, many people like Deborah Davis and Clifton Drummer who are lazy, and think they are "owed" something because Katrina affected them.
My sister was also a "victim" of Katrina. She lives just outside New Orleans in Metairie, La. They packed up what they could and left for Houston the day before Katrina hit. She and her boyfriend, along with their two small dogs, spent the next five weeks holed up in a small hotel room. They could not get home to see if they even had a home left. Their stay was then extended by hurricane Rita.
When they finally returned home, it was to some flood damage and no electricity. But at least their home was spared. Story after story they told me was of people everywhere who lost so much. People very close to them lost their entire home with everything in it. Neighbors never came back and streets became empty and deserted. But for every "Deborah and Clifton" out there, there were many others who dug in and helped themselves. They found what jobs they could to support their families and start over again.
This couple was obviously very poor before Katrina hit and maybe their resources were limited, but they had the opportunity to help themselves and rise up above the mess they once lived in. They were offered help here in Arizona, and instead of sounding grateful, they said, "Arizona wasn't a good place for raising kids." Not a place on Earth would be decent enough for Deborah, obviously. When the hand-outs stopped, so did her appreciation, if it was ever there to begin with.
I think the reporter did an excellent job in covering this story. I'm sure the year or more of following this family took its toll on her. Just reading the articles for five days took its toll on me.