22 March 2019

On August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a powerful, category 3 hurricane hit New Orleans hard. Levees broke, streets flooded, and because the ground was so damp from the floodings, cemeteries had dead bodies rising to the surface and floating through the city. All together, hurricane Katrina was devastating to the city of New Orleans. It ended up leaving over $125 billion in damage, more than a million families displaced, hundreds injured, and almost 2,000 people dead with all this devastation, the United States government did little to help.

Several satirical political cartoons were created post-Katrina. One dated September second of 2005, created by Mike Luckovich, displays in the foreground, a hand poking out of the water. On the hand, it read “New Orleans”. In the background, there is a lifeguard post with a fat Uncle Sam on it. On Uncle Sam’s upper body it says “govt” he is also saying “just a sec’, I misplaced my whistle…”. The comic has lots of symbolism. For one, the “lifeguard” only says “govt.”, not a specific person or political party or The lifeguard doesn’t have a Baywatch body, it is represented as fat. A lifeguards job is to look over the people swimming, or in this case, the government’s job is to look over its citizens. In the early 1900s, Obesity was a symbol of beauty worldwide. People died without sufficient food. Prosperity meant having enough money to buy one’s own food and to eat well. The wealthy ate excess amounts of food, assuring themselves status and “good health”. The government is likely represented as a fat man because Luckovich was saying that the government could have helped more after the hurricane because they clearly had the money, but instead were making up excuses. The hand coming out of the water is representative of New Orleans, and their struggle to remain afloat in the underwater city. The hand also is in darkness, reaching for the light, likely representative of the government leaving the people of New Orleans in the dark about the situation and the solutions for after the storm.

In 2017, a similar situation happened and continues to happen in Puerto Rico. September 16, 2017, Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, hit the coast of Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States. The hurricane knocked out power and communication lines, caused landslides, caused over 3,000 deaths, and leaving almost $92 billion in damage. The U.S government also did little to help after hurricane Maria. FEMA, federal emergency management agency, established after Katrina, was supposed to help the government deal with high-risk situations involving natural disasters, however, post-Maria, the FEMA warehouse in Puerto Rico was nearly empty, its contents rushed to another storm weeks before. And when transporting supplies, they vastly underestimated the amount of food and fresh water it would need, and how hard it would be to get supplies to the island. So once again, the government failed to protect its citizens after severe storms.