Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Dead

The Times-Picayune reports today that the list of the missing in St. Bernard Parish has been reduced from over 200 to just 47. Sheriff Jack Stevens says deputies will begin searching in the surrounding marshes for those who may have been washed away.

At the cusp of the holidays, I imagine we should all be joyful to hear that over 150 people have been found alive, and I am. But I am also concerned at the thousands the most respected missing persons groups in this nation stil list as missing, and about what the St. Bernard outcome means for those still lost.

It means that at least 1,700 more people than the already reported 1,095 may be dead but undeclared by the government.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has reduced their list of missing children from over 1,000 to 508, but that is still an incredible number after four months. The same group's list of missing adults, last updated Dec. 19, still lists almost 4,800 missing adults.

As reported here on Nov. 1 and Oct. 4, the original list of the missing ran to over 7,000. I had previously suggested that the number of yet undeclared dead was over 1,000, based on a newspaper story reporting the results of resolving a Mississippi missing persons list (which found about 82% of the missing alive).

The results in St. Bernard, which are more likely to track those of New Orleans, found only 75% of the missing. The rest can't be accounted for, and the search for bodies in the marshes has begun.

For the entire and Rita disaster area, the original counts of over 7,000 would mean more than 1,700 dead are yet to be admitted by the government. The families of the unburied dead will not receive Social Security survivor benefits, or life insurance. Their estates will go unresolved, their families lives will never be healed.

I keep coming back to this because the so-called mainstream media will not touch this story. I sent all my research to a local journalist, who promised to look into it. How story ever came. Instead, we get this set in cold type: "List of Katrina missing reduced", with the upbeat subhead "Most in St. Bernard are confirmed alive".

As long as the government and the media try to pretend these people did not did, as long as Time Magazine does not correct it's statement about 23,000 acres devastated--when the figure is 23,000 square miles--I will keep writing here. I will not let them be forgotten.

Why are our leaders trying to suppress the death toll from the hurricanes and the failure of the defective levees? Why are the employees of Kenyon International Emergency Services charged with handling the dead, sworn to secrecy? Why was this company, a scandal-tainted Texas firm tied to the Bush family and implicated in illegally discarding and desecrating corpses, hired?

I believe I know why. It is clear that the death toll from the hurricanes, the flood, and the inept government response exceeds that of 9-11, probably by the hundreds. As I said back on All Saints' Day:

I believe they don’t want us to know how badly they failed us in New Orleans, just as they failed us in New York. If the truth were known, that as many and possibly more died in Katrina as died on 9-11, who would they have to blame?

They would have no one to declare war on but themselves.

Great post, but I think the political connections alone are enough to explain Kenyon being hired. Even if they were hired because of (not in spite of) their unsavoriness, bringing it up is a little risky. People act like I'm engaging in fringe thinking when I suggest that the administration backed away from its reconstruction committments in part because calls for open bidding meant that the cronyism would have to be limited; if that's too cynical for most people, I can imagine the reaction to what you suggest. Not that I'm ruling it out, it's just people are more to believe that the government was guilty of willfull neglect than deliberate malfeasance.
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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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