On an Island

Louisiana has been dealt a heavy hand over the past decade. 
Katrina. Rita. Gustav. Issac. Now a historic flood that serves as a product of “a 1,000 year rain” is added to the heap of trouble and bad breaks. However, and despite this new addition to the list of travesties in Louisiana, many non-Louisianians seem oblivious to the fact that this recent devastation is occurring right under their noses.

With many feeling like no press coverage has taken place outside of the state lines, the popular sensation of media neglect leaves many wondering what needs to happen for attention to be paid to those in need.

Sure, President Obama and his White House staff know (they have granted a State of Emergency soon after the flooding started), but the President and his staff are supposed to be aware of what’s happening in the country. What about citizens in the United States?

Maybe it’s just bad timing. There’s never a good time for a natural disaster, but when the news cycles are inundated with the campaign and looming election of the United States’ first democratically-selected dictator or the competition of an every-once-in-four-years Summer Olympics, the media has their gaze elsewhere. Wrongly elsewhere.

Never mind the fact that the flood has displaced over 20,000 persons and that the National Guard has been called in to assist and rescue hundreds and thousands from rising flood waters, what story is more newsworthy than the perseverance of a state capital over an environmental disaster?

Thanks to the abilities of local outlets like WAFB and WBRZ, the flooding has not been further buried by headlines. Some stories have been shared or reposted by other outlets on sharing sites like Reddit (WAFB’s coverage of David Phung rescue on Tiger Bend Road), but limited original content has been created by everyday media giants and publications with access for the United States’ mass public.

Broadcast media have limited the coverage on the event as well, turning their attention to the election, the Milwaukee police shooting, or Rio 2016 — leaving many in Louisiana to ask the question: do they even notice?

At the moment, the Weather Channel and ESPN have proven they’re noticing, and thank goodness for that. Yet, doesn’t it say something that primary coverage outlets are not those of CNN, NBC, CBS, or FoxNews, but ESPN — a sports network?

Where is the outrage? Where is the love? Where is the help?

Many from non-affected areas of Louisiana have made treks up to flooded areas with boats, forming a “Cajun Navy” of sorts. Several volunteer crews have been formed on the ground within the state, but there’s not an outpouring of open arms and willing assistance nationwide like we’re accustomed to seeing for events of this magnitude.

“Our state is currently experiencing a historic flooding event that is breaking every record,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. “But I’m very proud of the effort that we’re making. More than anything else, I’m proud that Louisianians are taking care of their own, and people are being neighbors to one another.”

We’ll continue to be neighbors to one another and we’ll continue to take care of our own. Our community is strong and our resilience is even stronger. However, it would be wonderful if we weren’t seemingly isolated and bearing the burden of raising awareness alone.

In summation, when others fail to reach out their hand to help, stretch out both of yours in return.

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