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Greg Palast
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Saturday 27 August 2011
“This week marks the sixth anniversary of the biggest ethnic cleansing in America since the Indian wars of the 19th Century: the flooding of New Orleans.”

Hamptons Hurricane: A Bankers’ Katrina

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Image: NationofChange

Don't worry:  the bankers are safe.  The sub-prime sharks, derivatives divas, media mavens and their hairdressers, their trophy wives and their trophies' personal trainers, the movers and shakers and money-makers, are all out of danger. Despite the warning that in a couple of days Hurricane Irene could well hit The Hamptons, the beach of the best of the ruling class will not lose a tan line.

I made sure they're safe.  A couple of decades ago, I worked on an emergency evacuation plan for the county of Suffolk, New York, home of the Hamptons.  It's the wealthiest county in the United States.

The Hamptons' hurricane plan is six volumes thick.  The police and the politicians, the fire department and the first responders have their copies, their orders, their equipment and they are ready to roll before a single fake-blonde curl is ruffled by untoward weather.

The last hurricane to hit Long Island, far fiercer than Katrina, took two lives, not 2,000.

But then, the Hamptons isn't New Orleans, is it?

In 1992, a big storm washed into 190 houses on West Hampton Dunes, getting many grade-B film scripts very wet.  The federal government, with your tax dollars, rebuilt every single home on the beach (average value then, $2 million each)—and even rebuilt the beach with an endless samba line of trucks filled with sand, care of the Army Corps of Engineers.

There's a photo of one, in case you'd like to move in.  (Shouldn't we each get at least a weekend in the surf for our money?)

Now look at Patricia  Thomas' home in the Lafitte Housing Project in New Orleans.  I met her a year after the city flooded; she and her cousin and her cousin's two kids, just off the bus from refugee centers in Texas, were told that if they returned to their homes, they would be arrested.  It's been six years and they still are not allowed back in.  Doesn't matter:  three years ago, their houses were torn down to make way for yuppie condos, for the nouvelle carpetbaggers who will enjoy Lafitte's locale near the French Quarter.

Last year, a judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government were completely responsible for the flooding of Lafitte and half the city.

See the film 'Big Easy to Big Empty.'  This week, the Palast Investigative Fund is providing the half-hour film without charge.

Under the Constitution, the President and Congress must authorize payment to flood victims, as they did for the Westhampton luvvies.  But for the Thomas family, Obama requested, and Congress, appropriated ... absolutely nothing.

What about the New Orleans evacuation plan? Where were their six volumes? When I watched the chaos in August 2005, I immediately called FEMA to ask for a copy of the plan. Why were there no busses to take out those without cars? The number of deaths should have been ZERO.

The answer: the New Orleans plan couldn't be found.  The company paid to draft it, Innovative Emergency Management, couldn't find a copy either. Long after 2,000 drowned, I found the "plan":  no provision at all for the 27,000 residents without cars. That's not surprising: the hurricane evacuation contractor had zero experience in hurricane evacuation. Rather, IEM's chief did have lots of experience in donating to the Republican Party.

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the biggest ethnic cleansing in America since the Indian wars of the 19th Century:  the flooding of New Orleans.  We will celebrate this weekend, by worrying that Hurricane Irene will make the President and his donors on Martha's Vineyard spill their daiquiris.

I met Patricia's cousin five years ago today when, as dusk fell, she was in tears, wondering where she was going to stay with her kids that night.  "That's what I want to know, Mister, where we going to?"

Well, I know of some usually-empty and quite nice federal housing units on Westhampton Dunes...

Greg Palast's investigative report, Big Easy to Big Empty: the Untold Story of How the White House Drowned New Orleans is available as a free download at, provided by the Palast Investigative Fund, a 501(c)3 charitable trust, on the Sixth Anniversary of the New Orleans' flood.

Palast's continuing investigation of the flood and its connection to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, filmed for Channel 4 Dispatches UK, will be published in November by Penguin USA.

Subscribe to Palast's Newsletter and podcasts.

Follow Palast on Facebook and Twitter and at

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ABOUT Greg Palast

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "Armed Madhouse" (Penguin Paperback 2007). When Palast, an investigator of corporate fraud and racketeering, turned his skills to journalism, he was quickly recognized as, "The most important investigative reporter of our time" [Tribune Magazine] in Britain, where his first reports appeared on BBC television and in the Guardian newspapers.

Every single time I hear

Every single time I hear anyone bith about anything I say "vote republican and get more!!
Ingress I'm not being fair....which rethugs know a bit about! I'm done with fair now i want these treasonous bastards strung up by their petards!

palast hits it outa the park

palast hits it outa the park as usual.thnx.greg

I really wish we would pull

I really wish we would pull together instead of sending out all this negative energy. At this very moment, the whole Eastern seaboard is being threatened and we need to focus on that. The time for political rhetoric, advocacy and change is after this crisis. Please, remind us of the basic goodness at this time. This is the only way we are going to survive. I so wish all of us would wake up to what is really important during these times of crisis and this includes everyone, not the isolated few. Change will not happen until our basic values change and this means responsible editorials that are written with decorum and with suggestions that are palpable and community building.

You can come back from OZ now

You can come back from OZ now Dorothy. The "folks" living in the Hamptons are not generally known for their "basic goodness." They're known for being avaricious, self-aggrandizing parasites who, as Palast points out, got and will get taken care of with YOUR tax dollars even as Katrina victims languish in poverty. Reality is is often difficult to confront. Clicking your "red heels" together won't change our "basic values" when those values simply equate to who has the most money.

Obama is not responsible for

Obama is not responsible for what happened during Katrina. I don't know who would be responsible for the Army Corps engineering goofs, but for past ones that would not be Obama either. I am disappointed in Obama, too, starting with his choice of cabinet, but it is a stretch to hold him responsible for every jurisdiction that kow-tows to the rich. Hey, where I live, (an affluent zip code) the streets are in far better condition than the streets on the other side side of town. That is not Obama's fault either.

What will it be like?You can

What will it be like?You can know exactly what it will be like by carefully studying the horrificpictures of the Tsunami in Japan, the various wars all over the world,in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia,and of course Libya.Transfer those images to exactly where you live, nowhere else.Transfer the images of the Depleted Uranium babies, those devastated by Agent Orange, White Phosphorous,and fragmentation bombs, the toxic vaccines, and the many other horrors,to you, your family, and your neighbourhood. Hell is not only a place for the future.We have caused many people to live in hell.Do not believe the lying media.The days of military victories for the Biblical Israelite countries,and its co-workers has long gone.Hell is going to visit us, right where we live.Document/Video/Audio: A Declaration Of War By The Eternal God 2010/A Declaration Of War Index.htm

Obama and his family deserve

Obama and his family deserve a vacation--which he cut short to lead the nation during this crisis. Somehow I don't see him as a snooty, lightweight kind of guy.

People need to begin voting

People need to begin voting for fresh new candidates who take absolutely no money from banks and corporations. If a candidate has a one billion dollar war chest, he will never be looking out for anyone but himself and the money that puts him there. Republican, democrat, it makes no difference. A poor campaign will help keep America from becoming poor in the long run.

Audit the fed, support HR 459

Audit the fed, support HR 459 Paul

@west coast... don't forget

@west coast... don't forget "and Democrat."

Of course the Hamptons were

Of course the Hamptons were and are being taken care of. Big money to both parties is insurance for whatever their special interest is. Neglect of our schools, our bridges, our highways, our healthcare and our vets paid for the plan and the repairs. And these are the people that do not pay their fair share of taxes for the benefits. Vote Republican and have it continue!

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