Monday, March 06, 2006

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

Just as Houston prepares for its solemn observance of Fastow Week, Newsweek offers a workman-like look at the city’s “compassion fatigue” from dealing with hurricane evacuees. The magazine reports that
as devastating as Katrina has been for the [Bush] administration, its impact has been far more visceral in those communities that received tens of thousands of evacuees overnight. In cities stretching from Atlanta to San Antonio, good will has often given way to the crude reality of absorbing a traumatized and sometimes destitute population … perhaps no city has been as convulsed as Houston, which took in the greatest number of survivors.
There’s an unsettling observation from an HPD patrolman on the evacuees’ impact:
''It seems like the face of crime has changed in Houston," said Officer Brandon Brown one night last week as he patrolled the sketchy Fondren area of the city, where many of the arrivals have settled. "It's more tense, more violent."
And bad news on the medical front:
Already burdened by a high proportion of uninsured people before Katrina, Houston has had to contend with thousands more. The problem will likely only get worse: on Jan. 31, more-generous Medicaid rules for Katrina victims expired. As a result, countless patients who had been receiving treatment in doctors' offices may now turn to overwhelmed emergency rooms. "Our hospitals are struggling financially to get by, and this doesn't help," says David Persse, Houston's EMS medical director. "Hospital CEOs are about to have coronaries." Worse still, infection rates for sexually transmitted diseases are increasing—possibly an outgrowth of high rates in New Orleans, city health officials say.

Sounds like it’s developed into our very own real-life version of Crash.

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