In the terrible days after Hurricane Katrina slammed directly into Mississippi, leveled stretches of the Gulf Coast and side-swiped New Orleans, we now recall one thing being abundantly clear: the very real need to address human needs and assess what had left so many people so vulnerable in the developed world.
Horror stories abounded -- perhaps the most notable of which The Washington Post published here, when our own Ann Gerhart became the first reporter to enter the 15,000-person-and-growing storm shelter and disaster zone that was the Superdome.
But somehow, on even our understanding of this, America managed a remarkable racial divide.
How do we know? The Pew Research Center polled 1,000 Americans in the days between Sept. 6 and 7, 2005, and found vast differences in the way that black and white Americans viewed the storm response -- and even what it had revealed about the nation.
The differences are, quite frankly, so stark, so consistent and clear on each of the questions above, there isn't a lot that really needs to be said here. But if they told us one thing in 2005 and can probably tell us anything in 2015 it may well be this:
Race so clearly shapes American life that black and white Americans do not view even cataclysmic events in anything approaching the same way. That isn't to say that one view is utterly right and another wrong, but only that the influence of race in all American lives really cannot be avoided or denied.
These days, this racial divide is most pronounced when it comes to police treatment of African Americans. But even in a time of profound sadness and horror, we were hardly a nation united when it came to what had just happened and what to do next.