Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What can you say?

The devastation of Katrina is numbing. What looked like a bullet dodged has turned into probably the worst storm ever to hit the US. Reporters are falling over themselves in superlatives to describe the wreckage, carnage of the situation.

What is causing the knot in my throat, though, is not the enormity of the disaster. It's the smaller scenes that hurt. Descriptions of "(h)undreds of people wandered up and down Interstate 10, pushing shopping carts, laundry racks, anything they could find to carry their belongings. " The human filth that take advantage of destruction and loot. (And don't write to me defending them because of their horrible life situations--I don't want to hear it today.)

Reading a few of the thousands of missing persons posts at the Times-Picayune web site. My grandmother, missing, suffering from dementia. My uncle, a firefighter last seen on top of the high school roof. Entire families missing.

Contemplating the notion of putting aside what are described as hundreds, possibly thousands, of dead bodies in the water to rescue the living, who are still stranded on rooftops. 80,000 of them still stranded, according to the former Mayor. Sit in the boat, sliding through the rivers of filth that the streets of New Orleans have become. Sit on the rooftop. Waiting. Watching. Praying.

At least the folks stranded in the Superdome aren't alone. Oh, most assuredly not. 20,000 folks with full toilets and little food or water in NOLA's summer heat. Soon, they'll be bussed to Houston to another Holidome. It's the best we can do for them right now, apparently.

Mayor Ray Nagin now says that it will be at least 12 to 14 weeks before the city begins to recover, and blames poor coordination of repair and rescue efforts for further delays in that timetable. Of course, many of us are wondering how well the rescue and repair efforts can go, considering that the Bush administration cut so much funding out of the Corp of Engineer's budget (44%) and has pulled so many National Guard into Iraq. Good thing he's left his vacation now to head up efforts to send some relief to NOLA.

Too little, too late Bub. As is all the discussion of Debate: Should a city have been founded in a bowl off a coast where hurricanes dwell regularly? More relevant is Debate: Should we repair such a city with billions of dollar? Except there appears to be no debate; it's a given.

What's not a given are the simplest of needs that are going to go wanting for some time in NOLA. Water. Waste control, otherwise known as a lack of sewage in your back yard. Freedom from typhoid and other waste-borne diseases. Food that hasn't been contaminated by the floods. And shelter that isn't foul and uninhabitable.

The folks down on the coast, they don't need our full hearts or our prayers right now, though. Won't fix those problems, though I'm sure they appreciate both. They need our money.

Until tomorrow,


Post a Comment

<< Home