New Orleans Sunk

Friday – September 2, 2005

Prayer – I do it.
Money – I donate it.

The suffering goes on…
People dieing at the convention center –
Patients need to be evacuated IMMEDIATELY
Bodies floating in the water: This is somebody’s mother, father, sister, brother,
grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, son, daughter –
The smell gags.
UNO campus – 3,000 people waded there
When the water rose…
Through toxic sludge from the neighboring houses
And hundreds to the Vietnamese Church –
Thousands huddle in pockets of survival all over the city
Surrounded, trapped by an Urban Cesspool.
THE LEVEES BROKE.
Mall burned to the ground –
Fires all over town,
A chained dog floats lifeless.
Kittens, caged birds, fish in tanks –
All dead.
Pictures on a screen;
Two dimensional,
Yet,
I know that house,
I know that building,
I know that town.
I lived the Andrew aftermath,
And other Hurricanes,
Earthquakes…
I know
Pictures and words cannot tell the story,
Cannot smell the filth, the horror, the fear –
The DESPAIR.
The Big Easy is wretched.
Gunfire in garages…
Families separated.
Thousands trapped in their attics and upper floors.
A woman cries on a cell phone, “My elderly mother was left at the house.”

Maybe this disaster could have been prevented by propping up the levees, maybe not. Now we’ll never know.

Can the city ever be safe?

***

This article from Salon.

< Is it inevitable that this will happen again?
Yep. You could sit down right now and say we’re going to design a new levee system, which will be stronger and more powerful. But you’re designing it based on the conditions for today. But all the conditions are changing. The climate is changing. The ocean circulation patterns are changing. The city is subsiding at about 3 feet a century, and if sea level is rising at about 3 feet a century, that’s 6 feet. You tell me what the long-term prospects are.

At the same time, the geologist in me says you just have to live with natural disasters and you can’t engineer your way out of them. Even so, we sure as hell need to take another look at how we can evacuate people in and out of New Orleans when we know a hurricane is coming. (quote of UC Geologist Jeffery Mount – “Why New Orleans is Sunk” Article – Salon.com by Katharine Mieszkowski)>

I can’t imagine how the recovery could have been much faster, given that the area devasted in the gulf region is BIGGER than England. But why couldn’t water and food have been dropped at locations around town? Also, the National Guard was where? If there was no shortage of troops because of the war in Iraq, then where were they for 5 days?

New Orleans Mayor Nagin on the radio – “No more goddamn press conferences. Get your ass down here!” Presumably to the US President whose ass did show up later in the day to ‘look’ at the deluge. The President’s PR staff missed a photo-op by not putting some water and food in his hand to offer the pitifuls more than a ‘hug.’ Really, sometimes his handlers bungle it.

Our illiterate leader, or rather current occupant of the White House, and a product of the best education money can buy, offers these words of advice, “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it.”

I heartily agree. “Don’t buy gas. Don’t buy cars.” The irony: people in poverty don’t have cars or the means to leave town, but not because of consumer revolt. Cars cost money. Money these people don’t have, or the education to get a job to pay for one.

I still don’t know the fate of my school: UNO.

I feel guilty as I sit comfortable in my air-conditioned, dry (for now) house built in a drained swamp in Florida. I find myself morbidly glued to the TV – immobilized by events. Vaguely, I am becoming aware of a rising commitment to participate in the resurrection of University of New Orleans. THAT will be something to party about at Mardi Gras.

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