Monday, September 5

Hurricane Katrina - a few thoughts

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina is heavy on my mind and heart. If you haven't seen some of the unbelievable photos and video footage from the disaster, The Sun Herald has many photos listed by city and neighborhood there.

Some dear friends of ours lost both of their elderly parents as well as several houses in their family. Two others in their family are missing and we pray they will be found. At least the rest of their family members managed to get out - but not before they had to float out on pieces of their houses. I am so sad and worried, thinking about the huge, indescribably awful task it will be to clean up, to bury the dead (people as well as all the animals, pets ...) and to mourn the incredible losses of lives, homes, jobs, beauty, everyday-ness. It will be a long, long time before life in Louisiana and Mississippi gets back to normal if it ever can.

It makes me angry that the mainstream news in other parts of the US are focusing almost
more on the effects of Katrina on things like gas prices, rather than reminding everyone of the loss of life, home and jobs. And that our federal government (and the state governments as well) were so ill-prepared for this disaster. That they sat on their asses while the hurricane was blowing through and immediately afterwards -- without sending help in right away. I watched 60-minutes interview with Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, last night and was stupefied! Listen to Ray Nagin's angry and frustrated stance on a radio talk show broadcast from his darkened city offices -- and try to remain unmoved!

Here's a quote from Mr Nagin's broadcast:

"We authorised $8 billion to go to Iraq, lickety split. After 9/11 we gave the president unprecedented powers, lickety split, to take care of New York and other places," he said.

"Now you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique... that you can't figure out a way to authorise the resources that we need?"

He went on: "I'm not some drug addict. I'm thinking and talking clearly here now. I don't know whose problem it is, I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their asses on the plane and sit down the two of them and figure this out, right now."

"This is ridiculous. I don't want to see anyone doing any more goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city and they come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops which we can't even count." -- Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans.

Before the interview was over Mr. Nagin and the radio show host broke down in tears and were unable to continue talking.

Now we all must help with the work at hand -- not just rebuilding homes -- but providing schools, hospitals, jobs, mental health services and other basic needs ... can there ever be normalcy in these places again?

We are keeping everyone who has been affected by the hurricanes, in our prayers and trying to help with donations as much as we can.