August 31, 2005

New Orleans blues

I am home sick / working-from-home today. Don't worry, nothing major wrong with me. How odd to realize that the shorts I am wearing are about twenty years old. (Jams were in then. This is one reason I still have the shorts; I don't wear them often, or outside at all.) They fit comfortably enough, but I think they were looser when I was 19.

I've been fairly glued to the news coming in from New Orleans. I have enough memories of that city to take this personally - Rudder went to school there and still has friends whom I hope did not remain in the city; we used to go fairly often when we lived in Houston. We haven't been back since we went to mardi Gras in 1998 or so, but we still do a lot of Cajun inspired cooking and throw Mardi Gras parties every couple of years.

The reactions have also been fascinating. I was a bit taken aback at the Mississippi Governor's comparison of Biloxi to Hiroshima, which last I heard wasn't hit by a water bomb. On further thought, though, that may have been accurate: I keep thinking the whole area's under water, but if the tide that rolled over Biloxi has gone down by now, the resemblance may be there. I was also wondering whether, if National Guard members had been in place instead of in Iraq, whether things really would be better, as many bloggers claim. However, they're requesting 2000 volunteer workers from the Homeland Security Dept., so obviously the extra hands are needed.

Someone should tell Shrub that flying from close to the catastrophe to a thousand miles away is not going to be enough to save him from being criticized for not doing enough. I tend to think that he's fairly irrelevant to all of this, anyway, unless he can either mobilize resources others couldn't (which, to be fair, he has done a little in tapping national emergency gas and oil reserves) or in visiting in person to raise people's morale, as he did after 9/11. (Only problem with the latter is that immediately thereafter, he ticked those same people off, by not delivering funds he had promised for emergecy workers. If you're wondering, that's not a blurb from those so-called liberal media - I asked a firefighter of my acquaintance.) Granted, Shrub will be criticized for not doing enough no matter what he does. I'd feel sorry for him, but I think he honestly earned a lot of that bad credit, and anyway, most of my compassion is being funneled to Louisiana and Mississippi right now.

I've read the defenses, but I do reserve the right to be annoyed at people looting, defining looting as the ones taking electronics or dozens of pairs of jeans rather than those taking needed food, diapers, or whatever. And I do think it's a but ungrateful to yell at emergency services for not rescuing you fast enough after you disregarded the warnings. Too many people weren't able to leave town for good and inescapable reasons, but it's hard to think of an excuse for those who are mobile who didn't at least get to a friend in a higher part of town or at least, if staying home, stockpile a few days' worth of food. I reserve those rights, but am applying them very sparingly: I know that there are too many who couldn't move at all, or whose stockpiled food was wiped out when the flood passed all normal flooding levels (flooding is very common in New Orleans) and filled their house up to roof level.

I am very impressed at the number of donations pouring in, as I was after the 12/26 tsunami. Once again, I had to donate via the web, because phone lines were jammed. I've rarely been so happy not to get a call through. I'm also hugely impressed at the people helping, either those mobilizing to go in or those helping in other areas: the families and churches in Arkansas harboring refugees for no one knows how long, or the city of Houston clearing the Astrodome's schedule through December so it can serve as a refuge as long as it's needed, or the city of Dallas opening its schools to any children of refugees who want to go there.

New Orleans always did bring out the best and worst in people.

Posted by dichroic at August 31, 2005 12:40 PM
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