Approximately one year ago, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
Now, I wrote a post on this last year around this time, when it was first mentioned that Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm, was barreling straight for New Orleans (see this post). I was completely unnerved by it all because I'd lived in New Orleans from 1998 to 2001, and although it had been one of the darkest times of my life, I met some phenomenal people there, people that really stood by me while I lived there.
I lived in New Orleans East near one to the levees and I remembered how it just completely unnerved me that the streets would flood during a hard rain. I would leave work at the first sign of it getting dark and about to rain sometimes. My coworkers use to laugh at me because I was so frightened of the rain and the horrendous fog.
"Don't worry, Dr. Ladylee, it's just a disturbance out in the Gulf!"
"The hell you say," I would say during their laughter.
I was so amazed at friends who said they weren't going anywhere if a hurricane was predicted to hit New Orleans. There had been too many false alarms, and it just wasn't worth it to leave.
I would shake my head vigorously. I promised them that if the weatherman even so much as uttered the word "hurricane", I was going to be the first one diving head first into my Mazda and hightailing my ass up I-10 straight to Atlanta.
So when it was forcasted that Hurricane Katrina was headed for New Orleans...
...I thought about all of the friends I'd made there.
I wasn't just someone watching the news, I was someone who knew some of these people. I thought of all the love I had received, some people even treating me like one of the family, allowing to spend holidays with their families when I couldn't come home to Atlanta for the holidays. I thought about so many other good times I had there.
I saw how they tried to shelter everyone at the Superdome and the Covention center.
I thought, that is cool and all, but New Orleans is like a big bowl. The pumps break down and it floods when it rains just a little to hard...
Shouldn't they get those folks out of the city?? I thought, while watching the news report on the impending storm.
Oh well, I thought. They know what they are doing...
Then the damn levees broke.
And the city flooded.
I was standing in the lab at work when my boss came in and said that they were saying on the news that the levees had broken, and most of the city of New Orleans was under water.
I tried calling everyone I knew down there, just to see who was heading my way, just to see if I could be of assistance.
I couldn't catch up with any of them.
And it really bothered me.
Some months later, I heard from several friends... All of them had lost everything. And not only did they lose everything, but some were being treated terribly in places where they had relocated to after the storm. I was an open ear when a few of them needed to talk, just needing to have someone listen to their plans, etc... I listened, but didn't understand. I just accept it for what it was...
Their need to work things out in their head...
Personally, I can't wrap my mind around how to deal with losing everything I own: job, car, house...everything. I mean, I lost my wallet on Sunday, and it completely unnerved me to spend a damn hour canceling credit cards and spending a few minutes on Monday and today just clearing up other related matters.
Just imagining having to evacuate my home, and returning to see it completely destroyed, not even being able to find my loved ones...
... I can't even set my mind to imagine such a thing.
And here we are a year later, and they are showing pics of New Orleans on television. They are still finding dead bodies, from what I hear. There are still places in New Orleans, a year later now, that still have no running water, sewage, or lights. People need FEMA trailers but can't get them. I know folks still waiting on FEMA checks, even after a lot of folks fraudulently got over on FEMA.
So I ask the same question that puzzled me, and so many others, I imagine, every since this terrible tragedy happened...
We are the United States, the richest country in the world, a super power.... at the forefront of technology; able to launch shuttles and rockets into space....
... so happy to skip and run our asses around the world to other countries whenever they yell "help"...
... more specifically, happy and a bit too eager to spend billions of dollars over in Iraq, in the most confusing so called idea of a "war".
You mean to tell me we can do all this... and do it without so much as breaking a sweat...
And we couldn't even take care of a city that is on our own land... the city of New Orleans.
We couldn't even take care of our own house? And if it wasn't for the intense media coverage...
(Dang, I don't even wat to think about that. Folks would probably STILL be stuck at the Superdome.)
Why is that? Why did it take several days for the government to say,
"Uh... gee, maybe we should, uh, do something."
Would this have happened in West Palm Beach, Nantucket, Camp David, or Malibu... or in Crawford, Texas? (I can answer that. Heck no. They would have built a levee in 24 hours to protect those places. Yes, you know we got the technology to do all that if we really wanted to).
And the new term that was coined for the displaced people: "American Refugee". What an oxymoron.
And lets not even talk about the residual effects this tragedy has had on the displaced families. The results of the mental, emotional, and physical issues this tragedy has caused will be seen for a couple of generations at least...
Are we prepared for something like this if it happens again??
I do hope so...
And if not... God help us all.
Monday Message - I will always stand up for myself. Even if it means I have to stand alone.
3 days ago