The images and stories coming out of the Gulf Coast–Mother Nature, human nature, and the bureaucratic nightmare that’s unfolding–are grim and unbelievable. I keep tuning in to CNN to get the latest, hoping to catch some news about the many places I’ve visited there. Though I’ve met many people during my travels, I don’t know any one who lives there. So I look for any news about the places, the tangible links I have to the area.
Last week I had a hard time imagining what New Orleans must have been like, fairly deserted as the hurricane approached. And now, I can’t imagine what it must be like, deserted in another, more other-worldly way.
All those people displaced from their homes, their belongings reduced to what they can carry in a plastic garbage bag. Some are still waiting to be rescued, still waiting for a drink of clean water, something to eat, and the feeling of dry land under their feet. As I go through my day, I’m constantly reminded about the disaster. When I flick on a light switch, brush my teeth or grab a cold drink from the fridge. When I take my asthma medicine, pet my cat, or call a friend just to say hello.
Hurricane Katrina is so awful on so many different levels, it truly boggles the mind. Going beyond the human misery of those who are directly impacted by the disaster, there are far-reaching social, economic, political, and environmental repercussions that will affect us all. In addition, what’s going on in Louisiana doesn’t give me much confidence in our disaster preparedness (a wake up call to us all I hope) or in our nation’s leaders, once again.