So, it is the two year anniversary since Hurricane Katrina revealed how unprepared we were, at all levels of government, to care for our citizens after a catastrophic disaster. I have responded to many national disasters. Each one is different and each has a different effect on me.
I have been to floods in
I responded to Sept. 11th and served six blocks from Ground Zero during the Christmas break of 2001-02. That left me tired and sad, even anxious. I did not come home angry at “us”.
Katrina was different, way different. Cathi could tell it was getting to me when she talked to me on the phone. I had never been surrounded with non-stop sadness, loss, incompetence and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. On the other hand, I also had never seen so many different people come together regularly in informal worship and support. Still, the over-riding feeling was one of being poisoned.
My boss and I had talked about developing criteria for when I could leave my classroom to respond to a disaster. We never made the criteria because neither one of us wanted to convert numbers of dead into days off of work. However when Katrina hit my boss simply said that whatever criteria we would have made would have acknowledged that the worst disaster in American history required a response. So, with the blessing of Dr. Daniel our department chair and with the
I flew into
I was aware of the massive destruction that occurred in
I arrived in the middle of the night and then continued on to
The city was full of folks from all over the Gulf coast looking for assistance, for a place to stay, for medical care and for lost friends and family.
The harbor was the site of cruise ships that were being converted into floating housing for the displaced. People looked tired, dazed. We were hundreds of miles from the center of the disaster and yet the impact permeated all aspects of life in