Sunday, September 2, 2007

Katrina Two Years Later: New Orleans

My Katrina: Lean On Me
I had been in New Orleans with my wife in the late 70’s. I remember the Moon Walk, the Mississippi, the Super Dome and of course the French Quarter. I desperately wanted to serve in New Orleans but that was not where I was needed. Looking back I believe I was fortunate to serve in Citronelle.

My friends, Spencer Booth and Brian Hutner volunteered to serve as mental health workers. I assured them that as rookies they would not be sent to New Orleans. So, of course they were sent to New Orleans! They stayed in a jail and worked with firefighters who had no fuel and could only give out water. The firefighters felt useless and worried about their families and their homes.

They worked with folks trapped in New Orleans. They told me that all the messages America was getting about the contaminated water was not getting to the residents. You have to have electricity to watch the news. They saw folks with fungus growing on them because they kept taking showers trying to wash it off. Mothers were giving tap water to their infants because that was all they had. My friends came back subdued, humbled by the immensity of the disaster.

I finally saw New Orleans nine months later. The Lower Ninth Ward looked as if Katrina had just hit. Schools were still closed. Police and firefighters were under staffed and overworked. The city was still only a shadow of what it had been prior to Katrina. Only the tourist areas seemed to be running normally.

I don’t know what meaning the survivors of Katrina took from this disaster. I know I have been changed.

Katrina told me what I already knew but preferred to ignore:

I/we are not in control of our lives.

We need one another

Disaster plans are only as good as their last training exercise

We need one another

We need to stop using our resources to kill people and start using them to help people

We need one another


Unknown said...

Thank you for your help. I wish more Amricans understood how things really were and are in the gulf south. It is a travesty. I listen to other Americans debate our existence without any knowledge and actually false knowledge of what is going on here. They will not listen because it has all become political, not the tragedy it actually is.

Unknown said...

I think many do not understand because it is almost impossible to grasp the scope of the disaster unless you were there. On T.V. you saw New Orleans, Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, all of the gulf cities. However, you know it was all of the miles and all of the states between and beyound the immediate gulf area. I also think it is too painful for people to focus on for extended periods of time, so they arrange to forget, its just that millions of people in the gulf area do not have that luxury.

I read your blog, thank you for helping as