Wednesday, August 31, 2005

When the Levee Breaks...

One of the few Led Zeppelin songs that I am still able to listen to after years of aural saturation over the airwaves is one that is running through my head. It is a bluesy, gutsy standard with a fuzz-driven angry guitar riff. The "mean ole levee" taught an entire city, region, and most of the country to weep and moan. And I can hear Jimmy Page's haunting finger work ringing through the back of my mind.

We had no idea while we were camping that the hurricane even hit the gulf coast. We figured it would, and would be a category two at best. We had no clue that it trucked up its force and blew into the monster it became. While driving home on Monday, we listened to CDs because radio through Maine is usually the suck.

We were in the dark.

Monday night it seemed as if everything was a mess in Mississippi but New Orleans was spared. We talked about how when someone is given the evacuation order, one obeys it... and the concept of "riding out" the storm when you live in a place that is feet below sea level is just wrong.

New Orleans was fine. Her residents were fine. Then the levee gave way, and another, and now. We watch what life below sea level can really be all about. It didn't matter that the hurricane hit harder a little bit to the east. New Orleans is a mess.

Folks didn't leave because no one takes the media seriously anymore when EVERY little thing is an "Alert!" Ooh! Fox News ALERT! (insert news swishy noise and big red graphic) Natalee Holloway still missing! Alert! CNN big scary red graphic, it's going to snow! AAAAAH.

And then, no snow falls. At all. Or the hurricane doesn't hit you. At all. I've joked here over the last few years about Category Four Kill Storms and the media coverage leading to complete and total devastation... in the grocery store aisles.

For as ignorant and stubborn as people can be sometimes, I blame the media for fueling complacency by making news Extra! Dramatic! And! Life! Destroying! At! Every! Turn!

Around here, they are constantly giving us "news" stories about things that could have been. Here is a bridge. It fell in the middle of the night. But millions could have been KILLED if it happened a few hours later. LUCKILY No One Was Hurt. But it Could Have Been Worse!

I think the residents of New Orleans who stayed behind and ignored evacuation orders were probably residents of the projects with no vehicles. It is hard to evacuate when you have no transportation. Initially I was angry that someone would stay behind, but then I realized that a lot of people maybe had no choice, and weren't given an option. Or, they went where they were told to go -- The Superdome. And they're there today as the waters rise around that structure as well, and the toilets fill, and the trash stinks, and there is no potable water and no relief from the heat.

I think it was on the O'Reilly Factor (forgive me for watching) where some man was on last night talking about how the levees were constructed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

Bill O'Reilly said "Wait a minute. You said to withstand a Category 3??? You know there are two categories above that ... why not build a levee to withstand a category 20 hurricane? Why stop at 3?"

The man said "Yeah. I wish we had invested the money then..."

Eventually, you pay for it. And we're seeing that now.

My heart is breaking for babies and small children who are going to die from diseased water and germs floating in the air. My heart breaks for the elderly. But I'm also angered that people are just sitting there.

Doug and I talked about it, and if I were there, I honestly believe I'd start walking to Jackson Mississippi, or Houston. Or Atlanta. I'd leave. I don't think I'd sit there and just wait for someone to come get me and take me somewhere. Unless I had the physical incapabilities of old age, handicap, or injury.

If all I had was lost anyway. I would just walk away.

I have never been to New Orleans. I've not really desired a visit there... there are lots of other places I'd rather pitch my tent and spend my touristy dollars. At this point, I personally think it is foolish to rebuild there, but the port is where 1/3 of all imported items from South America enter this country, and it is a vital location to our country's commerce and survival.

There's nothing else to say other than I wish them well in whatever plan comes next, that I send my financial support, and that I hope good and wise decisions are made. Like building levees to withstand a category 90 hurricane.

In the meantime, I'm off to work. My commute is killing my wallet. We filled the truck up with gas. One station was charging $3.29 for unleaded. It is totally arbitrary on the gas station's part... One station is $2.99 and another is three fiddy. There is no standard, there is supply, demand, and taking advantage. I may ask to telecommute a couple days a week until a lot of this blows over. Public transport is not an option from where I live to where I work. I figured out it would take me 90 minutes or more to go 27 miles... So hopefully my company can work with me a little bit over here. We shall see.

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