Thursday, September 08, 2005


So much has gone on since hurricane Katrina did what Americans thought would never happen here. The proud city of New Orleans and surrounding areas have been turned into a cesspool of third world proportions. Never mind the arrogance that gambled whether or not a class 4 or higher hurricane would dare threaten the New Orleans levees. Forget the fact that the city was built below sea level anyway. The city is devastated—flooded, plundered, stinking, and dispirited. The people remaining—or should I call them survivors—are now being forcibly evacuated. For decades now distaster pundits have made predictions and the media has reported warnings of what see see today. Americans consider themselves the eagles of the proud and the free, but events such as this reveal the eagle as an ostrich with its head in the sand.

I’m still trying to grip what has happened here. I saw the images of winds blowing the roofs from buildings, water crashing through the levees, cars bobbing down the streets, and people—people—clinging to trees, exiled on rooftops, and floating bloated in the aftermath. A recent news report wrenched my heart even further: Twenty-five elderly patients were found drowned in a nursing home. Add that to this wrencher: Twenty-two people tied themselves together to keep from being separated in the wind and rising waters, and all 22 drowned together. The stories of survivors bring back memories of the World Trade Centers post 9/11. One death toll estimate I read gave a staggering 25,000.

Blogs and the internet have proven to be the single most valuable tool for getting the word out when the traditional means of communications failed. Blogs list missing family members, survivor stories, neighborhood updates, encouragement to victims, plus record the response of everyday people pierced through the heart by this tragedy.

What can we do? Giving money to relief organizations is just the beginning. Many people are opening their homes to the displaced. Others are volunteering services: doctors, nurses, construction workers, search and rescue teams, just about anyone with a skill that is needed in a disaster zone. The need is so great, but the response of everyday Americans is greater.

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