WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT'S ALL GONE?
1 September 2005
I have often joked that the only way to dispose of all the junk in this house is to blow it up.
I look around the living room, still stuffed with things from the Pergo project, and I despair of ever finding a place to put them all in our already overstuffed home (how do five children move out and you accumulate MORE than you had when they lived here?)
The temptation to just set fire to the whole thing is always there.
But I look at the people in Louisiana and Mississippi who are standing at the piles of debris that once held their everything. Their dirty laundry, their heirlooms, their furniture, their family photos, their toothbrushes and shoes and lawnmowers and it's gone. All of it is gone.
What do you do when literally everything is gone?
What do you do when you have no electricity, no clean water, no port-a-potties, no access to medications or toilet paper or diapers or tampons, no way to recharge your cell phone or check your e-mail, no way to get any information about what has happened or what efforts are being made to save you or to let loved ones outside of the area know how you are?
I've been trying to wrap my mind around what it must be like to be living in the path of Katrina's fury and I know that, as with the tsunami that hit Indonesia, I can't even begin to comprehend what those people are living through in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Though Katrina was no respecter of class and was an equal opportunity disaster, there were (marginally) more options available to those of better means. A car to attempt to flee the storm, for example, or to get to a safer place (if there was a safer place).
But the time for pre-event evacuation is past and now everyone who remains is in the same position and the more you think about the kinds of things we depend on, the more it boggles the mind that it has all disappeared overnight.
A simple scene brought me to tears as I watched it. It was the scene we've seen over and over again--a baby being lifted out of a flooded house and into a rescue vehicle, but the baby appeared to be about 6 months old and the young soldier in the truck was so incredible gentle with it that I just started crying.
I watched police watching looters, those who are taking advantage of the situation. What do they do? There are too many looters to arrest. If they arrest them, where do they take them? (The prison was flooded...check this photo) And do you want to use precious gas (which is in short supply) to deal with looters when you have people who have been sitting on rooftops for two days, or who have medical emergencies?
What happens to the animals? The pets? the zoo animals? the birds?
My heart goes out to everyone living in the Gulf Coast area and everyone who is working to help those who are in dire need.
For an eloquent assessment of how things might have been different, pop over to Marn and read her entry "How do you mourn a city?"
Now is the time to head on over to The Red Cross site or check out GuideStar to look for other organizations, and be generous with your donations. To help animals who have been affected by the hurricane, go to Noah's Wish, The Humane Society, or United Animal Nations (thanks, L)
I don't think I'll ever again be quite so cavalier with my wish to destroy this house as a way of "cleaning it up." Somehow that doesn't seem quite so funny any more.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Bush strummed while New Orleans drowned.