August 31, 2005

WOW. Katrina.

I have been listening to NPR all afternoon at work and all I can say is "What the fuck?" What is happening in Mississippi and Louisiana is beyond my comprehension. They are saying the whole city of New Orleans may be shut down for 3 months! How does that work?

There are a zillion questions: I keep thinking about the various schools in New Orleans being shut down indefinitely- what happens there to those students? When can people get their stuff out of their houses? What must it be like if you left your pet thinking you would be right back? How will the US feel the effects economically? How will the rebuild in a way that makes it safe to live there?

There is an urge to look at the people who stayed as ignorant fools. Well, ignorant maybe, but how can we know what it is like to have to leave your home? On 9/11 all I wanted to do was get home and I live down the street from the Pentagon. Think about the people in your city slums who you just know never leave the city limits - some for their whole lives. It must be so devastating. I will say that I have no udnerstanding of people who say "We'll rebuild right here" - that's like walking at night down a street on which you were raped one evening. I don't care if it's home - sometimes home is not safe and we have to move on!

And the looters! Well, you know, the US shits all over the poor and so does God apparently. Part of the problem in New Orleans is due to overdevelopment - greed has screwed up the ecosystem. Plus, we live in a culture of "Oh you're poor? Well, sorry each man for himself. Not my problem!" Now we're seeing the other side of that, from the poor man's viewpoint. Each man for himself. It sucks though...America's foundation of community is a real house of cards.

This is beyond the scope of anything that has happened here in America, isn't it? People are very scared and angry. It must be so isolating to be stuck down there. I mean, everything is calm now with the weather, but all those people are still in peril under sunny skies. They must feel like they have been abandoned.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Having been homeless (due to a fire and explosion in my apartment building last January), it works like this:

You beg someone you love to put you up, or you get a hotel room or rent another apartment. You wait. You hope you have insurance that will cover the problem (most residents of New Orleans did not have this, sadly), and you contact your insurance company immediately to get the paperwork rolling. Most policies have a provision to give you a "living allowance" check that makes renting that interim apartment or paying for a hotel room (or paying to buy clothes and shoes and all the accoutrements of life) possible.

Then you wait. You go to work, if it's still there. If it's not, and you're far away (some New Orleans residents are living with family 500, 1,500 or even 3,000 miles away), you sit around on your hands.

You wait, hoping that it will be OK sooner rather than later. You make choices about how long you have to wait. Do you relocate permanently? How about getting a temp job to pay bills? What about the dog or cat you left behind? What to do about the heirlooms? Or loved ones who are separated from you?

Some people have given up on New Orleans already, and are leaving permanently. Others are holding on, hoping that the city won't be a toxic waste dump and rife with cholera come November. Others hope that they can re-open that business or store or that their employer will do so.

And that's how you deal with it.