Butterfly Cauldron

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I hate anniversaries

The lights were out this time last year. I was home, from an incredible long day of work, sitting on my bed, listening to my battery-powered radio. For us, the worst of the weather was passed. It was still raining, but we were out of danger of tornados. I didn't have to wait long for the power to come back on, an hour maybe. Then I could watch the television, watch the coverage coming out of New Orleans. And, this time last year, I was relieved. Because although the city had taken a hit, the damage seemed managable. Because the levees were intact.

I had driven to work at 6 a.m. I didn't have to report that early, but I'd been unable to sleep and then the power went out. And why would I stay at home in no power when work has it's own generator? So, I drove to work with the wind howling and the rain drizzling. It hadn't really started raining here yet, but it was coming. I got to work, before anyone else, and got started on updating our Web site. I was pulling photos and wire stories -- all the while thinking it was rather silly to be doing all that, when pretty much our entire service area was out of power and couldn't read it anyway. But, I did it. People started drifting in around 7 a.m. and the day got rolling. It was hard, stressful, but not all that bad, since this time last year, the levees were intact.

The next day, the nightmare began.

I went to work at my regular time, 8 a.m. And heard rumors that the levees had broken. So, I started looking around...and found out it was true. The levee broke. Other people, having witnessed what happened when the levee broke, understand what that means. But at the time, only the local newscasters seem to get the enormity of just what that meant. The levee broke. In Louisiana, all over, it was like every just stopped breathing. We knew, all of us, that it meant New Orleans was gone. Not just that parts of the city would flood, but that it was done. Over. And then the pictures started coming in and the rest of my day is a blur. Photo after photo showed the same thing. And the people. All those people trapped and dying and begging for help. It was horrible.

It got worse. We kept waiting, kept looking, for news of what was being done to get those people out of there. Of course, we thought, there will be a rescue. Of course, we thought, there are people in position to go in, now that the storm is gone. But no one went in.

A year later, it's better, but not by much. Over 40 percent of the city doesn't have power yet. Over 60 percent has no gas. Mounds of rotten debris line the streets in many neighborhoods. People are living in trailers, that are as good as gone if another hurricane hits the city. And no one is sure just yet where TS Ernesto is going to go, although it looks like it'll hit Florida and leave us alone. But who knows? There are months left in the storm season.

Today was a horrible day for me, and I couldn't figure out why at first. I've been ready to just cry for the last week, even though there nothing terrible loaming over us. I realized it wasn't loaming, it's covering us. The rest of the world thinks it's got Katrina fatigue? Try living in the middle of it.

You may get tired of reading about this, over and over again. You're lucky, you get to turn the channel, flip the page, click on over to another blog and it's gone for you. I wish I were so lucky.


posted by Zan at 6:40 PM


Zan, I am writing this through the tears. I am still shocked and infuriated at the calous way that the government allowed the levees to get in that condition, ignored what was happening, and has dragged its feet in repairing it. That a single person died because of Katrina is an indictment of this administration that has yet to be answered.
Know that there are many of us who are more than willing to read about it for as long as you need to write about it.

2:57 PM  

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