I wrote the other day about Gustav…I passed along Bishop Jenkins' blogspot address because I was having such a difficult time addressing the deep-seated emotions that I was feeling…still am feeling.
Still, I am wondering, why am I so affected by this hurricane? It certainly isn’t New Orleans. I have been to NOLA once in my life and I was only 15 or so at the time. It doesn’t really have anything to do with New Orleans.
What happened in New Orleans was a tragedy but it was a natural disaster that was compounded by human error. Bay St. Louis and Waveland Mississippi were just little blimps on the radar screen of being newsworthy because the human drama going on in New Orleans was so much more stimulating than a few thousand homes being washed out to sea by the mother of all storm surges known on the Gulf Coast. The ghoulish fascination with death and tragedy…
In the end, all things considered and comparatively speaking, Gustav wasn’t that big of a thing…not when one thinks of Katrina, Rita, Andrew or Camille. It was just a hurricane – the kind that people who live on the coast know is eminent at one time or another.
Obviously it was the human element – watching people crammed into an unprepared Superdome or watching as people cried for help from their rooftops…or the knowing of all the ongoing tragedy that was just too grim for even the 10 o’clock news…so easy to say, “there but for the grace of God” as if those of us sitting safe and sound are so much more in God’s good graces…
Or maybe it was the government audacity…the cockiness…the arrogance of well fed and well heeled white men standing there slapping each other on the back at the great job they were doing…all the while buses parked idle n a lot while the water crept up high enough to make them useless…FEMA trailers sitting empty undelivered on lots in Texas while families camped out in small hotel rooms all over the nation…
Yes, criminals were let loose on the innocents of Houston and Austin and other parts of the world as residents of those cities tried to help in one way or another. Yet, the real criminals sat high on the hog in Washington D.C. and did what they always do – legally take from those who have nothing to satisfy their insatiable greed to have more. Who, after all, decides what is a crime and who are the criminals?
The failings of government help were so complete and so tragic that when Rita stuck the coastline of Texas and did almost as much damage (without the failed levees and the flooding), hardly anyone in the world noticed…except of course the ones directly affected by Rita herself. Thankfully, because of Katrina, people (including the Texas government) paid attention and evacuated on command.
I remember Bay St. Louis six months after Katrina washed over it. A black lacy bra hung from a tree…not that long before someone had probably felt sexy in that piece of clothing…yet as it hung from the branches of the tree, where was the one who wore it? Evacuated…or washed away? Did she live right there on the beach road or did it wash back in the wave from however many miles inland the giant wave surged?
I remember the teacup sitting so strangely intact on the steps leading to nowhere. Once upon a time, a porch and a front door were conveniently at the top of the stairs. My dog walked up the steps and stood there looking expectantly, waiting to see what I wanted him to do. The teacup probably belonged to a house nowhere near where it fell out of the wave. And the litter…pieces of wood and brick that used to be houses. Who could even tell where they once lived? The rubble had no respect for roads and driveways.
With all the emptiness inside of me…the sense of uselessness that I felt wash over me as I watched the predicted path of Gustav. I could only imagine how those people across the coast from Texas to Florida must be feeling as they watched and dreaded and planned for the impossible possibility that just such a short time later one more tragedy could be rushing in on them.
So, obviously, I am being called to do something, don’t you think? Otherwise, why would it matter so much? But what? And how?