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Zoethe

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Reflections [Aug. 30th, 2005|09:02 pm]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

It was raining when I left work today, a warm, steady rain that fell straight down, thick drops unbattered by wind. It smelled like the ocean water from whence it arrived.

Katrina was a pussycat by the time she reached Cleveland. In any other circumstances, weather like her wouldn't warrant a name. She was the sweet, little lady who you can't even imagine was ever a heartless vandal and coldblooded mass murderer.

I've been looking at the pictures. It's not unfair to pronounce Katrina "our tsunami." The only reason she didn't kill thousands was that we had fair warning. As it is, the death toll is expected to rise into the hundreds.

Walking toward my car, I stepped into a deep puddle and the water sloshed up and into my shoe. The cry of dismay died in my throat as I remembered the pictures of people wading up to their chests.

Looking at the pictures, I can't decide which would be more heartbreaking: coming back to find nothing but a foundation and rubble, or coming back to half a structure that I would probably have to tear down.

I can't even fathom what they are going through in Biloxi, Mobile, New Orleans.

Apparently, neither can some of them. A woman at my office has a niece who lives with her husband and two kids outside of Biloxi. They're military, so the niece isn't used to the South. She was planning on riding out the storm. Janet, who grew up in NOLA, called her up and told her to get the hell out of there. This morning a friend went by to check on her place. It's not there anymore. Janet probably saved her life, but it doesn't end there. She was on the phone with the niece today, who was planning on going back tomorrow. "There's nothing there for you to go back to," Janet told her.

"But the kids can't miss school, and I have to work."

Janet couldn't even form words, after she told me this. There was that moment of mute gaping at the memory of the conversation. Despite the pictures, the word from a friend, the fact that her house is gone, this woman is in denial. She actually believed that there would be school this week, that her employer would carry on. She cannot fathom the enormity of it. Shock, fear, denial, they are informing her decisions.

But maybe that has to be. Maybe that's our coping mechanism. If we could face the whole truth of the situation at once, the despair might kill us. So people prop up swaying walls and sweep debris out of their livingrooms while the sun shines through the gaping hole where a roof used to be. Slowly, they clean up the impossible. Slowly, they bring order to it again.

Me, I will walk through warm rain that smells like the ocean and count my blessings.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: bbwoof
2005-08-31 01:31 am (UTC)
...people wading up to their chests.

I can't even fathom what they are going through ...


Oh! Zoethe, puns like that are beneath you!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 02:40 am (UTC)
It wasn't meant THAT way!!!
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[User Picture]From: fieryfae469
2005-08-31 01:42 am (UTC)
that was just... beauutiful.

I know that your husband is how i met you, but I always have thought your ability to convey thoughts and word things ... touches me deeper. So glad to know you. What you wrote, It touches a little on the thoughts I am formulating based on a book I am reading at this time. A book on how faerie tales and myths read to children influence us throughout life so that we can handle the horrors and setbacks that are thrown to us in reality.


I cannot imagine how it might be to have everything I ever had washed away, destroyed and ruined in the matter of a few moments. Those in the other states probably had not thought it to be so bad. Even here in Marion the rains have been never ending today. Steadily pouring from the heavens.


I have wanted to go to NOLA for years and never have. I guess i may never get to see it in all it's beauty for some time if ever, now.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 02:41 am (UTC)
Thank you. Sometimes images just come to me.

I have never been either, and regret that deeply now.
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[User Picture]From: fieryfae469
2005-08-31 03:45 am (UTC)

regret.

Yes this is now something I regret not doing as well. My friend Katie just posted that her family lost everything and she has no idea if they are safe as some stayed.... Several grandparents. Pets. Homes. NO way to contact anyone. She ... it made me start to cry.
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[User Picture]From: valarltd
2005-08-31 01:43 am (UTC)
She wasn't kind in Memphis. She wasn't a killer, but she moaned round our eaves like a banshee, and the rains were so thick traffic stopped because it couldn't see the cars ahead. In the historic district, there were trees down, and every house had someone out front picking up limbs.

The bayous are up. The river is up a little. Every storm-drain is clogged. There were power outages, and the night class my husband teaches was cancelled for them.

It wasn't Hurricane Elvis, where we had straight-line winds in excess of 100 mph, but it was more than a light rain.

We got off easily.

I wonder about the folks who can't go home for weeks or months. My friends are staying at her mother's. Poor Bec has 11 refugees on her sofa and floor. But that's 11 people safe.
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[User Picture]From: lordindra
2005-08-31 01:51 am (UTC)
I've got lots of family down there... thankfully they have all checked in with the rest of us and are all ok, even the family pets.

Most of them are currently in Texas, not expected to be allowed back for about a month. My aunt and uncle rode out the storm to watch the pets, apparently the only phone that works on the street is theirs.

At least some of them will probably end up in Missouri for a month or so to stay with my sister. The cousin with four kids, her husband, and the kids probably will be there. But there are 6 other kids in that part of the family too..

I am quite glad that they live in a suburb and not the city itself. Some reports I've seen suggest that significant areas may be uninhabitable for 6 months or even longer. That isn't even counting the damage to infrastructure, just the land itself.

Man thinks he's boss, nope, nature will kick our ass every time. Even if we set off every nuke we have, nature could still top it. We'd be gone and she'd keep on going.
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[User Picture]From: celticdragonfly
2005-08-31 02:08 am (UTC)
I can't even fathom what they are going through in Biloxi, Mobile, New Orleans.
Apparently, neither can some of them.


No, they can't. My mom, who's in Zachary, just north of Baton Rouge, was telling me that the mood in a lot of shelters is "They MADE us leave, and now they won't let us go back to our homes, how dare they, we're never evacuating again!"

She thinks it's that so many of the shelters don't have TV access, and they just don't know what we know. I'm not sure they'd listen even then.
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[User Picture]From: stone_
2005-08-31 02:15 am (UTC)
How do you go about telling somebody, "There's nothing to go home to."
You no longer have a job. You no longer have a home. You no longer have posessions. How do you deal with that?

New Orleans no longer exists. It's mind boggling.
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[User Picture]From: stone_
2005-08-31 02:14 am (UTC)
That was deep. I linked if you don't mind.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 02:43 am (UTC)
Don't mind at all.
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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2005-08-31 02:14 am (UTC)
My grandparents on my dad's side live in Mobile. My grandfather couldn't survive the trip, being in recovery from chemo and my gramma's health is not so hot, either, so they could not drive to KT to be with my half sister, Lisa.

They made it. They have downed trees, but are not under water, thank the gods.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 03:01 am (UTC)
I think one of the saddest things I read was about a poor man with lung cancer who couldn't manage to get out, and got through the storm but then died when he ran out of oxygen.
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[User Picture]From: plantgirl
2005-08-31 04:14 am (UTC)
I've been trying to wrap my brain around just what these people have lost, how we as a country are going to deal with the million or so people who are now homeless, jobless, in some cases have only the clothes on their backs.

It's rough. We read about refugee camps in other countries. We're about to find out first hand what that's like.

Thank you for your beautiful entry.
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[User Picture]From: hihankara
2005-08-31 04:44 am (UTC)
I have a friend down in NOLA who lost everything...

If there is one thing to be grateful for, its cellphones and the internet--he logged into ICQ and sent me a note that he was ok and asked me to call, so I did but couldnt get through. It is a sad thing to hear that recording "Due to the hurricane your call cannot be completed at this time..." He couldnt call me either, but at least could text. So yes, something to be thankful for.
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[User Picture]From: kythsharrie
2005-08-31 08:41 am (UTC)
Possessions, in the end, ultimately, mean nothing. I'd be embracing my family, grateful we made it out with our lives. We will rebuild. We will persevere. We will carry on.

If nothing else, it's one of the greatest, admirable strengths of humankind.

Hmm... I sound morbid.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 09:07 am (UTC)
Possessions count for little when compared to he death of loved ones, but the plain fact is that shelter and food and potable water count for a hell of a lot - we're not talking about, boohoo I lost my knickknacks. This is, I have no place for my children to sleep.

A lot of these people aren't going to have flood insurance. Sure, there's FEMA, but that's loan money for the most part. When you have a $150,000 mortgage on a foundation and you're looking at borrowing another $150,000 to put a house back on it, that's daunting. That will ruin a lot of people. Oh, and the company you work for blew over.

I think it trivializes what these people are going through to say, "you should be grateful that you and you loved ones are alive."
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[User Picture]From: kythsharrie
2005-08-31 09:33 am (UTC)
True.

Can't think of anything else to say to that.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2005-08-31 01:09 pm (UTC)
Some of the most gripping pictures for us were the aftermath pictures where you see the concrete steps leading up to nowhere. Or a driveway leading to an empty lot. As we watched that, we wondered what we would do if the same thing happened to us. Sure, we'd have taken what we could if we had to evacuate our home. But there's only so much you can bring with you.

The scope of having to replace everything you own would be overwhelming, to say the least. You'd potentially have no job, so no income. Absolutely horrible to consider what all of those people are going through now, and will in the future.

A lot of these people aren't going to have flood insurance.

You know, when I read that, I had the following vision:

Homeowner: "Our home blew over as a result of the 140-mph sustained winds."
Insurance Agent: "There's six feet of standing water here."
Homeowner: "So?"
Insurance Agent: "So, my interpretation is that the waters destroyed your home. Not the winds. Since you don't have flood insurance, you're not covered. Have a nice day."

Cynical, I know, but we had something similar happen when we had significant hail damage to our roof. And the outlay for that replacement is nowhere near the amount the insurance company would need to pay for the structure and belongings for the homeowners down south.

One thing that did really irritate us, though: video footage of all the looters. I'll give a pass to the people looting Winn Dixie and maybe clothing stores. But jewelry and electronic stores?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 01:12 pm (UTC)
Ferrett and I were talking about that earlier. People can justify almost anything - I lost my shit, there's shit here, I want it.

It's a sad commentary on what a thin veneer civilization really is.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2005-08-31 02:13 pm (UTC)
Ferrett and I were talking about that earlier. People can justify almost anything - I lost my shit, there's shit here, I want it.

One of the justifications I heard was that these people were oppressed for so long, that they are entitled to take this stuff.

It's a sad commentary on what a thin veneer civilization really is.

Always uplifting to see that tragedies can also bring out the worse in people. Not just this looting. Wait a few months, and the news will be running stories about contractors who have swooped in and are taking advantage of the situation. Overcharging. Taking money and running. On and on and on.

Nothing like events like that to restore one's faith in humanity.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 01:15 pm (UTC)
And I'm not sure that down there wind damage isn't a spendy little rider anyway, just like earthquake insurance in California or Alaska. All that "acts of God" business. I'm not sure what the underwriter rules are.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2005-08-31 02:11 pm (UTC)
I wonder if they wouldn't have had to have purchased hurricane insurance (like folks on the east coast who have ocean-front property have to buy), which would cover that.
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[User Picture]From: bunnykissd
2005-08-31 11:55 am (UTC)
Wow.

I'm one of those people who kinda shuts out the world so I don't have to hear the bad stuff, so I can keep living in my own little world of sunshine and happiness. I can hear about national disasters and other world tragedies and feel for the people, but not have it really affect me, my day-today life. But I was sitting here in upstate NY where it has been raining since about 9 or 10 last night (it is almost 8am), and I was grumping because it was yucky weather. Walking toward my car, I stepped into a deep puddle and the water sloshed up and into my shoe. The cry of dismay died in my throat as I remembered the pictures of people wading up to their chests. That line, made me stop. And the story of Janet's neice... I am crying for her and everyone else down there...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 12:44 pm (UTC)
It's terrible, and getting worse. Hurricane Andrew was bad, but once it was over it was at least done getting worse. Here, the Army Corps of Engineers has given up on their original idea for repairing the levees, so the NOLA basin will continue filling up while they try and come up with a new plan. Every day, every hour, there is more flooding. The mayor has said that everyone who stayed behind and survived needs to evacuate now.

I honestly don't know if there will be a New Orleans when all this is done. Certainly it will never be the same.
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[User Picture]From: moominmuppet
2005-08-31 01:45 pm (UTC)
Me, I will walk through warm rain that smells like the ocean and count my blessings.

Indeed. I got drenched to the skin yesterday waiting for the bus because of the Euclid corridor construction that's removed all the bus shelters on my side of the road at work. Couldn't bring myself to complain about it in LJ today.
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[User Picture]From: old_hedwig
2005-08-31 02:52 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I got to visit New Orleans once. It may never be rebuilt - it may not make sense to build a city there, surrounded by water and below sea level.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 02:54 pm (UTC)
It never made sense to have a city there, really. But it's sad to think that it survived war and centuries of storms and now, in this technological age, we might not be able to save it.
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[User Picture]From: learnedax
2005-08-31 03:35 pm (UTC)

vectored through dglenn

It's not unfair to pronounce Katrina "our tsunami." The only reason she didn't kill thousands was that we had fair warning.

I really have to disagree with that. There is a natural desire to relate our tragedies to something else, to try to get a mental grip on them, but there's really no comparison here. We did have fair warning, so the known death toll currently is 300. The tsunami killed 150,000. The only way this is our tsunami is in the hyperbolic way that a nasty flu could be called "our black plague."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-08-31 03:41 pm (UTC)

Re: vectored through dglenn

The level of physical destruction to the area was what I was talking about. I do not mean in any way to denigrate the loss of life suffered in the tsunami.
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[User Picture]From: learnedax
2005-08-31 03:53 pm (UTC)

Re: vectored through dglenn

Ah, alright. The breadth of physical destruction is obviously much smaller as well, but it's certainly true that for an individual affected by either, the level of personal devestation would be enormous.

(I am not in any way trying to lesson the tragedy of Katrina by contrasting it with the tsunami, by the way. The destruction it has left is staggering.)
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[User Picture]From: dawntreader90
2005-09-01 04:38 pm (UTC)
i heard on the radio yesterday about one man who couldn't access his bank accounts to GET money to pay for things. he said he owned a trucking business and home in New Orleans but his debit card isn't allowing him to access any of his money.

so, even for people who DID make it out safely, they're still stuck with nothing.
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[User Picture]From: intelligentrix
2005-09-01 04:44 am (UTC)
We got out early Sunday morning. We were lucky. We had vehicles and enough money (barely) for gas. We packed up the animals and the family pictures and some clothes and food. I really thought we'd bee gone a couple of days and be back when they got the electricity on again. Maybe a window would have blown out, maybe the big oak tree in front of the house would have blown over. But I never really believed that it would all be gone, that there would be nothing at all to come back to. I watch CNN at a friend's house until I am numb. There's nothing I can do. I write emails and read people's blogs and try to find out if people I love made it out or not. Some of them, most of them, have, but there are some who are unaccounted for. I think of all the people I used to drive around the city because they had no cars of their own--did they get out? Did they make it? I feel this sense of tearing guilt that I wasn't able to take anyone else with me, that I didn't even think to at the time, only thinking of getting myself and my pets out of harm's way, just like all the other times we evacuated and it was no big deal.

Sorry, I'm rambling. I haven't been able to really process this and I find myself struggling with the concepts of homelessness and being one of those people who has lost everything. I don't want to be a victim on the news. At least I have family and friends and I'm not sleeping in highway rest areas. I was lucky. Why don't I feel lucky?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-09-01 11:12 am (UTC)
Survivor's guilt is a common shock reaction to so traumatic an event. You - and everyone else - have been through a life changing event equivalent to living in a war zone.

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm at least two steps removed from everyone I know in the area (friends and relatives of my friends a relatives), and I am in shock and grieving for them. What it is for you, I can't even fathom.
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