When the Big One comes

Finally, after missing many opportunitites to write an update this
month, I now have achance to sit down and fill you in on what’s been
going on.

Evelyn and I have a wedding date: March 16th, 2006.
The Big Day will be mostly for close family, and any friends of ours
who want to see us get married. We do not feel constrained by size
right now, so if you know anyone who wants to attend, please let us
know! Our guest list is being put together, but it’s incomplete, so
I’ll put up our milk carton page soon.

I’m in a contest to play Fluxx this month! I’ve got twelve names so far, and I’ve only got five more days left. Please play Fluxx with me!

Evelyn heard from her old friend Patti, who weathered the brunt of Katrina down in Biloxi. You can read about her experiences here.

Like many others in the nation, my attention has been on the Gulf
Coast. I am bewildered by how different Katrina and Rita were, and how
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas each handled advance preparation. I
was astounded at the Army Corps of Engineers’ impotence at repairing
the New Orleans levees. I was angered at how many victims had been
forgotten or overlooked by FEMA, and by FEMA’s orders to refuse
truckloads of water and cut operational telephone lines. I fumed at
seeing pictures of waterlogged fleets of buses that were not used to
get people out of the city, and raged at tales of drivers who refused
to fill an empty seat in their car. I cheered as the military rode in
to quell the nightmare. Never in my life did I expect to see an
American city be abandoned.

But worst of all, I was dismayed by
how the media panicked about the conditions in New Orleans. The media
reported that armed gangs of looters stalked the streets, firing at
rescue personnel. The media reported that women were being raped in the
Superdome as lines of angry people beat back the police. The media
reported that helicopters were being fired upon. Now, all of these
reports are looking very questionable. Shame on you, media, for
devolving into sensationalism during such a major crisis, not taking
the time to separate fact from rumor.

Bush did not cuase the
hurricane. In fact, by the time emergency management had Bush’s backing
full force behind it, things got much better. Heads rolled at FEMA.
People got food and water. Evacuees were taken away from a crippled
city. It is strong central planning that saved the day. If Bush is to
blame, it’s for cutting funding to the Corps of Engineers, money that
was badly needed to fight the uphill battle against the Mississippi
River. If Bush is to blame, it is for allowing those levee walls to
become critically weak in the first place. If Bush is to blame, it is
for prioritizing foreign problems over our own.

Thank God for
the Coast Guard. Thank God for the Red Cross. They did things right.
Please, give the Coast Guard more funding; they need it badly.

I hope that when the next one comes, the city is evacuated several days
in advance. I hope every bus, train, and plane in the city is used for
mandatory evacuations. There should be no more empty seats leaving
town. I hope the authoritites don’t simply tell people to buy their own
bus ticket twelve hours in advance. It is sad to think of how many New
Orleans residents were too poor to afford a ticket, and may have died
because of it. I hope that, next time, the inbound highway lanes are
opened up for evacuation. Nobody should be allowed into a city that is
under mandatory evacuation. I wish that phrase actually meant
something. I hope that next time, FEMA remembers to check all the
evacuation sites for survivors, so there are no more ignored masses
starving at a convention center. I hope that the river itself is used
as the best highway out of New Orleans; put people on barges and float
them out of town on the Mississippi itself.

Quit blaming global
warming. We haven’t been studying weather long enough to know for sure.
However, every last bit of conservation helps. Please help by doing
your part, by making your life simpler and more efficient.

I
couldn’t help but notice too, how paralyzed modern America is without
cheap gasoline, cell phone reception, highways, insulin, heart
medications, and electicity. Our modern age gives us wonderful new ways
of helping extend human life, an age of progress where travel and
health technology have never been better. It is a modern age where
things work very well when everything is okay, but the slightest
disturbance brings it crashing to a halt. It was like the shipwrecked
sailor on an island with thousands of cans of food, but starving to
death for want of a can opener. I had no idea that the lives of so many
people depended on one little pill, one injection, one hospital
procedure, and if that one dose was interrupted, they would die. It is
humbling to think of how much man brags about his control over nature,
and how easily nature can fight back. We think we are the kings of the
world, but our inventions fail us when we need them the most. It is
tragically easy to forget.

What would you do if you had no
electricity, telephone, television, running water or air conditioning
for a week? What would you do if the supermarkets vanished? What would
you do if your survival, your very life, depended on your
resourcefulness?

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