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Jerry Candrilli III writes:
My brother-in-law is stationed there (US Navy) and was fortunate enough to get out in time. He is setting up a command post in Dallas to help out with the rescue efforts. There is talk of the possibility of closing down the town once everyone is out. It's too expensive and too dangerous to rebuild, especially if it's still under water. What a mess! [See attached Katrina damage in New Orleans (power point presentation).]
New Orleans under water
On dry grounds almost above sea level in the Netherlands, I read about a part of the United States that has been battered by rain and storm, flooded by the great Mississippi River and sea water from the Gulf of Mexico. Pictures of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina show devastation and desperation, hardly words to describe a great city of culture and history.
Netherlands is a tiny country compared to the United States. Because most of its land is below sea level, water is its biggest enemy. The Dutch people have battled the sea for centuries.
The powerful Rijkswaterstaat (the Dutch department of water regulation) ensures that the dykes are constantly monitored and maintained. The department has even built houses next to canals that are now listed buildings! Somewhere I read that there wasn't sufficient money to maintain dykes (levees) in New Orleans. Where did the money go?
George E. Bradford, jr, writes:
Here in Atlanta, I've spent the past three days working at a refugee center. Unloading donations, reparing food, sorting donations, helping folks find the resources they need, praying, crying, hugging, searching for diapers, shoes and clothes that fit, holding refugees while they sob uncontrollably, otherwise busting my ass. Every day I arrive at 9am and tell myself I'll leave at noon. By six pm, sweaty, dirty and stinking, I finally go home and take a shower, two advil and a shiner bock.
The refugees arriving in Atlanta are here to stay. I do not expect them to leave. Ever. These poor souls are my new neighbors. It is what it is. And that's the way it's going to be.
Our new friends who've just arrived in Atlanta from New Orleans don't want charity. They want to live their lives. They want what everyone else wants: employment, housing, security, peace and new shoes.
Everyone knows about the "America" that is the government, president, military, etc. But there is another "America". An "America" that is an idea. An "America" that is a spirit.
When I see what Robert Avalon's brother (Mayor Bill White) is doing in Houston, I see the idea/spirit of America. It inspires me. It makes me proud.
It's hard to articulate. But here's the first attempt.
I am motivated by a sense of duty. I realize I have a choice to go play golf instead. But I feel that as a citizen I have an obligation to my community. If someone calls for help you do what you can to help them.
I also believe the line about "to those whom much is given, much is expected." I'm lucky. I don't have to work weekends for minimum wage. I had a three day weekend with no job duties, so I had the freedom and the luxury to go and work for those in need.
There's also a level of self interest. These people got dealt a rotten hand by bad luck. It could have just as easily been me who lost everything but the clothes on my back. I would hope that if Atlanta got pancaked by some unprecedented episode and I was driven away, lost everything and had no chance of going home again that people somewhere would extend to me a helping hand.
At the end of the day, this is what community is about. I realize some knuckleheads in New Orleans behaved in a way that indicated the community had collapsed. We can't let those guys (and the media that hypes them) distort the reality of what our community is and should be. Our community is about taking care of each other. Especially the most vulnerable. We must take care of the weak, young, elderly and infirm. We're human beings. It's what we do.
America is under siege. A storm swamped the crown jewel of our Gulf Coast. A preventable debacle was allowed to occur. A human tragedy was allowed to escalate unabated. Why? Because a band of hypocrites had stolen the executive branch of our government and mismanaged everything they touched.
But inspite of it all, in this dark hour, the spirit of America is still alive. It still burns bright.
7 September 2005 Wednesday
Katrina damage in New Orleans (power point presentation 931 KB)
End of paradise, Bon Journal 31 December 2004
My first visit to New Orleans: Mardi Gras, February 1984
My second and last visit to New Orleans: energy IT conference, January 2002