Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blowin' in the wind

The devastation Katrina has wreaked in the Gulf is so hard to take in. You see the photos and videos of the houses completely submerged, the oilrigs tilted and the cars and boats bobbing like corks under overpasses, all of it seems so unreal. When Hollywood was going through their "disaster" scenarios a few years ago, they gave us tidal waves, volcanos, even meteors from space. But for sheer impact they definitely missed a chance with a class five hurricane in the Gulf.

I've been through hurricanes, growing up in Miami. I remember Camille, and others, back in the 50s and 60s. Our house was made of cinder blocks, and we had aluminum storm awnings that were hinged so you could lower them to cover the windows and bolt them down. The roof had "hurricane tie downs". What you basically did was stock up on sterno, bring in all the outside stuff, fill the tub with water, get out the candles and hurricane lamps, and wait for the power to go off. What I mainly remember is the howling of the wind, and the fact that afterwards it may be days until the power went back on. You would probably get at least one, if not several, flat tires, from all the nails, etc. scattered on the roads. Dry ice would highly treasured; if your power went back on while you still had some, you passed it on to someone who was still without. I was never particularly scared, with the awnings down our house felt fortified against the worst. But, and this is a big but, we didn't live below sea level. We were miles inland from the storm surge.

What I find incredible is that there were people in New Orleans who ignored the evacuation and voluntarily stayed home. Not only did they endanger themselves, but they endangered the rescue workers who had to try and save their butts as they clung to the roofs of their homes. I realize that not everyone had the option of leaving, the wherewithal to get out or compelling reasons that they couldn't leave. But what got me were the ones who, when interviewed, said, I'm not leaving, I'll stock up on beer and chips and ride it out. Some of them were young adults who have never seen the real destruction in the wake of a big hurricane. I know Hurricane Andrew came as a big shock to south Florida a few years ago, they had had so many seasons without being hit at all, and they got careless about building and about preparation.

But now that Katrina has done her worst, we will all be faced with the cost of the cleanup. I can't even imagine how they will pump out all that water from the broken levees. And I can't see the logic of rebuilding in the same place, either. Remember last year, when Florida got hurricane after hurricane, four I think it was, in a single season? Suppose the Gulf is hit again this year? It could well happen. Will we keep pouring money into rebuilding an area that is so very vulnerable? And if not, then what will become of all those people who lost everything, home and the property itself, now 20 feet underwater? I wish I knew an answer, but there isn't a winning option in any of this that I forsee.


Carolyn said...

Me either, Marilyn!

Garnet said...

I agree, it seems stupid to try to rebuild in an area which will certainly get hit again.

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