It's been two weeks since the horrific storm and I haven't written about it. I've started to several times. Even written several posts in my head but some how they never made it here. I've spent hours at work and at home, pouring over stories, photos, blogs, message boards for news. I've wrapped myself up in this catastrophe and it's taken two weeks to come up for air. Not the first time I've done this, but definitely one of the most intense.
9/11 seemed to bring the country together while the hurricane seemed to push it further apart. No common enemy here since you can't hunt down Mother Nature, but I believe in the resilience of America, Americans and, most of all, Southerners. I have no doubt New Orleans, Biloxi and everything in between will be rebuilt. They won't be the exactly the same, but maybe they will be built stronger and wiser. When the finger pointing stops, I expect we will find inadequacy on all levels. A great timeline of this failures can be found in a Washington Post article The Steady Buildup to a City's Chaos. There will be many questions that need to be answered. For God's sake, the city was offered an empty Amtrak train and had hundreds of buses. I think the reality may be Americans just don't think we will get hit by the same things other countries live with all the time. We gambled that it wouldn't be as a bad as we knew it could be.
I also see a lot of hope and kindness. Heroic stories are everywhere on the Net. And I've never been prouder to be a Texan than when I saw officials in my home state step up. There's also been a great outpouring of giving. I live almost 900 miles from New Orleans and it's a five-hour trip to the nearest major shelter, but there are numerous evacuees in our area. So if you don't want to give to the national organizations, look in your own neighborhood. There are families that need you there.
Also something that I said offhand in a conversation with my spouse is a really good idea I've decided. I said something about how I'd like to join the Red Cross disaster relief teams and how I thought we'd make really good additions with our amateur radio status (instant communication). But you have to deploy for 3 weeks and I didn't know if I'd have a job when I got back. This is not something I've discussed with my employers, so I don't know either way. But here is the good idea part: What if employers allowed their workers off for disaster relief just like they do for National Guard service? The Red Cross said it needs 40,000 new volunteers to meet the needs of Katrina's aftermath. How many would be able to volunteer if they didn't have to worry about being gone for their jobs for three weeks?