Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Horror.

I know this is utterly insane but I am starting to feel very weird about my earlier posts this summer. Although every hurricane season invariably provokes rounds of nervous joking amongst Southerners, I feel strangely guilty now.

I remember making a joke about humidity based on Colonel Kurtz's speech in Apocalypse Now, and, of course, now it is haunting me. This time it isn't funny. The real words are:

"Horror. The horror. It is impossible for words to describe what is necessary, to those who do not know what horror means."

Perphaps the horror explains, but does not excuse, the behavior of a small segment of people as they waited, trapped in the wretched, reeking Superdome and stranded on the ghastly and fetid streets.

Some people deal with horror stoically. Others deal with it by creating even more horror. We wll never know what caused that small percentage of people to behave as they did. All we will ever remember is the horror.

I am also angry. Very angry. I am angry that our nation's reaction to 9-11 turned FEMA priorities completely away from natural disaster response, causing FEMA to concentrate exclusively on terrorism. It is my understanding that the only two hurricane scenarios in the current FEMA plan include "what would happen if terrorists took advantage of a major hurricane and attacked while we were distracted by the storm?"

There is not one single FEMA excercise in their current plans dealing with a major hurricane on its own. I am angry about that.

I am also angry that a friend's son and about a dozen plane-loads of young, fresh faces in camouflage can be activated, transported and on the ground in Iraq in 24 hours, but our nation couldn't seem to find the resources to get the National Guard into New Orleans 24 hours after Katrina.

Don't get me wrong. The actual people in the military, the ones doing the real work, are doing a great job now that they are in place. They are rescuing people and animals, knocking themselves out and being real heroes. But the bureaucrats who give these soldiers the orders to go, can't seem to find their own eyeglasses so they can read these hard-working people their marching orders.

FACT: The SPCA was organized enough to be mobilized and waiting to get into New Orleans to rescue animals, before most human rescue efforts were underway.

FACT: When politicians were still holding press conferences on Wednesday morning, an emergency animal shelter was up and running in Baton Rouge to house the pets of evacuees staying in Red Cross shelters. Why are the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Control, LA-SPCA, the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association and a bunch of volunteers better prepared for an emergency than other agencies? Is it because we are not running for re-election, and are just doing our jobs?

I am extremely angry that George Bush vetoed $71 million dollars in flood control for New Orleans and diverted those funds to the war in Iraq. It probably costs that much just to arm and fly a stealth bomber for couple of bombing missions. We couldn't spare two or three bombing runs to save the City of New Orleans?

Yes, I am angry.

We in the South are entering a new way of keeping track of time: not A.D. or B.C., but B.K. and A.K.

Before Katrina and After Katrina.

Thousands of years from now, archaeologists will find a layer of filth when they excavate New Orleans. The line of demarcation between B.K. and A.K.

July seems like a million years ago, on another planet, in a galaxy far, far away..

Oh, and one more thing no one has dared to say yet:

Hurricane season isn't over yet.

Baton Rouge is overcrowded with evacuees, the shelves are stripped daily at grocery stores and Wal-Mart, helicopters are flying around almost incessantly, there is little gas to be found, phone lines are jammed in Louisiana and Mississippi, and the sound of sirens never stops.

And that's just in Baton Rouge.

As a kid, I was warned that if we didn't fight Communism, we'd be standing in line for hours waiting for bread and milk, just like in Russia.

I did that today on my dinner break. There wasn't a Communist in sight. Only the bone-weary citizens of New Orleans.

Shall we warn the next generation that if we don't fight Stupidity, we'll end up waiting in line for bread and milk?

Baton Rouge has opened its arms to provide food, water, shelter and housing to the evacuees. The amazing wamth and generosity of my fellow citizens gives a glimmer of hope.

Break over... Animals to care for... Back to work.



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At 12:53 PM, Anonymous margene said...

Thanks for your comment, Dez. We have a link to the Human Society on the GAL blog. I can't imagine living without my dogs and would not leave if I had to leave them behind.
All the best to you as you struggle through.

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Barbara-Kay said...

Thank you for being there and doing for other people's animals what I wish I could. As a retired RN with foot and back problems, I'm not much use. As a non-retired Christian, I support you with my prayers and love...and when I can, the donation of pet supplies.

At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Ruth said...

Thank you for all that you and your co-workers have done for the animals in the stricken areas. My only comfort during these terrible days was to know that while others were rescuing the people, you were there to help the pets that were left behind or lost. When cameras showed hopeful dogs or cats waiting for help, I would tell myself that you would see them too, and go rescue them.


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