One year ago today I was blogless, and Chris Kromm had invited me to guest blog at Facing South for a week while he was on vacation. Needless to say, there was a pretty big story breaking on my first day. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of Katrina, here is a Facing South flashback to that week.
An excerpt from Day 3:
We’re watching the reports from the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. I am unable to process, much less describe, the magnitude of what we are seeing. Not much else seems very important today.
As the personal accounts start coming in, we begin to get an idea of the terrifying ordeal those who could not or would not leave have endured.
Seeing someone with the remains of a loved one they can’t even bury, wrapped in sheets, waiting by a flooded road for someone to tell them what to do with the body...
...hearing the first-hand account of a man who was stranded with his family on the roof of their home, holding on tightly to his wife’s hand, watching the storm surge approach, his wife saying “You can’t hold on to me, take care of the children and the grandchildren…” as she lets go and is swept away along with their home and all their belongings...
...watching entire families plucked from the rooftops of submerged houses, reeled into helicopters one by one...
...watching families and children and the elderly and infirmed being pulled into boats through holes chopped into their roofs and attics, embracing their rescuers, thanking them for saving their lives and the lives of their families...
...seeing families wading in chest deep water, what few belongings they could save floating alongside in plastic trash bags...
...search and rescue teams marking homes and structures where bodies are found with a red ‘X’, leaving them and moving on to the next structure, hoping to find survivors...
It’s almost more than one can bear to watch, and impossible to comprehend. Being there and living through it, or dying in it, is unimaginable.
No food. No water. No power. No medical supplies or assistance. No sanitary facilities. No communications. No roads in or out. No infrastructure. No shelter. And seemingly no hope. This is the situation this morning for New Orleans and most of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This is human tragedy on a Biblical scale.
One feels helpless. And frustrated. And angry. There are many questions. Where is the National Guard? Where is FEMA? Where are the provisions? Where are the shelters? Why can’t the Corps of Engineers repair the levees and stop the flooding? Why were the poor not evacuated? What happened to the plans and preparations? Is it even possible to prepare for a catastrophe of this magnitude?
The answers will have to come later. Right now there’s no time to even count the dead. There is only time to save as many lives as possible."
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