Tuesday, January 10, 2006

more than a hurricane

we're finally here. i've been thinking about this trip and/or planning it since mid-october. however, at least i was able to plan - that's more than some of the people here were able to do in preparation for the storm - more specifically, the flood.

it's such a priviledge to be here. when you see/hear about something so horrible happening, one's natural instinct (or at least mine) is to want to help. maybe you send money, maybe you don't - but in reality, few people are coming to help. i'm honored to be one of them.

our first day here, a man i now count as a friend (we'll call him jim), drove us through the ninth ward. trying to describe such a scene of loss is impossible. absolutely no one is able to live there. this is the area closest to the breaking of the levee. and this, my friends, is what was so detrimental to the city - the breaking of the levee. certainly the hurricane caused damage and loss of homes or parts of homes, but the flooding was insurmountable. as we drove through the streets, cars, houses, boats, toys, telephone poles, etc... were everywhere. being there as a volunteer was rough, but to imagine being the person whose home was destroyed - i cannot fathom that sense of loss.

such a storm knows no social classes. when we serve lunch from the salvation army canteens to people of the city - each face is different and each person has a different background. One minute we are serving a homeless person and the next we are serving a family who has driven up in an escalade suv. i was surprised to realize how little of the city is functioning, at least where we are working. one can't blame the contsruction workers for coming to eat at our canteen, the local mcdonalds has mold growing in the walls because the water invaded for two weeks.

after four months 60 % of the city is still without power. this is not a disaster that will be recovered from quickly and this is not an area or group of people that america needs to forget.

more when there's time.



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