Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Week

One Tuesday, when I last wrote, we were going blueberry picking. The hurricane had passed through New Orleans and the city was picking up. Tuesday night, having found few blueberries, we went down to Mike's farm to get the rest of the blackberries. Mike's TV is on all day and all night; that's how we found out the levees had broken and the city was awash.

Wednesday at work was the first time I watched the news channels, just in time to see the looters on film. My first thought was that those people should be shot, not for stealing, but for so stupidly stealing the wrong stuff. Plasma TVs? Clearly no one on the ground had much perspective on the size and scope of this disaster, where starvation, malaria, and typhoid were lurking around the next bend and there was not likely to be a live outlet for months.

A friend's daughter, a recent college graduate, was living in New Orleans and called her mom to say "everything's fine" after the hurricane went through on Monday. After the levees broke there was no word from her until Saturday when she got out. I got this email today:
Thanks everybody for your prayers for Jessica Carroll stuck in New Orleans, and her family. I've rec'd several emails asking about her.... She was able to get out late Saturday nite. A small group of her neighbors (including a retired fireman) were able to hike out to a vehicle stashed on high ground before the storm. They put boards on trolley tracks and drove a little, moved the boards, drove a little more, and were able to get to the highway where the National Guard told them to turn back. Apparently they were not letting people out under their own power. Their vehicle joined with some NBC vehicles and broke through the road block (!) and were able to get to Mississippi about 11:00 p.m. (where our Leelanau County food is being delivered). Sounds like it was a horrendous journey. She's now made it to Baton Rouge and is with her sister who brought her clothes, etc. They will be making their way to Chicago soon. She was able to get out with her 14-year-old cat in a back pack, some photos, and her toothbrush.

So many questions about this short narrative. Why were cell phone communications knocked out and why weren't they restored sooner? Turn back? How? Why? After the week that was, do they really expect people to trust the authorities to take care of them?

On Thursday there was a horse trailer set up outside Hansen's grocery taking donations of food, clothing, and household goods for hurricane victims. Anna was excited when I put pop-top cans of spaghetti into our cart, but I told them they weren't for us. I also bought a can of Similac, being sure to explain to Anna that mothers who had chosen to breast feed would not have to worry about finding clean bottles, formula, or clean water to mix it with.

The horse trailer was a local spontaneous effort. People bought extra groceries and brought clothing from home. Others stayed for hours to sort and box items. On Friday the trailer left for the International Aid warehouse in Spring Lake, Michigan. By Sunday noon, food was in the mouths of hungry people in Mississippi. The trailer is back at Hansen's, with another at the Leelanau Enterprise building, and another at Plantmasters.

On the news today, it's all about who should have done what. Meanwhile I am looking at the gas prices and anticipating a hard winter, at least financially. The kids started back to school today, so it is time to start canning tomatoes, peaches, and pears.

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