Andy Carvin urged bloggers to devote entries of Sept. 2 to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. It is an extremely difficult topic and a situation in which words sent from a distance seem of little consequence, but I thought I would try.
At first I thought I might have something to say to the people suffering in the aftermath of Katrina. I know what it is like to leave your home as water comes up your street in the middle of the night. I know what it is like to worry what condition your home will be in when you are allowed to return. I know what it is like to stay in a shelter. While I was there for only one night, I remember the smell. I remember the sound of helicopters circling overhead. The picture above is from the Grand Forks flood of 1997.
Our experience was regarded as a great disaster because the flood required the evacuation of the entire community and nearly every building was damaged in one way or another. In comparison to your situation, it was nothing. There was little actual threat to human life. Help was close at hand and it was a disaster only in economic terms.
The present circumstances seem more akin to the terror of combat. The devastation is so total and the needs of people so basic. What I see on television is haunting and disturbing. I cannot understand what I see.
When I was first back in Grand Forks after the flood, I posted a web page with some pictures of the damage and some I thought portrayed the goodness in people I observed while living through the experience. I looked for these images for a long time tonight, but without any luck. However, remembering was a good thing for me.
What I hope for all of you presently living in such misery is that a few years from now you are able to look back and have memories that also convince you of the goodness in the people around you. I have no explanation at present for how this will happen, but I urge you to know that you are not alone.
Words are not likely to be enough – a little more is required from all of us.
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!
(Not sure why “Christmas is Coming” keeps running through my head, but the sentiment seems appropriate)