As I watch all the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, it makes me unbelievably sad. I've never been to New Orleans, but I always thought I'd like to go. Now, it's gone. Even if they rebuild, which I suspect they will, it'll never be the same.
I heard on the news yesterday about that "Renegade" school bus a twenty-year-old boy had borrowed (with permission from the police, he said) to pick up any refugees he could find and drive them to the Astro Dome in Houston. And how at first, the folks at the Astro Dome didn't want to let them in, an entire busload of desperate people, because they hadn't come officially. I'm so glad the Astro Dome threw their plan out the window and decided to accomodate anyone who came.
And also, how the people arriving at the Astro Dome wanted nothing more than to watch the TV news, to get information on their beloved city. Strange how they were there, but knew less of the situation than the rest of us across the country and the world, glued to our television sets. And banks of telephones are set up at the Astro Dome so that refugees can contact their friends and families. It's amazing what people can do. Disasters bring out the best (and, unfortunately, the worst) in humanity.
I have a friend from near New Orleans, and last I heard he was overseas teaching English to children in Korea. I hope now he didn't move back home. And that his family is safe. I also have a friend from Biloxi, Mississippi who has been in my thoughts. I hope he and his family are safe, too.
It's easier with something like 9/11 because there's someone to blame it on. The terrorists did it. We can be mad at the terrorists and point fingers and even, if we desire, try to fight back. The devestation caused by a natural disaster, while equally atrocious, can't be pinned on anyone but Mother Nature.
A friend pointed this out to me, and I thought it was pretty good. Michael Moore can be a little out there, but he does have a point.
Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush
Friday, September 2nd, 2005
Dear Mr. Bush:
Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.
Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?
Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!
I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?
And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!
On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.
There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.
No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!
You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.
P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.