Catastrophe Lessons & Observations
This started out as a 'top 10 list' of my observations regarding Katrina, but there was no way to fit all of these memories, information and personal learning into that count. So I'm not going to restrict it in any way.
I understand that in the great world of mass media and symmetry, everything I'm about to type would be more appropriate on the one month anniversary... but what the hell. Even when I'm sitting in front of the computer and can check the date - I can barely comprehend what the date of today even means, no really, I don't even remember the date the storm hit... I do remember the time and day though... Sunday at around 3:45am. I remember that.
Although it's probably not why you would expect.
It really has nothing to do with wind and rain and water... but instead, merely complete and total reorganization of my life, and I'm only one life - one person - there are millions affected.
The storm was nothing, the aftermath was everything. One can, after a bit, try and organize chaos... Try is the key word. It's a struggle, but we all know we'll get there.
Maybe it's a human thing that goes back to our ancestors picking up the first stone or bone and letting the static of life wash out - and that ancestor suddenly saw a tool. Maybe one of these days everyone will look again out at the expanse of New Orleans and see thriving neighborhoods, crawfish boils, parades and people earning a living. Unfortunately right now it feels like stone and bone.
I started this list last night while kind of rummy, so expect some of it to be philosophical, some personal, and some very specific. My apologies to all. (except the specific ones)
• Disasters do not bring out the best in people... it brings out and amplifies what was always there.
• Be good to your neighbors, and in the very least - wave hello. You never know when they might evacuate and loan you their generator after yours has broken or have a brother who's in the SWAT Team who'll run you supplies when you're desparate.
• In a catastrophic, region-wide, massivly destructive, technologically ending event... the most important hi-tech survival gear that exists are family, friends and NEIGHBORS!
• Regarding the two directly above this... I could go on for weeks... and will always be grateful.
• After a catastostrophic event and the ongoing catastrophic aftermath, bathing in the nude in front of the house is quite liberating after the first few minutes... I don't recommend this for all catastrophic events - preferably one where most people have evacuated... pick and choose your event carefully.
• Local media outlets, including some of the most idealized and forward thinking, can only be counted on to help their fellow citizens to the extent that their owners are non-skittish and non-pilesofchickenshithypicritocalrunawayassholeleaveyourgrandmothertodieterds. Always remember, that some of these owners are trying to save their own asses and their grandmothers jewelry too.
• Not all small local media outlets are this way. Some who only existed to sell hotel rooms AND only had a fingerprint on the internet, said screw that, and did their best to help by getting information out to their community via the web.
• One of the brightest points of light that has come out of this entire thing has been the action and selfless behavior by New Orleans' radio stations. These stations, who are owned by competing corporations covering similar and outrageously different markets, joined together within two days after Katrina. In an incredible moment of clarity, they decided to share 'on-air' personalities and broadcast the same unified signal of hope and vital information to their community. If they, as a whole, do not win a Pulitzer Prize or a Congressional Medal of Honor or something - I may vomit.
• Cats do not like to be rescued.
• Hey NPR, give Andrei Codrescu a rest. Simply because you can barely understand him because of his accent, does not make him enlightened and thoughtful.
• Monetary donations should NOT go to large national organizations but to the small groups with their feet on the ground. Individuals and grass roots organizations truly make the greatest impact. For example, the Red Cross has received over 200 million dollars, but I have seen only two Red Cross volunteers during this entire event. That just blows.
• COMMUNICATIONS, COMMUNICATIONS, COMMUNICATIONS. Without Radio and text messaging the situation on the ground and everyone's level of fear and uncertainty would have been more dire.
• Rescue workers, police, fire, medical, 18 year old soldiers, etc. have yet again proven they are the most selfless people in the world.
• Beaureacrats have once again shown that they are idiots.
• It may be impossible for all levels of government to think outside of the box on anything.
• There are always 'new' normals, even if they happen every twenty minutes.
Sorry for so few, I'll work on some more later.