>Hell and High Water Have Come

by jvaragona

>I have been watching the Hurrican Katrina coverage as much as possible. It’s a bad addiction, but I don’t have much of a job, so I watch. It is a surreal feeling to see a place that I just saw in perfect shape not too long ago. I haven’t been incredibly emotional about the whole situation, besides the occasional bouts of incredible anger that our government would allow such a thing to get to such a chaotic point.

This morning on the Today show on NBC, though, I saw Harry Connick Jr. go back to his father’s house, which was in a flooded area. Normally, I would think sending a celebrity in to cover a major news story would be silly, but this was different. His emotions were raw and very real. Imagine how it would feel to take a boat through your old neighborhood. Luckily, his father’s home was spared, compared to the devastation we have witnessed from afar on our television sets. As they left the neighborhood, one of the people in the crew spotted a resident who did not look too good. He looked like someone straight out of a third world country, except in our land of freedom and liberty. How messed up is that?!

(the above from the AP and Houston Chronicle is of Connick Jr. as he says a prayer at a body he came upon in New Orleans)

Harry and his crew carried the man back to the boat, where they took him to receive medical care. It was the first time the news of Katrina brought a tear to my eye. Everyone is doing their part I guess. It is a shame that Connick Jr. was at the Convention Center before the head of FEMA, Michael Brown, even realized there were people there.

Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is…do you, Mr. Brown?

The New Orleans Times Picayune wrote an open letter to President Bush asking for Brown’s head to roll along with the rest of FEMA. I realize that the levees were only built to withstand a category 3 hurricane, and we are dealing with a strong category 4 here, but that gives no excuse for people to suffer for three to five days, living in piss, shit, gas, oil, and amongst the dead scattered around them.

On today’s Oprah, I witnessed the kind of coverage that the news was not even showing. Usually you think of going to the BBC or NPR for that meaty type of information. She went insidethe Superdome after the mayor and the military tried to talk her out of it. She described walking through human waste and the horrible smell that the building emitted. She heard stories of children being raped there in the bathrooms and people having to walk over bodies to use the facilities. I hadn’t heard this on the news.

The police chief told her of two of his officers that commited suicide. One went back to his home and assumed that his family was dead. Abandoning all hope, he took his life. They turned out to be alive. He had seen some horrible crap though, so how do we know how we would react in such a scenario?

Oprah’s resident doctor, Dr. Oz, went to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, where a makeshift hospital was treating the suffering. Many people who could not be saved were moved to the morgue to die in peace. This is very fucked up, and it is happening in our own country.

The doctor then walked through the streets, where he found a shooting victim in the middle of a street. He moved chairs around him and put a blanket over the man to keep people from disturbing the body. He found a woman on the side of the freeway dead. She was white and fairly young, it appeared, which is unusual compared to the face people are painting this with. (And why is it that the national news nevers shows people dead in our own country, but they have no problem with showing bodies in overseas countries. Oprah doesn’t mind showing it.) Every type of person in every class was affected. The poor were just more affected, because they didn’t have the resources to be as prepared.

NBC Nightly News did a piece tonight on the residents who refuse to leave. They are in denial over the awesomeness of this event. Even as rescue workers come to save them from this wretched hell that has become of their once beautiful city, they refuse to leave. Don Teague, who reported for NBC, ended the piece with a poignant statement, “Residents here pledge to stay come hell or high water. Tonight, they are living in both.”

It is a time for our country to come together or fail miserably. By the look of the government, it isn’t looking so good. We need to focus on the terror here that Katrina caused, and not that supposed terror overseas (not to say that it does not exist, but I believe this takes priority over an endless war).

To those living in that wasteland down there, I don’t know what it is like to be homeless, but I don’t know what it is like to live in hell either. I do know which I’d rather have though. We can at least make a home out of helpful people around us and being surrounded by some kind of caring environment.