Copyright 2008 Ben S. Pollock
NEW ORLEANS — You had to be here, you have to go here, to fully realize what’s going on here. If that is true then what of the Indonesian tsunami that began Dec. 26, 2004? Do you have to go to Iowa to understand its massive flood this month? You might, it’s lovely in the summer. The state fair in Des Moines is Aug. 7-17 this year.
The board of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists chose New Orleans for its 2008 conference site a full two years ago, sensing that news coverage of the city’s recovery from the Aug. 29, 2005, landfall of Hurricane Katrina would have ebbed but its needs still would be dire. And that we as writers could help. This past week, none of us was surprised of the accuracy of our two predictions.
I returned home three days ago, and find conveying the sadness, desperation and the ludicrousness is impossible in words. What’s ludicrous is how slow the recovery is going. Summaries of facts, cut with some observations, doesn’t cut it. Repeating the stories of hurricane survivors, along with observations, is better, but it shows only narrow viewpoints, when what’s amazing is the breadth. The Storm took out a region. It might as well have been one of the smaller states.
When you report on individuals, even adding in data for a wide angle, the better writers will persuade individuals to help Habitat for Humanity’s several projects there. My Beloved is ready to go back. But we who lean toward macro views insist, is this enough? Hie thee down to lay down laminate floors for a house or two during a long weekend away from work, when thousands of houses and apartments still need to be rebuilt. We heard Habitat folks tally its progress so far in the hundreds of homes.
By the time I get done raining a deluge of words and occasional tangential subjects here, it’ll come down to my proposing political action, change out the leadership, hold current leaders to task. A single vote is statistically insignificant, and the impact of letters and petitions has proved laughable. Please know that my eyes welled up, first during a slide show then on the bus tour. The images of our four days in Nola will come up in my dreams for quite a while. So let’s continue. You can’t type while wringing your hands.
I. Tears of hope
I’m far from an expert, but having spent most of my years in tornado country I know some of the worst Mother Nature does and what recovery looks like Continue reading