Wednesday, September 21, 2005

You Are Stuck on Stupid!

This is great. Gen. Honore tells reporters not to get stuck on stupid. I just love when the military starts knocking heads together. As my son says "we need to impose some structured military discipline on their arse". Here's the link from The Political Teen.

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's A Duck

One of the first things I saw on television the day after we had our power restored six days after Hurricane Katrina hit was this interview on Meet the Press with the president of Jefferson Parish, Aaron Broussard. In the first half of the show, I was floored by Tim Russert's pitbull attack on the FEMA director, Michael Chertoff. But when Mr. Broussard's performance began, something just didn't seem right. The man started out saying "We have been abandoned by our own country". Well, he was upset, had obviously had a strenuous week, and I chalked up his bitterness to frustration. It did not occur to me that he was there solely to blame the hurricane problems on the President and the federal government for political reasons. Russert even asked him if he didn't think that the local government held some responsibility for the slow response. Broussard just continued his "we've been abandoned" theme. Silly me. I still believe that the main stream media has some honesty, or at least search for honesty in the people they interview. I was wrong.

BUT THEN, the man goes into this story about the local Emergency Management director's mother calling her son from a nursing home for four days AFTER the storm begging him to send someone to get her. She ended up drowning, he said. He broke down crying and Tim Russert quickly went on to interview the Governor of Mississippi.

Well, I immediately saw red flags popping up everywhere in this story. I felt bad having questions in my mind about this man's honesty because he was, after all, in the midst of a horrible natural disaster but some of the things in his story just did not sound right. First of all, I have had grandparents in nursing homes and as a rule, they don't have access to telephones. This is usually because most people put in nursing homes suffer from dementia. When they do get to a phone, they usually call the police and tell them that they are locked up in a glass house and someone is trying to push a giraffe through the plate glass window. So that was the first red flag. Then, according to Mr. Broussard, the man told his mother every day that someone would come and get her...for four days...and you know, I'm thinking "gee, if my mother called me from a nursing home in the midst of rising flood waters, I think I'd just have to tell everybody HEY! I'll be back as soon as I can. I gotta go get my mother since nobody else will". That was the second big red flag. The third red flag was from Tim Russert himself. After the man started crying he just said something like "well, I'll go on to Governor Barbour while you compose yourself". Again I'm thinking to myself "gee Tim, the man is a little upset. A tender word might be in order here".

Well, it seems that I am not the only one who had doubts about the story. According to MSNBC itself, the man's story was not exactly correct. They say he may have been mistaken. I say he may have been lying. Apparently, the poor lady did drown, but it happened at the height of the storm...not four days later because FEMA was so slow in coming to the rescue (since when does FEMA do rescues?). This article makes it sound as if innocent little Mr. Broussard just got the story wrong in his recounting. Perhaps. But if you read the transcript and his comments before the crying bit, about the federal government being the blame for it all, well, as they say, if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, smells like a duck, acts like a's a duck. If a story smells's rotten. One of his statements before the crocodile tears began goes like this..."Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area...". Murder? That's a mighty harsh crime to blame on FEMA. Not surprisingly, bloggers began to question the validity of the story and I guess the main stream media forgot once again the power of the Internet. They really need to post a big sign on every office wall that says "REMEMBER THE INTERNET-WE ARE BEING WATCHED". This story may have been a mistake but what it sounds like is a blatant lie by a partisan Democrat using the death of a man's elderly mother as a means to bring dishonor to the President and more federal funds to his parish. How shameful is that?

And I thought the looters were the only ones taking advantage of a bad situation.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

When Strong Women Cry

My little sister is a strong, independent woman. This is a woman who never runs away from anything. When our brother died ten years ago, without batting a perfectly mascara'd eyelid, she stepped up and took custody of his orphaned five-year-old son and although she has never been married, today finds herself as the single mom of a teenage boy. That alone should have earned her the Congressional Medal of Honor. But that is only the beginning. Her job as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher for over thirteen years has her spending twelve-hour shifts talking to people whose houses are on fire, or their child has just stopped breathing, or their neighbor has just been shot, or their husband is having a heart-attack, or their wife is having a baby, or some such emergency. Emergencies are her daily life. She proudly wears three "stork" pins on her uniform shirt indicating the number of babies she has helped to successfully deliver via her calm directions to nervous fathers over the telephone. There is not a lot on this earth that can rattle my sister.

When she broke down and cried two weeks ago, I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. She is, after all, super-human. But sometimes even Superman gets weak in the sight of kryptonite and Hurricane Katrina was my sister's kryptonite. Because her job is in public safety, she was not one of us lucky ones who got extra days off from work while the power was being restored to clean up storm debris and get our lives back in order. No, she was at work during and after the storm, sending out rescue units and taking calls from frantic people who's homes were flooded or destroyed. She was at work when she found out her own apartment building was no longer habitable. She was listening to other people's problems when the reality of having to find a new place to live settled on her. Still, she wasn't rattled.

The next day, when she thought to herself "to hell with 'em" and turned her car around on her way to work and headed over to see the damage for herself, even then she didn't cry. The sight of clothes and furniture and photo albums along the beach did not rattle her. She is a strong woman. She made it to work anyway.

It took a couple of days for it all to sink in and it wasn't until she realized that lots of other people were needing places to live and she would have to keep one step ahead of the crowd to find decent housing that she began to get rattled. When she did find a place...a little out of her price range...but a suitable place to raise a teenage boy, she thought she had tackled a giant. But then her car started making a funny noise. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. She could handle being homeless, she could handle working non-stop, she could even handle TTR (Temporary Teenage Retardation) but she could NOT handle a broken-down car. Not now. Not today. And suddenly, the enormity of her situation hit her. And while she thought nobody was looking, she sat on the porch of her temporary home and cried, quickly and quietly. She didn't have time for tears. Someone else needed her to be strong and she was determined to be strong. But the tears came anyway.

Lucky for her, she has a big family and we have all rallied around to help her. My brother lost his home too, but he has a working wife and is better able to handle his loss financially. My sister has only herself, to pick up the pieces and carry on. And she has the added burden of someone else's child in her care. My brother and his wife will struggle together. My sister will struggle alone.

Today I'll help paint the rooms in her new home while she goes to work and waits to find out if her loses are covered by FEMA... or if she is on her own. She will persevere through all this. She always does. And I never fail to be amazed at her strength. She has done so many powerful things in what she considers her "uneventful life". When our mother died, it was this sister who immediately went into survival mode and started CPR and held Mama as she took her last breath. She is a powerful woman, indeed.

I know most people hate to see a crying woman and men consider it a sign of weakness, but I think my sister has earned the right to front of anybody...any damn time she wants to.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Back to Normal...Sort of

Well, our town is pretty much back to normal since the storm. We are able to buy gas again without waiting in line for 3 hours or more. The power is on in most of the homes, though we still have some traffic lights out. Here's the picture of my office at the height of the storm that Sprout saw on TV in Korea. I guess that explains that really early morning phone call we got the day after the storm. That's my office door under the tree in the middle of the picture. It this point, the water was about 3 feet deep. Those little black things are parking meters.

This picture was taken by Mike Kittrell for the Mobile Register. I hope he won't mind my using it.

My sister and brother both have found places to live. Sis is renting a house she really can't afford, but she doesn't have much choice. Everything is being snatched up by people locally or from Mississippi and Louisiana. A guy 2-doors down from me moved out of his house so that he could rent it to a family from Mississippi. He had been planning on renting it out anyway. I guess we will have new neighbors soon.

Sprout is now at his new camp (thanks to blogger Sure Fire who left Sprout his room all nice and neat...hee hee) and seems to be enjoying the country. He called this weekend which is odd...he speaks mostly through emails these days to save money, but I was off helping sis move her piddly little belongings and missed the call. He spoke to Stoicdad and said he was leaving for a long field training and would be out of touch for a while. I hate when I miss his calls. He promises to send pictures soon.

Here's a link to a really interesting slideshow of pictures and commentery from a guy who was in New Orleans before, during and after the hurricane. It's a lot of pictures, but really interesting look at all that happened. His escape from New Orleans is also pretty exciting. Thanks to Mrs. Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette for the link and to Blackfive for directing me there. You dudes rock.

With all the commotion around here for the last 2 weeks, I almost forgot that today is the 4th anniversary of 9/11. Has it already been 4 years? So much has happened since then but it still seems like yesterday. It's time again to watch the news reports from that day so that we never forget. This should be our annual ritual.

Thanks to all those heros.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Oh, This is Rich

This is just too funny. Sean Penn's rescue boat sinks as he tries to rescue his dignity in New Orleans.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricane Hysteria

As a victim of Hurricane Katrina and having finally gotten the power turned on after 6 days, I'm shaking my head at the television coverage of this storm. First let me say that I have lived on the Alabama gulf coast all my life. My first remembrance of a hurricane was in 1965 when my parents took us to spend the night with some friends not-so-near the bay. Including my parents, there were 10 of us, and the family we stayed with had the same. We slept on pallets on the floor and it was exciting. We woke up the next morning and went home. That, I was told, was Hurricane Debbie and other than a lot of rain, she was harmless. 4 years later, on my brother's birthday, we prepared for Hurricane Camille. I was 12 years old. By this time, we had moved uptown and away from the water. An old aunt who still lived by the water (and to this very day, still lives in the same house by the water) came to stay with us and brought cookies and chips and a wrapped birthday present for my brother. We got lucky, and Hurricane Camille missed us and hit Biloxi. A month later, the first day that Highway 90 in Biloxi was open to the public, we took the 40 minute drive over to see the damage. This was my first understanding of what a hurricane really was. The place was in shambles. The sight of a baby grand piano sitting in the middle of the highway is still fresh in my mind. The oak trees were filled with colorful fabric flapping in the wind and after a minute we realized that what we were seeing was hundreds of pieces of clothes strewn all the way up to the highest branches. One 2-story house had busted open at the seams and the upstairs bathroom was shamefully exposed with the toilet hanging upside-down, the lid dangling. Another house had a huge boat lodged inside the front door, as though the driver had accidentally hit the gas instead of the brakes. It was an incredible trip.

We had some more near-misses after that, but in 1979, it was our turn to be hit. It was the first year of politically-correct hurricanes. This year it had been decided be fair...hurricanes would now be given male names as well as female names. This was so wrong, because everybody knew that hurricanes were named for women because they were so unpredictable. Well, the first male hurricane, Hurricane Fredric, sent us for a loop and hit us head on. One of the better photos to make the newspapers back then was a message spray-painted on the roof of a collapsed house. It read "Fredric hell! This HAD to be a woman." Like New Orleans, the first couple of days after the storm were chaotic. It had been a long time since we had suffered a direct hit and not many people around could remember one. Looting was the first problem we encountered. My mother had a hilarious story she often told about the looting. She was a Police dispatcher at the time, and the morning after the storm, she was called into work. With all the down wires and trees, a police squad car was sent to transport her. My mom sat in the back seat as two officers drove her to town. When they got downtown, the officers saw a looter coming out of a store front. They stopped the car and told my mother to sit tight. They gave chase, catching the looter, cuffing him and putting him in the back seat, next to my mom. She said she just looked at him and pretended she was a lady of the night. But I digress. The next problem was ice. Ice vendors begin selling ice for $10.00 a bag and people were willing to fight for it. With no power and few generators, ice was in great demand. Everybody needed it. I don't remember how long it took, 2 or 3 days, but soon the National Guard was brought in and we were placed under marshal law. It became a crime to sell ice at ANY price in the could only be given away. It didn't take long before things settled down, ice distribution was arranged, people got used to the heat and spending time outside and slowly the power came back on. For my house, the power came on 2 weeks later.

Since then, we have had some close calls but many people still remember Fredric and the mistakes we made. Last year, we had Hurricane Ivan, 6 days without power. The day after the storm, we were told where we could find ice and water and the system worked great. Traffic was routed in rows to large parking lots where soldiers delivered bags of ice to our cars, they preferred that we not get out. It was the same this past week after Hurricane Katrina. We have our act together. Because we remember.

The problems in New Orleans are much greater than our city has ever seen. Even if they had their act together, not much could have been done differently. The evacuations went as planned, but then the levees broke. The rescues began immediately, but sometimes the sheer scope of a problem is hard to see up close. Only when you stand back, can you see that you need more helicopters, more buses, more man-power, more ice, more prayer. The blame game on TV is so obviously political that it's disgraceful. The time to blame and complain is after all the people are rescued and the bodies collected. Standing in the middle of a fire yelling "it's your fault, it's your fault" does nothing to put out the fire. When all is said and done, we will be proud of what happened in New Orleans and how a nation came together to do the hard work...despite politicians and their finger-pointing, despite the government and it's red tape, despite Hollywood and it's ego and despite Mother Nature and her fury.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Damage

Here are pictures of my brothers apartment, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. This picture was taken from the bridge approaching the complex.

This is the bayside of the building. My brother's apartment is on the second floor. My sister also lives in this same building but on the opposite side. Her apartment is still intact, but not accessible. Half of the stairs are blown away.

It always amazes me the things a storm will take and what it will leave. Almost all of the furniture was blown out of the apartment, but the dishes are left still stacked nicely in the kitchen cabinet just like my sister-in-law left them.

That's strange.

And the magnets are still on the fridge.

We found this picture of my brother and his daughter and her friends in the sand on the opposite side of the building.

And now Sprout has the nerve to tell me that over in Korea, they are keeping an eye on Typhoon Nabi. Puhleese!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Refugees Among Us

It just occured to me that my brother and sister are now Hurricane Katrina refugees. My brother has been pretty busy the last fews days and hasn't had time to shoot at any helicopters, beat up any people, or rape any women but he says he'll get to it just as fast as he can. In the meantime, here's a safety tip: STAY AWAY FROM NEW ORLEANS!!!

BTW, in my last post did I say I was blogging from WORK? I didn't mean work. I meant...ummm...the library. Yeah, that's it...the library. Man, it's nice here. They have...books...and stuff. No, I would never blog from work. That's not ethical and besides...I might get fired.

Well, gotta run. Got work to do...ur...I mean books to read.

Until I can post again, I'll be sleeping down South with the winders wide open.

Bye y'all.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Battle of Katrina

Wow! What a week this has been. I'm posting from work, via generator power. We are okay but I have two siblings who lived in the same apartment complex who are now homeless. And we were just on the fringes of this storm. I cannot fathom what Louisiana and Mississippi are going through. Long lines here for gas (if there is any) and ice. I'll post pictures of my brother's sorrow as soon as we get power.

I finally understand the term "the fear of God".