Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In The Aftermath

I wrote this article today. I submitted it to the Orlando Sentinel's editorial department. It was published September 1, 2005 on their op-ed page. It is titled, New war devastates the South .

What a shame. Recently, on my way to Houston, I drove through many of those areas devastated by Katrina. On the way out, we went through Biloxi. It was like a miniature Atlantic City, right on the Gulf. Of course, all of the casinos were on barges, since it is against the law to have them firmly planted on soil. We stopped in little towns, such as Bay St. Louis, which was practically ground zero. All over, the areas were very nice, not really what I expected from southern towns. I was aware of the charms of the south, but, never realized its beauty until we exited Interstate 10 to explore the coast. Elegant antebellum and Victorian mansions, with Spanish moss draping down shady trees. Gulf breezes to cool the night. Beauvoir, in Biloxi, right on the Gulf, was the last home of Jefferson Davis and is where he wrote his memoirs and spent his final years. I can understand why he decided to make it his last home. I hope it survived.

We stopped in New Orleans and took pictures, including ones at St. Louis Cemetery #1 (See picture in "About Me" section.) I imagine it would look pretty creepy today. I had been to Bourbon Street and surrounding areas once before in the early nineties and found it to be quite charming.

Aside from byproducts such as human waste, there are many things that will poison the city and land. Leakage from chemical plants, oil from refineries and filling stations, for example, and toxins from decaying carcasses. Death and disease are all around them now. There are so many problems to face. It's too soon to make any decisions regarding the future fates of the areas so affected. One thing to take into consideration is that while Katrina headed north, dumping high levels of rain, the Mississippi will swell. The Ohio River empties into the Mississippi, too. And where is the mouth of that great river? Yes, New Orleans. That means that all of that flooding will eventually make its way back down to that city. We may wait months before the whole thing settles and there can possibly be some semblance of what to do with the entire mess.

The ports in New Orleans bring in most of the coffee we drink, shipping to New York and elsewhere. That is just one product. Imagine, overall, how much damage will be done to our national economy, which is already looking at some major issues. Insurance companies will have to dole out billions of dollars and we all will have to pay.

In the meantime, the Gulf communities east of New Orleans will have to tear down the old and start again. Millions will be without power. Many will not go back to their old jobs for a long, long time. What will happen to all of these people who lost everything? Where will they go? Will we open our hearts and homes to let them in? What can we, as a nation, do? The Civil War has long been over. Hurricane Katrina declared war on this region, so rich with history and hospitality, and it is time that we all help and declare that "The South Shall Rise Again."

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