LISTENING TO KATRINA
PAGES IN THIS BLOG ARE RATED 'R' AND DO CONTAIN
PROFANITY, VULGARITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, NUDITY,
SCENES OF HUMAN EMOTION, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, MAYHEM, AND VARIOUS
EVENT - WTF Do I Do Now!?
You have just escaped your house, your neighborhood, and perhaps your city. No matter how prepared you are, when you stop running, the first thing you do is sit down and consider what has just happened. You haven't really had much time to consider it, and the reality sort of settles on you.
There you are, standing around with that shocked expression on your face. The voice of your mother comes to you and you can definitely tell her that you do not have clean underwear. Now you've just discovered why I had you pack TWO sets of clean underwear in the BOB...
In the first section of this blog, we were dealing with the Apocalypse, and now we're in the post-Apocalyptic time zone. Of course, the levees haven't failed yet, so there is some more Apocalypse yet to come. Don't touch that dial, boys and girls! Death, destruction, and mayhem are coming up soon!
For right now, though, we are safe and sound in a young man's bedroom. He volunteered to lend us his living space and bunk with his brother. I do not think that even today I have thanked him properly or expressed what that meant to us.
It is 4:00 AM, Monday, August 29, 2005. Madeline is in her Port-A-Crib, Andrea is sleeping on the single bed. I am 'sleeping' next to Virginia on the Areo-bed on the floor. I am so wired that I can hear the ticking of the digital clock. (Yes, I know that digital clocks do not tick...)
I feel like I ought to jump out of bed and fight some kind of desperate battle against impossible odds, but instead I sneak out of bed and take a shower. I get dressed and sneak downstairs to pour a little formula in Madeline's bottle. I sneak back upstairs and put it on the dresser next to her crib. The fact that I am camped in another man's home is on my mind, which is why I'm being so sneaky...
I sneak back downstairs and turn the television on. The remote control is strange to me and I have to work a little bit to get the right channel. It's 5:00 AM, and reports are coming in steadily. I'm looking at images like this. I actually feel pretty good about that image. My house is on the west side of New Orleans - 8 miles as the crow flies from the French Quarter.
As fate would have it, the western eyewall of Katrina missed my house by little more than 20 miles. You can see a high resolution satellite loop here, but be warned that it takes a little bit to load. In that loop, my house is just below the 'e' in 'New'. I am not going to spend much time on the actual meteorological event that was Katrina. If you would like to have an in-depth view of the science of the weather of Katrina, you can find enough information to last you for many weeks by looking up the NOAA data on the NOAA website and typing 'Katrina' into the search box.
Weather events that turn into disasters are unique in the disaster game. We can watch them unfold slowly as billions of dollars of monitoring equipment feed us real time data and high resolution imagery. Even after the weather event that was Katrina, the continued to accelerate due to other factors, including the collapse of levees, logistical issues, and others. While we can plot the storm very precisely, the timeline of the disaster that unfolded on the ground is more difficult to follow. In order to examine it properly, we will have to take snapshots of time. I am going to tell you the story, not only from my perspective but also from the perspective of others. We are going to jump back and forth in time, though, because there are some things that I did not learn about until later. For the next week in our timeline, you will sit over my shoulder and learn about things as I learned about them. One day at a time...
Katrina made landfall at 6:10 a.m. CDT on August 29, 2005. I am watching TV, glued to the train wreck like so many other displaced people. I ought to have something to say about that, but unless you've actually witnessed Godzilla stomping through your city, there really aren't any metaphors that will explain the depth and breadth of the miserable shock you go through. It's sort of like a man watching those nut-shot videos over and over again. You stop cringing on the outside after awhile, but you're cringing on the inside.
Madeline will be awake in a little while, and I'll be running around in circles for a few hours, so find a comfortable spot to sit on my shoulder. Here's some tape to keep you in place Ready? OK. Here we go...