Friday, September 09, 2005

Amid the ruins

I'm having a hard time coming to terms with anything abstract lately, like I need "tasks" instead of concepts. Yesterday, instead of reading about the characterists of the "sublime" during my afternoon study time, I went to the library and found books to add to my third reading list. It was quite productive, but didn't require a whole lot of abstract thought.

I can't come to a decision about how I feel about this whole hurricane thing. I feel like I am, to quote a line from my own poem, "cought in swirl." I lived on the SW, Gulf side of Florida for 11 years, most of that time in Port Charlotte, the small, retirement community ravaged by Hurrucane Charley last summer. My grandmother's house was demolished as well as my great aunt and uncle's trailer, which is still to this day uninhabitable. My grandmother and her husband (my step-grandfather, but I called him "Pappy" because I knew him all my life) were in the house when it happened. They're lucky to have survived, but they were displaced and she died from lung cancer only three months after the hurricane, Pappy quick to follow only weeks after her. I have lived through many, many hurricanes and tropical storms: preparation becomes a routine easily adapted to. Tape on the windows. Bathtub full of water, batteries for flashlight. lots of canned goods and a few can openers. Have a battery-powered radio for news/weather updates. It becomes a way of life. An expectation. Like you're waiting for the bottom to fall out. Needless to say, I was not a fan of living in Florida and moved as soon as I found somewhere else I felt at home (Colorado, at that point).

I am angered at how much this natural disaster has become a political issue, and think in many ways we are missing the forest for the trees. I hate GW as much as the next guy, but the devistation tht happened to the Gulf Coast isn't his fault. If anyone has come across the article printed in National Geographic in October of 2004, you know that the devistation had actually been predicted, almost down to the death count. In a sense, we're all responsible for this. Bush is an idiot, but he can't stop a hurricane and he can't build infrastructure for an entire coastal region that has been depleting for decades. Do I think the response to the whole thing took too long? I have no idea. It seems that it did. But I wasn't there so I can't speak to it. Could it have been avoided? Seems like it. That's what angers me the most. If the CIA had intelligence that New Orleans, Mobile, and Biloxi were targets of a terrorist threat that would wipe out 20,000 people, there would be action to stop it. We had intelligence and didn't stop it. It's a nightmare.

Then again, I can the other side to all of these arguments. It's impossible for me to arrive at absolutes right now. I'm definitely greiving, maybe even more than 9/11 because of the close ties I have to that area (I worked in Destin, Florida for many summers and frequented Mobile, had friends in Biloxi, and drunk-puked for the first time in NO). And it's not just the destruction of a few buildings- it's an entire region of the US that will feel the repurcissions of this for years. (Not that robbing of us of our sense of security for decades isn't a significant blow, but there it is.)

I don't know what I think. I'm angry at people who make this into a completely political issue instead of donating $$ or volunteering. This country had big issues with coming together, even in times like this when we don't know what else to do. So we blame shift. Tough questions.

I have phone calls to make and chores to do. Maybe that will make me feel better for now.

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