Update: American Red Cross for online donations for aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Recovery is going to take awhile.
Katrina was one angry woman.
I awoke this morning to news that Hurricane Katrina was downgraded to a Category 4 and had veered to the east, sparing the catastrophe that had been predicted. But the news assured their voyeuristic viewers that there would be devastation nontheless. One weather man stated it aptly when he pointed out that there is no easy side to a category 4 hurricane.
One city's good fortune was another's disaster. Biloxi and Mobile were going to get the brunt of Katrina's wrath. And, boy did they ever. And I'm sure that those whose homes and businesses were destroyed in New Orleans don't feel all that lucky.
I went about my day as normal, but every so often I would log onto various news websites to check on the progress. It felt strange that while my day was progressing normally, peoples' lives were being dramatically altered just a few hours away. Usually, we don't monitor the progress of devastation; we see its aftermath. It seems the only times we can do this is during a hurricane or a war. When I've seen enough, I click the mouse and I'm back to my normal life.
We received the good news that a family member was safe. She lives in Baton Rouge with her husband. They had power, but the winds were 65 mph and raining hard. The roads were closed so they were staying home. Good.
I later saw footage of flooded downtown Pascagoula, Mississippi. I had worked there on an assignment one summer and hoped everyone I knew was safe and sound. Ironically, my last day in Pascagoula was when Hurricane Danny hit in 1997. It had been a tropical storm shortly before hitting, barely meeting the qualifications of a hurricane. Totally different from this one.
Early in the day, I read about people refusing to leave. One man angrily said he didn't like mandatory evacuations. Later, I read about a man talking to a reporter on a cellphone from his house in New Orleans begging for help. When I saw footage of people standing on rooftops waiting to be rescued, I wondered why they thought they could beat a monster storm. I later realized that many of those people were in the poorest areas of our country and did not have the means to leave the path of the storm.
Being able to leave and defying the odds is stupid. Being doomed due to economic circumstances is tragically sad.
And then there are the people who try to make lemonade from other people's lemons. On my way home tonight, my daughter called from Murray, Kentucky to tell about gas gouging there. She reported that gas in Paducah was selling for $4.00 a gallon, and stations in Murray were starting to raise their prices. The reasoning was that all of the oil production in New Orleans was stopped. Hopefully, that will be corrected by morning and the gougers summarily shot. OK, not shot. Tarred and feathered. OK, OK. Sent to their rooms without supper, TV, DVD, iPod or laptop.
After I got home from work, I spent some time watching some of the news footage on the various networks. There were the obligatory shots of reporters attempting to stand up in hurricane force winds. That reminded me of the joke about a weather rock. (To paraphrase an old joke, if a reporter is perpendicular to a sign post, there's a hurricane.) There were the shots of people standing on roofs hoping for rescue, some rescues, floods, floods, floods, and floods. I became very irritated with various reporters who seemed to be reassuring me there would be more deaths than the three nursing home patients who died while being evacuated. I was getting the feeling that they felt their jobs were in jeopardy unless there was substantial deaths to accompany the destruction. Many people lost homes, possessions and jobs. Wasn't that enough?
I watched Anderson Cooper trying to stand still next to a crane which had come loose in the screeching winds. I imagined his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, at home in her New York City penthouse apartment, drinking her morning coffee while watching her son report from inside the jaws of a bitch of a hurricane,debris flying around, standing next to a crane precariously flapping around. I wondered if she thought to herself "I raised an idiot."
Other stories filed by Cooper had him excitedly pointing out pieces of signs blowing around; apparently his trademark in hurricane reporting.
There was another reporter on CNN whose name escapes me who seems to like to duck walk in high winds so he can get behind stationary objects to report that it's very windy and to caution everyone to stay inside.
A young female reporter in Alabama was trying hard not to get blown down the street. I wondered if her cameraman and producer would tape the whole thing if she did, or if they would go help her. Fortunately, she made it back. I think. Maybe they turned off the camera before she blew away. Nah, she's OK. There would be footage otherwise.
And just as I had watched all I could, CNN apparently had had their fill as well and went to regular programming, which prompts me to ask:
Who is Nancy Grace and why is she yelling at me?
That is one angry woman.