The aftermath

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PS Two Scoops: The aftermath
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The week of September 12, 2005
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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, our columnist takes a break from the events in the fictional town of Harmony to focus on some important matters in the real world.

I must apologize that this week's column isn't about Passions. We are still in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and as of now it is estimated to be a month or later before we get cable back. But starting next week, I have a friend (who lives in Baton Rouge and has cable) who will be taping the show for me until I get back on track. I'll also read up on the recaps and try to catch up on what's going on so I am not desperately lost.

As most of you are well aware, a brutal force of nature swept across my home state and has destroyed dreams, hopes, and lives. I think back now and remember my life two/three weeks ago. I was getting prepared for a new semester of school, I was excited that football season was getting ready to start, I was caught up on everything at work (a first); in general things were good. My biggest complaint was the Gwen/Ethan/Theresa storyline. And even now, as I bemoan a month without cable, God has found a funny way of opening my eyes.

I work in a real estate office as a personal assistant to two wonderful agents. It wasn't a hard job, until this week. Watching people come into our office and just crumple on the floor at the reality that they are never going back to what they know as home is a heartbreaking thing to bear. I like to think I am a comforting presence to those in need, but after this week, I'm not so sure.

How can I comfort these people? I am so blessed that I have never known what it is to be homeless. After my divorce, my parents welcomed me back with open arms. After I decided to be a grown up and fell flat on my face, my parents again welcomed me back with open arms. And when this storm came barreling right up through my parish, my parents' yet again welcomed me back with open arms.

But things haven't always been that rosy. I've been stupid enough to move out a few times, and am blessed enough to have THE best friends and family God could give anyone. I have never been told, "no you can't stay here" or, "go back home." I have been blessed with open doors, open ears, and open hearts. My very best friend lives in Wisconsin, I have never met her face to face (we met on the internet and have been best buds ever since), yet I know without a doubt that if I knock on her door, she'd welcome me with open arms. I'd do the same for her, no questions asked.

So what do I tell these people who have lost all hope. I haven't the slightest clue what they are going through. I haven't the faintest notion what it feels like to know everything I've worked for and planned for has been wiped away in one fell swoop. The stories I hear would just break your heart: a man THREE months from retirement, now has no idea if he'll be able to draw his retirement because the company has folded. A family who asked me to "Google" their address so they can see a satellite image of their home, only to find that their home isn't viewable from satellite because it's completely submerged in water. A woman who is scared to death about buying a home without her husband, who is still trapped in New Orleans with his fire house crew (he is okay though).

And it is very easy for me to get caught up in "oh us poor Louisianaian's." For the first time on Thursday, September 8, I saw pictures of Mississippi's Gulf Coast. And for the first time I realized just how big a scope we are dealing with here. Mississippi was completely destroyed. From the aerial shots I saw, it looked as though a bulldozer just ran through all the neighborhoods and destroyed what was there. It saddened me beyond imagination. The last two weeks have been a nightmare for anyone remotely close to the situation.

The changes that my small community face are overwhelming. People from Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines parishes are now living here. And they claim they aren't going back. My small town has National Guardsmen (GOD BLESS THEM) everywhere, even at Wal-Mart. It is a little unsettling to go grocery shopping and see armed guards in front of the supermarket. They are also at the college I attend, and it is scary. My boyfriend, who is a law enforcement officer, was ordered to go to New Orleans to help relieve the overwhelmed NOPD. He said he never wants to cross Lake Ponchatrain again; this from a die hard New Orleans Saints fan. "Normal" will never be an option for us again.

I want to thank all of you who wrote in to me to express your concerns and well wishes. May God Bless each of you. I want to thank all of you who donated money, supplies, or anything to the Red Cross, your local church, or any other charitable organization that will help Katrina's victims. For those of you that sat watching your television, weeping and feeling sorrow and hurt, thank you. And for those of you that said a prayer, know in your heart God heard you and will answer you many times over. Thank you all for EVERYTHING you have done.

I remember when I was a young girl there was a song called "Hurricane." As I sat in my mom's living room and watched Katrina's wrath through my mom's picture window, and most especially in the aftermath, the words of the song came back to haunt me. The lyrics are posted below.

By Leon Everette

30 miles out in the Gulf Stream I can hear those south winds moan
Bridges are lookin lower, shrimp boats hurryin' home
The old man down in the quarter slowly turns to me
Took another drink of whiskey and he looked at me and said


I was born in the rain by the Ponchatrain beneath that Louisiana Moon
Don't mind the strain of the hurricane, she comes 'round every June
That high black water, she's the devils daughter, she's hard and she's cold, and she's mean
Nobody's taught her that it takes a lot of water to wash away New Orleans

A man come down from Chicago, gonna set that levy right
He said it's got to be 3 feet high up or it won't make it through the night
The old man down in the quarter said don't you listen to that boy
The water be down by mornin', son he'll be on his way to Illinois

Chorus 2: I was born in the rain by the Ponchatrain beneath that Louisiana Moon
Don't mind the strain of the hurricane, she comes 'round every June.
That high black water, she's the devils daughter, she's hard and she's cold, and she's mean
But we fin'lly taught her that it takes a lot of water to wash away New Orleans

Until next week friends,

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