Friday, September 02, 2005


And when I awoke this morning New Orleans was on fire.

It just keeps getting worse. You think that it we'll touch bottom soon, push off from a firm footing deep beneath the surface, and glide back upwards to fresh air. But the bottom is made of tar and mud and old tree roots and you just keep sinking.

The engineering part of me is howling in incoherent rage. How could we let this happen? How could we cut funding to the levees? How could we let the horrors in the Superdome happen? How could we botch an evacuation so badly? When did "Run Away" become our Plan A for emergency response? If we supposedly can secure Falujah, why can't we secure the French Quarter?

The writer side of me bleeds for those affected, but has no wisdom to share. I've never been to New Orleans - it always gave me the same vibe as Vegas - a snappy, touristy heart surrounded by miles of struggling people to support it. The opulent floats of Mardi Gras have given way over the years to frat-boy binging, bare breasts, and beads. The gothiness of Anne Rice and Vampire: The Masquerade did nothing to lure me. It is only with Poppy Z. Brite's work that I finally felt myself warming to the city (the review is here. If you want to read the book, now's the time to buy it - Ms. Brite is on the lam from the hurricane, and we don't know if she still has a house anymore.

So I give you the stories of others. Shelly talks about the levees near her home of Quincy, Illinois. Mystical Forest, Bruce Cordell and Making Lighthave been picking up on the political side from other sources. Chuck Taggart is a DJ with KCSN in LA, but has his roots and heart in Louisiana, and has been keeping close tabs. A techie named Interdictor has become the eyes and ears of the web in New Orleans, broadcasting pictures from his building. He's a bit "Joe Jarhead" in a lot of his jargon, but after only two days of what his team has been through, I'd be more of a howling mess than a howling commando. Go read.

And, yes, the situation in New Orleans is dire, but there's a stretch of land for Lousiana to Florida that just isn't there anymore. Biloxi and Gulfport and half a hundred small towns, the buckle of the Bible Belt, have been blasted, often into nothing. You see and hear about New Orleans because that is where the cameras are. Go here, WLBT out of Jackson, Mississipi, for video skycopter footage of the destruction. It is horrible and sweeping and terrible and it just doesn't ever stop.

I got that last link off a Pokemon board, as the members of that community are pulling people together, checking on finding out where folk are, co-ordinating mutual support and relief efforts. All we do is these little things, knowing they cannot be enough in and of themselves, but praying that together they can staunch the rising tide of misery.

The Alliterates have restored their donation page, aimed now closer to home, and I strongly encourage others to join me in supporting the Red Cross and other legitimate entities.

The Engineer within me howls at the raw stupidity of the past week. The Writer has to press forward for both.

More later,