MISSISSIPPI CHURNING

Taking in the utter devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, my heart sinks. I have never seen such complete destruction and hopelessness this close to home. These people are my neighbours.

The first reports that arrived Monday from the American south were positive, stating categorically that New Orleans had been spared the merciless onslaught that had been forecast. Others in the path of this behemoth were not as fortunate. Mississippi had a swath cut from its soul with widespread destruction, as well as for parts of Alabama. Then all went sour.

The levees in New Orleans that separate the city from the lake began to fail, allowing the swollen lake to expand, and to eventually claim most of the famed city. No one could have predicted the tragic turn of events. No one did.

It wasn’t long until the sickening truth set in. Those who had stayed behind for whatever reason had weathered the nastiest hurricane to hit the United States in generations. While now surrounded by miles of wasteland, things were about to get worse. Much worse.

I can’t imagine living through such an ordeal as Katrina, to come out of shelter or whatever was left of it, to comprehend that everything I knew was gone and to realize then that I was still alive, only to see my hopes crushed by a torrent of water, a torrent that would wash even hope itself away from my grasp.

We can sit back in our living rooms and try to grasp the situation, but I suspect most of us cannot. The sheer magnitude of the destruction has taken time to sink in, time that many did not have to waste. People have become their basest selves; selfish, scared, angry, and uncivilized. The national guard have arrived in force to provide relief and to stop the anarchy. The state in its wisdom has given the go ahead to use deadly force if necessary, and will no doubt have to.

While many have lambasted the federal governments FEMA agency for doing too little too late, the truth is somewhat different. Policemen are handing in their badges as they can no longer control the gang mentality. Rescue and army helicopters are being fired upon. Hospitals are being pillaged. This in itself is causing life giving help to step back. The thugs are sealing their own fate as well as the fate of thousands of innocents. This is not the government’s fault.

It would seem as though we were watching the rebels in Banda Aceh after the tsunami as one would not expect our American neighbours to behave like animals. One can only hope that those perpetrating these heinous acts are hunted down and shot like the animals they are. To feed and prey off of vulnerable people in a time of crisis is just despicable.

The blame game has started, even in Canada. CTV just foisted the question to its viewers whether “George Bush is to blame?” I can feel my stomach lurch. Typical media. How can we tap the emotions of the victims? How can we keep the ratings up? How can we blame this on George Bush?

As well, I can guarantee you that in the coming days, the coverage of people condemning George Bush will mushroom, but you will not see a balance where truly thankful people give praise. You will see some, that is for sure, but hardly a trickle in comparison to the negative press. This is not the time to try to score political points, it is the time to join hands and dig in.

Finally, after four full days, the international community, as well as our own prime minister, have finally gotten a clue and have started to send help. The European community is sending 2 million barrels of oil a day to the Americans, but it will take a while for the oil to start flowing. It is a surprise to see the help coming back to the Americans, as the entire planet seems to be so swift to condemn them for anything and everything.

It is a wonderful gesture to see so many offer the help that the Americans have always so freely given to everyone else.