Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I finally got word today that we've heard from the last of my relatives missing since Hurricane Katrina struck over two weeks ago. That is such a blessing.
Sometimes I am so full of frustration and confusion that I can hardly hear myself think. I'm tempted during these times to crawl onto the sofa and pull the blanket over my head and drift below the surface with my dog cuddled at my feet. I'm not sure that's a productive response. My other instinct is to sit with my power book warming my lap and just journal and journal. My thoughts seem to be a huge tangle in my head, and by writing them down and can sit and patiently untangle them. This seems to be a more useful endeavor, although all I have to show for hours of writing is a slight loosening in my knotted brain.
But then I have moments when I stand on the porch holding my two year old and showing her the storm blowing in.
"Rain, rain," I say, gesturing out into the sprinkles.
"Wain," she repeats, looking awed.
"Storm...storm." I point at the sky, gasping and pointing at the flashes and cupping my ear dramatically, listening to the answering boom.
"Tor," she says.
More lovely moments drift my way. My almost eight year old comes and sits on my lap, too tall to climb. Her long arms wind around my shoulders and her feet drag on the floor.
"I love you, Mommy," she says softly, cuddling into me.
I squeeze her back. "I remember when you were a tiny baby," I whisper lovingly. "What happened to my baby?"
That brings a giggle. "She grew up."
I squeeze her tighter and feel all the tangles melting away.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Finally...Some Good News

My husband spoke to his mother today while she was cleaning out her freezer. She and my brother-in-law went back to her home to inspect the damage. My mother-in-law reported that there was an inch of water in her home and the roof needed repair. A tree had fallen on the house and appeared to be "resting" there. It could have been much, much worse, so we are all extremely relieved.
I also received a phone call from my sister-in-law's mother-in-law, who had been trapped in her apartment building by flood waters in New Orleans. She was rescued by boat and taken to the a spot on I-90 where she and other storm survivors spent the night waiting for a bus to take them to Houston. After spending the night in the Astrodome, she was able to get a flight to Atlanta, where she is staying with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. It was so wonderful to hear her voice.

Sharon's mother-in-law is safe!

My sister-in-law, Sharon's mother-in-law, affectionately know by us as Ms. Hilda, is safe at the Houston Astrodome. I'm told that on her way there, she spent the night on I-10 before making her way to an group heading to Houston. She will be catching a flight to Atlanta to be with Sharon and Armond as soon as she can.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Better and Worse

Finally, we have some news on my mother-in-law's home. A friend went by to check her place and told her that although she did get some water and part of the roof had blown off, it was still standing. She and my brother-in-law, Ken, are going over to check things out in person tomorrow. We're all praying for their safety.
I find the situation in New Orleans completely demoralizing, and I'm not even there. When I said earlier that times like these bring out the worst in people, I had no idea how brutal the truth would be. This is yet another demonstration of the concept that it isn't so much what happens to you but how you handle it that counts. And that goes not only for the people of New Orleans and the brave men and women who are working to rescue them, but for the federal agencies who have been slow to respond to this catastrophe.
No one deserves to live through the horror the people of New Orleans are experiencing, but I would have hoped that in this country those in a position to dispatch aid would have reacted more decisively in providing both assistance and information. I can only hope that help arrive more quickly in the face of criticism. It is a shame that such criticism was necessary in the first place.
I am deeply saddened to see how quickly those desperate hurricane and flood survivors have turned against each other. Hunger, despair, and hopelessness do terrible things to people. I pray that the suffering will end soon and that my mission to help those in need will be revealed.

Waiting for News and Moving Beyond the Storm

The news is still the same. My mother-in-law is in Florida, unable to return to what used to be Biloxi, Mississippi. My sister-in-law’s mother-in-law (got that connection?) is, I assume, waiting to be evacuated from New Orleans. And still no word on the rest of my New Orleans relatives. It’s all just waiting, waiting, waiting.
I watch television with my husband, who flips back and forth from CNN to The Weather Channel looking for a shot of North Biloxi or the Back Bay to assess the damage to his childhood home. I can’t spend too much time on it, however. I have dishes to wash, children to change into their pajamas and tuck into bed.
Life on the Coast is like a war zone, the people are refugees. They are seeking refuge from the scenes of destruction, from the disease-carrying flood waters, from life without sanitation, potable water, or electricity.
How does one begin the overwhelming task of rebuilding? All infrastructure has been destroyed. Gone are the roads that led to gas stations and Wal-Marts. Gone are the Wal-Marts, the pharmacies, the banks, the malls, the movie theaters. For miles all one can see is devastation and despair.
I believe in the resilience of humanity. Times like these bring out the worst in people—witness the looting—but they also bring out the best. The people of the Gulf Coast region are suffering one of the worst kinds of tragedy. They have lost their loved ones, their homes, their churches, and had the very fabric of their lives shredded before their eyes. Yet when I add their inner strength and faith in God with the generosity of those of us moved by their suffering, I cannot help but find the sum as the will to endure, to persevere in the face of overwhelming difficulties. Perhaps if those of us who did not suffer Katrina’s wrath reach out to those who did, we will all be better for it.