31 August 2005

New Orleans Drowned

Northwest Louisiana has only heard the whispers of a people needing help.

Evacuees have come to my own corner. Around 200 students from a sister university (Dillard, in New Orleans) arrived in the Centenary College Gold Dome at 5 am Sunday after one of their busses overheated and burned everything on board (no students injured, but laptops and all belongings lost); yesterday a bus left for Dallas and another for Chicago, ferrying students back to their homes as Dillard closed indefinitely. Those who live abroad or around New Orleans will need more long-term solutions, so Centenary has started collecting funds to help provide those.

Across Shreveport, everything that can become a shelter has become such and shortly filled. There's an unsurprising blood shortage. Gas prices have shot up. My mobile phone has decreased coverage and calls get dropped fairly frequently. But I can't imagine what will happen to those who must find housing and food, having lost their roofs and jobs, for however long it takes them to pump Lake Ponchartrain out of the civil engineering debacle that is New Orleans. "The scope of the catastrophe caught New Orleans by surprise"? Why wasn't Mark Fischetti's October 2001 Scientific American article "Drowning New Orleans" posted on every door in that town?

Of course, the rich will always be with us, but I'm not sure about the poor. New Orleans' levee first broke in one of the city's poorest sections--where the economic situation of its nearby residents meant it didn't get fortified as well or as often.

Hitting the news this morning: New Orleans hospitals must evacuate their patients. Those with private insurance surely arranged their own care outside the city, but the poor had no recourse. The city has no power and no drinkable water, so the hospitals run on generators, but Charity Hospital at least has its generators in the basement, and the basement has flooded, so patients on respirators must be physically bagged by the nurses and doctors who have remained. It's likely the least experienced who must care for those war zone sick. I wonder how many will be lost.

And that's only the beginning of the health epidemic.

And then there's Mississippi.

In northwest Louisiana, though, the last two days brought a slightly cooler temperature and beautiful clouds. I could hardly rejoice for them, even as I remember the sovereignty of God remains my steady hope. Until He redeems the creation for the age to come, I'll sing Anne Steele's old hymn:

"Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee when sorrows rise
On Thee when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies."


Denny Burk said...

The whole thing is overwhelming. Thanks for the post.


Grp. Capt. Mandrake said...

When did this happen?

Jen Strange said...

Perhaps you had your radio turned off then, Group Captain.