It appears that dear friends of ours in New Orleans lost their home and everything in it.
As of yesterday afternoon, two levees had given way to flood waters. Now the question is, how to deal with the water, repair these essential barriers and rebuild life in this amazing, charming, unforgiving, old city?
Our friends, Wayne and Ann, will recover.
They are amazing people who have devoted their entire lives to being present for others. Today Wayne went out and purchased a new chain saw and a generator. Already he plans on returning to help out with the recovery and re-building efforts.
Even people with financial security and where-with-all will find it tough going.
Thousands and thousands of others won't do nearly as well. Imagine for a moment what the poor will face in the days and weeks ahead.
I heard today from New Orleans that one man committed suicide inside the Superdome by jumping off one of the upper decks to his death below.
Originally the plan had been to transport the very ill and the feeble into the meeting rooms of the dome. However, so many low-income persons had no where to go that authorities opened the building to anyone who needed a safe place to hunker down and wait the storm out. Thousands remain in the building whose roof was badly damaged by Katrina's passing.
Tuesday morning's edition of The Dallas Morning News published a front page photo of two women swimming for their lives in the flood waters. I found the image haunting. Thankfully, they were rescued.
The happenings in this wonderful, now wounded city break my heart.
Unfortunately, New Orleans offers us an unique opportunity to study what happens to an urban area in the aftermath of both a horrific natural disaster and five years of massive federal spending cuts in social and human services. With the so-called "safety net" already tattered and badly torn, it will be instructive to watch and see what happens over the next several years in the areas of housing, public health, education, mental health and nutrition in this city.
Ironically, we may see a better response in the wake of this weather disaster than would have been the case had the storm never hit this city.
Every day in every urban center in America a disaster is underway.
Compared to the one that now ravages New Orleans, these other crisis situations play out more slowly, so as to be almost undetectable. But the stress and the pain is there and at work in a steady, eroding manner.
Keep New Orleans in your heart and prayers today.
While you are at it, remember all of the cities of our nation and the poor who reside in them.
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