A year ago today, as we braced ourselves for the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, I posted what follows. In the days that followed, I posted several times on the subject. You may want to revisit those posts in the archives here. No other subject matter has brought as intense a response as this one.
Remember New Orleans today and this week.
Mayor Ray Nagin reported on Sunday evening that approximately 1 million residents of metropolitan New Orleans had evacuated in preparation for landfall of hurricane Katrina.
Experts predict that Katrina will blast across the coastline of Louisiana as a category 5 storm of enormous proportions and then, by early Monday morning, bury the city of New Orleans with a predicted 28-foot storm surge.
This storm has been anticipated for decades. I know when we lived in New Orleans, everyone talked about "the big storm" that was sure to come eventually.
Katrina could be that storm. I pray that it is not.
New Orleans is a curious, wonderful, exotic city with unique strengths and major weaknesses. The geography is not favorable when it comes to managing hurricanes. Situated below sea level and surrounded by water, including a very large and very shallow lake to the north, the city sits in a topographical saucer that could fill up quickly, overwhelming everything and everyone.
Amazingly, a full 1 million citizens evacuated the city in fairly short order.
Still, over 200,000 stayed behind. . .primarily because they had no choice. The poorest of the community, as usual, found no option but to stay put.
The Superdome has been converted quickly into the world's largest homeless shelter.
Well-to-do travelers, trapped in the city, have gone up. That is, they have secured hotel rooms in the high-rise developments downtown and in other parts of the city. The symbolism is telling.
As I watched the reports by CNN, I saw thousands of the city's poor and weak and young and ill lined up waiting to get into the Superdome for what could be an extended stay.
Nothing new here.
The poor always suffer most.
My faith tells me that God sees.
Pray for the welfare of this important city and its people, especially those who had no choice but to stay "at home."