Hurricane Katrina has dominated the news this week, a horrible tragedy to be sure. The only good thing about the hurricane is that it has spared us from the daily litany of bad press spin from Iraq and the continuing coverage of teen Natalee Holloway, forever missing in Aruba.
Like the killer earthquake that will inevitably hit California, the time finally came for the sea to fill up the bowl that was the crescent city, the big easy, our beloved New Orleans. This was a beautiful city with a garden district full of classic antebellum homes, the French quarter, and famous restaurants and nightlife. This was a truly unique place. Having visited it nearly 30 years ago, New Orleans instantly joined New York and San Francisco as one of my top three favorite American cities. Regrettably I hadn’t been back for second visit.
Talk of abandoning the city is idle, unrealistic chatter. Its strategic location at the gulf of the Mississippi river will forever cement the necessity of its presence as a port city and as a center for gulf petroleum activity. The precise methods used to rebuild the city remain to be worked out, but like Chicago, which re-built itself after a devastating fire of 1871, there will always be a New Orleans.
The loss of life due to Katrina pales in comparison to the over 200,000 souls who perished in the recent Asian Tsunami. Nevertheless, the loss of lives and property over the past week is a major catastrophe. Those of us who have not been directly affected by the hurricane can only imagine how terrible this must be for those that were in the path of Katrina. Good people were badly hurt by Katrina and it has been appropriate to keep them in our prayers and assist them with our pocketbooks.
That being said, like water flushes rats out of a sewer, this flood made visible the human vermin of New Orleans. It is one thing to break down the door to a grocery store when your family is starving. It is quite another to steal guns, jewelry, televisions, and the like. Worse yet, gangs began ruling the streets brandishing automatic weapons, killing, raping and pillaging like crazed animals. Even relief helicopters took gunfire from these thugs. The total breakdown of security made the big easy look more like Fallujah than a city located in the United States of America.
The security will be soon restored, but the images created by these lawless New Orleans parasites will make it difficult for many Americans to have any sympathy, even for those who truly deserve relief. Make no mistake about it, the actions of the few will reduce by millions the contributions of ordinary citizens that would otherwise have had compassion on the many.