Friday, September 23, 2005
You may also know that I tend to regard TV as a dangerous device that sucks your mind and your time into a vortex. As for me, I choose to have my mind and time sucked into other vortexes--like say my computer. That, however, is fodder for another post
But despite my aversion for TV, I found the aftermath of Katrina necessary watching. And now with Rita approaching, I've once again resorted to the infernal mind sucking device to tell me what's going on. What I've been seeing has not been good for my insomniac tendencies.
Last night when I put one of the books I'm currently reading aside, and courted sleep, everything I'd seen and read came rushing back, a blur of Katrina and Rita that coalesced into images of flight. People carrying their lives in plastic bags from one state to the other. People stalled in traffic as they tried to do the right thing and evacuate, but instead finding themselves running out of gas and water. People who once had homes and jobs and lives sleeping on mattresses in shelters, guarding their plastic bags and their loved ones.
How many of us have watched them and asked ourselves, what would we take? Especially people like me, presently far away from the storm, but living in an area vulnerable to hurricanes. If we had to leave everything we owned to potential destruction within the next 24 hours, and could only choose what we could carry, what would it be?
I would want the writing that is my "life's work" of course, but that idea would quickly be jettisoned as impracticable. And what about irreplaceable family pictures and documents? Probably not those either--not when it comes down to survival. No, I'd probably take just food, water, perhaps a change of clothing, whatever money was on hand. Would I wish I had a gun?
And what about my animals? Would I leave them behind. The immediate answer is "Of course not! They're members of the family. Never!" The more considered response is that like so many who abandoned their dogs on the rooftops of New Orleans, I'd have to think of my children first.
Around four, Ted woke up and asked what was bothering me. "It's all the people wandering around the country tonight," I said. It's Governor Blanco, giving the blanket order to the already besieged residents of her state, Go north! It's the people caught in the snarl of traffic who found that there was no police presence, noone to help them."
And then we talked about all of it, all our night fears leaping up like shadows on the wall: The number and intensity of the hurricanes. The possibility that this was not a freak season, but the beginning of severe climactic changes caused by global warming. Should we sell the house and move inland, to some rural area where no terrorist attack or force of nature could trap us on this island where we live?
The answer is probably not. Like those holdouts in New Orleans who refused to choose what to take and what to leave behind, who could not part with pets or home, we will wait it out. We will see if this is just a fluke season and that somehow, even for those displaced and on the road tonight, life will soon be normal again.
For a more reasoned analysis of what, if anything, global warming has to do with our recent deadly weather, skip the ramblings of an insomniac, and read what scientists are saying.