September 20, 2005

Katrina and the Storm Surge

I got a chance to re-enter St. Bernard Parish yesterday. Me and my dad's road trip wound up trying to take a shortcut through highway 90, but they closed the bridge at the Slidell / New Orleans border. The camps along the road were pretty destroyed. Maybe once in a while you'd find one or a few still standing, but maybe 85% were just plain gone or almost gone. There were stretches of the highway where road was missing (possibly from being broken up and then moved to the side to make it passable.) This also forced the old highway underneath to be seen again. There were also fields of scrap wood. A sea of splintery housing death piled up near the shore in certain areas. The camps will not be the same for a long time. Land values everywhere are sure to shrivel. After an over two hour delay on the highway 11 bridge (the main holdup was "authorities" questioning your destination and checking your credentials), we finally made it to St. Bernard Parish... Chalmette. A thick mud-like substance.. probably filled with a hint of oil and a dash of sewerage... covered the landscape pretty evenly. Mud was thicker closer to the industrial canal, where a break probably occurred. It looked like nuclear winter.. dead grass and dying trees... and of course.. the mud covered grounds all made for a scene that wreaked of death and vacancy. My street was pretty strewn with tree debris. The two mighty oak trees in front of my house were still standing and not dead yet. The tree in my backyard looked like it exploded and was split down the middle.. didn't seem to fall in any one direction. The two cars in the back were covered in the mud and probably pretty soaked on the inside. The garage was still intact, yet the insides probably reveal a darker secret. Remember kids, buoyancy is the name of the game! I didn't enter but one step and saw my lawnmower in a weird position before I decided I had nothing to recover in there anyway. The house was almost decent looking on the outside. A new gap under the living room windows may reveal structural damage.. foundation issues... or maybe wood swelling causing the shift upward under the window. Maybe the assessor will tell me a truer tale. The roof was still there abiet a couple of missing caps on the very top. A piece of facier was blown or yanked off the front of the house.. a cable was attached so a falling tree part may have helped. The living room had my couch and furniture about.. floated wherever it pleased. the tv was drenched and on the ground.. the stand was made of particle board.. so the glue gave as the water saturated it. The kitchen had my refrigerator suspended in air between the kitchen counter-tops.. it was a sight indeed. Each bedroom and bathroom told the same tale of water, mold, and ruined furniture. The den had a brass bed in it.. and it looked completely untouched as if it was just moved there. The bed was still in the same place it was before.. it was dry.. and the sheets and pillow were in the same position as when the bed was made. Eerie things like that make for lasting memories of destruction and disbelief. But I'm not in denial. I'm just plain angry. Because I know that I've been screwed by someone.. or something. The upstairs section of my house was completely untouched. It didn't even smell like the rest of the house.. it was like nothing ever happened. I had a board put up on the window in the front, but it was off the window sitting below it. I suspect it was taken off after the storm and water, or it most likely would have floated further away. So who would have done it? I don't know.. but it could possibly have been the same guy(s) who knocked my front door down. Yes.. it appears from the markings on the door that it took them about 5 rams before it came off the hinges. The door was solid and shows me that someone breaking in would have had serious trouble doing so. It really fucked up the door frame and I was seriously pissed at what i saw. The door frame is pretty fucked up, they invaded my privacy, and there was no logical reason for it. I live in a two story house. The water came into the house at about the 4 foot level. Unless you were laying down unable to float, you were a midget, or unable to stand up.. you would not have drowned in my house. Not to mention I have an upstairs level which was completely untouched. The two bedrooms downstairs were not checked, because we had to barge our way into them ourselves. If they broke the front door down and didn't bother to check any rooms in the house for dead bodies.. THEN WHY THE FUCK DID THEY BREAK DOWN THE FUCKNIG DOOR? Incompetent assholes everywhere. So who is responsible for all this destruction? It's no secret that the levee breaches were the main factor. It's documented and admitted by the government officials that the levee breaches caused most of the damage by letting water storm in and stay awhile. The water current driven by wind over the levee and through the levee... not to mention what the water itself does to wood and such. So who is responsible? Is it the asshole government for not doing enough to ensure that our levees could hold back the inevitable storm surge from the inevitable storm? Did they pocket some coin on the savings? Did they completely forget about what Betsy did 40 years ago? That's a lot of time to sit down.. and figure out a way to prevent it from happening again. Driving their nice Lexus's and Lincolns making decisions on what they think is BEST for the citizens in which they represent? Now they face the fact that they will representing a handful of people.. if not just each other. Or was it the useless levee board? Maybe it was the incompetent army corps of engineers? Maybe even the federal government.. for not seeing financing protection for our little town. Well, they are sure emptying pockets and pouring out their hearts now, aren't they? Sure would have been a lot easier and cheaper if they had just heeded the warning.. all of them. Because I tell you this.. who's NOT guilty are the companies that invested in St. Bernard. The business owners who've invested in this community. And of course, the citizens of the community itself. They are completely innocent and maybe even a little naive to believe the the government was there protecting them with tax dollars... to really and truly ensure their safety. We'll see how this all pans out.. and if they really do give a shit after all.

Posted by Reese at September 20, 2005 9:43 AM