If you’ve come here expecting me to be my ribald and randy self, you will be sorely disappointed.
You see, I’m angry. I’m angry at nature and even angrier at human nature.
My city…this part of Texas I’ve called home for the past 19 years, survived Hurricane Ike, but at what cost?
I didn’t stay for the storm; I left. I listened to reason. But countless others didn’t and frankly, after Katrina and the ridiculous destruction caused by Wilma, Hugo, Andrew, Camille, Celia, Beulah, Betsy and Carla???
I JUST DON’T FUCKING GET IT!!!
You have “Islanders”–that’s what they call themselves; those that live in Galveston 24-7, twelve months a year. I suppose that’s supposed to mean something. As far as they’re concerned, they have more grit and stamina than anyone else and this emotional acetone that seeps through their arteries, I suppose, makes them impervious to storms.
Yeah, we heard their pre-Ike boasts: “We survived Carla, Rita and Alicia. Hell, we can survive this little piss ass Category 2 blow job!!”
This, as they walked into their houses built on six foot pilings facing a churning, swollen ocean, and prepared to have a “hurricane hoe down” as the winds started to blow and water started to rise some 12 hours even before Ike arrived at the party.
Well, well in advance.
These salty dogs must’ve known something was amiss then. I wonder what went through their minds when they saw all that water and realized they were stuck and couldn’t get out? I wonder what the last thing was on their minds?
They heard the mandatory evacuation orders; they heard FEMA and the National Weather Service experts tell them to leave or “face certain death”. They were told to write their names and Social Security numbers on their arms to help authorities identify their bodies.
I never thought this was a scare tactic and in the face of searching for more bodies…bodies that they will undoubtedly find….I still don’t. They’ll find more corpses and the death told will rise to a level that will be unbearable.
I’ll try to pity these people and their dire circumstances later, but for now, their arrogance enrages me.
And then there are the Houstonians.
At the station today, we went into emergency recovery mode and as a former Reporter and News Director, I was given the task of booking all the talking heads for live interviews. Of the three stations in my radio station cluster, one works fine; the other is limping along and one was completely lost. And I heard countless call after call of whiny people who didn’t obey the authorities; who didn’t have at least three days worth of supplies as they are told to have. And this is what infuriates me. It’s ritual here in along the Texas Gulf Coast. At the start of hurricane season–June 1st, we go through this every year–the local populace is inundated with newspapers stories, TV and radio news reports, plus insurance mailers of ways to prepare for “the big one”. We’re reminded of what to have, what to do, what not to do; how to rough it when your community’s infrastructure has been fractured by raging winds and storm surge.
There are people who ignore it. They’re ignorant and cavalier and of the mindset that this couldn’t happen again. Katrina went elsewhere and so did Rita at the last minute and there will certainly never be another hurricane like The Great Storm of 1900. These are also the people who in a catastrophic event, feel like they need the government to tell them when to think.
They’re angry to be this “inconvenienced”. Half of the people in line don’t need the ice or water or MRE’s. It’s just free, therefore, they’re taking it. That’s their culture.
I am sickened.
For some, it’s true–they have no electrical power in their homes and their water pressure is non-existentand yes, there’s the gutter above the garage that’s hanging and they lost a few Oleander bushes—and in Crystal Beach and on the Bolivar Peninsula, which took an even more direct hit that Galveston—there are just slabs where there used to be neighborhoods.
But let’s piss and moan about a bag of ice.
Let’s bitch about the definitive lack of air conditioning-which can be an extremely oppressive scenario in thus part of the country at this time of the year, but what I’m talking about here far exceeds comfort and body temperature. Without power, little Courtney or Kaneesha can’t straighten her hair with her $120 Chi flat iron in all this East Texas post storm humidity.
At least they still have a plug in a wall of a house still standing.
Yet they still bitch. Katrina started a pathetic trend. Now, it seems storms bring out the worst in people. Oh yes of course, there’s still good, but natural chaos brings out this emotional ferality. We revert to type. The Superdome and the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Desperate people do desperate things during desperate times? Yes they do, but civilized, rational people act civilized and rationally. It’s not a matter of class or race. It’s about values and self worth. Where are those things that are elemental to well being? At the very least, where’s their pride? I don’t know and frankly, my faith is waning. This bestial way of “me first” thinking is repulsive and tragically, they’re handed what the need, then they’ll still bite the hand that feeds. I say that because of know all the stories that were the result of Houston’s housing almost a quarter of a million Katrina refugees in the Astrodome.
But hearing about this diaspora…one of the largest in modern times and one that was so incredibly disruptive to everyone…EVERYONE involved and tales of those less than optimum living conditions didn’t prevent people in the days before and after Ike, from being petty, lazy, arrogant or just plain ignorant. They still bitch about conditions they knew would exist.
“Where’s my water?”
“We don’t got no food!”
“Where am I gonna live?”
“What’s the government gonna do?”
There is legitimacy in these questions; but not in their intent. It’s not “ask and ye shall receive”‘; it’s “demand” because of misplaced entitlement. I loathe the welfare system for creating these social miscreants and this skewed thinking.
And it’s not just welfare recipients. Stupidity runs the social and racial gamut. Arrogance knows no class.
I have no respect for the person who allows life to happen to them. When you’re on the dole and force fed a steady diet of “let the government take care of you”, you stop thinking. Sadly, that’s what some politicians want.
Defiantly, that’s what some sane politicians fear the most.
Help yourselves people. Be responsible. Be accountable. Or is it too easy to blame someone else?
And next time a hurricane approaches, get out! Leave. Survive, in fact, your survival is up to you. If you don’t want the government in “your business”, then quit depending on it for your existence.
The media played the race card after Katrina. Fiscal irresponsibility broke those damn levies as much as the hurricane did and yes, it’s a tragic story; more than a thousand people died in the floods but that was still a far spicier a topic than plain old death and devastation of Biloxi or Pass Christian, Mississippi.
But in the days and weeks after Katrina, a formidable evil emerged. That storm taught people how to operate with their hand out. If anything, I hope Ike can teach people how to close it. This goddamn storm has to have a better legacy than just death, destruction and the rep of being one of the largest hurricanes on record.,
Before I close, I understand not wanting to leave your home; all you have; all that you’ve worked for. Hell, I did it myself last Wednesday night. I understand complacency and how the false alarm nature that was the evacuation of Hurricane Rita three years ago, jaded a lot of people.
But I ask you, in the face of a mega cyclone with power that ultimately, no one could have imagined, where does complacency begin and survival end?
I don’t get it.
Well anyway; I need to get my bearings. My thoughts have been affected by this storm..as has my life, in a myriad of ways. I know I’m far from alone; thousands and thousands of other people have had their lives AND their homes ripped apart and far more egregiously, too. They’ve lost everything, but even so, I need to process my anger. I’ll be back in a few days to share my thoughts.
But I doubt seriously if many of you will like what I have to say.