I know everyone has seen some sort of news coverage about what happened with the hurricane. Well I live in Baton Rouge, and of course I knew it was bad (I could listen to the radio in my car when I drove), but we didn't get our power back until late this afternoon, and it was only then that I was able to turn on the news and see the actual damage to the Gulf coast. It took my breath away. I sat in total shock and disbelief. I think we all knew it was coming, eventually, but we also had the mindset that nothing like this could ever happen to us.
As I sat and watched them show city after city totally underwater (cities that are less than an hour from my house), I realized just how lucky I really am. Sure it was easy to complain that we were one of the last people in Baton Rouge to get our electricity back on, but damn, at least I have a house for electricity to run in. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in our own lives. I got a real reality check this evening when I went down to LSU to bring some clothes to one of the shelters set up on campus. The outside of the assembly center was crawling with police, ambulances, people on stretchers, doctors, and volunteers. I didn't even go inside, but I can imagine it was 10 times worse. These people have nowhere to go. They've lost EVERYTHING. Their homes, their cars, their clothes, their pictures, their furniture, their CITY. It's a hard concept to conceive.
Every single person I know has been affected by this hurricane. Many people from LSU are from the New Orleans area. They have family who live there who don't have houses anymore. There are people still there, stranded on their roofs, waiting to be rescued. And the water is STILL rising! The pumps that are pumping a little bit of water out of the city are about to fail, so it's only going to get deeper. To put things in perspective, New Orleans is a bowl shaped city that is usually 12 feet below sea level. They expect that by the time the water stops rising, it will be 5-10 feet ABOVE sea level. And it's not just New Orleans that's been affected...it's the entire Gulf coast region. One of our governors related the scene to that of the area affected by the tsunami last December.
So there's no electricity, no fresh water, no sewage, no food, looters everywhere, and everything is totally destroyed. One of the worst parts is that all the cell phone towers are messed up, so some people have no idea if their families are even safe. My great-aunt, who is in her 80s, lives (lived?) 1/2 mile from the beach in Biloxi, Mississippi. The storm surge came 5 miles inland there. We can't get in touch with her. And even if she's okay, her house is totally gone. There is no doubt in my mind that the house she's lived in her ENTIRE life is no longer there. EVERYONE HERE HAS A STORY LIKE THIS.
So please, everyone, think of us here in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Help out if you can: donate to the Red Cross, give blood, give to the food bank, or if you can't do any of that, just pray for us. Thanks.