Monday, August 29, 2005

katrina watching

I am always glued to the television for these unfolding natural disasters. Back in college my roommate and I would occasionally head out with the video camera to literally chase after tornadoes. No, we never caught one, and yes, it was incredibly stupid, but the difference between toying with tornadoes and hurricanes is the difference between dealing with a giant and an invading army.

I respect tornados, but I have seen and lived through many of them—no doubt drawn to my childhood home by the trailer park that sat down the road. I agree that they sound like freight trains, but it was always difficult to hear them over the constant rapid fire of the gravel driveway against the basement garage. We would huddle there for hours with the kerosene lamp, radio, and boxes of Little Debbie oatmeal pies. The sound was oddly soothing after a while, and my sister and I always fell asleep on the palette with the dog between us.

Now I’m watching the news reporters standing out in the seventy or eighty mile an hour winds with a mike in one hand and the other keeping their hats on their heads. Metal awnings drift by like tumble weeds in the background. There are always metal awnings flying by in these situations, and there are always professional meteorologists and journalists to point at them. This time around they are talking about the possibility of floating coffins and a “witches brew” of toxins and debris filling the below sea level bowl than New Orleans sits in.

Ah, journalists.

I love New Orleans. I must have been twelve or thirteen when I went there for the first time on a family vacation. My mother rarely drank while I was growing up, but I remember her giving me a couple of sips from her hurricane as we sat in a French Quarter bar. It was the first time I drank alcohol. There is no better place for that sort of thing than New Orleans, and I will certainly miss it if the drink’s namesake takes the city from the map.
It now looks to be veering away from the Big Easy a bit, and I have to start fearing for my beloved Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area. I spent quite a bit of time there while growing up, and Ivan left it unrecognizable. Whole neighborhoods of quaint little beach houses were swept away and will no doubt be replaced by more nondescript high-rise condos.
I had always thought about settling down there someday, but I think I will stick with the tornados.


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