I received this e-mail from brotherhrolf about his trip to New Orleans. He is VERY distraught.
Here is his message:
The view expressed are those of brotherhrolf. IMO since he has now seen everything first hand, please direct your remarks to him.
First, to Zooey! Thanks for the card and your support. And I didn’t mean to dump on you last night. I had just gotten back from NO and DW was asleep. DW and I talked this a.m.
To everyone! I went to NO yesterday. The city of my birth and of my ancestors is by and large destroyed. By and large the western suburbs where I grew up did not flood but there is a tremendous amount of wind damage (e.g. the cement plastering that covers the sides of large buildings broken off; 8 story office buildings with broken glass - still exposed to the elements; and the large live oak trees which were a hallmark of the city - shredded, broken, knocked over).
I guess what I am trying to deal with is twofold. First, of course, is the sheer scale of the devastaton. After five months about the only thing that has been done is that they have cleared the roads and many
people have gutted their houses. But by clearing the roads, all the sand and mud and debris is just pushed up onto the sidewalks. The salt water killed most of
the live oaks as well as every hedge, bush, flower, grass - anything that was living in the flooded sections. NO really looks like a deserted Old West ghost town. Collapsed houses, houses listing to one side,
cars and boats on top of houses and flooded cars and trucks all over the place. A scattering of FEMA trailers -maybe one or two per block. Very few traffic lights but very light traffic. And the water marks on the walls of the houses and buildings anywhere from 4’ to 13’…No power
in over 60% of the area. No natural gas for heating or cooking. No water. Condemned
for human occupation signs all over the place. One of the people on tour with me from California said “My God, it looks like a war zone”.
The second thing that has set in is anger. My grief over what I have seen at the office and on local TV has changed to anger. Anger at the hype of Bush standing in front of the Cathedral saying NO will be rebuilt. Anger at Mayor Willy Wonka for his a**inine remarks. Anger that we can spend all
this money over in Iraq and let an American city lie in ruins because federal levees failed. Anger that they can even conceive of Mardi Gras (they don’t even need to be thinking about Mardi Gras after what I saw
yesterday). Anger that the news media only showed the poorer sections of NO but not the same devastation to the middle class, upper middle class, and wealthy. Remark after remark from other people from across the country on the tour - why isn’t this being reported on the news? Or, they turned to me and the others from here and said “My God, if I had only known it was this bad…” (I gave a presentation at a national meeting in Salt Lake City 3 weeks after Katrina - I came home to Rita).
I really did not want to go but since we were hosting a national meeting, I felt obliged. DW said she knew it was going to be bad for me because she teaches kids from NO. She said she knew I was going to come
back mad and shocked. And I am.
This coming week, I am going to spend some time in reflection and prayer. Then, I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to write to our governmental officials starting with President Bush and reminded him of the
city he used to visit!
So dear friends, pray for me. This has hit me like a ton of bricks. The rug has once again been yanked out from under my feet.
Edwin, for what it is worth, we went by Holy Trinity Cathedral which flooded. They have pressure washed the Cathedral, cleaned up
the grounds, and have pansies planted. The Hellenic Center next to the Cathedral still has damage. If the Holy Spirit moves you, you can send Fr. Ambrose et al a
Also if Bob or Anne ask, feel free to relay this to them. We took tons of digital photos so as soon as these are released, I may send you some.
A very, very down Leonard