Don't just #PrayForLouisiana
So it’s been a little while since my last blog post. Just a little bit. Apparently the last thing that got me enraged enough to take to the internet was deflategate, and to be honest that still bugs the crap out of me. That’s ok. I’ve been keeping busy. Started taking my license exams about a year ago and bought a Condo back in November. Not major life decisions or anything like that.
Two things weight heavily on my heart today, but the latter will have to wait another day. The more urgent thing I want to focus on is the unprecedented flooding going on in Louisiana right now. 10 years ago this month, I moved to Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina with the ambition to help in the recovery process, a decision that would ultimately lead to an interest in resiliency and disaster recovery. Baton Rouge was my home for 3 years while I was in grad school at LSU. I have a shirt from LSU which the back of reads, "A place that will get in your blood and stay forever." Last year I went to the LSU/Syracuse football game and for the first time really started to get the meaning of, "Forever LSU." I’ve watched post after post on Facebook and have been in touch with friends in the area to see how they were faring since Saturday, but I only started to feel like the extent of the damage has only started to come to light within the last day or so. I've heard this is the feeling from others too, that people outside of the state just really don't get what's going on. I haven't seen it firsthand, but I know it's catastrophic.
I’m going to be honest, this is not Hurricane Katrina. By all accounts, this is worse, significantly worse. The loss of life is much less, but the property damage is extensive. Perhaps the thrill of the Olympics has overshadowed this event. Or something Donald Trump said needed to be analyzed. Hurricane Katrina was different, not only as a storm, but how it was covered. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Hurricane Katrina was pre-iPhone/Smartphone. YouTube was young, Facebook was limited, and there was no Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat, etc. I remember not even hearing about the flooding in New Orleans following Katrina for nearly two days. My English professor gave an assignment to write about what you would do to help the victims and I had no idea what she was talking about. I hadn’t connected my cable and had hardly sat at my computer since moving back to my college dorm that weekend. When I researched the response for my master's paper, it seemed there were a lot of organizations with their head cut off, and the media was so far separated from where the flooding was, it was easy to see why it took a while to get word out.
This is not 2005. Twitter has analytics that can determine the epicenter of an earthquake based on when people tweet about it, and it took nearly 4 days for the national media to realize that 40,000 homes and several parishes of Louisiana were under water? People were stuck on the highway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans because of the floodwater and supplies were dropped off by state police. The Cajun Navy is in full swing. People are certainly tweeting about it and posting on Facebook, so why does it feel like there’s still not a lot of coverage? Because there’s not. The storm didn’t have a name and didn’t impact New Orleans, and it’s just not as glitzy or something? I don’t know. But this event hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. MSN is my internet homepage and while I’m writing, there isn’t a single item on the flooding in Louisiana. I watched all 30 however many headlines go by and nothing. It’s unreal.
And another thing, please don’t just #PrayforLouisiana. They don’t need your prayers or your hashtags right now. They need help. Physical, tangible help. This is a huge disaster. 30 parishes in the state are disaster areas. People need supplies, they need food, they need clothes, they need their house cleaned or gutted. Many of the people flooded out didn’t have flood insurance because they weren’t even in flood zones. But 27 inches of rain can do that to a place (meantime in NH where we’re experiencing a major drought, I think I know where our rainwater diverted to). Shelters need canned goods and toiletries. Animal shelters need supplies since many people had to leave their animals behind.
My heart has felt so weighted the last few days. I nearly broke down talking to someone at work today.I emailed around the office asking for donations and went to the store today for toiletries and canned goods to send and will try to send that out this weekend.
Louisiana has been through a lot the last few months between the state budget issues, the shootings in Baton Rouge, heck even Mike the Tiger got cancer. It's really been rough going, and a never ending summer downpour that put the state out of commission was about the last thing on anyone's "must have list." Yet through all this and the lack of coverage, there has been an incredible amount of service to one another and videos and stories of people helping others.
If you happen to read this, and would like to contribute to the flooding victims, please check out www.NOLA.com They have a fairly extensive list of places to donate, send items to, and other ways to contribute. Send your love down to Baton Rouge... and the rest of southern Louisiana
I hope all those I know and their families are, and continue to remain, safe.