The last thing I want to dwell on after Sunday’s near-death experience is what the storm did. The anxiety, frustration and inconvenience – why do storms keep following me? Amplify that sentiment several times and imagine what the the residents of Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes suffer on not being able to recover from Hurricane Gustav before being inundated again by Hurricane Ike’s 8 to 10 foot storm surge. I just want to sit down and cry over the weather. It won’t leave them alone and it won’t leave me alone. It won’t leave the prematurely-dying and unprotected wetlands alone. A whole American ecosystem and culture are disappearing within my human lifetime, not in geological time, and no one cares. Not the president, not the presidential candidates, not FEMA, not even Terrebonne parish’s emergency director.
Today, Karen went back to Dulac and Raceland, towns we drove through and visited together in the wake of Hurricane Gustav. She says the situation there is pretty dire as Ike almost finished what Gustav, prior hurricanes and rampant industrialization in the area started. [Karen’s Photo Gallery] Schroeder and Liprap travelled to Raceland and Isle de Jean Charles last week to see the damage for themselves and to help deliver much-needed aid to the people down there. Of the latest destruction and its extent, this is what Schroeder has to say:
An assessment of the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike remains incomplete because of the difficulty of travel to the most remote areas. The area was already severely-damaged by Hurricane Gustav. Now, because of the reticence of federal and state officials to help people finance their Hurricane Gustav evacuations, and the bureaucratic mess they’ve created to apply for assistance, it’s certain that there will be casualties among the residents of the United Houma Nation who couldn’t afford to evacuate another time. Houma Nation communities will require much more assistance, and a lot more attention than they’ve received from the national press to raise awareness of their plight and their needs.
Karen is going back to Houma and south of there this weekend to help muck out houses and wants to know who can come together as a work crew. If you’re interested, please comment or send an email to maitri dot vr at gmail dot com and I will pass on your information to Karen.
During today’s visit, Karen also spoke with musician Tab Benoit and said he was SCREAMING about the state of affairs down on his beloved coast. Tab is afraid that the upcoming Voice of the Wetland festival in Houma may well be the last because “it is pointless” and expressed fury and great disappointment at the “Drill Baby Drill” supporters. People determined not three years ago to save their land and heritage are ready to give up in fatigue and frustration. How could one not feel this way when Wine Island disappeared after Gustav and residents remember when “it used to take an hour and a half by boat to reach the Gulf of Mexico [and now] the Gulf is literally at [their] doorstep?”
Where good people falter, we hold them up. I am not willing for this be the last VoW festival. I am not willing to abandon the people of the Louisiana coast to Fortune and American apathy. What strength I have is theirs. What we took from them we are now obligated to give back. Giving back here means help in kind, levee protection all the way to the Gulf, wetland growth, cultural respect and, above all, inclusion in the decisionmaking process that writes their collective fate. Wherever you are in this nation, talk with your government representatives NOW and email the presidential campaigns NOW with the message that coastal protection ought to be on their Top 10 priority lists. This is putting Country First, not one portion of the country taking and taking and taking from another, leaving them in the lurch and calling it patriotism.
Help the United Houma Nations – I will try to get the updated needs list what they are in short supply of now are Ensure, Depends, and a variety of canned goods, and are good on cleaning supplies, diapers, formula and water. Furthermore, please do not hesitate to send monetary donations to the address at the link provided. Attend the Voices of the Wetland Festival this October 10th, 11th and 12th at the Southdown Plantation in Houma – let’s give them an audience so large they’ll be forced to come back next year and for many years to come. And if you really care about this nation, about your Red White And Blue, come down here and get it dirty in some genuine American mud. The people of Southern Louisiana, who have provided you with so much, can stand to use your help.