Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

To Louisiana and Back

I just returned from a six-day grind to what used to be called Paradise Community, now a part of the town of Ball, in central Louisiana, just a few miles north of Alexandria and the Red River. I went down there for a wedding and a family reunion, not as part of a relief operation or anything heroic. I spent two days in Ball (it's a two-day drive down and back - just a little over 1000 miles), mostly with my family - doing a lot of catching up, doing a lot of just plain talking and remembering, and watching the news when we could.

Virtually all of us had a friend, a family member, or someone we once knew in New Orleans. We all agreed that the mayor of the city - and most of the mayors of surrounding areas - waited too late to order the evacuation that eventually began Sunday. We were also in pretty close agreement that an evacuation shouldn't have even been necessary for most level-headed, intelligent people. A category-4, possibly even category-5, was barreling up the Gulf, with the city squarely in its sights. I'm not a coward, but I'm also prudent: Mother Nature is far more violent, deadly, and capable of destroying huge areas much more efficiently than even the most deadly weapon mankind has come up with.

The storm tracked east, and Alexandria didn't get even a few drops of rain. There was no damage to help repair, no clean-up that required our assistance. The wedding went off well, and the reunion was a joy. All our family members are accounted for and well, although a couple of them did sustain some loss.

The news drove us crazy. FOX had the best coverage of what was going on, although several times we saw what was obviously a canned shot displayed and referred to as "live coverage". CNN had some twit named "Nancy", or something (Nancy Grace?) who was the poster-child for "dumb blond".

I've been to New Orleans several times. It's a mess in the best of times, with narrow, twisting streets and gross overcrowding. There are places in that city I wouldn't walk with an escort of half a brigade of 82nd Airborne troops. But I know it floods. I've been there when they've had a couple of days of rain, and the water starts standing in the streets. Hurricanes produce HUGE rainfalls - 30 inches or more - much more. There were a lot of things done politically (i.e., stupidly) in New Orleans, rather than intelligently. New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. Katrina was just the catalyst, not the disaster.

The military, especially the National Guard, will get things under control, and the politicians will take over the rebuilding. In thirty, fourty years, there will be another disaster, just as this disaster followed Camille, the disaster de jour of 1969. Most of the lessons learned form Camille were either forgotten or ignored, and 10,000 or more people died in Katrina.

Returning from Louisiana, we saw dozens of convoys of National Guard troops, possibly even a few Regular Army units, moving down I-20 toward Shreveport, then down I-49 to Opelousas and I-10. I-10 will lead them to New Orleans, and the work they're on their way to do. God bless them and keep them safe, and let them do the job they've come to do.


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