Friday, September 05, 2008

In Gustav’s Aftermath

In my previous post, I observed that prayer and good wishes, sent from afar in times of collective hardship, gives those afflicted warm and fuzzy feelings.

HAH! I almost wrote, “Victims.” Well, the hardy souls of Louisiana, at least outside metro New Orleans, are hard to classify as “Victims.” Most would probably resent being called such. According to reports from our Bayou Renaissance Man and others in the area, most of those hit by the storm were simply being human - - They took a hit, sometimes a major hit, and many were seriously knocked around. Then they did what real live human beings DO - - They got back up, looked around, and went to doing what needed doing - - Bootstrapping themselves up, helping themselves and their neighbors as possible. Giving assistance to others when and where they could and getting on with the business of life. Yeah, they’ll accept help when it’s at hand, and be grateful, but they don’t waste effort in whining.

Sometimes, Life contains adversity, with which Real People must deal. There’s no sense of entitlement in such an occasion. There’s just The Situation, and the Real People “cowboy up,” give thanks for blessings received, and DEAL WITH LIFE. Good on you, friends.


You can’t properly tip your hat to each and every person and group who did their own part to restore a measure of normalcy to a chaotic situation.

It’s hard to write up the difference between individuals and organizations and public services that do the right thing in a time of crisis. After all, organizations, agencies, companies, and whatever - - These are made up of individuals. There are some really outstanding ones, some just plain ol’, average folks, and maybe some just a bit below par. It’s really nice to see how well most of them can pull together and get stuff done when it’s really needed.

It is encouraging to learn from Peter that electrical power and cell phone and most routine services are back up and running in so short a time after such a major hit. This is entirely to the credit of those who stuck at their posts and carried on during difficult times. To mention only some of them - - -

The peace officers - - City cops, deputies, state troopers, and all the rest, the ones who showed up for work and STAYED on duty for as long as needed. The firefighters: Maybe there were few enough fires to extinguish, but lots of those people do more rescue and relief work than smoke eating anyhow. These people are expected to rush toward violent situations, or run into burning buildings. But who expects them to leave behind their own families to go out and serve their communities?

Emergency medical services personnel were on duty. They didn't take the week off in honor of the storm. The Ambulances were ready to roll, the emergency rooms were staffed. Praise God, casualties were light. Had they not been, EMS were ready.

Those downed and broken power lines and blown transformers didn’t splice and replace themselves. Power and Electric and utility services emergency crews came early and stayed late, local and from the next-door parishes, and from hundreds of miles distant. Local and state road and bridge crews made repairs and dragged downed trees out of the roads. On duty, off duty - - Was ANYONE off duty while their friends and neighbors were in trouble? Yeah, it’s what is expected - - but those people DID it.

Those private individuals less hard-hit were very apt to go down the road to the church or community center or just over to the neighbors’, to see if they could lend a hand. The volunteer service groups and civic groups and other organizations and agencies, public and private, were on hand, fetching, carrying, running errands, pouring coffee and ice water, serving lunches. Nice going, friends.

Individuals like Friend Peter, dealing with their own problems but still ready to furnish such support as they can during The Crisis - - Nothing short of inspiring.

And there were all those private residents of all the afflicted Louisiana areas, who stood ready to provide armed and aggressive support to their neighbors, against the opportunists and scavengers who appear in the wake of natural disasters: WELL DONE! This is the sort of thing your kindred spirits in other areas expect to see -- HOPE to see -- but is so often lacking in many localities. I understand that looters did NOT prosper during the Gustav crisis, even in the metropolitan environment. And in the hinterlands, the situation was downright hostile. At the very best of times, cops can’t be everywhere, and especially when the strong winds blow torrential rains around, the trees breaking and the waters rising . . . . But gimpy old men can sit on porches with bird guns and deer rifles and give unwelcome visitors to understand that southern hospitality has sharply defined limits.

The forces of nature, when out in all their fury, are indeed intimidating. I mean, downright SCARY at times. But communities, neighbors, friends, pulling together, can cope. That’s what Real People do: They reach out to one another, and they cope.



Peter said...

Downright hostile to looters? Ohhhhh, yeah . . . :-)

A couple of streets down, there's an elderly couple in a small cottage. Their neighbors on either side evacuated North, but this couple have ridden out Heaven knows how many storms together, and decided they'd stay put. After Gustav blew through, they (like myself and a few people on my street) got together with some other folks to form a temporary ad-hoc Neighborhood Watch (heavily armed, of course - this ain't Redneck country for nothing!)

We're profoundly jealous of them. So far their tally is up to seven looters and/or scumbags and/or wannabe "contractors" and/or others nailed on general suspicion (as in "Ya sure don't look like ya belong around here, boy!"). Grandpa's leading the charge with his trusty Winchester .30-30 (dating back to 1923!). The blueing's long since worn off, leaving only silvery metal behind, and the stock and fore-end are dinged and dented, but he's maxed out his deer limit every year since Noah with that darn rifle. I'd hate like hell to have him shooting at me with it! Grandma backs up the Neighborhood Watch with copious amounts of coffee and soup, assisted by her "old faithful" Stevens double-barrel 16ga. shotgun (also worn silver, but the victor of many contests with ducks and other feathered things).

Our Neighborhood Watch has only nailed three suspicious characters so far, causing much grumbling and suggestions that our neighbors are "hunting over bait" because so many houses in their street are dark and empty. There's been talk of us going over there to help them (a.k.a. "poaching"), but so far Grandpa's firmly refused our offers of "assistance". He's having too much fun with his huntin', shootin' and fishin' buddies!

The cops don't even bother to drive down our streets now. They just wait for the call, come and pick up our "harvest", thank us, and get back to patrolling harder-hit areas.

It's kinda nice living here.

Xavier said...

Ain't Louisiana grand Peter?

great post Johnny!

Home on the Range said...

Words that needed to be said. We are all glad Peter is safe and sound, as is A.D. and that you and the Mrs.and Pleghmfatale and Old Blind dog were spared.

Blessings indeed.