I don’t know much about global warming, but it’s obvious that something is going on with our planet. Over the past decade especially, we’ve been pounded by tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, and record freezing temperatures. Mother Nature is clearly pissed!
Seven years ago, New Orleans was hit by hurricane Katrina. The ferocious and violent nature of the storm caused catastrophic devastation that brought out the best – and the worst – in people. Across the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, over 1,800 people perished and over $100 billion in damage was incurred. While it took many years, and a lot of time and money, cities and towns were rebuilt and the refugees returned to resume their lives.
Well, here we are again. New Orleans was assaulted by hurricane Isaac this week. Obviously the city will never be immune to this type of weather pattern, but this time the city was more prepared. Plenty of notice was given so that residents could pack up and evacuate. However, this time the drama and its potential aftermath are personal; this time a child of mine is a college student at Tulane University.
Why did I let my daughter attend a school in New Orleans??? After all, every time I hear about hurricanes demolishing towns or tornadoes decimating trailer parks, I wonder why people live in these places. I mean, seriously, these seasonal storms are predictable occurrences; statistics, trends, and a long history of episodes exist. So why do people stay? Why don’t they leave? Do they somehow think they’ll defy the odds forever or that disaster won’t strike again? Why do people knowingly and willingly put themselves, their families, and their possessions at such a risk? I just don’t understand…
As I write this, I feel terribly guilty. I’ve been so absorbed with the news from or about New Orleans that I haven’t focused on much else. I didn’t even know that rockets from Gaza were raining down on southern Israel for three days in a row this week. Even as school began, students, teachers, parents, workers and others were hiding out in bomb shelters in Sderot to avoid injury and possible annihilation. Although the town suffered damage, thankfully no one was killed.
According to an Israel Defense Forces blog, “Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, terrorists have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel. Over one million Israelis are currently living under threat of rocket attacks.” ;For me, each an every rocket is personal. You see, my sister and her family are part of the one million that live with this daily reality. (See the map shown below.)
Why do they stay? Why don’t they leave? Do they somehow think they’ll defy the odds forever or that disaster won’t strike again? Why do people knowingly and willingly put themselves, their families, and their possessions at such a risk?
We heeded the warnings and my daughter safely made the eight-hour-drive home to Atlanta with nine of her closest friends. They’ve been worried all week about those who stayed behind, and are concerned about the status of their off-campus apartments and belongings, but they are warm, dry, well fed, and sleeping soundly in my home. When it’s safe to do so, they’ll return to school and start their senior year.
My sister’s family, conversely, will remain on alert. Cell phones stay charged, gas masks stay within reach, cars stay gassed up, and locations of nearby – fully stocked – bomb shelters are known in case warning sirens are sounded and cover must be sought. Somehow this norm does not prevent people from living healthy, “normal” and productive lives.
Living in a place with hostile weather is very different than living in a place with hostile neighbors. Trying to contain Mother Nature is very different than trying to coexist with vicious enemies. Being deeply committed, however, to the desire or choice to live in a specific neighborhood, community, state, or country IS similar – despite the possible consequences. THIS I understand…