Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Stormy Tuesday

For those of you who may not have heard, a tornado ripped across New Orleans early Tuesday morning, and the damage was pretty severe.

With all the FEMA trailers and weakened houses already existing in the path of the storm, I find it an absolute miracle that more people weren't killed or hurt. Over on Napoleon, I was awake at 3:15 am CST to the sound of howling wind, rapid fire thunder, and a bright night sky. I laid in bed up until I could hear the plink-plink of hail on the windows, and I knew it was bad when rain began to lash the south side of the sublet, but no other side. Rain falling sideways is warning enough.

I rose to check the Weather Channel, and the screen had the red line indicating a tornado warning - that means tornado on the ground and in the area - and claimed it was Marrero, Arabi, Chalmette and the 9th Ward in the path of the doppler indicated tornado. That estimation was off, as the actual tornado was ripping apart a path from the West Bank, accross the river into Uptown to my west, and onwards towards Gentilly and the Lake to my north.

Several things crossed my mind upon learning this fact:

1. There were no warning sirens that I could hear. Every city should have those air-raid sirens that go off as soon as a tornado is reported or indicated on the ground. They save lives. I understand that New Orleans has a long list of priorities, but those need to be in the works, if they aren't already.

2. There is nowhere to go in the house in which I live. The first floor is completely gutted, and there is no inside stairway leading down. In case of emergency, we are bound to the second floor, and would need to take place in the bathroom, as there is no real hallway.

3. That being said, where I am in a house at all is an order of magnitude safer than anyone living in a FEMA trailer. This underscores the desperate need to get recovery money out of the red tape jungle and back into the real estate. The one fatality to this tornado was an elderly woman in a FEMA trailer waiting on her home to be completed.

Some folks have lost everything they have, twice, to forces beyond their control. Again, they find themselves and their financial security at the mercy of the government and the insurance companies. Thank God for the charities and the communities who won't stop giving.

In related news, precedent is being set by State Farm refusing to write any new home/business policies in Mississippi - and recovery has to have insurance to continue.

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