make it stop

I’ve been watching and listening to the news updates from the Katrina zone for the last few hours, and it’s horrific. There’s no food or water. There’s no phones or power. People are dying because there’s no power at hospitals. Thousands are trying to get out of New Orleans and are unable to. They say refugees at the Astrodome may be there for months

And then there’s the human factor. Looters in New Orleans are getting very, very violent. Hospital staff are locked, with dying patients, inside the buildings. There’s destruction everywhere. And the Quarter, which has already survived two fires, may be destroyed by fires and looting rather than the hurricane itself. The city has turned on itself.

It’s incomprehensible to think of all the people who have nothing tonight. Not even food or clean water. There are thousands and thousands without power, shelter, anything, in America, in 2005. Hundreds of thousands of people. Thousands are trying to get out of New Orleans because it’s unlivable – but where do they go, and what happens to them now?

Two days ago, I thought the city had survived; now, I know that it hasn’t. The older parts of the city, built on higher ground, may be salvaged and repaired, but it will be years before New Orleans is in the condition it was when I last saw it, and most of the city will never get to go home.

Comprehending the amount of desperation, fear and misery out there tonight is too much. I want to scream to make it stop – but I can’t. Instead, I think we all have to ask, what can we learn from this?

Would things be better if the National Guard wasn’t diverted off to the senseless War In Iraq? Would help have come faster that way?

How can we learn to pay more attention to the vulnerabilities in our own regions? No hurricane will ever demolish Seattle…but what would happen if the earthquake left it in the condition New Orleans is in tonight? What would happen when the quake hits Los Angeles, and rioting and looting take over as they have in the Crescent City?

Finally, I’m also worried because gas prices are going up. I’m not worried for myself, not with my bike, but I’m worried for my city. I’m worried that this will break social order in Los Angeles, that L.A. will start to break down at $4/gallon. It is, after all, built around cars. And gas is going to hit $4 very soon.

This is like a movie, the news tonight. How do we avoid the sequel?

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