One of the stories that hit me the hardest was relayed by one of the local political leaders, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard. Apologies if you haven’t heard this before; it’s like a punch in the gut.
“The guy who runs this building I’m in, emergency management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St Bernard nursing home, and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” And he said, Yeah, Momma, somebody’s coming to get you.”
“Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday.”
“Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday.”
“Somebody’s coming to get you Thursday.”
“Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday’”
Then, with keening sobs, the man wails, “And she drowned Friday night.”
Update: In light of new info provided by DennyK, I wanted to update this posting. Apparently, while it’s true that an emergency services person did call and plead for his mother to be saved, the calls were made during one day, and not spread out over four days. In any case, it’s still a tragedy when anyone’s mother passes away, even under the most “pleasant” of circumstances.
Waiterrant, one of the blogs I subscribe to (and recently added to my blogroll on the side of the main page), heard this story on the radio as he was arriving for work one day, and detoured through a local chapel seeking peace. Afterwards, in some of his finest writing to date, he ended up writing a very touching post reflecting on the spiritual side of the recent tragedy.
In that spirit, it should be noted that my anger is with the politicians who let us down with their lack of leadership. I have nothing but praise and compassion for the responders, local and remote, who saved many thousands of lives, and who cared for the sick and dying inside the Super Dome and elsewhere. I can’t thank them enough, and, to me they truly represent what my America is all about.
Our friend the waiter touches on the good in all of us:
But within Bonhoeffer’s words lies a challenge. Since God doesn’t come down in a blizzard of special effects to bail us out – we have to help each other. We recognize the suffering of others and are moved to relieve it. We can’t coop ourselves up in our apartments, churches, and mosques wishing all the bad things will go away. There’s no room for childish magical thinking. We have to act. The rescuers of 9/11 and the Gulf Coast understood this without all the fancy theological reflection. Bonhoeffer would say when we help each other that is God helping us. The human heart is moved by weakness not by strength. It is our brokenness, not power, that binds us together. Perhaps our weakness will be our salvation. Maybe that is how God “can be with us and help us.” Who knows? I’m only a waiter.
It’s worth reading the entire entry.
Update: here’s a link to the video of the interview with Broussard.