There is simply no way to describe what I saw, smelled (yes, smelled), and witnessed during my first person tour of the devastated New Orleans area on yesterday. We are not talking about blocks and blocks, but miles and miles...of utter devastation. Katrina was not a disaster, it was a catastrophe; the impact of which is going to be with us for quite some time to come.
I mean, it is something you cannot get your mind around -- even when you are looking right at it. It is literally incomprehensible, and on a level that is almost impossible for the mind to get around; and in America too.
My mouth just gaped open, with each turning of a corner getting, it appears, simply worse. And something really eerie - there were almost no people, anywhere, save the emergency workers and folks walking around in contamination suits. The best thing I can compare it too would be a cross between a massive movie set (which reflects the absence of the movement and heartbeat of a real city) and a third world country.
As I made my way through miles and miles of New Orleans, from wealthy areas to the lowest income, the reality was all the same - devastation. Utter devastation. And another thing; recently a government official suggested that maybe I was making too much of purported automobiles damaged in Katrina. He had heard there were not that many automobiles damaged. Like I said, it is something you have to see for yourself. Cars are everywhere....including in drive ways and garages, and sitting on top of other automobiles. And this is after the City, I am told, has picked up thousands of damaged automobiles already. And it is obvious that all of these automobiles were significantly under water for a very long time, or in other words, ruined. What is the point here? Car loans, and no more car. Get it?
America will forever be changed by Katrina, and everyone that is able should go to New Orleans, or Mississippi, or Alabama, and see for themselves that which simply cannot be described by others, or captured even in a photographed. The experience will change you, as it has me. Everyone I know who has visited said the same thing, and now I also saying it -- you have to go, and see the devastation for yourself in order to understand the magnitude. This is not simply another disaster. Not by a long shot. This is America, post Katrina.
More later. Onward, with HOPE