Monday, July 12, 2010

Resilience and the American Way

We have just returned from a trip to Texas, welcoming grandchild 9 into the world and spending time with her parents and big brother. What a special time it was for everyone.

On the way home we decided to take a side-trip to Louisiana, specifically New Orleans. It is such an interesting area, and one touched by tragedy more than once. Three years after hurricane Katrina devastated the area, you can still see signs of the horror the people of this area must have experienced. There were concrete slabs where once there were homes. Boats rusted in marsh areas and tributaries of the mighty Mississippi. Buildings abandoned when water and storm damage made repairs impossible. In the retelling it sounds as if the area looks like a battle zone, but this is not the case. We found ourselves looking hard to find the evidence of the devastation, as the people have done a phenomenal job of rebuilding, and getting on with their lives. Unfortunately we weren't there long enough to really talk with anyone about the rebuild. And the latest tragedy is still making its mark.

Fishing boats moored, waiting for better days ahead

Beyond hope, this tug remains a reminder of the devastation hurricane Katrina brought.

Two buildings, newly constructed to weather future storms. The one above is a private residence, the one below is a school.

The two buildings above were on the long stretch of highway leading to Venice, the "end of the world" as one DNR officer called it. This town is also the staging ground for the oil clean-up. Our intention was to get to the beach areas and see what was happening with the current clean-up operations. Not knowing the area, however, we found ourself stuck inland, surrounded by water we just couldn't get to. The road ends at the Delta National Wildlife Refuge, the convergence of the Mississippi River, multiple tributaries, Breton Sound, and finally the Gulf of Mexico.

We saw a number of species of wildlife on our drive, though not in the numbers you would normally expect to see in a refuge area. This we expected, based on reports of how the oil "spill" has impacted the area.

The DNR officer we talked to said that going out on the water, in areas normally teaming with wildlife, it felt rather like a Stephen King novel - eerie silence where once the sound of birds was almost deafening. However, he also indicated this was not all bad, as these birds were finding other areas to feed and nest in. Yes, there has been great loss and it will probably continue, but the wildlife is actually adapting and moving elsewhere. Hopefully to return home when all is well again.

The people we saw are working hard. Many fishermen are now carrying booms and other clean up materials to areas in need. There are many fishing boats moored at the docks, and though the fishing ban has been lifted, it's just catch-and-release fishing allowed. The main source of income is still gone for many. The people on these outlying areas have been given a one-two punch - rebuilding from Katrina, then loss of income due to the oil catastrophe. But they're keeping the faith and working hard to get on with life as best they can.

Fishing vessel readying to carry booms (yellow) and other clean up materials out to affected areas.

We never did make it to beach area, so didn't have the opportunity to see the oil damage first hand, though we passed boats which appeared to have an oil residue on the hull. This part of our trip was a lesson, however, in what a community can do when forced into a devastating situation. Reminders of what's important in life, as well. We can replace "things," but this story is deeper than what we scratched on the surface.

Pull together and help others. There's a great deal of satisfaction in the journey.


Satria Sudeki said...

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Kamana said...

hi sandy... haven't been around for a while. am going to be catching up here tonight. love the birds you have captured here. and that crab.