Saturday, September 03, 2005

Slow motion

I was working when the 9/11 attack in New York and Washington happened. The newsroom is surrounded by giant TV screens, so the scenes played over and over, all over the room, as we watched in silence. I remember the stages we went through: Disbelief, shock, anger and then grief.

Over the hurricane in New Orleans, I've been going through the same stages, watching the same giant TV screens. The scenes play over and over, all day long, for days on end. How can this happen in the world's richest country? This time, however, the disbelief, shock and anger are unfolding over several days, when we're a bit more capable of absorbing it. That's the danger. I woke up this morning to see headlines turning hopeful for the first time. How many will breathe a sigh of relief and put off making that donation?

New Orleans isn't going to drain. It has to be pumped out. The lower Mississippi area is the world's fifth-biggest port and accounts for a tenth of the country's oil and gas production. Recovering from this is a long term project and will be going on long after most of us have moved on.

Consider giving something now, and again weeks from now, when it's needed most, and few are giving it much thought.

[Update Sept. 6: Corrects the region's portion of oil and gas production.]

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