March 02, 2009

A New Orleans resident speaks about the meaning of "during Katrina"

A reader named Jordan reacts to my previous two posts about the current effort to smear Bobby Jindal over "during Katrina":

How do we -- the people who lived through Katrina -- define "during Katrina?"

Believe it or not, it was often a topic of discussion around town in early 2006.

The answer depends on who you are, or where you lived. I lived in the burbs. We had electricity 3 weeks after the storm but there was no (potable) running water so we could not return home. We were under mandatory evacuation for exactly one month. We had 3 "look and leave" days where we could come in town, do any minor repairs, get pets left behind, or otherwise secure our property. We had to be out by dusk, and there were nice young men on every street corner with M-16s reminding us of that fact.

Even if we wanted to defy the evacuation order, there was no water, no food stores, no businesses open, no nothing... And very few people had electricity, and the temps were in the 90s.

We lived in a hotel room for 30 days with 4 people, 500 miles from home.

When we say "during Katrina" we mean from the time we evacuated -- before landfall -- until 30 days after when we could return home. In other words, the time we were under mandatory evacuation.

For others, the answer is different.

The people in Chalmette (the area Harry Lee mentions in that Youtube video) were under mandatory evacuation for around 90 days. Even when they could get in, every single home in the whole Parish was damaged or destroyed. For those folks, "during Katrina" meant months and months.

Here's the kicker... Many people are still struggling to get back into the houses they had before the storm. For them, "Katrina" is still going on.

A day later, Jordan went on to say:

I'm watching this whole debate with amusement.... There was no "Day After Katrina" for anyone with even the remotest amount of public responsibility. There was "that long undetermined amount of time that we went without sleeping or hardly eating" after Katrina. You folks in the rest of the world might have measured it in days. We didn't have the luxury of such trivial pastimes, as we had work to do.

Do any of these idiots think Harry Lee was putting in 8-hour days, then going home? Um... no.

I wasn't there, but I'd guess Harry Lee slept about an hour or 2 out of every 24 for the first week. I slept 1 hour per night for around 4 or 5 days. When I finally "slept" it was 6 hours in a chair, because my body simply collapsed and could go no more.

Anyone who thinks Harry Lee was tracking who spoke to him and when with such precision has no f****** clue what Lee was going through. There was no clock, there was no calendar... there was only the task at hand.

For Harry, "The Day After Katrina" was probably about 120 hours long. And, dare I say, 120 hours these pussies could never have handled.

P.S. To give you a scope of what it was like, I have spoken to about 6 people since the storm who believe they lost some vision during the storm due to their eyes just never closing. I've always had perfect vision (I'm a photographer, I know how my vision is), but 3 months after the storm I noticed I was holding things father away from my face and that my eyes hurt all the time. To this day, I get massive headaches if I look at the computer too long.

Was Katrina sleep deprivation the cause? Obviously, we'll never know, but there are a whole bunch of people who lost some vision all at the same time... and we'll always suspect it.

P.P.S. The one cool thing about this time frame was no speed limits. In the month after the storm I drove ~2000 miles, and if I was going less than 90mph on the highway I hit the gas some more. And I was just keeping up with traffic... we all had s*** to do. Cops were passing us up because they had s*** to do.

People who didn't live through it will never understand. It was on the one-month anniversary of Katrina that I heard the commander of the State Police get on the radio and ask -- ask -- people to hold it down to 80. He said they were not issuing tickets, but that we all had to take it down a notch...

Funny thing was: There were no accidents. We were so f****** wired, we were all paying attention.

The second month after the storm, things got ugly. People got used to the speed and quit paying attention. There were still fewer accidents than normal, but the percentage of fatalities was through the roof. About once per or twice per week there was an accident, and every one of them fatal.

I didn't see a cop running radar for 11 months... They were a tad busy. And these idiots think the Sheriff had time to update his day planner? Ha!

The meta-point being, these fools are looking at this time frame like it was normal... Dude, we were living on a different planet than the rest of you.

And now, so are the people engaged in this smear campaign.

Posted by Jim Treacher at March 2, 2009 09:23 AM