Saturday, August 27, 2005

New Orleans in the sights of Katrina

New Orleans in the Sights of Katrina

Camille.  I haven’t heard or thought about that Hurricane in years.  Yet it still sticks with me. A memory that is hard to forget even though it has been 36 years.

I lived in New Orleans (Gretna, actually), when that category 5 monster rolled out of the Gulf of Mexico.  Barely missed us, and ripped into Biloxi and Gulfport.  But If I had known then what I know now, we certainly would NOT have attempted to ride the storm out.

There is a point in the approach of a hurricane when you must simply live with your decision to stay.  At that crucial point, you can no longer do anything but sit and wait. It is a helpless feeling. One I will never forget.

When the wind howls and the rain pounds, there is little you can do. When timbers begin to crack, and glass begins to rattle, you simply move to a sturdier part of the house (if there is one).

Back in 1969 it seemed simple.  I didn’t really understand the power of a hurricane. I saw that later when we went over to Biloxi and Gulfport a month later.  Even then, the power Camille was evident in the damage.  It was simply astounding.

Had Camille not turned away suddenly, I am certain that we would not have survived.  It is only after a near death experience, do you realize how close you had really been to the end.  

Technology is better today, in terms of forecasting and tracking the storms. Our understanding of these disasters is better.  But are people making any better decisions?

For me, the morning after Camille was a bright sunny day with only minor inconvenience.  Just a few miles further east, 143 lives were lost.  Life and death decisions are already being made, while the Katrina is still many miles out to sea.