Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why I Can't Protest "Heck of a Job Brownie"

     I follow this blog, Thanks, Katrina, by Judyb.  She posts beautiful pictures and is in an area local to New Orleans.  She put up this post, Thanks, Katrina: Returning Scuzzbucket, where Michael Brown, of FEMA fame, is supposed to be doing some book signing here.  My hands are shaking, I'm having to take deep breaths, if I let myself, I could cry.  Judy asks that people go and protest; I can't.  I just can't.

     I don't know what causes this kind of reaction almost six years after the event, but sometimes someone mentions something and I just freak and the rest of the day is ruined.  No, I wasn't on a roof or in the Dome or Convention Center, I evacuated, but family, friends and their families did not.  I spent two weeks living day to day hoping to hear that my husband was still alive so when you see that guy after the tornado bawling into the camera looking for his missing sister, that was me five and a half years ago, (sans camera).  I spent two weeks looking for a missing disabled niece, the poor kid had gotten her CNA certificate and was told to come into the nursing home for the storm or lose her job.  To this day I still see pictures of the Baptist Hospital chapel full of dead bodies on the TV screen.  One of those bodies is the mother of my cousin's best friend; a woman who was at just about every family Christmas party.  Want to feel sick to your stomach, try watching that over and over and over.

     When I hear of Brown visiting here I just want to puke.  I think of my husband, a first responder, telling me about the day the bottled water finally arrived.  It was perhaps a week after they had managed to get the last citizen out of the parish when a boat showed up and unloaded pallet after pallet of bottled water next to the jail.  He said to me, "I stood there in front of all that water and cried.  Where the hell was it when we needed it?"  Infants, old people from the nursing home, ICU patients from the hospital and the only water they had was what firemen and deputies could salvage from top shelves of local stores for thousands of people.  No one from FEMA came to St. Bernard Parish for eight days.  For eight days first responders had to take care of thousands of people by offering water by the sip out of salvaged dixie cups until they could get them across the river with a commandeered ferry.

     When I think of Dick Brown, I want to hurt the man.  I remember the woman at all those Christmas parties and I see her daughter being thrown out of the hospital due to a lack of supplies as Mom lay dying in the heat.  I see that old man who lives behind my mother crying as he described how they ran out of oxygen for his wife as they waited for their turn for a helicopter rescue; she died there in the heat with a sip of water in a dixie cup that she wasn't capable of drinking.  I think of my husband crying in front of all that bottled water.  I can't go and protest. I wouldn't be able to keep myself from physically attacking the man.

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