As I watched Gustav heading towards Lousiana yesterday, I got a chill of déjà vu. However, as Mayor Nagin told people to “be scared” and get “the hell out,” I knew that things would be different. Surprisingly, Bush did the right thing yesterday by staying in Washington and going to FEMA to check on things. During his speech, the president was even a bit comforting.
I was going to send Bush props for finally getting it, but then I thought twice. We don’t cheer people for taking care of their kids, because that is what you are supposed to do. Nobody pats me on the back every time I feed Christopher or read to him. That is what I am supposed to do. Taking care of the country is what the president is supposed to do. Still, it is nice to see that he finally gets it.*
This September is also the 19th anniversary of the hurricane that I survived. On September 22, 1989, Hurricane Hugo landed on the South Carolina coast as a category 4 storm. Winds began to pick up around 6pm that night and shortly thereafter the rains came.
My parents herded my sister and I, as well as the family’s two dogs, into their back bedroom. My sister took the floor and I tried to sleep on the lounge chair. We propped up a tiny black and white battery operated TV. Until about 10:30pm we got the local news station, but then everything went fuzzy. As the wind whipped around the house, the sounds of trains rushing by filled my ears. We don’t live near train tracks. I learned later that this is what a tornado sounds like. Even though my dog was trembling and sitting on my head, I was not very scared.
Around midnight the wind stopped. Everything was quiet. My step-dad told me that it was the eye of the storm. Because the wind direction would change, my parents made us go into the living room. My dad walked around the house to make sure everything was okay. He would not let me go with him. About 20 minutes later the wind and rain returned. By that time I was so tired that I just went to sleep.
When the sun came out our house was still intact. Really, it did not seem like much had happened. Then we went outside. Our neighbors across the street used to have a big tree in their yard. I looked to my side and saw the tree sitting next to our house, next to the living room window where my entire family had been asleep. Although our neighborhood escaped a lot of damage, some house were completely demolished; collapsed like a house of cards.
Then, FEMA was criticized for the slow reaction time. It is nice to know that some things never change. All I remember thinking was how cool it was to be out of school for 2 weeks, even if it meant also living without electricity for two weeks.
*I was going to write something about the RNC convention schedule changes and McCain’s visit to Mississippi, but then I decided not to. Devastation and loss is not partisan, so I think it is better to just leave it.