Most importantly, everything I write here reflects what I read and hear elsewhere, and my inferences from that. I haven’t been to the Gulf Coast for several years, not to Washington DC since my participation in F2C this spring, never to Crawford, Texas, and nobody in a policy-making position has been filling me in on the behind-the-scenes details. I’ve been writing out of my horror and frustration that people who can command vast resources to evacuate and rescue people stranded in Katrina’s path did not put those resources into play promptly (I trust this is not a controversial point, since the President himself described the government’s response to this emergency as “unacceptable”), and out of my continuing anger at the mixed reports about how relief efforts are going. In part, also, I’ve been writing out of my frustration that much of what I’ve seen has focused solely on New Orleans (for obvious, painful, reasons) and has neglected the devastating effects of Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I spent some sleepless time and pained prayer worrying about people I know down there.
That said, I defer entirely to my brother and trusted friend David, whose comments on a post below I’ll reproduce up here where they’ll be more visible:
As someone in the thick of it, I wonder if you should turn a critical eye to the media? The story in Mississippi is about UNREAL destruction. Beyond that I see people (about 500 today at our relief center) determined to rebuild AND to help one another. We are seeing groups from as far a way as Canada, many from the east coast, all helping SO much. We have thousands of National Guard here and they are ALL, EVERYONE, so polite and helpful and wonderful to us all. In our center there were white faces and black faces and old faces and young faces and crippled bodies and old bodies and just-born twins bodies. And all were together, bonded in this crazy time where we have all been reduced to just being humans without power or privilege or prestige.
And yet at a press conference in Biloxi, several media folks just wanted the EOC director to admit that the poor in Mississippi were treated differently than others.
It just ain’t so. And if the reporters would DO THEIR JOB and REPORT ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON and TALK TO THE PEOPLE – ALL THE PEOPLE they would see a very very different picture.
Maybe that does not sell papers or CNN ad spots. But it’s the truth. I know it. And today I lived it, seeing Jesus over and over and over again. It was SO very hot and SO very hard and the people, ALL the people were SO very grateful and expressed it.
There is a different story out there. And it has nothing to do with feeble administrators and aid that is too slow (although we have been pained by both). I wish they would report that.
And guess what – tomorrow, we do it all over again.
David has more to say in his blog. The school at the place where his church used to be has been set up as a medical clinic and relief center; David’s been knocking himself out cleaning up and fixing up the school buildings, and his Lovely Wife Jennifer has been putting her extensive experience in medical missions to work administering the clinic. I can’t think of anyone with less patience for racism, or more determination to build a community grounded in love and respect. And David’s mileage in Long Beach will differ from somebody’s in Slidell or the Ninth Ward.
It won’t be over for David and Jennifer and the people of St. Patrick’s any time soon; I just emailed David to ask how I could contribute directly to their work. Maybe you could, too.