It has been three years since Hurricane Katrina, and staring down the barrel of Gustav gave me a strong feeling of Déj
vu. The only difference this time is that I didn’t have to run.I didn’t find myself in a house with 56 other people, wondering about the fate of my home, family and friends. This time people got the point that a plan had to be made, the government didn’t drop the ball, and even though they scared us, the levees didn’t break.
There’s not a lot that can be said about my Gustav experience other than to put it bluntly I was really damn scared, and based on the general response, I wasn’t the only one.
According to some media outlets, as many as a million people ran for cover. I’m not a hundred percent sure about the numbers, but I know they was bumper to bumper traffic on the highways whenever they showed them on television.
Katrina featured one of the worst federal responses for any disaster in U.S. History, but this one was calculated and well executed.
There won’t be any people on rooftops in the lower Ninth Ward this time, nor will we see any replays of Kanye West telling the world what I felt was the truth about President Bush. What we saw was a combination of a well-executed emergency response and divine intervention.
Does this response excuse what happened three years ago? No it does not, but it’s good to see the government behave in a non-Bush way. I can’t just sit the sins of Katrina at Bush’s feet, however, since there were problems at every level of the response.
Former Governor Kathleen Blanco spent more time crying than trying to fix anything, and Mayor Ray Nagin spent so much time blaming people and generally saying the wrong thing at the wrong time until I was convinced that he had basically flipped out.
Yet the only people that lost their jobs as a result were Blanco (who couldn’t get elected to a neighborhood watch after Katrina) and Michael Brown (who got exposed as an unqualified idiot because of the storm), while most people seemed to forget about Bush being on vacation during instead of being at a staging position getting briefed on the situation.
Where was I when Gustav hit? I was calmly waiting out the storm in Richmond Hall. During Katrina, I was crammed in a three-bedroom house with 56 other people, fearfully gazing at the horrific conditions in New Orleans unfold on television.
I don’t know how things will unfold with Gustav, Hanna, Ike, or Josephine. I do know that I’m starting to share the sentiment of one of my friends who grew up in the lower Ninth. I spoke to him earlier today, and he simply said, “I don’t know about you, but this running s*** is getting really old.