NOT SO EASY!
Like most of my fellow Americans and much of the rest of the world, I have spent the last week watching the televised reports of the death, destruction and despair that followed in the wake of hurricane Katrina. A category four hurricane that pretty much wiped New Orleans off the map. The city once know as The Big Easy has become the “not so easy.” Not so easy to rescue survivors, and not so easy to clean up the gigantic mess that remains not only in New Orleans but also along the Gulf coasts of Louisana, Alabama, and Mississippi. While people the world over (including Saint Barth) are helping in the massive relief effort, the island heaved a collective sigh of relief that one more major storm did not come our way. But what if it had? While many people in New Orleans were evacuated before the storm and many others battened down the hatches and tried to ride it out, there were many victims stuck in hospitals, nursing homes, and areas just too remote to get immediate help. The storm was one thing, the breach in the levees was another, and the overall hopelessness of the situation for days and days was quite something, while the entire world watched a city in distress, its mayor on the brink, its resources depleted. And much of the world was surprised at what they saw: at certain conditions in New Orleans even before the storm, not to mention the lack of a plan in the face of such a national disaster. But was this a wake up call? Are other American cities asking if they ready for such an eventuality? And what about us, the island of Saint Barth? There is probably no way to evacuate the entire population in the case of a hurricane of this magnitude and anyway, most people want to stay with their homes to immediately take care of any damage a storm might cause. But what if we were cut off from the outside world for a long period of time due to major damage to the port and airport? How long would the food and water supplies on the island last? Of course the situation is very different from that of New Orleans (I have yet to see any alligators except the proverbial kind on the island) and the houses in Saint Barth are built to withstand the winds of rains that most hurricanes have packed in the past. So as our hearts and pocketbooks open to the city of New Orleans, where the next big jazz funeral might be for the city itself as plans to rebuild are as yet unclear, we sit safe and dry on our tropical hilltops keeping our fingers crossed that the next storms (Lee fizzles fast, where are Maria and Nate?) also pass us by. But an episode like Katrina certainly makes you stop and think about just how fragile our environment and our lives can be!
More to come,