Omir the Storyteller

Stories. Music. Politics. Technology. Baseball. Friends. Family. Potrzebie.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina would have killed me


There are a lot of people out there who are saying that those who stayed behind in New Orleans in spite of the warnings to leave before Katrina hit are "stupid" and deserved their fate.

I have two words for those saying this:

Shut up.

The reason I am saying this is that had I been in New Orleans when Katrina hit the likelihood is, I would be dead right now.

There are a few things some people probably know about me from my time online:

First, I don't drive. I don't own a car. I don't even have a driver's license. So, had the order come to evacuate, I would have had to rely on public transportation. Just like the vast majority of people in the Superdome and the Convention Center. Now those blaming the victims may think that makes me stupid, but there's no way I would try to prove that hypothesis by trying to walk out of the path of a hurricane the width of the state of Washington.

Take a plane out? I'd have had to use public transportation to get to the airport. Hire a cab? It's public transportation. Bus? Train? There's a reason these are called public transportation. It's because the public uses them. I'd have been fighting everyone else in New Orleans for a seat on one of these conveyances. The odds are not good.

Second, I have diabetes. It's type II diabetes, regulated through a combination of insulin, oral medication and diet. Those who have diabetes know it's a balancing act. You let any of that combination of factors get out of balance, and you run the risk of hyperglycemia on the one hand and diabetic shock on the other. It's not a pretty picture. Plus, with no electricity and no refrigeration in the steambath that is New Orleans on the best of summer's days, there's no telling how long the insulin would stay effective.

Third, I can't swim. Enough said about that.

Fourth, I don't own a gun. I have a vague idea how to use them, and I have other weapons, but they're not range weapons. They wouldn't do well against someone at a distance firing a rifle at me.

Fifth, the medication I have been taking lately has made me gain weight and made it hard for me to move in the best of circumstances. There is at least one report of a resident of a medical facility who was euthanized because they could not evacuate him due to his weight.

So the odds are good that I would not have survived five days past the hurricane in rising flood water, with no food, no potable water, and uncertainty as to the effects of my medicine.

So anyone who dares to say that anyone who stayed behind brought this upon themselves -- especially if they did so on the orders of government officials who told people to evacuate to higher ground at the Superdome or the Convention Center -- is looking for an earful.

The Arrogant Elephant


One day in late summer in India, a donkey was trotting down the road, pulling its cart behind it, when it heard a great commotion to the rear. It stopped, and with great difficulty turned itself and the cart around, and saw the most amazing sight. An elephant was coming up the road in the same direction the donkey had been traveling. But what an elephant! Its sides were decked out with a richly embroidered blanket dotted with jewels and pearls that gleamed in the sun. On its back it carried a massive howdah, with a driver and two soldiers armed with spears. A curtain obviously concealed a Great Personage within. Its tusks were tipped with a padded balls made from a golden cloth. In fact the elephant was perfect in every way, with perhaps one small exception. As it approached, the donkey could see a notch cut out of the elephant's right ear.

"Hello, friend," the donkey said as the elephant approached. "How are you this fine day?"

The elephant snorted and perhaps lifted its trunk just a bit as it continued down the path. "Can't talk to the likes of you," it said as it got closer to the donkey. "I have important work to do."

"Really!" the donkey exclaimed. "What kind of important work would that be?"

"Well, if you must know, I'm off to the mouth of the river. The levee has failed, the city there is under water, and I am taking the rajah there to tell the people that help is on its way. Now move aside!"

The donkey had to scramble to avoid being trampled by the elephant as it marched along. By the time the donkey got itself and the cart turned around again, the elephant was rapidly advancing into the distance.

The donkey sighed and resumed its journey as well.

As fate would have it, a week or so later the donkey found itself at the city at the mouth of the river. The effects of the flood were still visible, but the people there were working hard to clean up and dry out so they could rebuild. They had also put their animals to work, and the donkey was amazed to see the elephant who had passed him on the road there as well. But if it had not been for the great notch in its ear, the donkey would never have recognized it. The howdah and fancy trappings were gone, replaced by a great harness made of rope, and the elephant was hard at work moving logs and other heavy material.

"Well, friend," the donkey called out, "I'm certainly surprised to see you here. What happened to you?"

The elephant looked up, then lowered its head. "I arrived here and the rajah told the people that help was on its way. However, it seems that the people had been promised help one too many times, and help had never arrived, so in their anger they tore down the howdah and put me to work." But before the elephant could tell the gruesme details of what had happened to the rajah and his guards, its new master spurred it on and it went back to its labors.

Be kind to those you meet on your way up, because you may well meet them again on your way down.