Are your isms in check?

30 10 2011

Are your isms in check?

Communism is a socioeconomic  structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless, society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.  Karl Marx posited that communism would be the final stage in human society, which would be achieved through a proletarian revolution and only becoming possible after a socialist stage develops the productive forces, leading to a superabundance of goods and services.  “Pure communism” in the Marxian sense refers to a classless, stateless and oppression-free society where decisions on what to produce and what policies to pursue are made democratically, allowing every member of society to participate in the decision making process in both the political and the economic spheres of life.  In modern usage, communism is often used to refer to Bolshevism or Marxism-Leninism and the policies of various communist states which had government ownership of all the means of production and centrally planned economies.

Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources  for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended. Most socialists share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital  and derives its wealth through exploration, creates an unequalsociety, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their potentialities and does not utilize technology and resources to their maximum potential nor in the interests of the public. Socialism is not a concrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and programme; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionsimand economic rationalization (usually in the form of economic planning), but sometimes oppose each other. A dividing feature of the socialist movement is the split between reformists and revolutionaries  on how a socialist economy should be established. Some socialists advocate complete nationalizationof the means of production, distribution, and exchange; others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy. The first socialists predicted a world improved by harnessing technology and combining it with better social organization, and many contemporary socialists share this belief. Early socialist thinkers tended to favor an authentic meritocracy combined with rational social planning, while many modern socialists have a more egalitarian approach. Valdimir  Lenin, drawing on Karl Marx’s  ideas of “lower” and “upper” stages of socialism, defined “socialism” as a transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

Capitalism is an economic and social system in which capital, the non-labor factors of production, is privately controlled; labor,   goods and capital are traded in markets; and profits  distributed to owners or invested in technologies and industries. There is no consensus on capitalism nor how it should be used as an analytical category. There are a variety of historical cases over which it is applied, varying in time, geography, politics and culture. Economists and historians have taken different perspectives on the analysis of capitalism. Scholars in the social sciences, including historians, economic sociologists, economists, anthropologists and philosophers have debated over how to define capitalism, however there is little controversy that private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit in a market, and prices and wages are elements of capitalism. Economists usually put emphasis on the marketmechanism, degree of government control over markets, and property rights, while most political economists emphasize private property, power, relations, wage labor, and class.  The extent to which different markets are “free”, as well as the rules determining what may and may not be private property, is a matter of politics and policy and many states have what are termed “mixed economies”.

Corporatism is related to the sociological concept of structural functionalism. Corporate social interaction is common within related groups.  Corporatism, also known as corporativism, is a system of economic, political, or social organization that views a community as a body.  Formal corporatist models are based upon the contract of corporate groups such as agricultural, business, ethnic, military, scientific, or religious affiliations, into a collective body. One of the most prominent forms of corporatism is economic triparism involving negotiations between business, labour, and state interest groups to set economic policy. In contemporary usage, “corporatism” is often incorrectly used as a pejorative term against the domination of politics by the interests of private business corporations; however, such a system would be more accurately described as a form of corporatocracy. Corporatocracy (or corpocracy) is a form of government where corporations/conglomerates and/or government entities with private components, control the direction and governance of a country. Corporatist views of community and social interaction are common in many major world religions and Corporatism has been utilized by many ideologies across the political spectrum including; absolutism, capitalism, socialism, fascism, social democracy, conservatism and liberalism.  Meanwhile, the concept of corpocracy allows corporations to provide financial support to competing political parties and major political party candidates.  This allows the corporations to hedge their bets on the outcome of an election so that they are assured to have a winner who is indebted to them. As politicians are increasingly dependent on campaign contributions to become elected, their objectiveness on issues which concern corporate interests is compromised.

Realism is based on thoughts/deductions from the exercise of using common logic when studying real situations.  Direct realists might claim that indirect realists are confused about conventional idioms such as indirect perception.  An example of indirect perception is the media.   Optimism is defined as ” having hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favorable or hopeful view.” Pessimism is the opposite of optimism and is a state of mind that sees everything in a negative light.  The most common known example of optimism v/s pessimism is the age old question “Is the glass half full or half empty?”  Depending on one’s answer, it was decided if one was pessimistic or optimistic.  Obviously, the one who sees the glass as half full is optimistic while the one who sees it as half empty is pessimistic.  But, what about the one who simply sees 4 oz of liquid in a 8 oz glass? That is a realist! While optomists see things in an positive light and pessimists see things in negative light, the mildly discontented grey area in between in fact reflects the most accurate perception of reality.

“Pigs (3 different ones)” is track 3 on the Animals album, a concept album by Pink Floyd based on the fiction novel Animal Farm by George Orwell which tells the tale of farm animals rebelling against humans to form a social system called “animalism”.  In the preface of a 1947  edition of Animal Farm Orwell explained how escaping the communist purges in Spain taught him “how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.” In that preface Orwell also described what gave him the idea of setting the book on a farm by stating; “I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.”

lyrics to “Pigs (3 different ones)”
Big man, pig man
Ha, ha, charade you are
You well heeled big wheel
Ha, ha, charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying ‘Keep on digging’
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
Down in the pig mine?
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Bus stop rat bag
Ha, ha, charade you are
You fucked up old hag
Ha, ha, charade you are
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost worth a quick grin
You like the feel of steel
You’re hot stuff with a hatpin
And good fun with a hand gun
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Hey you, Whitehouse
Ha, ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse
Ha, ha, charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street
You’re nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
You got to stem the evil tide
And keep it all on the inside
Mary you’re nearly a treat
Mary you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry





Coming out of the dark

29 08 2010

It’s impossible to condense the Hurricane Katrina experience in a few short blogs let alone the 5 years that have followed.  I have tried, but came to the realization that it would be several more blogs to truly give the full spectrum.  In the first 3 blogs of this series I have given you a taste of my personal experience during the storm and the days that (immediately) followed along with a few bits of other survivor’s stories and some interesting facts about the storm.  This has been my best effort to share it all with those of you who don’t know what it’s like first hand. Each year, I try to write something for you that helps put a face on this reality.  The eye of Hurricane Katrina made landfall in my hometown.  My life was forever changed.  History washed away and starting over in a place that felt comparable to the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.  Each year I take this journey again, but I learn a little more and I reflect a little more and I am reminded of how truly blessed I am to be here today and with little struggle compared to so many.  It is also a huge part of my healing process to do these projects.-Suz 8/29/10

I re-read my closing from the series I wrote last year, and want to share it here with you today:
From “Coming out of the dark” by Suz (post date 8/30/2009):
I have spent this week focusing on facts about Hurricane Katrina in order to raise awareness for a few reasons.  #1 most people were led to believe by the media that Katrina struck New Orleans, LA but that is not all together true.  The media favored New Orleans because it is a famous city, but the media failed the MS Gulf Coast where Katrina truly made landfall and did far more devastation than was done in New Orleans.  The actual eye of the storm landed in the very town where I live, Waveland, MS.  #2 Four years have passed since Katrina made landfall and people are beginning to forget.  We are still struggling to rebuild and I’m sad to report that, for the most part, things here are not much different than they were 4 years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, the debris and garbage have been cleared… but the land is still barren and remains an empty shell of a town (actually a few towns) that once was great.  But, I do not want to be negative here.  I want to generate understanding.  It is not completely illogical that the rebuilding process is moving so slowly.  It is very hard to comprehend complete devastation and where to begin to rebuild an entire city (cities actually).  Not only that, but how do you rebuild a city so that it’s better equipped in the event that is should ever face another disaster like this? It’s not easy.  It takes time.  I admit, I complain constantly about the stagnant recovery and I shouldn’t.  Being a resident and eye witness I should be understanding of the very statement I just made about how hard it really is to rebuild after complete devastation, but living in the stagnation and harboring memories of what once was is not an easy task.  If you want to say I have courage, then say it is for just that… living here among this when so many others have moved away.  But don’t misunderstand me.  I completely understand why so many (more than not) people moved away afterward… they were homeless, they were jobless, they had families to care for and they needed to proceed faster than the conditions would allow.  I was more fortunate in the fact that I wasn’t rendered homeless or jobless and didn’t have a family to care for, so I stayed.  I’m not a hero, I’m just a person.
I’m a person forever changed after this devastation.  But a person changed for the better in ways I cannot begin to describe in a blog or a letter or in any words that even I could understand.  You see, I was blessed with the ability to give to others.  I was able to house others for up to two years after the storm and I was able to feed and care for others in ways that so many could not.  This was humbling for me.  This was awesome for me.  From the moment the storm ended and the years that followed, I was able to help and it was wonderful.  I guess my only mistake in that period was not taking a moment to consider my own feelings of pain because I continuously convinced myself that I didn’t deserve to feel pain since I was so much better off than the average person.  The losses that I suffered were not so much material though.  My friends moved away, almost all of them.  My two best friends, one who lived up the road from me that I spent much time with and one I’d spent my whole life with and shared time with daily.  That was a tremendous loss for me.  The places that I liked to go for fun, the places that I attended school, the landmark of my first kiss, the physical locations of many milestones in my life… gone forever… that was a tremendous loss for me.  But I became so absorbed in helping others in moving forward that I didn’t mourn my losses for quite some time, at least 2 years after the storm.   And helping others healed me and made me a better person.
But another thing that changed my outlook was seeing the good in others.  In these modern times I had come to see people as selfish and uncaring.  I had grown bitter as the media continued to show horrible crimes and selfish actions of people day in and day out.  Each day that passed made it harder for me to believe there was any good left in the world.  Each day it seemed my heart grew colder … until Katrina.  Immediately following that storm, I saw people reaching out to help one and other.  I saw people from all walks of life, standing in long lines waiting for supplies… holding each other as they cried.  Race did not matter.  Age did not matter.  Financial status did not matter.  We were all one … for once.  It was amazing and beautiful.  Even though the circumstances were so hard, we were one.  If was fantastic.  People were helping each other without even asking.  If one saw another struggling, they immediately helped.  It was simply amazing.  It was great.  And then came the others.  Before the government stepped in, the Christians came … from everywhere.  Whether or not you are Christian, you have to respect these people who came as quickly as possible from all over the world to aid us …  Living in tents just like the residents …  Working round the clock to feed and clothe the people of the area and eventually working toward building homes for the homeless.  The kindness and giving that poured in was another thing that truly changed my heart.  As time passed, it wasn’t just Christians but several organizations of people with good hearts who came to help.  Groups of people who were part of no organization at all, but just wanted to help came too.  Groups of people who formed organizations just to be able to help, they came too.  Again, I find myself in a position where I could write a novel just about the change of heart that occurred within me … about the kindness I saw daily … about the good that surrounded us here.  But this is my last blog in the series, so I need to make some other points too.
Many of you have asked about my status today.  As you have read, when Katrina struck I had just purchased a new home and still owned the old one I was in the process of moving out of/renting to a couple.  I had a brand new mortgage that was costing a rather large sum on top of an old mortgage that was supposed to be paid with rent I was obviously no longer to collect (that home was completely destroyed).  After struggling for 2 years as I supported the bills of 2 households (including one that no longer existed) and the financial needs of myself and anywhere from 7-4 additional residents in my home (depending on the time frame) I found myself on the brink of bankruptcy.  I could not receive government aid or any favor due to the fact that on record I appeared to be financially better off than most so I was not eligible for any form of government aid.  My vehicle, though it was paid for, was falling apart.  I was in a bad financial state.  I had to sell my only good home in order to make ends meet and just as I thought I would have to start all over again, like everyone else, God had saved one more blessing just for me.  My employer had a program to rebuild the homes of all employees devastated by the storm.  I had originally refused to be a part of the program due to the fact that I was so much better off than any of my fellow employees, but when my boss learned of my struggle he insisted I join the program and rebuild on my original piece of property.  Today, I am in a new home thanks to that blessing.  Today, I am on my feet again thanks to that blessing.  I didn’t come out ahead, but I broke even … still better off than the average person here.  And, I admit, I still feel somewhat guilty about that but I shudder to think where I would be today without it.

Bridge Restores a lifeline to a battered town (NY Post original date: May 29, 2007)

Sometimes a bridge is more than just a bridge. The new span across the copper-colored St. Louis Bay connects today’s diminished reality to memories of a more generous past, a hopeful link to the return of better days. And it has ended the isolation, physical and mental, of a place that once considered itself a jewel of the Gulf Coast, a sun-baked collection of picturesque old frame houses that Hurricane Katrina smashed, then severed from its brethren to the east. The surge from the storm wiped out the concrete bridge carrying U.S. Highway 90 that had stood for a half-century. The recovery is creeping along. Wind off the bay is still the loudest noise in the empty-seeming downtown, whistling through ruined buildings and banging loose siding. Before the storm Bay St. Louis was a favored seaside retreat for New Orleanians — the historian Stephen E. Ambrose had lived and written here before his death in 2002 — and, coming from the east, a genteel respite from the garishness of Biloxi’s casinos.“It’s major, psychologically,” said Alicein Chambers, who opened the Mockingbird Cafe a year after the storm. “It just feels like we’re moving, we’re making progress, we’re going forward.” Before, “we were all just on this little cut-off island,” she said; now, “we’re happy to be part of the coast again.|
The partly illusory feeling of isolation — the east-west Interstate 10, just 10 miles to the north, has been available throughout — was nonetheless pervasive. The old way of communicating with the neighbors in Pass Christian and Biloxi, first by way of the wooden bridge of the 1920s, then the concrete one of the 1950s, had been wiped out. And a seven-minute dash across the bay had turned into a 45-minute commute.“After the storm, we were an island unto ourselves,” said Brian Rushing, a minister at the First Baptist Church. “We truly have been isolated from the rest of the Gulf Coast community.”Bay St. Louis Mayor, Eddie Favre, is still living in a trailer, and the old City Hall downtown is still empty. He has moved municipal functions to a former utility company building on the highway. Downtown, on a deserted street, an injunction scrawled on a vacant frame house — “Please respect our loss. Do not enter” — seems superfluous, as there is nobody around to read it.
Mayor Favre calls the bridge a tremendous psychological and emotional boost.“For 626 days, we felt that isolation,” he said. “The bridge, in so many ways, whether it was walking or fishing, it was just so much a part of our daily life.”

Taken from “Bridging the gap” By Suz (5/17/2007):

Yesterday it finally felt better. Yesterday it finally felt like home. The Bay bridge was finally opened. I rode through my home town and felt happy for the first time since Katrina. I guess, because for the first time, I was able to see progress on our beach front. The best part of our wonderful town remained a ghost town, separated as if a deserted island without a bridge to cross the water. To get to the other half of the Gulf Coast, you would have to drive around to take the interstate, adding about 30 minutes to your ride and a good $5-$10 in additional gas!! We were severed from what we knew. Having lived here all my life, it just felt so wrong to be severed this way. I seldom even drove to the barren beach front any more that used to be my favorite place to go.

Today, for the first time, I took the bridge home from work. “Sweet Emotion” cranked on my stereo, windows down, and a smile across my face. It was a gorgeous day. The bridge, now constructed so differently, made me feel as though I was traveling to a whole new place. It felt strange … but good!
Some readers’ comments:
Neil- I know exactly how you feel Susan.  When I went over the bridge on Thursday it felt like I was free again! .. These past two years have made me feel like I have been trapped on a blown up island.  Although there is really nothing on the other side of the bridge till Gulfport, it gives a sense of freedom that is hard to quantify, or explain to someone that has not been living in Bay St. Louis since Katrina.  The bridge does give some hope that the coast will come back.
Drew- I LOVE this blog! I will keep going back to people have NO IDEA, but seriously, people have no idea how much milestones in improvement can make such a HUGE difference. Like I remember when they put the two trailers and a deck where the yacht club used to be, and I joined all the locals there for a party and it was so nice to have some semblance of progress. So nice. Hell like the celebration of electricity. Just getting f’n electricity was a reason to be excited and have a party. ;-)Friends have a house on the bluff that survived the storm. I will never forget the first party I attended at their house. To see lights at night that were not run by a generator and a working bathroom was something most people can never understand how gratifying it can be. We grilled and drank and I sat back and quietly listened to all the stories. It was a magical night that is imprinted in my memory forever. The new bridge is so glorious. It is a tribute in a way to making things better. The effort put in by so many that have come to help the Bay rebuild is so heart warming. When I drove around early after the storm. Every time I saw a Georgia Power truck, I would roll down the window and thank them. I was so blown away by their commitment and effort to get the job done not even being from there. It is people like that that reinforce my belief in humanity. They came to a place where they were not even going to have basic human services and comforts, and stayed for months until the job was done.

Do not forget us.
We are the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Remember our name.
We will make history again…
as the people who fought
to revive
the greatest place we’ve ever known…
Our home!-Suz 8/28/2009

Will South Mississippi be recovered in five more years?
By KAREN NELSON – klnelson@sunherald.com
State Sen. Debbie Dawkins, D-Pass Christian, and Ocean Springs architect Bruce Tolar both said progress has been slowed by a holdup in recovery money. It hasn’t flowed where it was needed, they said. Both said they might consider the Coast recovered closer to 20 years after the storm, not 10.
“Five years feels like we’ve been in quicksand,” Tolar said. “I think we’re just now starting to see things happen that we thought we would see three years ago.”
Scott King, director of policy and research at the Gulf Coast Business Council, predicts in the next few years, as the recession fades, the Coast will see an acceleration in construction, leisure and hospitality jobs that will exceed those of the nation.
“We’ve made progress in the midst of a recession and prohibitive insurance rates,” King said. “The recession will take care of itself, and when the insurance rates start to come down, there will be a real stimulus to the economy.”
He said Katrina forced the Coast to work together and gave some cities a chance to look at how they want to grow. But what the Coast will actually look like is hard to speculate, he said.

AFTERMATH – Hurricane Katrina: Five Years Later
By J.R. WELSH of The Sea Coast Echo Aug 28, 2010
Five years later, Katrina has become a bookmark in the lives of thousands. Stand in line at any store, and you’ll hear it over and over: Time is marked by the prelude “before the storm,” or “after the storm.”
Historic homes were left in rubble, businesses were ruined, dreams were shattered. And in the ensuing five years, crime has risen, people who managed to survive the storm have died from Katrina-induced stress or illness, marriages have come apart at the seams.
Jim Thriffiley, a retired educator who served 30-plus years on the Bay St. Louis City Council, has been quietly keeping tabs on Katrina recovery. While the area has sparkling new government buildings and roads rebuilt with federal money, he thinks the progress glimmers on the surface but hasn’t really improved things for ordinary people. Five years later, he said, Katrina’s largest legacy is a lack of prosperity.

“A lot of the people who are under 45 – maybe 50 to 75 percent of those people – don’t have a permanent job where they can work 40 hours a week,” he said. “I see a lot of people who are discouraged.”
With city revenues falling, the loss of the vacation home economy, and a precipitous decrease in population since the storm, Thriffiley fears the area is returning to the low economic tides that flowed here in 1965, when Hurricane Betsy struck Louisiana.

Homesick in my home town
gazing out the window
I pull the blinds down
I mourn for you
more with each day that passes
I wish I could see you through rose colored glasses
I took you for granted
your beauty, your history, your imagery
vanished
I’m lost without you
though I seem to find my way
your landmarks and milestones have all washed away
I’m homesick and broken hearted
ever since the day we parted-Suz 7-29-10





Home Bittersweet Home

29 08 2010

As most of you know, this is the 3rd part to a series I am writing about Hurricane Katrina in commemoration of the 5 year anniversary this weekend.  I ask you to please join me on this journey by starting at the first blog, “X Marks the spot” here: https://suzrocks.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/x-marks-the-spot/ followed by “The Great Outdoors” here: https://suzrocks.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/the-great-outdoors/

It was impossible to get close to my cottage.  The surrounding houses were scattered about like broken toys, matchsticks, piles of lumber and people’s personal belongings … boats, vehicles, and many massive trees.  It’s hard to describe, but just imagine a city … a neighborhood … picture it in your mind. Picture it as if it were a model that you were able to manipulate.  Now imagine putting it inside a tank of water and swirling the water very quickly and then lifting the model out of the tank to see what’s left… this is the best way I can explain it.  This is what every neighborhood in several cities for miles around looked like … apocalyptic. –Suz 8/25/10

Katrina Relief Worker Leigh Russell tells her story of first arriving on the coast in November of 2005 after joining her church’s mission to help the people here:
I left corporate America for life as a minister’s wife and home school mom and have since been on five mission trips, three overseas and two in the United States. The Hurricane Katrina relief trip was the hardest emotionally.
Driving through Pass Christian, a small Gulf-side community just east of Saint Louis Bay, we could see into residents’ homes because entire walls were torn away. Razor wire was a frequent reminder that the area had just recently been reopened. Some of the buildings still standing were little more than picnic shelters, with the remains of roofs held up by nothing but the wall studs. Sometimes only a slab remained to indicate where a home once stood. There might be a foundation or front steps leading to nothing — doors, walls and the rest of the homes were blown away in the storm. Sometimes we would see families picking through the rubble, searching for belongings or anything that could be salvaged from the mess.

Pass Christian, MS

Similar to the result of an atomic blast. The Penthouse Condominiums in Pass Christian, Mississippi, along with most other properties in the area were completely obliterated by Katrina. 100% of all business properties within the coastal community of Pass Christian had been destroyed. In a published damage assessment of Bay St. Louis and Long Beach, Mississippi, Digital Globe stated that the majority of single family homes were destroyed (foundations/pad remain).

Our journey seemed relentless.  My heart longed to check on my family, but I could barely journey within a 3 mile radius let alone venture out toward their location 8-10 miles away.  We encountered more people with more stories.  Stories of riding out this unfathomable nightmare from a tree top, hanging on for dear life.  Stories of struggling to save pets and swimming for survival including a man who had to swim for about 6 hours with his cat under his arm.  So many stories of survival.  Some stories of inspiration and others of desperation.  We followed a woman who had walked many miles to check on her home, she was heading in the same direction as us.  As we approached, her home was gone.  She was shrieking and panicking.  She was trying to understand if she was actually in the right location or if she’d gotten lost.  We were getting closer to Christian’s house and expecting the worse.  She had left her cats there under the assumption it might be bad but not this bad.  She had yet to forgive herself for this decision.  We were praying for the best.
From the outside, her house looked normal.  We had hope, but when we opened the door it appeared as if the inside of her home were a blender that had been stuffed with a mixture all of her belongings and thick, black mud.  It was surreal.  Furnishings resting on high shelves, clothes hanging from a ceiling fan that’s blades were curling downward and dripping water.  We could see a clear line about 6 inches below the ceiling.  The cats began to meow.  They must’ve floated on different items, compacted in that small open space and rode out the storm.  It was unbelievable.  Christian was hysterical.  Tears streamed down our faces.  The cats were skiddish and wild. –Suz 8/27/10

We’d encountered many survivors, stranded just like us in the aftermath of what really felt like a nuclear war or something I just can’t find the words to describe.  The list included an elderly couple who’d lived behind me for years when I was in the cottage.  They had planned to stay in their vehicle until they could find a solution.  Like me, they couldn’t get to their property in that old neighborhood.
We insisted they join us in our safe home where we had supplies and plenty of room.  We also had a man join us who had to swim for his life for 8 hours.  He was new to the area and had moved out here for a job.  He lived on the beach and did not realize what kind of danger he was in when he chose to stay behind.  He was very shaken and weak.  My new home became a safe haven for a few of us who were stuck in this broken town with no way in or out, nowhere to go, and little supplies but still we were better off than most.  This was the beginning of what felt as if we were placed on a survival mission of sorts.
As the days passed, we all had special duties which mostly included obtaining supplies like ice and food from various locations.  The beginnings of the survival techniques included stealing from damaged stores.  But, for everyone, it was the only option.  Stores were guarded by policeman who allowed the scavenging for survival.  After a couple of days, some crews were able to get out to our area and offer ice and Meals Ready to Eat (known as MRE’s, the same time of meals military teams eat when out on missions…etc…).  It was a long journey, by foot, to reach designated areas.  Our team was equipped with hijacked shopping carts and this was the norm of everyone.  We would take turns getting these items throughout the day and in the evening taking turns preparing the meals and sharing in responsibilities. It was work, but it was part of a life changing experience.  Before meals, we would say grace and give thanks for being alive and able to have such comforts among so many who did not.  –Suz 8/28/10

An areal photograph of Waveland, MS

Taken from “Take a left at the pile of debris that used to be…” by Suz July, 2006
Once this coastal town had a remarkable culture rich with art, music, fine people and a New Orleans flair. Today the face of the city is blank, dry and desolate spattered with rubble and debris. Inland, businesses are slowly sprouting but they are owned by strangers and filled with strangers.
Having no remnants of our history, and replacing history with casinos, hotels, condos and such is painful progress. Don’t get me wrong, progress at all at this point is better than stagnating in rubble and desolation. It’s just hard to stomach a complete facelift on everything.
The local scene confuses me. The bars are flashy and big and sparkling new. They are filled with the heavy odor of cheap cologne, and there are 10 men to every one woman. Part of the coolness of being out and about was the competition. Ladies check out the women just as much as the men. The competition is an art.  The local women were all southern beauties to behold.  That graceful dance is missing in the scene these days.

Katrina changed my life in many ways… the way I felt, the way I looked at things.  I awakened me to who I really am.  A survivor.  A person with emotional and physical strength far beyond I ever imagined was inside of me.  The most defining moment, for me, was the day after Katrina.  I woke up early with a plan to seek out my parents.  I knew it would take at least a day to get to their home, my childhood home, but it was the only thing that mattered to me.  I packed a bag with water and granola bars and Christian and I were psyching ourselves up for the long road ahead.  As we gathered our bicycles and stepped out to the street, it was as if an aura surrounded the Toyota Fourunner as it crept down the road toward us.  I watched in awe as my mother and father parked in front of us and jumped out.  Tears streamed down my mother’s face and my own.  My father, equipped with a chain saw, cut their way to us for miles.  They traveled in their SUV that had been flooded in the tidal surge.  It was a miracle that the vehicle was able to make the journey.  We embraced.  For that glorious moment, it felt as if nothing else in the world mattered.  Later, they made it home safely and the SUV was never able to drive again. –Suz 8/28/10

“Many of you have already seen the videos and news stories from the national media. I can tell you that aerial photography, as graphic as it is, in no way shows the true story from the ground. I struggle to find the words. The faces of friends, and family, the hollow fearful eyes as Mississippi Gulf Coast residents, long experienced with hurricanes, know that this is a life changing event,” Keith Burton/Gulf Coast News (article date September 5, 2005) .  “The national news media has given you the big picture on how the Federal and State governments are responding and the news has been bad on that front with widespread criticism. But people just don’t appreciate the scale of what has happened, and how hard it is just to begin to help.”

Thank you again for joining me in this series.  Please return for the next installment, where I will describe my journey post
Katrina as well as the journey of my home.





The Great Outdoors

27 08 2010

This is the second part to a series about Hurricane Katrina.
Please read the previous blog “X marks the spot” to read the first part of this series.

USA TODAY ranked the story of Hurricane Katrina 4th place in their “25 Headlines that shaped History”

Other nations couldn’t help but acknowledge the devastation.   Some headlines from September, 2005:
China Morning Post: “Dollar Dives Amid Katrina Chaos” — The U.S. dollar dropped to a three-month low point against the euro on Friday, faltering as the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina threatened to cripple growth in the world’s largest economy.
TF1 TV(France): It’s unusual for the United States, the number one economic and military superpower in the world, to ask for international help for a domestic catastrophe. The last time this occurred was after the September 11 attacks.
Die Welt(Germany): America looks aghast at a third world situation on its own soil, splintered and full of violence.
The Australian: “Forgotten Biloxi Belts Out the Blues” –The slow drive towards Biloxi is like glimpsing the post-oil future, a scene out of the post-apocalyptic movie Mad Max.

12 hours had passed almost to the minute before Katrina finally allowed us to step outside our safe haven.  It was 5:00 in the afternoon and the sun broke through the clouds and shone down on what appeared to be the aftermath of nuclear war.  We were stunned and speechless…and thankful when we looked back on the house we were in.  Large trees were scattered like match sticks all around the house, having barely missed it.  Most of the roof was intact and damage was minor.  We looked out to the street and among the scattered debris people began to emerge.  Everyone appeared to be in a zombie like state.  We focused on a couple who’s clothes were tattered and torn and they were bloodied and bruised.  We offered them help and listened to their story of how they’d swam for their lives from a home that was washed away in the surge of water just a few blocks away.  They swam for about 8 hours as they recalled.  I get goose bumps remembering this conversation.  – Suz 8/26/10

From “Quarrelling through Katrina” on msnbc.com:
Hurricane enthusiast George “Sonny” Hoffman found himself in the company of an unlikely group of strangers when he went to Waveland, Miss., to meet Hurricane Katrina. Sonny believed the group was in a world of trouble and appointed himself commander. As he tells it, he began formulating plans and back-up plans. Sonny was alone in his belief that the Texan Motel, a mile and a half from the waterfront, would flood. He predicted the storm surge would reach 20 feet on Highway 90 and 7 feet at the hotel.
“Everyone had the sense of relief that when the sun came up that you know — it was over, you’d made it through the night,” says Colleen, even though the wind was still blowing. It was only then that Katrina brought the deluge.
As Sonny remembers it: “It was Robert who brought it to my attention that the parking lot across the street was filling up with water. It had become a lake, the cars were floating. Their lights were on. Then we notice that there’s a river flowing down Highway 90. It looked like the Colorado River.”
Colleen describes it this way: “I walked out to the street to see if I could see anything. And that’s when the wave (came). … It looked like somebody ought to be surfing on it. It had a white cap. … I would have expected a parade of pink elephants before I would have expected this huge wave coming down Highway 90.”

From “Hurricane Katrina: Survivor Stories” on CTVnews:
“We grabbed a lady and pulled her out the window and then we swam with the current. It was terrifying. You should have seen the cars floating around us. We had to push them away when we were trying to swim.”
Schovest lived at Quiet Water Beach apartments in Biloxi, Miss., where authorities estimate 30 people perished.-
Joy Schovest

Just a few months prior to Katrina I had found myself in a very good position in life.  I was poised to begin a new endeavor in property management.  My quaint little cottage just a couple of blocks away from the beautiful Waveland beach front had raised in value dramatically.  I’d remodeled it somewhat and transformed it from an outdated camp style home to an attractive and inviting cottage style home.  I was in a position to move forward, using that home as a propeller toward bigger and better things.  With a good paying job, money in the bank, the humble beginnings of a classic car collection and a valuable home I was able to take a loan against these items and purchase a bigger, better home (under the agreement that my cottage would be rented on a regular basis and the classic cars would be rebuilt and re-sold for profit).  I had moved most of my belongings into my beautiful new home, only about 3 miles from my cottage and was aimed for success.  I got a pretty decent deal on the new home and envisioned it turning more profit and becoming a land lord of sorts.  I had dreams.  The cottage was emptied except the garage full of antiques, collectables, and childhood memories stored in boxes I just hadn’t found the time to move to my new house yet.  The new house was still cluttered with boxes full of valuables, particularly my music memorabilia such as collectable items, autographs and photographs.  It was too much work to sort through it all, so I kept it stored in the recreation room at the new house out of the way until I could find the time.  When thinking of material things, it was a bit ironic that everything I had stored at that cottage and in boxes in the new house happened to be the most important and irreplaceable of all my personal belongings in life … and the only items that were lost in Katrina.  During the storm, in that fateful moment that I stepped down into the recreation room and noticed it flooding it didn’t even dawn on me that I should quickly start gathering my valuables and move them to higher ground.  I guess I was in too much of a state of shock.
I never dreamed I would need to cover my property for flooding.  It didn’t seem fathomable.  The cottage was 13 feet above sea level and had braved many hurricanes in it’s nearly 40 year life span.  The bank didn’t require flood insurance and the insurance company didn’t recommend it.  Of course, it was close to the beach so I wouldn’t have seen it as a safe place to stay simply because of the wind. Besides, I had a new home at least a mile north of the cottage that was deemed hurricane proof by the seller.  And, I have to say, that turned out to be pretty true thankfully.
Christian’s house was not far from the cottage.  After helping a few people we met on the street, we noted that while we still had at least 3 hours of daylight left we should venture to our other properties and survey the damage.  We hopped on our bicycles for what would normally be a 15 minute journey and rode into a 3 hour adventure were we would struggle with obstacles and find ourselves carrying those bikes over our backs while trudging through heavy debris more often than we were able to ride them.  We had no idea what we were in store for…-Suz 8/27/10
Between Biloxi and Ocean SpringsAs I explained in “X marks the spot”, this series will continue for the next few days honoring the 5 Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Please visit again.  Thank you.
Suz






X marks the spot

26 08 2010

On August 29, 2005  Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster the United States has ever known, made landfall near Waveland, MS … my hometown.  Overshadowed by the flood damage caused by Katrina’s strength breaking the levees in Louisiana, many people don’t realize that ground zero was actually in the state of Mississippi.  At this point, however, that is irrelevant.  For the last 5 years I have been blogging periodically on this topic regarding anything from damage, to recovery, to humanitarians, and many other effects of this life changing event.  Each year, at this time, I post a series of commemorative pieces on myspace.  This year, here on wordpress, I offer you a collage of things I have written about Hurricane Katrina as well as some other items from other sources.  This will be my first series posted on wordpress and I hope that you will join me in this meaningful journey…

What I lost cannot be found
washed away at sea
what I long for cannot be achieved
so I wonder if I should leave
leave behind my home
the home that left me behind
left me in a place that I don’t recognize
-Suz 7/29/10

STATS:
The costliest natural disaster in US history
One of the 5 deadliest hurricanes in US history
The deadliest US hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobe Hurricane
Total property damage $81 Billion +
Upon landfall, Katrina sustained 125mph winds and extended 120 miles from the storm’s center
Katrina maintained strength well into Mississippi, finally losing hurricane strength more than 150 miles inland

Taken from “Hold the Salt Please” by Suz (Original post date September 16, 2008):
“In the wake of all these depressing anniversaries, Katrina & 9/11, I’m feeling a little down.  I must admit, I don’t think of 9/11 as much as I should… though I remember it like yesterday. For days I set glued to the TV in a depressed state as the media continuously replayed the horrific images of the twin towers destruction.  Though, because I don’t actually live near the destruction, after a couple of years this memory was filed on a back shelf in my mind… only to be reminded when the media brought it back to the forefront.  I don’t mean to downplay 9/11, but for me it was best shelved because the depressive and fear-filled effect it had on me was too much of a burden to bear.
Hurricane Katrina, on the other hand, is a horrific event I’m reminded of daily because I live at ground zero.  I live among the stagnating recovery process and dark cloud that continues to loom over my town.  I never got away from it, so I don’t see the progress that some see.  Driving around town this weekend, it felt as though Katrina hit just yesterday.  My stomach ached and my eyes filled with tears.  It seems never ending.  The few friends I have left here are all in the market to relocate now.  Employment is down here and businesses are closing shop left and right.  I have been looking for a job for 5 weeks now to no avail.  I feel like I’ve moved to a miserable place that lacks opportunity or activity, and I’m homesick for a place that is only a distant memory now.”

Taken from “Remembering the Day the Coast Changed” by Melissa M. Scallan (Sun Herald writer):
“Latham, the director of MEMA, and other emergency officials monitored the hurricane advisories and knew Mississippi likely would take a big hit. What they didn’t know was how much of the Coast would be wiped away in an eight-hour span.
Katrina’s beginnings were somewhat different from other storms. It grew from a combination of a tropical wave, a trough and the remnants of Tropical Depression 10 nearly 950 miles east of Barbados. It became Tropical Depression 12 on Aug. 23, 2005, and passed over South Florida as a Category 1 hurricane two days later. The storm weakened only slightly and the eye stayed intact as Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico. Low wind shear and warm water fueled the hurricane and by Aug. 28, Katrina took up nearly the entire Gulf and had winds of 175 mph.
Its fury did not discriminate. Katrina killed young and old, rich and poor. The oldest victim was 96-year-old Pearl Frazier of Biloxi. She couldn’t leave the home her late husband had built on Back Bay in the 1970s. The youngest known victim was 2-year-old Matthew Tart of Pass Christian. The 20-foot storm surge overtook the home he lived in on Lorraine Avenue.
The winds were a strong Category 3, but the storm surge topped 30 feet in some places, crushing tens of thousands of houses, churches and businesses and covering many more with water.”

Christian and I sat across the dining table with a transistor radio between us and a deck of cards we tried to focus on playing with. The wind howled outside and we tried to block out scary noises like crashes and bangs.  We were struggling to pick up any radio station and honed in on a a.m. station broadcasting soul music and storm updates out of New Orleans.  Our guts wrenched to the point of feeling physically ill as we listened to the frightening broadcast that began to unfold detailing the struggles for survival in Louisiana, and we were in the thick … dead center of the same storm.   Earlier I had lost the phone signal while speaking to my mother, 8 long miles away from me and screaming about windows bursting and water entering her home.  She and my father, now in their early 70’s, alone in a situation I fought imagining.  I couldn’t fight the urge to have a cigarette inside my home.  I decided I would go into the recreation room to smoke and try to keep it out the house.  I opened the door and stepped down into a fast growing pool of water.  My heart sank.  This house was 23 feet above sea level! My first though was of those, 8 miles south of me and below sea level.  Visions of loved ones flashed in my mind.  I rushed to a window, calling for Christian and we stood in awe watching white caps rolling down the street.  My mind was racing on thoughts of survival and wishing I knew how to swim.  Moments earlier we were praying for the lives of those in danger, and now we were praying for our lives.  -Suz 8/23/10

PEOPLE’s Sept. 19, 2008  issue ran an abridged version of reporter Alice Jackson’s tragic story: When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi coast on Aug. 29, she lost her Ocean Springs, Miss., home and nearly all her possessions. Here she describes the storm and its aftermath in greater detail. Here are some quotes from her story:
“Saturday, I evacuated to my friend’s house with my 81-year-old mother, my 28-year-old niece and my sister-in-law. We packed clothes, food and water – plus axes, an extension ladder and flares. That way we could cut our way out through the roof if necessary. As a reporter, I’d covered too many hurricanes where people drowned in their attics because they couldn’t escape the rising water. On Sunday, the news showed the eye of the hurricane heading toward our exact location. That night, before the TV went out, a report said, ‘It’s looking better for New Orleans, and the very worst for the Gulfport area.’ After hearing that, I said to everyone, ‘I want you to forgive me now, because I think I made a mistake. I’m afraid we’re all going to have to fight very hard not to die.’
All night I’d been watching a giant pine tree in a neighbor’s yard. It had been bending mightily, but had stayed rooted. Suddenly I heard a deafening crack, and I yelled, “Run!” Seconds later the tree smashed through the house. We had escaped to the master bedroom closet in the center of the house. My sister-in-law hauled a mattress off the bed and leaned it on top of my mother and my niece. Then we noticed that the walls were heaving, so we raced around the house, opening windows to relieve the pressure build-up. Looking outside, we watched in horror as the house behind us turned into what looked like a living, breathing monster. The roof would lift, the house would expand, and then the roof would fall. Finally, the house exploded.
The next day, we drove out to see what had happened. When we turned toward my street, all I saw was a big lake where there once had been houses, trees and roads.  Finally, about three miles from my property, we were stopped by debris: the remains of what had once been beautiful homes, with tattered curtains blowing from shattered windows and overturned furniture covered in mud. We walked through the debris, which was sometimes head-high.Some women were pointing toward an empty slab. They told us, ‘Last night, there was a house there, and a whole family was in it.’ One woman screamed, ‘Where are the children?’ We walked toward them, and I stepped on something. It was a little shoe, with a leg attached; it was a body, buried in mud. I told the women as calmly as I could, ‘Please don’t pull this out; let the rescue crews do it. You don’t have anywhere to put it, and you can’t just leave it out here.’ My house … it was completely gone. I knelt down on my slab and said out loud, ‘I am so grateful that the people I love have lived.’ And I cried. I had 20 good years in that house, and I feel fortunate.
After I went to Sunday mass in my old church – which was still standing – I decided it was time to stop digging in the mud and start rebuilding my life. I no longer want to live in Mississippi. You know you’ve seen it all when you’ve watched deputies taking ice chests from the local Winn-Dixie to store bodies. I will leave here and make a new life somewhere else.”

Although, winds, flooding and occasional tornadoes accompany hurricanes, most damage and death are caused by the storm surge.  The surge consists of the rising of the sea level caused by low pressure, high winds, and high waves. These are characteristic of hurricanes as they reach land. Storm surges cause significant flooding, and being caught in one is extremely hazardous.
The fall in air pressure with a hurricane helps with the rise in water. Normal pressure at sea level is 29.92126 inches or 14.6969 pounds per square inch. In the wall of the hurricane’s eye, ascending and spiraling winds lift over a million tons of air per second. This process drops the surface pressure as the air soars. The surface of the sea rises one foot for each one inch drop in barometric pressure due to the air rising within the eyewall.
If you think about the weight or mass of water, it is easy to understand why a storm surge can cause so much damage. One cubic meter of water has a mass of 1,000 kilograms. If we look at the weight of water using the British system, most of us are used to, we see that a cubic yard of water weighs nearly 1,700 pounds! (Source: Center for Atmospheric Sciences)

No sooner had the water began to cover the floor of the recreation room, it began to seep out never making it into the rest of the house.  Looking out now, we could see the whitecaps change direction moving almost as quickly as they had rolled in.  It was this suction that put so many lives in danger.  Though we realized we were momentarily safe from downing, we then began to notice the many trees outside swaying close to the house.  We quickly realized we needed to stay in the center of the house and that smoking indoors in the center of the house was not only our best option, but our only option.  We prayed heavily and paced, chain smoking and listening to a voice on the radio telling of how the roof was peeling off the New Orleans Superdome filled with evacuated people.  We were about 6 hours into the storm and about 4 hours past the last time I’d heard my mother’s voice.  I was feeling ill.  I’d become sick thinking of what I knew so many people, so widespread were enduring.  My parents weighed heavy on my mind. -Suz 8/25/10

The Gulf coast of Mississippi suffered massive damage from the impact of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, leaving 238 people dead, 67 missing, and billions of dollars in damage: bridges, barges, boats, piers, houses and cars were washed inland.  Katrina traveled up the entire state, and afterwards, all 82 counties in Mississippi were declared disaster areas for federal assistance, 47 for full assistance. Battered by wind, rain and storm surge, some beachfront neighborhoods were completely leveled. Preliminary estimates by Mississippi officials calculated that 90% of the structures within half a mile of the coastline were completely destroyed, and that storm surges traveled as much as six miles (10 km) inland in portions of the state’s coast. One apartment complex with approximately thirty residents seeking shelter inside collapsed.
A number of streets and bridges were washed away. In the weeks after the storm, with the connectivity of the coastal U.S. Highway 90 shattered, traffic traveling parallel to the coast was reduced first to State Road 11 (parallel to I-10) then to two lanes on the remaining I-10 span when it was opened.
All three coastal counties of the state were severely affected by the storm. Katrina’s surge was the most extensive, as well as the highest, in the documented history of the United States;  there were inundated by the storm surge and in all three cases affecting most of the populated areas. Surge covered almost the entire lower half of Hancock County, destroying the coastal communities. Remarkably, over 90% of Pascagoula, the easternmost coastal city in Mississippi, and about 75 miles (121 km) east of Katrina’s landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi border, was flooded from surge at the height of the storm.
Although Hurricane Katrina made landfall well to the west, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle were both affected by tropical-storm force winds and a storm surge varying from 12 to 16 feet.
Katrina’s storm surge led to 53 levee breaches in the federally built levee system protecting metro New Orleans and the failure of the 40 Arpent Canal levee. Nearly every levee in metro New Orleans was breached as Hurricane Katrina passed just east of the city limits. Failures occurred in New Orleans and surrounding communities. The major levee breaches in the city left approximately 80% of the city flooded. Levee breaches in New Orleans also caused widespread loss of life, with over 700 bodies recovered in New Orleans by October 23, 2005. (Source: Wikipedia.com)

Please follow me on this journey over the next few days as I post this series about Hurricane Katrina.
Thank you,
Suz






The forgotten daughter

12 07 2010

For anyone who doesn’t know this, the state of Mississippi was the 20th state admitted to the Union.  The state was named after the Mississippi river which flows along it’s western boundary and has Indian roots in the name stemming from “great river”.  Mississippi’s catfish farms supply the majority of catfish in the USA’s seafood industry, while the state also offers a large supply of all seafood in the industry.  Mississippi is bordered on the North by the state of Tennessee, on the East by Alabama, on the South by Louisiana and a coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and on the West (across the Mississippi River) by Louisiana and Arkansas.  There are 5 major rivers in Mississippi and 4 major lakes.  The coastline includes large bays at the cities Bays St. Louis and Pascagoula.  It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the shallow

HORN ISLAND, MS GULF COAST JUNE 2010

Mississippi sound and partially sheltered by Petits Bois Island, Horn Island, East & West Ship Islands, Deer Island, Round Island and Cat Island.  I’m telling you all of this because I think many people don’t know Mississippi and it’s time you should.  Mississippi is the forgotten daughter of this nation in my opinion and Mississippi is a beautiful gem somehow kept secret from our brothers and sisters that need to know.  There’s a reason why I’m telling you all of this, so please don’t get bored and stop reading.  It’s important to me, and it should be important to you too … even if you live in a favored state of this nation, Mississippi is still your sister.

While the media does not favor this great state, Mississippi is not what they may lead you to believe.  The media wants to convince you that we haven’t moved forward since the civil war.  That our mindset remains prejudiced,

OPRAH WINFREY IS A MS NATIVE

backward, and ignorant.  They don’t want you to know that great musicians, authors and artists came from this humble state.  They don’t want you to know about the culture and beauty that is overflowing here.  The coast of Mississippi hosts beautiful beaches, classic homes, talented musicians and artists and some of the best fishing any enthusiast could ever ask for.  The coast of Mississippi was the place where Hurricane Katrina actually made landfall 5 years ago this summer.  But, the media overshadowed that fact with reporting of our neighbor and more popular city, New Orleans.  The difference, however, is that New Orleans flooded due to a failure on their local government’s part by ignoring repairs to their levee system that was decades overdue while Mississippi’s coastline faced the brunt of this (the nation’s worst

WILLIAM FAULKNER IS A MS NATIVE

natural disaster in history).  Mississippi was raped and pillaged and in areas like Bay St. Louis, Waveland, and Lakeshore the damage completely wiped out homes and businesses up to 8 miles inland and widespread destruction so deep inland that even the northernmost cities of the state faced destruction.  But, while the people of Mississippi were ignored by the government, media, and celebrities looking to lend a hand we remained strong and took matters into our own hands.  We are a resilient people who are no strangers to being the forgotten daughter, so we worked hard to do things on our own.  And we were blessed by many volunteer groups who did come to aid our efforts in rebuilding the secret gem that is the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  But once again, despite the fact that this information is important  … this is not what I am here to blog about today.  However, I am here to blog about the fact that we are yet again treated as the red haired step child of this nation and now I’m going to tell you why.

HURRICANE KATRINA SATELLITE IMAGE 8/05

JAMES EARL JONES IS A MS NATIVE

I am a resident of the resilient and beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.  I was born and raised here.  This is my home.  I love this place.  Before Hurricane Katrina, the cities of this coast had it all … quaint little shops and pubs lining the beach, fine dining restaurants and entertainment as well as prosperous industries in seafood and tourism.  We have been struggling to rebuild what we lost and we have held fast to our hopes and dreams of recovery.  Today, in the wake of a disaster that heavily overshadows Katrina, many of us are losing our strength, our hope and our dreams and waking up to just how forgotten we truly are here.  Once again, I don’t want to write this as if any reader is living under a rock and doesn’t know the disaster I speak of, but I’m speaking of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that occurred April 20, 2010 and continues to spew millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico daily. If, by some crazy chance, you don’t know what I’m talking about you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill .

During the last 3 months we have learned all about the damage to Louisiana’s marshes and seafood industry and Florida’s beaches…etc… We have seen footage of what is and isn’t being done to protect these popular states’ coasts ecologically and economically but we have seen and heard very little about the forgotten sister that is Mississippi.

DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL RIG EXPLOSION APR. 20,1010

Though this sentiment has been in my heart since Katrina, yesterday two incidents spawned my desire to write this blog.  First of all, I traveled my local coastline yesterday to see what the BP clean-up efforts were like, what the media was doing and what the people were doing.  What I

BP Clean Up-Waveland, MS 7/10/10

found was disappointing.  I did see some laborers raking the sand and picking up tar patties that washed upon our shorelines and placing them in garbage bags.  The workers were far and few between and absent in many areas.  I waited until they ended their work day before I went out to do my own inspection and what I found was very disturbing.  Oiled litter, tar balls and oiled water was still as far as the eye could see.  Exhausted boom remained desperately needing replacement as oil seeped past it.  It was heartbreaking and painful to see.  I wondered why, but then quickly answered my own question … because the media doesn’t care about Mississippi so the nation doesn’t know that we are being treated this way and the government doesn’t care about the people of this state so our cries will not be heard.  Last night, after a trying day of dealing with this reality, I went out to have a drink.  Much like after Hurricane Katrina, the bar was full of transients who came here to make a buck following yet

Oiled litter post clean up-Waveland, MS 7/10/10

another tragedy.  In other words, laborers for BP here to do clean-up work.  I was seated between men working on Louisiana clean-up to my left and Mississippi clean-up to my right.  They were discussing what their work days consisted of.  The comparisons were mind boggling to a point that I couldn’t hold my tongue.  In Louisiana’s clean-up efforts there are more safety measures, crews, EPA involvement, BP and

Tar balls found post clean up-Lakeshore, MS

Government employees present and more detailed demands.  Louisiana’s clean up focuses on getting the oil out of the water and the marshes as well as getting the tar balls off the coastlines in heavy detail with inspections and safety measures as well as quickly replacing used boom with new boom to continue to protect the delicate marshes and waters of Louisiana.  At the end of the day, all clean-up boats in Louisiana waters must be thoroughly cleaned before returning to their ports as to not carry oil and contaminants inland.  NONE of this is occurring in Mississippi clean-up efforts.  There are less employees working in Mississippi, the EPA & Government are not present, boats are not cleaned and oil and contaminants are carried into our ports daily and Mississippi workers even complained that they feel their efforts are in vain because of the lack of supervision and precaution that are only spreading the oil and contaminants around rather than removing them.  The skimming methods on Mississippi waters are far less professional and hardly working compared to that of Louisiana.  Booms are not being replaced in Mississippi and our marshes are not being protected.  After hearing all I could stand of these comparisons, I blurted out the obvious question “Why?” and received the answer from both sides “Because Louisiana is ecologically and economically more important to the country than Mississippi.”  Ouch.  That hurt.  But, I guess the truth hurts.  And so, I have a few photographs I took yesterday to share this truth with you.  These were all taken within a 5 mile radius of Waveland and Lakeshore, MS , just a small portion of what is going on here that I wanted to share with you because if I don’t care, who will?

EXPIRED BOOM SITS IN FRONT OF DAMAGED MARSHLAND

Oil Mixed with toxic chemicals seeping past boom in marshland

High tides push oil onto the streets

Without proper protection or prevention, oiled water moves inland

Without proper protection or prevention, toxic soup forms in our marshes

Without proper clean up, toxic soup stagnates roadside

Oiled sand post clean up every 6" or less

an all too familiar sight along our beaches...

COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A MEMBER OF THIS SITE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
SUSAN
7/11/10





Happy Summer Solstice to You

22 06 2010

Today is Summer Solstice 2010, the first day of summer. Solstice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning “sun” + “to stand still.” As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky. Today is known to be the longest day of the year when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. As a major celestial event, the Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their longest summer day in December. The Summer Solstice is also referred to as “Midsummer” during Shakespearian times and in his works because it is roughly the middle of the growing season throughout much of Europe.

Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the Summer Solstice. The Celts & Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun’s energy.  The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.  The Druids’ celebrated the day as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth”.  Today, the day is still celebrated around the world – most notably in England at  Stonehenge where thousands gather to welcome the sunrise on the Summer Solstice. Pagan spirit gatherings or festivals are also common in June, when groups assemble to light a sacred fire, and stay up all night to welcome the dawn. Following the birth of a White Buffalo Calf in 1994, the Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe for the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nations, Arvol Looking Horse, was directed to honor the Four Directions with ceremony on June 21st. According to Lakota Star Knowledge, the birth of Miracle, a female white buffalo, signaled a time of earth changes and the coming of the mending of the Hoop of All Nations. The Summer Solstice is said to be a powerful time to pray for peace and harmony among all Living Beings. People around the world have observed spiritual and religious seasonal days of celebration during the month of June. Most have been religious holy days which are linked in some way to the summer solstice.

The seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5° tilt of the earth’s axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top or gyroscope, the North Pole points in a fixed direction continuously — towards a point in space near the North Star. But the earth is also revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. At noontime in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high in the sky during summertime, and low during winter. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the summer solstice — the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. It typically occurs on, or within a day or two of, June 21st, the first day of summer. The lowest elevation occurs about December 21st and is the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter, when the night time hours reach their maximum.

Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump. Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To thwart them, Pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. For some people, religious diversity is a positive factor. They enjoy the variety of June celebrations, because it is evidence of wide range of beliefs. Others reject all celebrations other than the holy days recognized by their own religion. Some even reject traditional holy days if they are convinced that they have Pagan origins. Historically, the Christian settlers of the New Americas wanted to sway those with other beliefs to follow theirs and bribed them by changing Pagan Days of Celebration to Holy Day of recognition as one of the ways they used to persuade them.

Astrologically, the June Solstice marks the entry of the Sun into the Cardinal, Water Sign of Cancer.  The Tropic of Cancer (23°N26′) is the actual degree of latitude over which the Sun stops in its journey north, and then turns, having gone as far north as it is going to each year. Cancer is ruled by the Moon and Midsummer celebrates the elemental powers of fire and water, so people would light fires and bathe in the dew on the morning of Midsummer’s Day – as indeed they still do in many parts of the world.

For me, this marks a time of great memories growing up in a sun bathed small town with beaches kissing the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  Chasing boys from the Catholic School Summer Camp nearby, going to fairs for cotton candy and dangerous rides built overnight by traveling carnies, sun bathing with a cancerous concoction of baby oil and iodine, syrupy sweet snowballs, and fun.  Even though I’m and adult and my days of school letting out for summer are long gone I still get that warm and fuzzy feeling inside when this day arrives.

This summer is going to be hotter than usual for us folks on the coast.  I would say there’s a bit of truth to global warming since it seems our summers have been getting hotter and hotter with each year that passes, but our winters have been surprisingly colder too.  I suppose the world is changing after all, just as I had to go and grow up.  But, being grown up hasn’t stopped me from getting that warm and fuzzy feeling… and it also hasn’t stopped me from using that cancerous tanning concoction I love so much.  But, it has stopped me from riding those dangerous rides built over night by carnies (I do have my standards).