Thursday, September 1

[Oblivious?]

I called Amber last night when I left work to see how she was doing and get her take on Katrina (her grandparents live on the Florida coast) and she was surprised to hear that the situation in New Orleans especially is so dire. She doesn't have internet at home, and I'm unsure if she has a TV or not. She said at the bar in her restaurant (where she spent 12 hours working yesterday, which helps explain why she wasn't up on the news), a Mets game was on the TV, and that no one was really talking about the catastrophic circumstances on the Gulf coast. She said she felt guilty not knowing that the South — her home — was languishing in misery and trying to recover from such major devastation. She said her local news has played the obligatory 15-second recaps, but that the magnitude of the situation hadn't come across until I described it to her. My call was sort of a buzzkill, and I hate that I planted all that depressing imagery in her head late at night.

But it got me thinking about regionalism and the possible reasons why people in the far corners of this nation might not give a shit about what's going on in Louisiana. Is it because it's the South? Is it because Alabama and Mississippi and New Orleans are notoriously poor, and the people in the Hamptons can't relate to that? Is it because the people on the rooftops waving T-shirts at helicopters are black? Is it simply a matter of a lack of media saturation in other parts of the country? I mean, CNN is playing Katrina around the clock. How could you miss what's happening unless you just weren't paying attention?

It's a little infuriating, since the entire country was glued to the unfolding drama of Sept. 11, everyone's hearts going out to the residents of the city and the state for their pain and suffering. So is the rest of the country watching and aching for the Gulf coast? I can't say for sure, but they should be. Many experts assert that the situation now will eclipse 9/11 in its scope, since 90,000 square miles have been declared disaster areas and rebuilding is going to be a monumental feat, the likes of which have not been seen in this country in a very, very long time.

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I just heard on CNN that snipers fired at some hospital vehicles while people tried to load critical patients into them for transport out of New Orleans. And now people are afraid to go outside. God help us all.

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