Six Months Out

by

It stands to reason after a disconcerting event like Hurricane Katrina that we can’t even have a good six-month anniversary.

The storm hit on August 29, and if this were leap year we would have no problems, but February only has twenty-eight days in 2006, so for the six-month observation you get to choose: February 28 or March 1. Even better, take your pick: Fat Tuesday or Ash Wednesday.

Fat Tuesday is the English translation of the party known in French as Mardi Gras, a day set aside every year for indulgent behavior – the feasting before the fasting. It fell on February 28 this year, arguably the six-month mark post-Katrina. Fat Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday, a day set aside annually for the purpose of penance and fasting – the fasting in preparation of resurrection. It falls on March 1st this time around – also possibly considered the half-year anniversary. I guess it is sort of fitting that one can choose which attitude to don in a look back at this historic storm – one with beads around your neck and a drink in your hand swaying to the music, or one with dirt smeared on your face.

There’s a case to be made for the party. I suspect there are many that are to a point where “drinking their troubles away” is downright appealing. If you’re interested in a get-rich-quick scheme, you might check into building a spaceship and offering Gulf Coast residents trips to Mars where no one has ever even heard of Hurricane Katrina (unless of course, they have satellite television there). I can provide you with a list of people who want to get away from this mess, and if you can offer laughter and dancing as part of the package, then I suspect you’ll have more business than you’d know how to handle. Often, when the choice comes down to laughing or crying in light of trouble, many opt for laughter.

But there’s a case to be made for mourning, too. It is still so sad the work that remains. Countless elderly residents are still homeless, waiting for someone to help rescue them from seemingly hopeless situations. Countless single moms are trying to juggle work and daycare from a tiny FEMA trailer, not to mention battling insurance and fly-by-night con artists masquerading as contractors in their spare time. And Highway 90 still looks like Mars, but enough is there to remind us all of what used to be. There are many reasons to be depressed. So, tears are still appropriate.

There is much progress that has been made in six months. Unbelievable progress, really. There is still so much work that is left to be done. At least an equally unbelievable amount. There are both reasons to rejoice and weep six months removed.

So when it gets down to it, nothing has changed much on a macro-level. When we faced Hurricane Katrina head on, it turned out to be just like Dickens said – the best of times, and the worst of times. It still is six months later.

But there is hope.

There is always hope.

And that is the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from it all.

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