Five Feet High
And Rising

By Judith Moriarty
The 'Big Easy' [New Orleans] is fast becoming inundated with the waters from Lake Ponchetrain, which is on the eastern side of the community. The Mississippi is on the western side of New Orleans. The city sits approximately 8 ft below sea level, which has the population caught in the middle. The bowl [happening now] is filling with water and everyone's caught in the middle.
Back in the 60s the Army Corp of Engineers constructed levees around New Orleans to hold smaller floods out of the bowl. The levees holding back Lake Ponchetrain have been breached, with water pouring into the city at 75 feet an hour. Everything living in the surrounding swamps is being carried into this area including' alligators, moccasin snakes, and every other critter. All the sanitation plants are under water, and of course, this material is floating free in the community. The petrochemicals that are produced up and down the Mississippi rive are floating into this bowl. This is fast becoming the biggest toxic waste dump in the world.
Along with New Orleans the coast of Mississippi has been obliterated with 90% of Biloxi gone. Governor Haley Barbour compared the scenes he saw from a fly over with Hiroshima. When asked if he's spoken to his friend the President, Haley replied, "Why sure, and he's chomping at the bit to be here". Hardly, since ironically, with the reference to Hiroshima, the President, to inflate the ever important poll readings, was celebrating the 60th anniversary of Victory over Japan at the Naval Air Station in Coronado, California.
Frankly, I was thinking, as I observed the massive destruction taking place, to more up to date scenes. Having no remembrance [except by photographs] of Hiroshima, I was put in mind of the recent total destruction of the city of Fallijuah in Iraq, by man-made weapons of napalm-Daisy Cutters and cluster bombs. There too, [on foreign news-not here] the people were shown being herded from pillar to post, searched, without food, water, or a home to return to. I fear, that the terrorism that the President tells us is 'being fought over there, so we don't have to fight it here', is upon us, according to news reports stating that, "this catastrophe is of "Biblical proportions".
Reports, late last night, from area hospitals were heart wrenching. Wearied doctors and nurses were moving patients to higher floors. A doctor named John, his voice showing utter frustration said, "The hospital [Charity Hospital] is all dark. We have no electricity, and no water. We were supposed to be evacuated but so far we've heard nothing. The water has surrounded us and staff are using manual methods to ventilate patients." Nurses/doctors at Tulane were siphoning off gas from their cars to keep the few portable generators they had going.
I could imagine what was happening in these hospitals, as I was in training at a Catholic hospital, in Connecticut, during the big black out on the east coast, during the sixties. The back up generators didn't kick in-the place was pitch black. I remember rushing to the operating room with a flashlight to find a Cesarean operation taking place. I went into the chapel and took the huge candelabras off the altar,to light the way out for visitors. Citizens in town, hearing of our plight, rushed to the hospital in their cars-and turned their headlights on high beam! Thankfully for us the place wasn't being flooded! It is in times like this, be it the black out of the 60s, or this horror scene in New Orleans, that you see the heroics of ordinary people, that never make the headlines. Thus far, we've seen the Salvation Army, the Coast Guard rescuing thousands and the National Guard out in front. So much for color coded fear strips [high red in the Gulf States] and billions, for this and that, supposed defense and crisis intervention! It seems to me, that we've got ourselves the usual administrative bungling; with everyone asking, "Who's on first?" Lot's of talk and strategy, but no action, while people are dying. I do hope, that whatever political persuasion or party that people have stupidly bought into, that they pay strict attention to the fact, that given a crisis [no matter the party in office] as a citizen you're basically on your own. Without resources you'll be stuck and held hostage to whomever is in charge which may be nobody.
Communications are out between fire, police and rescue personnel. Cell phones aren't working, the water systems are gone, bodies are floating down the streets from recent deaths, and from the above ground graveyards in this part of the country. The alligators and various poisonous snakes and animal life, including sharks, are competing with their human counterparts for life! Meantime we have the newscasters focusing on the looting taking place as this Biblical event unfolds. Poor people, hungry people, fearful people, with your usual gang of thieves thrown in do dishonest things in times of a meltdown. Who cares what the hell they take-it's not like this junk from China or foodstuff is going to be marked down next week! People have short memories. Who can forget the riots in California, after the Rodney King fiasco, when cameras caught Reginald Denny being pulled from his truck, and beaten with a concrete block? Massive looting went on, with the police unwilling to enter in to help store owners, trying to protect their property. And more recently, we've all witnessed the looting in Baghdad, of ancient artifacts, museums, and stores. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told us that "Democracy is a messy business". Thankfully the Ministry of Oil was fully secured and protected.
It has never ceased to amaze me, that news cameras will chase someone down the street about an extra book of food stamps, or in this case, looting in a toxic cesspool, but remain silent over real money. Be it the 500 billion rip off of the Savings and Loans thieves, Enron, bailing out various corporations with billions, the 8.5 billion disappeared, when Bremmer left Iraq, the billions more going up in smoke over there, or the real looting going on now, with the oil hucksters, raising prices before the first trash lid blew off in the French Quarter! There's looting, and then there's looting; it's all a matter of perspective. Hey, "Democracy is a messy business".
All in all, we're told that a total of approximately 1.3 million people will be dispossessed and dislocated by this Biblical scenario. I was thinking that this would be comparable to emptying out the total population of my state, New Hampshire. There's NO more important story this day for multiple reasons, which many have paid little heed to-but they soon will! Reports are that the water keeps on arising. I couldn't help but think of the Johnny Cash song: Five Feet High and Rising
How high's the water, mama'
Five feet high and risin'
Well, the hives are gone,
I've lost my bees
The chickens are sleepin'
In the willow trees
Cow's in the water up past her knees,
Five feet high and risin'
We can make to the road in a homemade boat
That's the only thing we got left that'll float
It's already over all the wheat and the oats,
Five feet high and risin'



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