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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hurricane Katrina and Running From Rita - The importance of the Black family.

What About Our Daughters? isn't my first blog. One of my earliest attempts at blogging was called The Great Migration. I have since deleted it, and I regret that I did because it was a blog I used to keep my family and friends up to date on the mass displacement of an entire United States city in a span of days.

I compared what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to The Great Migration

Perhaps Hurricane Katrina was the initial wakeup call that put me on the path to eventually starting this blog. Hurricane Katrina was a supernatural display of how fragile civil society is. It was a reminder that if everything went to hell in a handbasket, you really can't count on the government to bail you out. You need family. Family matters. The government that is the police, the courts, social services, and all the entities that we've come to rely on... the government is one electrical outage from total absolute collapse. And when it crumbles as it did in the case of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you have to rely on friends and family.

Family may send you $50 to get a tank of gas or ferry you out of harm's way. Family may give you a place to stay when all the hotel rooms are full. Family feeds you, with no assistance from red cross. And family has your back when all hell is breaking loose and the police are no where to be found. Family forages for food when you have been left to die by local, state, and federal government. Family will try to come rescue you even though they know they can't swim, but are willing to die trying.... Because you're family.

I've told y'all before that I gave up on taking charge of anything since undergrad, but I was so outraged by Katrina that I opened up my tightly clasped pocket book and donated money and when Katrina evacuees got flown in to the town where I was station, near the south Texas border, I organized a drive to get them African American haircare products. No it wasn't clothing or shoes, but it was what they needed since many of the folks donating weren't African American. The vast majority weren't. I knew how hard it was for me to find my stuff and I had a car and money. It was not much, but it was my small part.

A few weeks later, my entire family in Texas was on the road at the same time running from Hurricane Rita. The biggest fear I had at the time was ending up like those people in Katrina, separated from Family with no way to find them. Not knowing if they were okay, if they were hungry, if they were out of gas, if they were in a shelter.

The Governor of Texas called for an evacuation of every coastal city between the South Teas border and the Louisiana coast. I was by myself in South Texas, My sisters and their families were in the Houston area and my parents.... well they ended up directly in the path of the storm.

You couldn't find a hotel room in Texas during the Rita Evacuation. I would have paid any price to keep myself and my family out of a Red Cross shelter, but my money was no good. There was over 24 hours of traffic between me and my family who headed north to Dallas. It took them almost 24 hours to make what would normally be a 4 hour trip. They were three cars strong and the encountered shot gun toting sheriff's deputies along the evacuation route through East Texas, no restrooms, and traffic that moved at 1 mile an hour in the hot Texas heat.

I used text messages to keep in contact with everyone because the phone service was non existent. My Daddy didn't even know his phone could accept text msgs.

I was directed to go to Nuevo Laredo across the Mexican border because that was the only place with hotel rooms. I took a pass and decided I would rather ride out a Cat 5 in my compact car than to take myself into Nuevo Laredo with my Texas tags by myself. I lucked out and got a hotel room on South Padre Island south of the storm. Hurricanes do not go backwards. The rest of my family ended up in DFW with various relatives.

My hometown ended up taking a direct hit from Hurricane Rita, but luckily, the worst damage any family member experienced was loose shingles and a refrigerator that was damaged beyond repair after holding meat in it for two weeks without electricity. The county kept them form their homes for two weeks.

So I know lots of people learned lots of things and discovered many things about themselves, this country, their families and human nature two years ago. But the thing I will always remember is how vulnerable we all really are and how fragile civil society is. When everything else collapses around you. In your hour of greatest need, I hope you have a strong family to do what the government won't be able to.

As we watch the Black family disintegrate in front of our very eyes. Where being a baby's mama is the mantra of the day and the Black community is rife with an epidemic of half siblings and broken homes and a slave child had a greater chance of being born in a two parent household than a child born today, I hope people remember today that the glue that holds civil society together is family and if you don't have that, you have to rely on the kindness of strangers and the government. Katrina should have told you that if you rely on the government for anything when you really need it...... you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Really we need to stop the foolishness. P.S. If you don't have a disaster preparedness kit, you are a fool. Get one today no matter where you live.