Monday, September 19, 2005

Simple Simon Says: Come To New Orleans. Wait. No, DON'T!

I have to say that his whole hurricane evacuation/rescue/relief/recover/return/rebuild scenario in Louisiana is beginning to take on the aura of an elaborate game of Simon Says only on a statewide scale. Simple Mayor Ray Nagin says: "Evacuate!" (unless you're a hospital. We feel those people can definitely weather a Cat 4 storm because, well, aren't those tube thingies battery-operated?). Late last week, Simple Nagin shouted, "Everyone come back! Let's start the rebuilding on Monday!" Now that it's Monday we just got some alarming news. Hard to believe, but IT'S STILL HURRICANE SEASON! Simple Nagin says, "The return is halted! We're evacuating again!" This was bolstered by a statement from Simple Kathleen Blanco, the alleged governor, who warned that coastal residents (not just New Orleans residents) should "prepare" to evacuate. But to not actually evacuate until, say, it's too late. Par for the course! Weather forecasters are once again screaming "Fore!" and local politicians have lapsed into Dithering Mode, which seems to be standard operating procedure in the face of impending catastrophe. Why, they couldn't even agree on whether or when the residents should be allowed to return to the city. Nagin: Yes! Local FEMA guy: No! Gov. Blanco: What's my state, again? President Bush: I'm forseeing a breach in the levees! Homeland Security Chief Chertoff: We're letting people back into New Orleans? I thought we wrote off the city! That was MY intention, anyway. The Red Cross: Should we just set up the trucks now? New FEMA guy: Just wrap your house with duct tape and hope it sticks to the earth. It seems slightly unfair that the tropical storm eyeing Key West (RITA) could very well sweep into the Gulf, strengthen, and then take aim at, ahem THE HOUSTON ASTRODOME, where many Katrina evacuees are receiving their mail. It does seem like a government plot to keep SOMEONE from receiving their Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes Grand Prize, doesn't it? All these conflicting orders/suggestions/directives/edicts/recommendations/pleas by government officials have to be giving back pain to anyone trying to follow them, unless they happen to be extremely limber. It is difficult to cut through all the verbiage and discern if what we're hearing is a Simon Says statement (you ought to do it) or just a "statement" (something you should take with a carton of salt). Let's just say even the news people are growing confused. There's also the matter of long-term plans for the area. Some (namely the president) say it will be rebuilt in even grander style than before. Every house will look like Trent Lott's! We will pay for this with money collected from all those deposit bottles that floated into the Gulf during the storm. (Note: Any that wash up on Florida's west coast will be confiscated by Floridians because we have our own hurricane rebuilding difficulties.) Others say there are significant obstacles to the rebuilding effort. These include: 1) Money. There may not be enough deposit bottles on THE WHOLE PLANET to rebuild New Orleans. (Idea: Maybe there are weapons of mass destruction buried in New Orleans that no one knows about. Along the lines of that biological defense lab where they supposedly "destroyed" the deadly samples. Let's declare war on Mayor Nagin and instead of bombing those insurgent evacuees, we'll just give them what we would've spent on the bombing to help bring democracy to New Orleans!) 2) Germs. The EPA has tested the air and yes, it's safe to take a deep breath in the Big Stinky! But the EPA has NOT yet given the okay on the water. True, you can drink bottled water. But are you going to SHOWER with bottled water? Wash your dishes with bottled water? Your clothes? Methinks New Orleans is going to need a very long hose, say one that stretches to lake Michigan, before the water problem is solved. 3) Levees. The levees are temporarily holding. But if a tropical storm should happen by, fergeddabouddit! We will see the re-flooding of the city. Hopefully by now everyone knows that if you evacuate to your attic you need to bring bottled water and a sharp ax with you. And maybe some flares if you want to eventually be seen by MSNBC. I have a word of advice for the rest of the country. Don't plan next year's convention for the New Orleans convention center. And don't buy a used car with a rusty interior. The Kingdome and the Silverdome? Get ready for customers!

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