Thursday, September 22, 2005

Stressed Side Story: Hurricane Rita

Unfortunately for us, Hurricane Rita likes the shores of America. Which really suggests a tribute to multi-talented star of the 1950s and 1960s Rita Moreno, who starred in the movie West Side Story in 1961. I will go ahead with my regular story, but, musical style, will occasionally break into song to amplify my remarks. (Just picture members of FEMA performing an elaborately choreographed dance sequence in the background.) I feel windy Oh so windy I feel windy and stormy tonight And I pity Any citizen in the way of my might Last night as I was watching the eyewall to eyewall coverage of Hurricane Rita, I was startled to see the cable news channels break away to coverage of SOMETHING ELSE. (How dare they!) I guess the only thing more interesting than a Category 5 hurricane in the gulf would be a passenger jet buzzing Los Angeles because its landing gear is stuck at an awkward 90 degree angle. The prospect of a spectacular crash was too much for the news channels to resist! Fortunately the plane was able to land with all its passengers intact, but not before creating a most alarming "spark" when it hit the tarmac. I'm sure that plane's passengers found it a life-altering experience, as they had three hours (while the plane dumped fuel) to reflect on their collective near death experience. Because it was a JetBlue flight they all got to watch the footage of their plane landing on their personal passenger TV screens! ("Honey, would you rather watch our fiery deaths on TV, or experience it live in the cabin?") I feel alarming So alarming It's amazing how alarming I've grown And so windy That I can destroy everything you own As soon as the plane issue was over we returned to Rita, which local and federal government officials are responding to in a remarkably attentive way! I guess they didn't want to get caught with their landing gear in the "down" position for two consecutive massive public hurricanes. But now we see what the problem is when the evacuation operates correctly: EVERYONE is on the road! Making the journey extremely slow. To the point where we wonder if these same people will still be on the road two days later. Will they arrive at a safe destination before they run out of gas? And if everyone starts running out of gas, is someone from FEMA assigned to go from car to car with the official federal gas can? Would AAA even THINK about responding in this situation? One woman called the news via cell phone to report she had traveled 8 miles in 6 and a half hours. At that rate she'll be in the eye of the hurricane in approximately 38 hours! See the windy storm in the radar Who can that monster 'cane be? Such a windy eye Such a windy surge Such a windy day Such a windy me! This does slightly call into question the government's pledge to rebuild New Orleans, and to do it with tons of federal money (couple hundred billion?) and make it better than it was before. Is it wise to rebuild ANY city that is, technically, below sea level? Can't we just have a New Orleans pavilion at Disney's Epcot Center and be done with it? I questioned the wisdom of this when it was announced. (Me: What, are they NUTS?) But now that Hurricane Rita is threatening to take out Galveston, Houston, and parts of western Louisiana, I'm thinking that even the nation's safety deposit bottles will not be enough to pay for rebuilding. After all, we'll also have to rebuild the oil rigs, the insurance companies and the housing bubble. Think we can still afford to be spending hundreds of billions annually to bring democracy to Iraq? I have long said it would not be a political crisis that would end our involvement in Iraq. We would simply run out of money to sustain the operation. Well the hurricanes may be ratcheting up the timetable on that one. Can't we let the CHINESE take care of the Iraq problem? Who cares if they're communist as long as they turn the utilities back on and start pumping oil? It doesn't seem like they want democracy -- let's see how they like Karl Marx! I am running And I'm gunning For the coast of the state of Texas And I'm going To drive up the price of your gas Just as an aside, (and it is an interesting aside because it may encompass the whole of our futures), but a huge hit on the rest of our oil-producing capacity is a huge hit on EVERYTHING. Not just gassing up our cars, although that's bad enough, but on everything we buy, everything we take for granted, our entire way of life. Multiple personal cars per family? Silly. Abandoning our cities for long suburban commutes? Ridiculous. Shipping our jobs and major industries overseas so we can have a "service economy" and import cheap junk from China and Taiwan? Suicidal. Unheard of 75 years ago. And (I'm predicting) unheard of 15 years from now. I didn't expect to have to say that prior to the big California earthquake, a major Mississippi flood or a really weird volcano, but here it is. Only two back to back hurricanes and suddenly we're realizing that our economic assumptions of the past 50 years no longer apply. So stock up on whatever you think you're definitely going to need for the next 15 years...I'm thinking underwear, deodorant and toothpaste are all important. Oh yes, and floss. West Side Story said it best: "Comfort is Yours in America!" Thank you, Stephen Sondheim, for the memories.


Blogger kalisekj said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!

10/03/2005 10:28:00 PM  
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