Before I get into Oprah Winfrey, I just need to say that I've been in a Katrina state of mind — or more like a Katrina funk — the past few days.

I, probably like most other people, had kind of put the whole Katrina thing out of my mind. Even though I live next door to it and I see the trees that are still down and the damaged houses in our area, it was pushed to the back somewhere. I chat regularly with a friend of mine from Waveland, and things finally seem to be looking up for them. I — again, probably like most other people — assumed that everything was getting cleaned up and everyone was living happily ever after in their FEMA trailers and everyone was in the process of rebuilding.

But something happened the other day that affected me immensely.

My Waveland friend had posted some links on her Web site to several sites that had photos. I had seen all the photos in the past, but some of these were different. These were before-and-after photos.

Let me try to explain how and why this affected me so much. When my wife and I went down to Waveland after Katrina to help our friend, we saw the destruction first-hand. Unfortunately, that's all we saw. Destruction. Everywhere. We saw no houses, no office buildings, no yards, no fences, no playgrounds, no cafes, no grocery stores, no schools. Nothing. Nothing but piles and piles of rubble.

Since I had never been to Waveland I had no clue what used to be there, my friend tried to describe the quaintness of her hometown, but we just couldn't grasp it because we couldn't see anything. One of the sites that affected me the most was when we drove by where City Hall used to be. There was a beautiful tile mural miraculously still standing, and my friend explained that it was built as a tribute to those who helped the city when it was devastated by Hurricane Camille.

As hard as I tried, I just couldn't picture the building there where all I saw were piles of concrete. Then I found a photo of City Hall before Katrina. This was nothing like how I pictured the building, but there it was, with the beautiful tile mural in front of the steps. It's not an architectural masterpiece, by any means, but when I actually saw the building, I also saw the memories. People walking in and out every day, taking care of their city-oriented business. Getting permits. Paying taxes. Checking deeds. Filing homestead.

And I realized probably next to this building was another one similar to it. Perhaps a bank. Maybe a small cafe. Next to that, a quaint gift shop or art gallery. Now gone. All of them gone. These photos put a "face" on the rubble that you and I have seen. And it just makes me sad.

And this brings me to Oprah. I went into Tuesday's episode with a closed

mind, thinking "here we go again — another show about the poor people in New Orleans," but she came through for me. I got so wrapped up in the show that I took notes:

Several things bothered me when they were discussing the people who had been living in motels on FEMA's dollar and were about to be given the boot. I can totally understand the feeling that "this is my home and I'm staying," but I think there comes a time when you realize that right now I can't stay here. I've got mouths to feed, so I need to get out of here, albeit temporarily, find myself a job and a place to live, feed these kids and get them into school and some semblance of normalcy. When I get back on my feet, then I can come home. Some of these people have been in the motel all this time and still have no clue as to what they are going to do tomorrow.

I'm not as Louisiana-vs.-Mississippi as I used to be, because I realize that although Louisiana may not have been hit quite as hard from the initial storm, it did have major problems in the days that followed. I'll give Louisiana that. I think the main difference is that — and this is strictly my opinion — Mississippians seem to have brushed themselves off, realized nobody was going to help them, and are adapting the best way they can. Those in Louisiana (and particularly New Orleans) seem to still be sitting there waiting for someone to come help.

On Wednesday's episode of Oprah, she revealed all the lovely little Nate Berkus-decorated homes, stocked with pretty K-Mart items, on Angel Lane in Houston. How were these people chosen for these homes? Oprah, although you've gone above and beyond what other celebrities have done, it seems like there's so much more you could do with your money and the money from the Angel Network than build a few homes for a few people. With what was spent on these homes, I'm sure several apartment complexes could've been built. Perhaps after watching her own show, she'll be aware of how great the need is.

Thank you, Lisa Ling, for your report from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I was so glad to even hear Mississippi mentioned, much less have such an in-depth report. The Tent City just blew me away. And why do these people have to get out? I can see the government putting a deadline on the motel living, but why make people move out of tents? Do these tents have to go somewhere else? Some Boy Scout camp up North or something? These people are living in tents, for God's sake. Leave them alone. Better yet, help them.

The most amazing thing of all, after hearing for almost an hour about people who have nowhere to go, we see acres and acres of FEMA trailers just sitting there unoccupied. Thousands of desperately needed homes sitting in a field. In the United States of America. I am officially blown away.

It all boils down to this. We live in a country that helps people — sometimes to the extreme and, in most cases, people not even in our own country. Now here we have thousands upon thousands of people in our own back yard who desperately, desperately need help and it's not there. I just can't help but believe that all these countries that we are helping would understand completely if we said: "Hey, listen. We've got a really bad situation here in our own country and we need to take care of it. So, for a few months, you're gonna have to fend for yourself while we help some of our own people. I assure you we'll be back to help you as soon as we can."

Our country needs to put all the unnecessary grants and fundings on hold and concentrate on this huge problem. There are people in the United States of America who have been going to the bathroom in a bucket for six months. That's just not acceptable.

Kenny Myers is an employee of Rush Health Systems in Meridian. His e-mail address is Kenny.Myers@rushhealth.com.

React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0

Trending Video