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Katrina

A few thoughts...

Jackson, Ms suffered some -- power was out for 97% of the city at one point, but my family and all my friends are OK. The man I am named for lives in Laurel, Ms (which was hit extremely hard: 60-65% of all houses/businesses destroyed) and I do not have any status yet. My thoughts are with him and his wife, both very close family friends.

I've been without power all week, but I suspect I'll have juice today. Entergy has gotten the city back up with amazing speed. We had a 24" DBH (diameter breast height) poplar tree (perhaps 60' tall) fall from our lawn over into the neighbors. Here's pictures of the fallen tree and the removal process, and here's photos of a downed utility pole three blocks away.

The hosting company (I-55.com) that handles my employer's web servers did a Herculean job of keeping us up. We never went down, even though our servers are located in downtown New Orleans. Special thanks to Kyle for all his help. I was able to offer meager assistance with my server in Ohio acting as I-55's fifth DNS server, which ultimately wasn't required. But that's nothing compared to the effort the I-55 crew put forth.

A crew in the New Orleans colo facility has been blogging, webcamming, and picture-posting all throughout the ordeal at the Interdictor blog. Their story is fascinating. I think they ought to write a book after all this is over. Get over there and read their story now.

People making political hay over this monumental disaster while people are dying as they speak need to STFU. Nobody, as I write this, really knows yet the full details of how things ended up so tragically. One thing that is certain: when the going gets tough, it's private citizens more than bureaucrats that get going.

As I waited in a gas line at the Exxon on Lakeland Drive, a young man was passing out bottled water and offering information on the wait. I asked him if he worked for the gas station, and he replied he worked in an office next door and he was just trying to help out.

In some spare office space owned by my boss live an extended family, three dogs, two parakeets, and one kitten. All refugees from Biloxi that arrived Wednesday (kudos to my boss for housing them). Everything they have that isn't in their immediate possession has been destroyed. I didn't speak to the mother, but I was told she was an emotional basketcase. I did speak to one guy, a few years younger than myself. His opinion was God intentionally inflicted this on New Orleans because of all the evil that takes place there. I suppose I could have been a jerk by asking him why Las Vegas was spared, or why he chose to live in a city that was slammed even harder by God's Wrath, but I held my tongue.

Speaking of good Samaritans, Jabbar Gibson deserves a medal for heroism. 18-year-old Gibson took it upon himself to commandeer (I won't use the word steal) a school bus, load up with 100 refugees, and drive seven hours non-stop from New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston. His actions almost certainly saved lives.

And the bad: Sean Penn decided to "rescue" children in a boat that immediately leaked water. Aboard the vessel was Penn's entourage that included a personal photographer. Sadly, that's just so Hollywood to insist on aggrandizing oneself whenever a good deed is attempted. That photographer was taking up room that could have easily transported two or three children. 'Effing self-centered prick.

I was angered by the poor attitude displayed by a woman I met, concerning the refugees here in Jackson. In her view, they are merely people competing against her for gas and food, making her wait in line that much longer. That's true -- my own wait is increased, and I don't like waiting in line anymore than the next person. But I have a roof over my head, my worldly possessions undamaged, a job and income, and a hot shower awaiting me at home. These refugees have had their lives ripped apart, and, for many of them, dead relatives and friends they may not find out about for weeks to come. I can't begrudge these people basic needs at a time when I have so much and they have so little.

My boss is matching employee donations to Katrina relief. I sent the Red Cross $200 Friday, and as soon as I plug my laptop into the internet I'm sending another $200 to the Salvation Army.

Much more later...

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