Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer Camp!

Ima is hosting Haveil Havalim 171 - The Packing for Camp edition.

Update: There are many good posts to read but one made me have tears in my eyes: A Binding Mitzvah: A Mother's View. One day, I hope to see my son follow the path I have taken. And there is a bit of guilt as well. I know I shouldn't have waited almost 30 years in answering what my heart and soul were telling me. And because of that, my son will have the same struggle as I. I see him playing around the idea of atheism. Perhaps it would be the same now even if I had responded sooner to my neshama's spark. But I wonder.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not Even the Gulf Coast This Time

We in Mississippi have become used to the fact when Hurricane Katrina is mentioned in the news and in documentaries, we are relegated to the faceless and vague "Gulf Coast". In documentaries that aired on channels such as the Discovery Channel, we have become used that footage of the storm surge that occurred in Gulfport and Biloxi is shown while the narrator talks about New Orleans. We are used to these same documentaries showing damage from Mississippi towns such as Waveland and Pass Christian while once again narrating New Orleans. But at least these documentaries mention the faceless and nameless "Gulf Coast". Now, a usually respected science website doesn't even deem it worthwhile to even mention the "Gulf Coast" when it lists the top ten US natural disasters. It has Hurricane Katrina at number 2 and this is what it states:

Hurricane Katrina - Aug. 29, 2005

The Atlantic storm that began as a category 1 hurricane as it blew across southern Florida wound up being the country's costliest tragedy. Katrina roared into the Louisiana coast with 125 mph sustained winds, causing a storm surge that broke levees that shielded New Orleans from surrounding, higher coastal waters, and leaving 80 percent of the city under water. Katrina killed at least 1,836 people and inflicted damages estimated at around $125 billion.

No mention that Hurricane Katrina made its landfall in Mississippi. No mention of the terrible and awesome storm surge that engulfed my once beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast. No mention that 400,000 people, almost the same population as New Orleans, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast had their lives turned upside down. No mention that 238 of those who died in Hurricane Katrina were from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. No mention of the fact that as of 2006, $10 billion in insurance claims in Mississippi had been filed. Those figures do not include flood and wind pool claims. But based on the number of homes Katrina destroyed in Mississippi and the amount that can insured, another $2.5 - 5 billion could be added to just the insurance costs alone. Those insurance figures do not take into account the actual costs of rebuilding, just the amounts claimed.

As of 2006, $14 billion in Hurricane Katrina insurance claims had been filed in Louisiana.

I could find no clear cut figures for the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi but based on the insurance claims for both states, it is easy to conjucture that of the $150 billion economic impact of Katrina, between $45 billion(30%) and $67.5 billion(45%) was damage to Mississippi.

Missippi and Hurricane Katrina should not be relagated to the vague "Gulf Coast" or not even mentioned when discussing the top natural disasters to hit the US.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Success Story

Many comparisons have been made about the flooding occurring along the Mississippi River and Hurricane Katrina. Comparisons are now being made between how FEMA is responding to the flooding occurring now and its response during Hurricane Katrina. In a post at Instapundit, this caught my eye:

It's possible that Katrina was simply a harder-to-manage challenge because it was such a massive storm and because it hit an area (especially New Orleans and Louisiana) with weak social structures and poor government.

I wrote an email to Instapundit.

I think a lot of people still have no idea of the amount of destruction Hurricane Katrina did. FEMA made it to the Mississippi Coast a lot faster than I would have expected. The situation in New Orleans was different. To me, it wouldn't have made sense to try bring in truckloads of water and food to a city that was being evacuated, especially from the RealClear Poltics article you linked to which showed the National Guard had the necessary items on hand.

The damage from flooding and the number of homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi can be likened to the destruction of two cities with populations of 100,000. These are cities which had a population of around 100,000 in 2005:

Arvada CO 103,966

Waterbury CT 107,902

Clearwater FL 108,687

Savannah GA 128,453

Springfield IL 115,668

Evansville IN 115,918

Olathe KS 111,334

Cambridge MA 100,135

Lansing MI 115,518

Manchester NH 109,691

Elizabeth NJ 125,809

Clarksville TN 112,878

How much effort would it take to rebuild any of the cities listed? Could it be done in 1 year, 2 years, 3 years? This is what we in Mississippi and the New Orleans area are facing. Hundreds of thousands of are doing so much like those in Iowa and other Mid-West states: With determination, hard work and by helping one another.*


Other comparisons have been made between the Mississippi River flooding and Hurricane Katrina. One of those is the seeming slowness of the rebuilding efforts. Some have suggested the slowness is due to a lack of character and many are just waiting for handouts. Some do have that mindset but it is a very, very small percentage. And it is that small percentage which gets the news coverage. The rest are busy working, rebuilding, and helping one another. It will take at a minimum of 10 years before some semblance of normalcy will be regained and all those homes rebuilt.

For every seen on the news complaining about demanding more help or saying it is too hot to look for work, there are tens of thousands of others who are quietly working and rebuilding.

Hurricane Katrina was a disaster of almost epic proportions. And the character of the people has shown we are equal to the daunting task of rebuilding and another American success story.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

World Tour

He would have been 21 years old this year. His family has chosen to celebrate the life of Asaf Zur, who was murdered by a suicide bomber 4 years ago. Asaf didn't get the chance to see the places he dreamed of but we can help his remembrance.

Go to the Asaf Zur website to download his picture and for instructions on where to email it to.

The video below explains the intent:

Mississippi Hospitality

Unfortunately, the very real warmth of Mississippi Hospitality doesn't extend to the roads.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Building Walls

Much has been in the news lately about Israel building new homes in Jerusalem. It is called a 'detriment to peace" and ignores the real detriment: Palestinian unwillingness to stop terror and recognize Israel's right to exist. Real peace had begun between Palestinians and Israelis and that peace had begun to spur the economic growth of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. What happened? Yarafat, the terrorist the world gave a Nobel Peace Prize, started the Second Intifada.

The second Intifada broke out at the zenith of Palestinian economy prosperity. The fruit of the Oslo Accords finally started trickling down to the poor and neglected strata in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian standard of living skyrocketed, money was readily available, tourists flocked to the whole of the Holy Land, foreign investors discovered cheap and skilled Palestinian labor, and Palestinian merchants discovered the purchasing power of Israeli consumers.

These achievements were erased on one clear day in October 2000. The second Intifada cost the Palestinians an economic loss of a generation. It will take at least 10 to 15 years before the per capita income in Palestine will return to its level on the eve of October 2000.

The welfare and future of millions of Palestinians were sacrificed on the altar of maintaining the zeal of the national and religious revolution. Normalcy, stability, the growing middle class, and the pursuit of a higher standard of living became a disaster and crime in the eyes of leaders such as Yasser Arafat and Ahmed Yassin. They wanted violence, ongoing war, blood, and fire – and that’s what they got. Now, both of them are buried deep in the soil of Palestine among with thousands of their countrymen who paid the price of their caprice.

This is the cost of terrorism. This is the cost of calling terrorists like Arafat "men of peace". This is the cost of blindingly condemning Israel at every turn while ignoring the corruption in the Palestinian Authority and its unwillingness to stop the terrorists in its midst. This is the cost of various church groups, academic associations, the UN, and various NGOs who constantly condemn Israel. This is the cost of those who seek the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel instead of looking to build a peaceful society. This is the cost of choosing a society of death instead of one of life. And the ones who pay the dearest price are those Palestinians everyone says they are so concerned about. It seems to me that the Jewish State of Israel shows more concern for Palestinians than the Palestinian Authority, the UN, the Arab League, church groups, NGOs, and academic associations.

Terrorism is not the answer. The answer is to build up lives and significant strides had been made toward that end before Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, began the Second Intifada. Arafat built those walls. Is there anyone willing to ask the Palestinian Authority to tear down those walls that were built by terrorism?

And before anyone suggests that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter: the Palestinian terrorists do not seek out military targets. The terrorists seek to murder school children, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. Nor are terrorists militants. They are cold-blooded murderers whose very reason for existence is to murder, maim, and spread terror. After israeli troops pulled out of Gaza, the Israeli town of Sderot has been bombarded with thousands of Qassams. Some may try to say the Qassams are nothing more than glorified bottle rockets. Those rockets murder, maim, and the continual bombardment spreads terror. The alerts, when given, are unnerving to those living in Sderot. A couple of years ago, certain NGOs were complaining the Israeli jets flying over Gaza were unnerving to Palestinians. How much more unnerving must it be for Moms and Dads to have to choose which children sleep in the bomb shelters in their homes? How much more unnerving must it be for school children to have to drill everyday and in some cases have to run for the school's bomb shelter? How unnerving must it be for someone to have to be constantly aware of where shelters are for when the Qassams start raining down?

I've made no secret of my dream of one day making aliyah. Daily, I scour the real estate ads. One thing brings home the reality of living in Israel: most of the places I've looked out have a "safe room": a bomb shelter. That is the reality and for some odd reason, it doesn't scare me. And this is the biggest secret of Israel: the terrorists don't scare them and they go about living life and bringing technological and medical breakthroughs to the world. Israel has chosen life.

Update: Thank you Soccer Dad for nominating this post in the Watcher of Weasels.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Soccerdad is hosing Haveil Havalim-170.

As a side-note for the person doing a search for "Jews in Pascagoula", email me at navarone1978 @ hotmail . com, and I'll forward your email to a few who live there. Or you can contact Congregation Beth Israel at 228.388.5574.


When reading this Times article, I was struck by this:

As part of her research, Ripley visited the “burn tower” at Kansas City Fire Department, where firefighters practise their drills. “You’re in full gear, and they fill the room with smoke. You literally cannot see a thing, it’s like a blindfold. You become very attached to the person you’re with. You also think it might be useful to know where the stairs are.” When New Orleans was inundated following Katrina, stories circulated of the depravity supposedly engulfing evacuees at the city’s Superdome. “The police chief went on Oprah and said babies were getting raped,” recalls Ripley. It wasn’t true, nor were most of the stories, but, “They got traction because they fitted into an existing narrative that the public will go crazy and do horrible anti-social things in disasters.”

If those rumours fitted into a right-wing (not to mention racist) agenda, another part of Katrina mythology owes more to a leftish, liberal mindset in the media. This is the perception that the poor died for lack of transport while the rich got out of town. “The victims of Katrina were not disproportionately poor and black, taking into account this was a disproportionately black and poor city to start with,” says Ripley. “They were disproportionately elderly. And the number one reason people cited for not leaving town was not the lack of a car, but the fact that there had been plenty of hurricane warnings before and the predicted devastation had not occurred.”

Psychologists call this “the bias to normalcy”. In making a judgment, people rate their own personal experience and emotion above the advice of experts. “Normally this is fine,” says Ripley, “but living in a dense city on water, you need to rely more on the data.” Ripley recognises this tension in her argument. She wants more self-reliance but she thinks governments “need to step in where the brain’s risk analysis is not very good”. This would mean acquainting people with the risks of living in a tsunami inundation zone, or on a flood plain, or with a swimming pool a toddler can access, or indeed on the San Andreas Fault. “Everyone knows there’s going to be a huge earthquake in San Francisco more or less any day now.”

This "bias to normalcy" does tend to make people disbelief that those dire warnings about hurricanes. People get used to hearing about the catastrophic damage from the storm surge and the high winds. Hurricane warnings play in the background and people think, "It can't happen to us". My Mom didn't want to evacuate for Hurricane Katrina. We lied to her and she came with us. She didn't want to leave her animals. She didn't want to leave her home. Over 2 million people in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama evacuated before Hurricane Katrina. The "bias to normalcy" was suspended and those that chose to stay did so because they did not think anything bad would happen or it couldn't be worse than previous hurricanes such as Camille or Betsy. One is given the impression that no one heeded the hurricane warnings. If those 2 million people had not heeded the warnings (white, black, poor, and rich), the death toll from Hurricane Katrina would have been far greater.

No one in Mississippi expected 100,000 homes to be destroyed. No one in New Orleans really believed that the levees would fail and flood 100,000 homes. No one can really imagine the potential for destruction in a hurricane and other natural disasters. Even today, over 2 1/2 years later, I still have trouble comprehending the destruction even though I'm living among the ruins and the rebuilding.

Each year, at the start of hurricane season, government agencies like MEMA say to get ready. Bloggers like Instapundit post disaster preparedness lists. Each year, hundreds of thousands like myself, prepare and do so in advance of any hurricane warnings. Many of those who lost their homes in Katrina doubtless did so as well. Their homes were underwater or swept away along with provisions.

How would you survive if your home was swept away or flooded? Would you be paralyzed with fear? Would you be able to get out or get to higher ground? There are so many stories of people who did the right thing when faced with flooding. If they hadn't known what to do, the death toll from Katrina would have been greater. There are many remarkable such as Karen Abernathy and her family. She is a news anchor for WLOX. She lived in a home in an area that didn't see flooding in Hurricane Camille or for a hundred years. Yet she and her husband found themselves in the predicament of many others: waters rising in their homes. They didn't panic. The went to the second story of their home and the water was still rising. They escaped via their floating hot tub and managed to make it to a neighbor's home. Stories like hers were played out across the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in Louisiana. I think it is remarkable that so many people knew the correct things to do in order to survive. Yet, the images from Hurricane Katrina paint a picture of seemingly helpless and paralyzed people. The images of the Coast Guard helicopters are dramatic. That is the second-part of the story. The first part was those who survived and made it to the rooftops, to the overpasses, the boats, the trees, and the buildings on higher ground. Far from being whiny and paralyzed: They did the correct things once the waters started rising. If they hadn't, the Coast Guard wouldn't have had 50,000 people to lift to safety.

At the beginning of the Times Online article, there is this:

What makes one person a survivor and another a victim of the same disaster? Amanda Ripley, who has spent seven years researching her new book on how people respond to extreme events, believes that we must take responsibility – and action – if we want to stay alive when bad things happen

People in New Orleans and its environs, Mississippi, and Alabama, did take responsibility and action for their survival. If they hadn't, the death would have been in the tens of thousands instead of 1,600. I wish others would stop knocking survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Ordinary people did what it took to ensure their survival as well as their families and neighbors.

The news media gleefully shows those who have chosen to be victims. It makes for better story: If it bleeds, it leads. For every person you see on the news saying the help from FEMA, Red Cross, etc wasn't enough, there are tens of thousands of more who are quietly rebuilding businesses and homes. For every story of those who are still living in FEMA assisted housing and say it is too hot to look for work, there are thousands of others who are working full-time jobs and rebuilding their homes or awaiting affordable housing.

We are beyond the survival stage. Now the difficulties are navigating through bureaucracy, new zoning which has made some people have to rebuild their homes 20 feet up, insurance issues(hey, State Farm, if none of the storm damage was caused by wind, why are you dropping wind-coverage on so many policies?), fraudulent contractors. short supplies of building materials, labor shortages, and the task of rebuilding over 200,000 homes.

We are stepping up to the task. We survived the deluge and our rebuilding our communities.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Shabbat Shalom! 17 Sivan 5768

One year ago, the Pascagoula River was used for a mikveh. I accepted the obligations of mitzvot and acquired a new name, Shira.

Empty Coffers

The outpouring of financial help and the number of volunteers that responded to Hurricane Katrina was awesome. And we appreciated it very much. Up along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, people lives are once again being overturned by flood waters. The Red Cross estimates it will need $45 million to help those impacted by the flood. Thus far, $5.5 million has been raised. We can do better than that.

The Mississippi Coast Chapter in Biloxi and the Southeast Chapter of Mississippi in Pascagoula are gearing up to send Red Cross volunteers to the stricken areas. Local churches are collecting donations. The city of Gulfport Mississippi is going to send relief supplies to Gulfport Illinois. Why, when we ourselves are still rebuilding?

Without electricity in late summer 2005, the daytime heat was smothering and the nights were dark. Chain saws were buzzing in every Coast neighborhood and just when Katrina survivors could eat not one more canned meal, the red-and-white truck seemed to pull around the corner.

"Those vehicles will be doing the same thing up there, delivering hot meals to people who need them the most," Brent said. "Our volunteers will deliver two hot meals a day to all of the affected neighborhoods."

I was fortunate that I didn't have damage to my home. The place I worked at was virtually washed away. The picture below shows what was left:

The vans of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army helped tremendously. They brought their comforting warm meals. Their smiles, as much as the meals, boosted our morale.

Let's give them a hand up. Those who face the task of stripping their homes and businesses of sodden furnishings should have the comfort of those meals and smiling faces. Let's help them out.

Chabad Disaster Relief The Chabad from New Orleans was here almost the day after Hurricane Katrina

Red Cross

Salvation Army

Humane Society Disaster Relief

Let's fill those empty coffers. Our heartland has given so much to this country. It's time to give something back.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Egalitarianism Run Amok?

I receive the Conservative magazine Voices of Conservatism/Masorti Judaism. In the Spring issue, there was a article on trying to get youth to wear and feel comfortable with tefillin. The main thrust of the article appeared to be getting girls comfortable with wearing tefillin. Clearly, from the tone of the article, the girls were reluctant and uncomfortable with wearing tefillin. While they may have sort of accepted it before their teen years, once they hit adolescence, they did not want to wear them. Feminist that I am, I cannot blame the girls and young women for their reluctance. Tefillin are very masculine in appearance. There was an almost militant tone to the article in trying to get girls to wear tefillin. This doesn't speak to me of egalitarianism.

You've Come Along Way "Baby"

The first computer I used was TRS-80. Biloxi High School purchased them for computer science classes. We learned BASIC programming and for our final exam, each had to write a program to help other students having trouble in algebra. I choose to do mine on quadratic equations. I still have a copy somewhere. I should try to run it on the 1981 IBM PC someone gave me about ten years ago. The one I have has both a 5 1/2 and 3.5 floppy drive!!! Someone gave me a copy of Windows Version 1. Both the computer and the software I was able to find for it are a far cry from today's computers.

Even as primitive as the first IBM PCs appear by comparison to the computer of today, the forerunners seem prehistoric.

BBC has a recording of one of the earliest computers, "Baby", playing songs. The pictures of "Baby" and the recorded songs show just how far computers have come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Break

Solomonia has a fascinating series of posts. They are about John Ray Carlson who went undercover to expose the growing number of fascists in the United States before World War II. UnderCover:Rankin and Edelstein is the latest and has links to the others.

Elder of Ziyon presents The Most Exaggerated Humanitarian Crisis.

Should archaeology by politicized? Read Soccer Dad's Digging Peace. There are many who try to deny the ties Jews have to Israel.

What do Winnie the Pooh and Obama have in common? Read to find out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When the Waters Recede

The flood waters in Iowa have begun to recede and people in small towns like Palo, Iowa can finally go in and assess the flood damage. The clean-up will be hard and arduous. Food in refrigerators and freezers will have to be thrown out and in some cases, the refrigerators and freezers as well. Carpets and flooring will have to be replaced. Furniture will have to be thrown out. Photo albums can be salvaged and after Hurricane Katrina, there were a few photographers that offered that service for free. Cherished mementos may have been lost. The very sheet rock may have to ripped from the walls. After the sheet rock has been ripped out, in some cases the wood in the walls may have to be replaced. It will not be an easy task, the sifting through the water-sogged remains and looking for all those things that make your house a home. These scenes will be repeated up and down the areas that were flooded in Iowa. It is heart-rending to see a life-time of hard work gone in just a short period of time.

Those scenes were repeated hundreds of thousands of times in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina hit. For those in Mississippi, many of those 65,000 homeowners only found the slabs. Hours were spent trying to find the precious photos of children growing up, of weddings, of graduations, of grandparents and parents.

It is no easy task to rebuild communities. In Louisiana and Mississippi, we are faced with the prospect of rebuilding close to 200,000 homes. The largest city in Iowa is Des Moines. It has a population(194,000) near to the number of homes Hurricane Katrina destroyed. Try to imagine having to rebuild a city that size and then maybe you can grasp the scope of the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

This from Tigerhawk still upsets me. It did touch a nerve.

Katrina has become a metaphor for many things beyond natural disaster, including governmental and individual incompetence (depending on your point of view). In Iowa there is a 500 year flood, but the people are not paralyzed, whining, or looting. There will be no massive relief effort from around the world, and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans. Yet years from now, there will be no Iowans still in FEMA camps.

The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood.

UPDATE (late Sunday afternoon): This post obviously touched a nerve. Oops. I certainly could have chosen my words more carefully. Sorry if I ruined Father's Day for any of you.

I guess we in Mississippi and Louisiana will have to wave our magic wands and poof, 200,000 homes will have magically been rebuilt in 2 1/2 years. I keep giving the numbers for houses destroyed. The 200,000 doesn't even begin to include the number of homes damaged. Look at it this way, in the six coastal counties directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, there were only 3,000 homeowners who did not have to file an insurance claim.

We in Mississippi and Louisiana have made great strides to rebuild our homes and communities. Hurricane Katrina, even though only a Catagory 3 storm as measured by NOAA, was a 500 year storm for us. The massive storm surge has been guestimated by NOAA to have been 28 feet in Bay St Louis. I believe that is wrong. It was 24 feet in Biloxi's Back Bay, 20-25 miles from bay St Louis. The storm surge extended into Alabama as well. It was 10 feet there.

The severity of the flood does matter. I take exception to Tigerhawk and his remarks about the 6,384 Mississippians still living in FEMA trailers. Considering that there used to be 40,000 of the FEMA trailers, we've hardly been "paralyzed". Instead of denigrating us, Tigerhawk and others of his ilk should be celebrating with us in Mississippi and Louisiana that we have confronted the flood and are making great progress in rebuilding our streets, our homes, our communities, and our lives. There are some who are taking advantage. It is telling that the vast majority of those prosecuted for Katrina aid fraud did not even live in Mississippi or Louisiana.

It doesn't matter were you live when a disaster strikes. There will always be those few who take advantage of the situation. Photos of looters in Louisiana were splashed across the airwaves. Mississippi had looters as well. Even Iowa has had its looters. Are to judge every Iowan by these two? No, of course not. Just as those in Louisiana and Mississippi should not be judged by its looters and those who are taking advantage of the generosity of Americans citizens and the Federal government.

Not only have we in Mississippi and Louisiana confronted the flood and begun the task of rebuilding, we've done so while being hampered by insurance issues. Many of the destroyed homes in Mississippi were not covered by flood insurance because those homes were in areas that have never been flooded in 100 years. Many are paying mortgages on concrete slabs. Government aid has been given to those homeowners. SBA homeowner loans have been given. The farmers in Iowa and other Mid-Western states are fortunate in that they disaster coverage as well as crop insurance. In Mississippi and Louisiana, homeowners are not so fortunate. Any disaster aid first is deducted by any insurance proceeds received. Farmers in Iowa and other Mid-Western receive many subsidies vie the Farm Bills that pass like clock-work in Congress.

Federal disaster aid will start coming in to help our fellow Americans in Iowa. The severity of the floods in Iowa affected many lives. I wish them well in rebuilding their lives. The floods of Katrina were massive and wide-ranging. It is that severity which dictates that some here are still in FEMA trailers 2 1/2 years later. It is that severity which dictates that some are still living with family or friends 2 1/2 years later. It is that severity which dictates that some who evacuated will never be able to return to the place they called home. The severity of the flood does dictate the rate of recovery. The Mississippi Gulf Coast alone lost 25% of its homes and a further 20% of its rental housing.

I know that the majority of those in Iowa will rebuild with the same determination as those in Mississippi and Louisiana. They will be able to get the job done much sooner because the severity of the floods in Iowa do not even come close to the severity of damage we in Louisiana and Mississippi suffered.

Update: Thank you Instapundit for linking.

Update 2: I wished I would have thought to post the following links earlier:

Chabad Flood Relief

Iowa Salvation Army

Iowa Red Cross

Humane Society Disaster Relief

Sunday, June 15, 2008

169-Part II

Haveil Havalim-Part II is up.

169-Part I

Writes Like She Talks has Haveil Havalim 169-part I. There's are lot of opinions this week and she is posting it in tow parts so she can spend time with her Dad.

Happy Father's Day!

Treppenwitz posted What Victory Looks Like today. As David, states, the picture in his post is worth more than a thousand words.

We Confronted the Flood

Tigerhawk posted about the floods in Iowa. Like many others, he couldn't resist a jab at at certain perceptions people have about Hurricane Katrina. To quote:

Katrina has become a metaphor for many things beyond natural disaster, including governmental and individual incompetence (depending on your point of view). In Iowa there is a 500 year flood, but the people are not paralyzed, whining, or looting. There will be no massive relief effort from around the world, and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans. Yet years from now, there will be no Iowans still in FEMA camps.

The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood.

This seems to be the current in thing: Bash the people affected by Hurricane Katrina. There seems to be a great deal of smugness in calling us paralyzed, whiny, looters. Sorry Tigerhawk. The severity of the flood can be the difference in whether are not people are still living in FEMA parks 2 1/2 years later.

The flooding occurring in Cedar Rapids is affecting a population of 124,000. Currently 3,000 people are having to evacuate from that city.

Let's put some prospective on the severity of the floods. A total of 65,000 homes in Mississippi were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. A further 35,000 had to be demolished because the damage was so great. A total of 100,000 homes gone for a pre-Katrina population along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Cedar Rapids population is 124,000.

The city of New Orleans lost over 100,000 homes of a pre-Katrina population of 475,000.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed more homes than the number of people who live in Cedar Rapids.

How long does it take to rebuild over 200,000 homes? A hint: The year after Hurricane Katrina saw 7,500 new homes built along the Mississippi Coast.

How long does it take to rebuild the apartment buildings destroyed?

While people are waiting for the chance to rebuild, where should they live? Would you prefer they live in FEMA trailers or in tents?

One of the greatest things to come out of Hurricane Katrina was the number of people who were willing to help another. Food, water, and shelter were shared with neighbor. The Mexican Army was on the beaches of Biloxi helping. People from Canada and Denmark were helping. Even Kuwait has helped. Should we have not accepted their help? Should we have turned down the help of hundreds of thousands volunteers from across the United States?

It is great that Iowans are helping their neighbors out. This is what is continuing to happen in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Our definition of neighbor now includes the entirety of the United States because of all those from Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida, New York, California, South Carolina, North Carolina and the rest of the States who saw their neighbors in need and helped. And it is continuing. Hundreds of thousands have been able to look past the infamous images of looters and realized their neighbors needed help. The past 2 1/2 years has been the biggest damned barn-raiser this country has ever seen.

H/T: Instapundit

Update: UPDATE: I'll certainly be happy not to be reading stories like this from Iowa.

What are people who receive FEMA assistance doing to help themselves? That's the question NBC 15's Andrea Ramey asked those who have been staying for free in hotel rooms after they moved out of FEMA supplied travel trailers. What she found out is there are some who are doing very little.

I'm not going to make excuses for these two women featured in the article. What they are doing is wrong. It should be pointed out they do not represent the majority of those living in FEMA assisted housing. As of May, 6,384 FEMA trailers and mobile homes still being used. After Hurricane Katrina, there around 40,000 of them. Clearly, we are sitting around doing nothing around here and all of us are shiftless sorts who would receive government assistance than help ourselves!!!

As always, bad news tends to receive the spotlight. For every Andrea Ramey and others like her, there are thousands more stories like Lance and his family. He and his family of four lived in a FEMA trailer for 2 years. These trailers are 5"x10". Lance and his wife and children lived in those close quarters and managed to not only rebuild their home but also helped Lance's Mom and Dad rebuild theirs. They both worked full-time jobs while doing so.

Here's another way of looking at it. I personally know 128 people whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Out of that number, 2 are still in FEMA trailers. Yeah, right. Katrina survivors are clearly a bunch of "paralyzed, whiny, looters" who want nothing more than to live off of government handouts!!!

Also, there are stories like Tracy and her husband. They lost their home in Hurricane Katrina. Their first thoughts and actions were to help their neighbors. They volunteered to help.

South Mississippians helped out their Tennessee neighbors when tornadoes struck. Mississippians also raised money to help those in Greensburg Kansas. And that wasn't all. Here's a story youwon't see in the news.

In any major disaster there will always be those who will take advantage. It is ironic that those stories are the ones which receive the most attention when the greater stories are those of people helping one another. It has become fashionable to bash those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Perceptions are formed and hard to dislodge when news reports focus on human failings instead of human triumphs. Out of close to a million people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, the focus is on the handful who did abuse the generosity of Americans. Some might hold the opinion that all of us in Hurricane Katrina's swath of destruction are taking advantage by accepting the Federal aid which has poured in. It would have been nice if Mississippi and Louisiana didn't need the financial assistance. The area of Katrina's destruction is almost the size of the entire country of England. Not only were homes swept away but the underpinnings of civilization swept away. Power lines, sewer lines, water lines, gas lines, roads, phone lines, city halls, police and fire stations were also swept away. Businesses were swept away.

I don't know if Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit or if Tigerhawk have visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast or New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina hit. The scope of the disaster cannot be comprehended from news reports or documentaries. It can barely be comprehended by those who are living here. We have done much to improve are lives since Katrina hit. We still have so much to do. Those 200,000 homes will not be rebuilt overnight nor even in a few years. Infrastructure is still ongoing. We have pulled together.

Update: Instapundit has reposted links he had for Hurricane Katrina for those who want to help our fellow countrymen in Iowa.

The Iowa Salvation Army

The Iowa Red Cross

Friday, June 13, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!


In the past few days, State Farm Insurance announced it would drop wind coverage within 1,000 to 2,500 feet of the Mississippi coastline and bays. Since Hurricane Katrina, State Farm and other insurance companies keep insisting that most homes were destroyed by water and wind did not factor in. Marshall Ramsey asks the question many have:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Power to the People!

If the Jewish people would sanctify themselves with Torah and mitzvos, they would continually hear the voice of Hashem speaking as from Mount Sinai.

(Baal Shem Tov)

Torah unleashed!

Worn Out

I'm tired of living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I'm tired of the constant rebuilding. I'm aggravated that Mississippi's Hurricane Katrina story is largely ignored unless it has to do with a handful of Mississippians who committed fraud. I'm tired of tiring to recover from the financial impact of Hurricane Katrina. Prices of everything from food to shelter have skyrocketed in the days after Hurricane Katrina. Rent prices and home prices are starting to go done. But I'm facing a double-whammy this year. Certain insurance are increasing their rates by 13% and the tax assessors office will be increasing rates across the Mississippi Coast.

Today, I'm worn out. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Commented On

Sunday, Shimon Peres made the following comment:

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Monday that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map."

The article was posted at on Sunday. I couldn't locate the link and it is possible the post has been deleted. There were many comments which were clearly anti-semitic. One commenter made the suggestion that perhaps it would have better if Hitler had finished his "Final Solution" of the Jewish "problem". His basic premise was if the Jews had been exterminated by Hitler, there would be no Israel today and the world would have peace and harmony.

Most of the other commenters at fark were appalled by his suggestion. However, it cannot be denied that so-called advocates for peace such as Arun Ghandi have made the assertion that Israel is the main threat to peace in the world. In his words:

Apparently, in the modern world, so determined to live by the bomb, this is an alien concept. You don't befriend anyone, you dominate them. We have created a culture of violence -- Israel and the Jews are the biggest players -- and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity.

Like the UN, the Arab League, and many others, the commenter and Ghandi ignore one simple fact: to paraphrase Golda Meir, if the enemies of Israel were to lay down their arms, there would be peace, if Israel were to lay down her arms, she would be destroyed.

The Culture of Violence and hate is being thrust upon the world not because of the existence of the Jewish State of Israel but because so many people around the world support the terrorist acts perpetrated against Israeli citizens. Israel is condemned by the UNhuman Rights Commission when it uses passive means such as a wall or checkpoints to stop suicide bombers. Right now, human rights violations occur against the citizens of Sderot, on a daily basis. But that seems to be okay. It is Palestinian terrorists lobbing the Qassams, we mustn't criticize them!!

If people truly want peace in the Middle East, they should stop supporting terrorists groups like Hezb'allah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and so many others whose main goal is the destruction of Israel. You get them to lay down their arms and to quit spending millions upon millions of dollars upon weapons of destruction. There is a difference between a nation defending its citizens against terrorist attacks and the terrorists whose only goal is to murder as many innocent civilians as possible.

Which is More Problematic?

A ten year old boy in Israel wrote the following poem:

Ahmed's bunker has surprises galore: Grenades, rifles are hung on the wall. Ahmed is planning another bomb!
What a bunker Ahmed has, who causes daily harm.
Ahmed knows how to make a bomb. Ahmed is Ahmed, that's who he is, so don't forget to be careful of him.
We get blasted while they have a blast!
Ahmed and his friends could be wealthy and sunny, if only they wouldn't buy rockets with all their money.

There are no calls for the murder of anyone. Each day, the Israeli town of Sderot is bombarded with Qassams. When a terrorist does succeed in murdering, there is much rejoicing in Gaza and the West Bank Contrast the poem to the video below:

From the Ynet article about the poem:

According to the Arabs who read the poem, it is racist and incites hatred among Arabs and Jews. Ibrahim Abu-Shindi, who manages the Arab community center in Jaffa, said the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the State and its leaders. "I'm not surprised by this story because all that Jewish children know from television is the Hamas man as a terrorist and a murderer."

According to Abu-Shindi, "the Education Ministry does not invest in bringing people together at all. There used to be a department for democracy and co-existence that did much to bring Arabs and Jews together, but it was cancelled. They send Jews to meet their Jewish friends from America through the 'Taglit' project, but they never get to know the Arabs that live only a few meters away."

The poem, in his opinion, creates a problematic state of events. "Placing this poem in a booklet is very serious, and encourages other children who think like this boy. If you want to bring people together you need stories about encounters and hope, otherwise you encourage hatred."

Abu-Shindl mentions there once was an effective program to bring Jews and Arabs together. He doesn't say why it was cancelled. Nor does he say when it was cancelled. My guess would be after the Arafat, that paragon of "peace", instigated the Second Intifada.

Which is more problematic: A poem by a ten year old or a children's television show aired by Palestinian authorities? It is interesting that Abu-Shindi mentions Hamas. Hamas states time and again its goal of destroying Israel. Which is more problematic?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Shabbat Shalom! 3 Sivan 5768

Drop Upon Drop

I was seven years old when Robert Kennedy was murdered by a Palestinian. I remember crying with my Mom. I didn't really understand the tears but I could feeling a sense of loss. We can only speculate what our country might be like today if President Kennedy had not been assassinated and if his brother had only been given the chance to lead our country.

Whether or not one agreed with the politics of John and Robert Kennedy, they both had something in common that is sadly lacking from those today who seek the presidential nomination. They both seemed committed to doing what was best for the country while seeking justice. They seemed to know the difference between fighting for what is right. President Kennedy made missteps and the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs were the result. He also committed more troops to Vietnam. In this, he was correct. In fighting in Vietnam, the US sought to turn the tide against communism. Communism has been a scourge on this earth. His commitment to landing a man on the men before the 1960's ended led to an unprecedented explosion in technology which has led to the computer I'm using to post what i have written. He had vision.

We will never know what Robert Kennedy would have accomplished. Sirhan Sirhan took that away from us with bullets. Sirhan did so because he believed that Kennedy was "instrumental" in the "oppression" of Palestinians.

Like his brother, Robert Kennedy had the vision and knew the social responsibility of political leadership. The 1960's were a volatile time. He seemed to be able to unite people:

Kennedy was perceived by many to be the only person in American politics capable of uniting the people. He was beloved by the minority community for his integrity and devotion to the civil rights cause. After winning California's primary, Kennedy was in the position to receive the Democratic nomination and face off against Richard Nixon in the general election.

Robert Kennedy was supportive of Israel. He was a young reporter and saw first hand the injustices that were being committed against Jews by both the British and the Arabs. Some of the dispatches he wrote have come to light:

Kennedy was liberal in his praise of the Palestinian Jews (only one month later did the name "Israel" and the term "Israelis" come into being). "The Jewish people in Palestine who believe in and have been working toward this national state have become an immensely proud and determined people," Kennedy wrote. "It is already a truly great modern example of the birth of a nation with the primary ingredients of dignity and self-respect."

One of his dispatches was headlined, "Jews Make Up for Lack of Arms with Undying Spirit, Unparalleled Courage." In one of his accounts, Kennedy describes his traveling with Haganah fighters in a convoy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Robert Kennedy knew the difference between right and wrong. He worked for social justice during the Civil Rights movement and when another man of peace was assassinated, he spoke words of comfort to those in a troubled city.

We'll never know what Robert Kennedy would have done for our country. Someone filled with hate took that away from us. They same hate that exists that propels men of hate to smash commercial jet liners into office buildings filled with people. The same hate exists that men of hate to launch rockets toward malls and to become suicide bombers. I have a hunch he would have been unequivocal in denouncing such acts of violence and hatred. He knew the difference between right and wrong. He knew the pain hatred causes and because of that, he was murdered by an assassin's bullet.

Update: Some interesting posts in connection:

Kennedy That Loved Israel
June 5: The Anniversary of the First Act of Palestinian Terrorists Against the US

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Letter From Jerusalem ... To The World

Deep Freeze

After criticism and due to financial reasons, FEMA will no longer bring in ice after a hurricane strikes. Instead, the job will now go to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Working with each state - MEMA for Mississippi - FEMA has charged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the job of delivering 3 million pounds of ice within 24 hours to any state hit, Hudak said, but only for medical emergencies and life-saving reasons.

"We want to make sure we're providing ice as a life-saving item and not a comfort item," she said. "We're not insensitive to comfort. That's why we're pushing people to get prepared and be able to help themselves."

Ice will be available for life saving and not as a comfort item. Some local authorities in Pascagoula have proposed making generators available to local ice houses after a hurricane. There are problems with this solution. Many of the ice houses in cities such as Biloxi were destroyed after Hurricane Katrina. Another problem I foresee: lack of gas or diesel fuel to run the generators.

Ice was a cool comfort after Hurricane Katrina. After hours of cleaning up debris in the yard, nothing was sweeter than ice-chilled water. It was and is a necessity for those who have infants. Many people already freeze water jugs, as another local authority suggested. This helps to keep refrigerated and frozen items cooler in the days after a hurricane. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, the temperatures were in the low 90's. My food in the freezer and refrigerator had to be thrown out three days after Hurricane Katrina. Ice would need to be replenished, at the minimum of every other day to keep food fresh.

To me, ice is more than a quality of life issue after a hurricane. Ice can also be a great help in slowing down the spoilage of food. One of the health hazards we faced after Hurricane Katrina was all the rotting foods people had to empty from freezers and refrigerators. This coupled with the delays in garbage pick-up can lead to major health issues, not to mention the attraction of rodents, insects, and other animals to all that waste.

Problems With Youtube

For the past month, I've been experiencing problems trying to view videos at Youtube. I keep getting a java script error that says I need to download the latest flash player and enable java scripting. I downloaded the latest flash player and ensured that java script was enabled. Neither solution worked. I tried disabling my Norton Firewall protection. That didn't work. I downloaded Firefox. Still, the same problem. I downloaded Safari/PC. The videos still will not play at the Youtube site. They will play when they have been embedded at different sites, including

Any ideas?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's a Cultural Thing

When Michael Vick was arrested for dog-fighting, Whoopi Goldberg made a comment about dog-fighting being a cultural thing. She was castigated for seemingly trying to defend the vileness and cruelty inherent in dog-fighting. She said that cock-fighting is culturally acceptable in places like Puerto Rico and dog-fighting is wide-spread in the Southern states of the US(hey Whoopi, dog-fighting exists in the Northern states as well).

Recently, 9 men in Clinton Mississippi were arrested for having cock-fights. The above picture is one of the poor animals that died as a result of cruelty and for the profit of the men who ran the fights. These men and others across the country who run cock fights and dog fights are rightly condemned for the cruelty they choose to employ.

Whoopi's statements about Michael Vick being a cultural thing is not an isolated incident. It has become politically incorrect to judge other cultures. Women in Saudi Arabia have many restrictions against them. They are treated as second-class citizens by the modesty police and in courts of law. The symbol of their second-class status is the veil they must wear. They do not have the freedom to choose to wear the veil. It must be worn.

Women in Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank, and increasingly in Europe are murdered in so-called "honor killings". In Arab Islamic countries, those murderers face little more than a slap on the wrist. It is a culturally acceptable defense in those countries that women can be murdered for daring to date someone the family doesn't approve of, for becoming pregnant, etc. Do we, in Western countries, dare condemn those murders? We must!!!

We must also condemn the use of terrorism committed by the Taliban, Al Queda, Hamas, Hexb'allah, Islamic Jihad, the terrorists factions of Fatah, and so many other groups. We must condemn in no uncertain terms the bombings of embassies when false outrage is stoked against political cartoons about Mohammed.

You remember that picture at the start of the Second Intifada. We must condemn those who can literally tear living human beings apart with their bare hands. Instead of trying to seek justification for such brutality, it must and should be condemned.

Where does such hate come from? Some try to justify the hatred because of actions by the Israeli government. I do believe it is a cultural thing. From Iran to it's barbaric stonings of women and it's hanging of teenagers, to Saudi Arabia with it's 100 lashings to a rape victim: the barbarity is a cultural thing. The barbarity is interweaved with Sharia law. Because of "cultural sensitivity", we are not to criticize those aspects of Islam which in some countries are barbaric. There will be barbarity like this until there is widespread condemnation of the text books used by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

This multiculturalism and "cultural sensitivity" is making a mockery of the laws of justice in Europe:

In the UK, Islamic Sharia law courts, where the laws of evidence are more lenient, now operate as an alternative to the legitimate courts of the British government, according to The Telegraph, undoubtedly encouraged by the climate fostered by idealists such as the ruling Labour Party, which had insisted for many years that their country is “multicultural.” In Germany, the judge of a German court cited the Koran in rejecting a Moroccan woman’s petition for an accelerated divorce due to domestic violence and death threats from her husband, according to the International Herald Tribune. While mainstream Muslim leaders, to their credit, swiftly condemned the ruling, the apparent alacrity with which the judge subordinated German legal principles to the Koran illustrates the paralysis of justice which could result from permitting cultural accommodation to become too ingrained. In France, philosopher Jean-Francois Revel has commented that the institutional reluctance to teach French to immigrant children in French schools has stunted the upward mobility of these immigrants, causing resentment which sometimes boils over into the youth riots we have witnessed in recent years. Homosexuals, in particular, comprise one group which has much to fear from the growing Islamization of Europe. In the Netherlands, attacks on gays have increased in recent years, mostly perpetrated by Moroccan youths, according to Radio Netherlands. In Iran, Sharia law calls for the execution of homosexuals. It may be ridiculous now to think that something like that could happen in western Europe, but such changes do not occur suddenly, and we only notice too late when things have gone too far, just as a frog submerged in a pot of cold water does not jump out of the pot if the water is brought gradually to a boil.

A German court quoted from the Koran and wanted to keep a Moroccan woman in a abusive marriage. These are not laws of justice. It should not be "culturally insensitive" to criticize others. Human rights abuses must be condemned. It seems that the only country that it is "politically correct" and not "culturally insensitive" to condemn is the Jewish State of Israel.

The above picture was taken at an Israel Day Parade held in New York. Whenever supporters of Israel get together, they are subjected to this. If this sign had referenced Palestinians, it would have been splashed across the news world-wide.

British academics call for the boycott of Israel on a yearly basis. Multiculturalism has led to an absurd and skewed vision of human rights.

It has sapped us in the West of being able to change the barbarity that exists across much of the world. We mustn't condemn Mugabe because European colonialists were in Africa. We mustn't criticize the Koran because it might led to riots. We mustn't draw political cartoons showing Mohammed because it is "insensitive".

How much more "cultural sensitivity" must we show? Criticism has the ability to make us change for the better. Multiculturalism is taken away the ability to bring justice to those who languish in prisons and in repressive societies because it is a "cultural thing".

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Running Through My Mind

For the past several years, a curious thing has been happening. A sing will get stuck in replay in my mind. It doesn't last for a day. Sometimes, like in the case of V'shamru, it will be last for weeks. Sometimes it is Jerusalem of Gold, my boss really appreciated when I started singing it aloud! Sometimes it is Alienu. At times, it is various zemirot.

This week, it is different nigguns by Carlebach and others. I think I choose my Hebrew name well. Songs are always just a thought away.

Monday, June 2, 2008

To Touch the Wall

To touch the Wall, to stand at the remnants of the Second Temple and to offer up our prayers to HaShem: This has been a longing for Jews for over two thousand years. In 1968, 40 years ago today, we once again could stand at the Wall and the Old City was filled with life.

The Palestinians try to deny Jewish ties to the Wall and to the Temple Mount but history cannot be denied. Arch of Titus was made after the Romans captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple.

Treppenwitz and his family went to visit Jerusalem.

I still get goosebumps when listening to this recording.

The blowing of the shofar and this prayer said at the Temple Mount are filled with the emotion of the dreams and hopes of 2,000 years:

El male rahamim, shohen ba-meromim. Hamtse menuha nahona al kanfei hashina, be-maalot kedoshim, giborim ve-tehorim, kezohar harakiya meirim u-mazhirim. Ve-nishmot halalei tsava hagana le-yisrael, she-naflu be-maaraha zot, neged oievei yisrael, ve-shnaflu al kedushat Hashem ha-am ve-ha'arets, ve-shichrur Beit Hamikdash, Har Habayit, Hakotel ha-ma'aravi veyerushalayim ir ha-elokim. Be-gan eden tehe menuhatam. Lahen ba'al ha-rahamim, yastirem beseter knafav le-olamim. Ve-yitsror be-tsror ha-hayim et nishmatam adoshem hu nahlatam, ve-yanuhu be-shalom al mishkavam [soldiers weeping loud]ve-ya'amdu le-goralam le-kets ha-yamim ve-nomar amen!

[Translation: Merciful God in heaven, may the heroes and the pure, be under thy Divine wings, among the holy and the pure who shine bright as the sky, and the souls of soldiers of the Israeli army who fell in this war against the enemies of Israel, who fell for their loyalty to God and the land of Israel, who fell for the liberation of the Temple, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Jerusalem the city of the Lord. May their place of rest be in paradise. Merciful One, O keep their souls forever alive under Thy protective wings. The Lord being their heritage, may they rest in peace, for they shalt rest and stand up for their allotted portion at the end of the days, and let us say, Amen.]

Le-shana HA-ZOT be-Yerushalayim ha-b'nuya, be-yerushalayim ha-atika

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Haveil Havalim

Frum Satire is hosting Haveil Havalim.

A Mighty Wind

Today is the start of the Atlantic/Caribbean hurricane season. Hurricanes are usually classified by their winds. The definition of a hurricane seems innocuous:

Main Entry: hur·ri·cane
Pronunciation: \ˈhər-ə-ˌkān, -i-kən, ˈhə-rə-, ˈhə-ri-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Spanish huracán, from Taino hurakán
Date: 1555
1 : a tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes — see beaufort scale table
2 : something resembling a hurricane especially in its turmoil

The definition doesn't even include the fact that hurricanes produce storm surges. It is very inadequate to describe the destruction that can be generated by wind and storm surge.

In Mississippi, in cities such as Gulfport, Biloxi, Pascagoula, Bay St Louis, Lakeshore, and other coastal cities, time is demarcated by Before Hurricane Katrina and After Hurricane Katrina.

I'm so proud of the way we in Mississippi, looked at the miles upon miles of debris, the empty spaces where tens of thousands of homes once stood, the loss of businesses, and the loss of loved and resolved to rebuild better and stronger. That has been our slogan since August 29, 2005. I'm proud of the rebuilding that has been ongoing. From my eyes, great strides have been made in our rebuilding efforts. Therefore, I was slightly taken aback when a volunteer made the comment to the effect that it still looks like a bomb hit us. Where she saw the acres of empty spaces: I saw the debris gone. Where she saw sporadic rebuilding: I see how much has been rebuilt.

The news media has focused mainly on New Orleans. Even when the History Channel reports on Hurricane Katrina, it focuses on New Orleans while stating its documentary is about the Gulf Coast. Its documentary shows video footage from Biloxi and Bay St Louis while narrating about New Orleans. It briefly mentions Mississippi but doesn't have sub-titles when the footage is of Mississippi. Most documentaries about Hurricane Katrina are like that. The notable exception is the Weather Channel. Since Jim Cantore was in Gulfport Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina, he knows what we faced and narrates the documentary and tells our story very well.

As much as I like and admire Jim Cantore, I hope we are not visited by him this hurricane season when a mighty wind is looming in the Gulf of Mexico. His presence has come to mean we are going to be hit.

As destructive as Hurricane Katrina was, there was good that came out of her. I've seen first-hand the generosity of the people of the United States. It amazes and gladdens me that hundreds of thousands of people were and are still willing to give up so much of their time to volunteer and help us rebuild. In September 2005, I estimated it would take 10 or more years for us to replace the 65,000 Mississippi homes destroyed outright by Hurricane Katrina and to replace the 35,000 Mississippi homes which had to be demolished due to the damage by Hurricane Katrina.

It is a daunting task but our slogan still holds: "Rebuild better and stronger: Together". The news media may focus on New Orleans and it is their loss and ours. It leads to incidents when people are asked to share their Hurricane Katrina stories that someone from Gulfport will be told to sit-down and that nothing happened to Mississippi.

I want the Mississippi numbers to be seared into people's consciousness. Before Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Gulf Coast had a population of approximately 400,000. There were 238 people killed during Hurricane Katrina. There were 100,000 homes destroyed/demolished. Businesses such as the casinos, Chevron, Northrop Grumman, the Port of Gulfport(the third busiest in the Gulf of Mexico), and so many others that were heavily damaged or destroyed. There was loss of 20% of rental housing. Libraries, police stations, fire stations, city halls, court buildings, postal facilities, banks, power plants, water and sewage lines, and communication infrastructure that were destroyed.

Some police and fire stations still have trailers as their stations. Some court houses are still trailers. Libraries have yet to be rebuilt. Work is ongoing to repair water and sewage lines impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Work is still ongoing to repair power lines. Work is still ongoing to repair communication lines.

There is a lot to be done and I want Mississippi's story to be told. I'm so tired of every time I see or read about Hurricane Katrina, the focus is on New Orleans with just a blip about the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina is two stories. New Orleans suffered levee breaks because of the massive storm surge which impacted the levees from the south via the Mississippi River and from the north, when the winds swung around and pushed the storm surge towards New Orleans. The pictures of a flooded city cannot be forgotten. Mississippi's story is not so well known. The Mississippi Gulf Coast has no levee system to protect us from the ravages of a hurricanes storm surge. We are not under sea level like many places in New Orleans.

Our story is one of a brutal storm surge that official guestimates place at 28 feet. I say guestimate because many of the gauges used by NOAA to determine storm surge height were destroyed. I guestimate the storm surge to have been 30 feet in Pass Christian and 26 feet in Back Bay Biloxi. The storm surge came far inland when it followed the rivers and creeks. I live 12 miles inland. Two miles to my west, there was flooding from Katrina's storm surge. The power plant was flooded and it is ten miles inland.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast faced a very different hurricane than New Orleans. The flooded homes seen of New Orleans leave an impact. The 100,000 homes of Mississippi no longer exist and the empty spaces do not grab the eye as the flooded ones do. It is not until you are on the ground and look in every direction that you can see the terrible destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina when her storm surge swept away so much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I want the remarkable story of quiet determination of people like Noah, Lionel, Ms. Shannon, and so many others of the Mississippi Gulf Coast to be known. They lost all and with the help of family, friends, and volunteers, they are rebuilding their lives. Whether it was receiving a Katrina Cottage or rebuilding a home: each story deserves to remembered.

At this start of the 2008 hurricane season, as in years past, it is always best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The Harrison County Civil Defense has a very comprehensive list on being prepared.
It is not just people along the Gulf Coast that need to be prepared. In 1938, a hurricane skirted the coast of New England and caused major damage and the loss of 500 lives. Hurricanes need to be taken seriously. 1900 Galveston hurricane took 6,000 lives. Hurricane Camille had winds of 200 mph. It took the Mississippi Gulf Coast over 20 years to rebuild after her. Hurricane Ivan had both a destructive storm surge and destructive winds. My cousins finally finished rebuilding their home last year. As bad as the hurricanes are in the United States, we are fortunate to have the technology and the resources necessary to evacuate well ahead of impact. Myanmar recently suffered a cyclone. The death toll is still climbing but it is not the worst to impact that region. The Weather Underground archives show the deadliest cyclones/hurricanes. None from the United States are on the list. The recent Myanmar is tied #10 with the Great Bombay cyclone of 1882.

People in the United States hate to see others suffering. The news images of people being plucked from rooftops led to and unprecedented outpouring of donations and volunteers. Many were outraged at the seemingly slow response of the federal government. We don't want to see U.S. citizens or anyone in distress. A massive rescue operation took place in New Orleans. That story is buried under the unrealistic outrage at the supposed slow response. Think about it. What other country has the resources necessary to rescue in 6 days 50,000 trapped people? Much has been said about the lack of FEMA bringing water, ice, and food into New Orleans. The city was under water and people were being evacuated. The National Guard was correctly rationing water and food. Would it had made sense to allow volunteers who had no rescue training into a city that was being evacuated? The news media focused on stories of rape and murder. Those stories proved to be false and actually hampered rescue operations.

As I've stated before, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Hurricane Katrina is very different from New Orleans. Base don the destruction of rail lines, downed power lines, downed trees, debris across roads, and the destruction of major bridges and highways: I was astounded that the FEMA trucks full of water and ice arrived on the Mississippi the Wednesday, three days after Hurricane Katrina struck. I wasn't expecting them until at least Friday.

Because of the uncertainties involved with hurricanes, people need to prepare well in advance. If you wait until that big bulls eye is targeting your area, it is already too late. Personally, I start preparing two months before the start of the hurricane season.

When a hurricane strikes, you are told by the emergency management officials to prepare to be on your own for 3-5 days. Each town, city, county and state prepares for disasters. Drills are held for the government to get help to you at the minimum of 3 days and the maximum for 5 days. When a disaster of Katrina's magnitude strikes, if you are not personally and adequately prepared, you will suffer the consequences.

Any effective response begins with you. You are responsible for insuring that you, your family, and your pets have food, medicine, water, and the tools necessary to survive a disaster. When a Hurricane Katrina strikes, there will be no magic wands to replace destroyed infrastructure. There will be no instantaneous emergency response. There will be no magic to restore downed communication lines, power lines, or water and sewage lines.

The fire and police are no longer just a phone call away. If you even have a working land line, there may not even be a police or fire station left. The flick of a switch will not bring the safety and comfort of electricity.

You will not be able to pull up to a gas station with the expectation that there will be gas and the power to pump it if there is.

We are so used to having everything being at our fingertips. We tend to have unrealistic expectations as to how fast an emergency response should be. We criticize our government in order to improve that response. However, there are some disasters which have a such a wide range of destruction, that it just isn't possible to have that emergency response within a day. The swath of Hurricane Katrina's destruction was huge. An area almost the size of the country of England suffered catastrophic damage and destruction.

Much has been written about letting corporations such as Wal-Mart direct disaster response. Corporations do have the advantage of being vastly more flexible than government agencies. But even Wal-Mart doesn't have the rescue capabilities of the US Coast Guard, the National Guard, and individual states departments of wildlife and fisheries. Wal-Mart does have the logistical ability to provide water and ice faster but would that have worked in New Orleans? Again, the question arises as to how much should be attempted to be trucked in to a city that is being evacuated.

We don't like seeing US citizens being plucked from rooftops and then placed on highways. We want something to be done now. And it was being done. I think the focus was too much on FEMA trucks not rolling into New Orleans and too little on the rescue efforts of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the US Coast Guard, and the National Guard.

Too little focus was given to cities such as Houston Texas, Jackson Mississippi, Baton Rouge and so many others who opened centers to accommodate the evacuees. Too little focus was given to something truly remarkable: the doors individuals of those in Hattiesburg, Gulfport, Baton Rouge, and so many others were opened to provide shelter to those whose homes were destroyed or flooded.

The much greater story of hand reaching out to hand has been lost in the criticism. Far from being discouraged by the seeming lack of government: I'm grateful to live in such as country whose government(city, county, state, and federal), businesses, and citizens work together to provide what is needed to help others in distress.

Just look at Myanmar and you can see the difference of between an ineffective government and one that cares. There were mistakes made by FEMA and other agencies but given the scope of Hurricane Katrina's destruction, in reality it was an efficient disaster relief effort. It didn't happen overnight and nor should there have been expectation that all relief needs would be meet in that time.

That is why when a hurricane warning is given, all are told to prepare enough food and water to last 3-5 days. Based on the extent of the disaster, that is how long it may take for relief to start pouring in. It starts with you. You must take personal responsibility to be prepared to be on your own in the aftermath of a major disaster.

Things will be chaotic after a major disaster. I've related this before but feel it still needs to be said again. The police will not be a phone call away. I was fortunate my land line worked on and off. My cell phone would not work but my sister's in Biloxi worked. Two nights after Hurricane Katrina, my sister called me. She said there were strangers walking up and down her street. She could not call the Biloxi Police Department because of land line problems. I had to call the Biloxi Police Department for her. They did not think it strange that I, in Gulfport, were calling them for my sister in Biloxi. They took her address and my sister said it took 30 minutes for them to show up. But they did show up.

You begin to see the problems faced in the aftermath of a disaster. You have to be prepared. The government you are used to will not be there. The grocery stores will not have aisles of food ready for you to purchase. Gas stations will not gas. Home repair stores will run out of items very quickly. Flushing a toilet will not be a viable option each time you use it. The water will not pour forth from your faucets. A bath or shower will be a luxury. Food in your freezes and refrigerators will quickly spoil. Even if you have a gas-powered generator, you will have trouble finding gas to be able to run it.

You need to prepare and it needs to be done before a threat looms over the horizon. Yopu will be on your own. If you are prepared then you can share with your neighbors who may have lost everything.