Old Wounds

I can feel it starting to set in on me. When I'm sitting, relatively relaxed, as I am now, I can feel the tenseness start to creep into my shoulders. I swear, for the first two years, I couldn't sit completely relaxed. When I was sitting, it was hunched over, with my shoulders rolled forward and tensed for flight, my hands constantly fidgeting or making that weird washing movement like Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons."

For the most part, these days, I put it aside. I live with the daily frustration of life in NOLA and remember all of the reasons that I still choose to live here. But when the height of hurricane season rolls around, sometimes it's still hard.

Sometimes, I hate to admit, I wait for the next big one--the one that will deal the finishing blow and allow us all to move on. To where? I don't know. But if there's one thing the Gustav scare taught me, it's that no matter how much I try to pretend that I'm inured to it now--that I can handle it again, if worse comes to worse, because I've been through it before--I'm lying to myself.

I'm tense. Four years later. And Jeanne Meserve echoes in my head.

CNN Transcript - August 29, 2005

MESERVE: It's been horrible. As I left tonight, darkness, of course, had fallen. And you can hear people yelling for help. You can hear the dogs yelping, all of them stranded, all of them hoping someone will come. But for tonight, they've had to suspend the rescue efforts. It's just too hazardous for them to be out on the boats. There are electrical lines that are still alive. There are gas lines that are still spewing gas. There are cars that are submerged. There are other large objects. The boats can't operate. So they had to suspend operations and leave those people in the homes. As we were driving back, we passed scores of boats, Fish and Wildlife boats that they brought in. They're flat bottomed. They've obviously going to put them in the water just as soon as they possibly can and go out and reach the people who are out there who desperately need help.We watched them, some of them, come in. They were in horrible shape, some of them. We watched one woman whose leg had been severed. Mark Biello, one of our cameramen, went out in one of the boats to help shoot. He ended up being out for hours and told horrific tales. He saw bodies. He saw where -- he saw other, just unfathomable things. Dogs wrapped in electrical -- electrical lines who were still alive that were being electrocuted.The police are having radio problems. At least they were earlier this evening. They didn't have enough boats. They put out an appeal to various police who had personal boats to bring them to the scene. But the problem was the people who had the boats couldn't get to the boats to bring them to the scene to go out and rescue the people.People are out there tonight. One of the EMS workers told us that the water is rising, and I can tell you that when we came back into the city tonight, it certainly was higher here. Whether it's rising in that neighborhood as much as it has here, I don't know.

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