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“Some of the special challenges were moving people in wheelchairs out of the very small boats,” he said, “and picking them up and keep them above the water level. It might take four people to move one patient but there was always somebody standing around who would jump in to help a patient.”
Nobody in particular stood out as a hero, because dozens and dozens of people, at least for a few minutes here and there, performed deeds of compassion and altruism and, yes, heroism. And, Greg said, in all that time he saw not a single act of violence.
Finally, late Thursday afternoon, the hospital evacuation was complete, except for a few security guards. Back to the Can Company for Greg. As at the hospital, that building too had no running water, no electricity, no communications. But at least he had a dry room and a bed. Outside, though, there still were neighborhood people stranded, and still there were choppers coming to rescue them on Friday.
“I guess I slacked off Friday,” Greg said, “and only worked half the day. There was still at least one security guard left at the hospital. He finally convinced me to go back to the Can Company and get my plastic bag with the limited number of clothes I had left, and to get on a helicopter at 1:30 or so.” The chopper dropped him off at New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Airport. Somehow that night he found a flight to Atlanta. From there, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, to Nashville, where relatives lived.
Meanwhile a few hours later, a helicopter trying to land — right on the same grassy strip by Bayou St. John where Greg had loaded people all week — crashed. Nobody was killed, but the big bird lay there, as mangled metal, for weeks. One more piece of wreckage, a symbol of the city that lay in ruins around it.
SUCH WAS THE REAL STORY of most of the city of New Orleans. The truth is, it was not a city that forgot to care. As lawless thugs marauded in some places, New Orleanians in all sorts of other neighborhoods, people who for whatever reasons chose not to evacuate, looked for stranded people to help, pets to save, and neighbors’ property to look after. My brother Haywood was one of those Good Samaritans. As Greg Beuerman described, there were countless others.
Yes, the floodwalls — poorly engineered 40 years ago by the federal Army Corps of Engineers — fell apart. The city government fell apart. The state government fumbled and bumbled. The federal government — with the exception of the wondrously salvific Coast Guard and some Fish & Wildlife personnel — was utterly, stupendously inept. And the Bush administration, foolishly and cold-heartedly, later was to kill the only viable plan for sensible redevelopment — a free-market-oriented plan, sponsored by a conservative congressman, at that.
But don’t ever say that New Orleanians, white and black alike, didn’t serve each other and save each other. Floodwaters recede. The Greg Beuermans of the city do return. Jazz musicians still play. And the river rolls past in a graceful arc, bordered by comparatively higher ground close to its banks — ground just high and dry enough to beckon adventurous souls to rebuild and, yes, to really live.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online