Wednesday, August 17, 2016
The view from 10645 Darryl Drive
This is my neighborhood, the one in Baton Rouge where I grew up.
My parents built their first -- and only -- house there in 1956. I moved in at the end of March 1961 from my previous address at the old Our Lady of the Lake maternity ward.
From 1956 until three days ago, not a drop of unwanted water entered 10645 Darryl Drive unless somebody spilled a glass of it on the floor. Then we mopped it up.
Look at the picture above, taken by the Civil Air Patrol on Sunday. 10645 Darryl Drive is in the bottom fourth, one-third from the left.
There's not a big enough mop in the world.
At right, thanks to Google Street View, is how the home of my youth looked three years ago -- when it was the home of my mother's old age. This picture is from May 2013, a month before Mama fell and broke her hip at age 89.
When the paramedics took her away to the new Our Lady of the Lake, she couldn't have known that she'd never see it again. A couple of months after that, she'd be here in Omaha, in the assisted-living apartment where she would spend the last 18 months of her life.
Mama lived at 10645 Darryl Drive for almost 57 years. In 2001, Daddy took his last breath in the bedroom that was once mine.
I AM grateful they did not live to see Sunday's scene at 10645 Darryl Drive -- to see their little world in their little part of Baton Rouge, La., overtaken by dirty, brown floodwater. I am grateful that, in extreme old age, they did not see the house they so loved invaded by the deluge. See their memories drowned.
I am grateful they were not faced with cleaning up a gigantic mess when they were too old and too ill to even consider putting things aright again.
Today, the scene at 10645 Darryl Drive has been repeated thousands upon thousands upon thousands of times -- much worse in most cases. Water to the countertops, water to the ceiling, water to the roofline. Water consuming everything and, in 11 cases as I write, someone's very life.
Also as I write, I've lost count of how many people I know back home, both family and friends, who got flooded out, in many cases losing everything they owned. I have cousins who now possess only their lives, their loved ones and the clothes on their backs. This is my hometown's Katrina. This is Katrina for an area spanning 20 parishes (counties) in south Louisiana.
NEXT DOOR in Denham Springs, a town of more than 10,000 just across the rampaging Amite River, 90 percent of homes were flooded. In Livingston Parish alone, where Denham Springs is the largest municipality, it's estimated that more than 100,000 people lost everything they had.
Nobody's come up with a number for Baton Rouge, the capital city of 230,000 people.
Not that you'd know any of that from the national media.
Louisiana lives matter . . . not that you could tell from watching the evening news or the cable networks, where all the airtime is devoted to more pressing things than the fate of rednecks, coonasses and black folks in a banana republic somewhere in Flyover Country.
Somewhere toward the bottom.
NO, the cable networks are preoccupied by what obviously matters in life, like panels of opposing party hacks yelling at one another over whether Donald Trump's shit stinks. Tomorrow, Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper will be hosing down the bellowing political hacks as they debate whether Trump was right to be livid that CNN suggested that his shit wasn't the best shit, the best smelling shit that anyone ever shit. Believe me.
As a former resident of 10645 Darryl Drive, I have an opinion about what these blathering, coastal media elites are full of.
But now I return to my regularly scheduled mourning, both for my people and for a country that doesn't much think their lives, their suffering and their deaths matter much at all.