Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Rain Dance

I spoke to my mother, living in Texas, to see how she was weathering the latest spate of hurricanes. She was fine, however, the several evacuees from Galveston she was providing shelter were not. They had lost everything in Hurricane Ike, the storm ramming a ferry over the canal and down the block where they lived. My mother, who was incidentally in the process of selling her home and preparing to move to Europe, said that tensions were high amongst the evacuees, a pair of whom are a gay couple, kept in limbo with FEMA (the US Federal Emergency Management Agency) responses, having lost all their worldly goods--including a fantastic little antique shop. My mother made the real estate agents angry by stopping all viewings of the house, but she didn't want these people to feel more displaced than they already were. If I felt like a refugee, I think I might like to be put on display, tell potential buyers I had squatters' rights or was at least part of the furniture. Amid all the chaos, one partner kept his focus rapt on the television, hoping to see some footage, a fly-over shot--any thing more telling than the stock-scenes replayed of the surf lapping over the floodwalls, which seem more like metaphors (cut to windswept drapes, rather than the steamy bedroom scene) than pictures of a devastated town, or fibrously water-logged beach houses. What coverage the hurricane damage did manage to garner, though, seemed like a great understatement, an uncharacteristic glossing over, and generally made him feel worse. Maybe it's the louder blaring of world stock markets in turmoil, the contest for the US presidential election (which was magnanimously already put on hold once for a natural disaster), or the fact it is happening to my mother's friends, which make it seem as if not enough is being done or at least being said about Ike and Galveston. Could FEMA possibly still betray some embarrassment? Are the pictures and personal losses too horrible to see, especially for a public not only fatigued by bombardments of disaster but also fatigued by facetious shows of unity? My mother believes that the weather is controlled by Dick Cheney. Maybe someone should tell the candidate this is what the vice-president does all day.