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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

I'm saddened and awed by the stories coming out of New Orleans and the surrounding area. More or less by coincidence, a few weeks ago, I started reading Erik Larson's haunting, riveting Isaac's Storm, the story of the hurricane that devastated Galveston, Texas, on September 8, 1900, one of the deadliest storms in history.

The details of the book have, of course, many parallels with the stories I've seen in the headlines over the past few days. I'm very grateful for the many advances of the past century in understanding storms. The hurricane that struck Galveston in 1900 caught most of its victims unprepared. Even the meteorologists on Galveston Island, watching the barometric pressure drop, studying the changes in the wind and the waves, didn't recognize the sheer power of what was coming. With Hurricane Katrina, most people at least had warning. Areas were evacuated and preparations were made. But of course it still wasn't enough. Far too many people have died and thousands have lost their homes. It's tragic.

And on a minor note, it's making it hard for me to finish reading Isaac's Storm. That 105-year distance that helped to make its stories of lost lives and lost hopes a little more bearable has been swept away by the storm in the headlines.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones in this latest hurricane, with the people waiting for news from their families and friends, and, too, with those thousands lost in Galveston all those years ago.

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