Bracing for Hurricane Issac
We’ve been here before. We know what to expect. In just a few hours the skies will darken further and the howl of the winds will echo in our ears, rattling our windows and doors. The rain will begin its terrible onslaught on our city and the sidewalks and streets will fill up with water.
When one lives in New Orleans, one learns to cope with tropical storms and hurricanes, even if they are typically just a minor nuisance than a life-changing event. Hurricanes Betsy, Camille, Andrew and Katrina were major weather systems that put terrible hits on New Orleans. Betsy caused scores of deaths and flooding. Camille’s ferocious winds downed power lines and made us take notice of the awesome power of a concentrated hurricane that could spin off multiple tornados in advance of its approach. In the middle of an oppressively hot summer Andrew made us miserable.
But Katrina tore apart our soul. The agony that hurricane unleashed on the unsuspecting New Orleans landscape continues to this day, the nearly exact seventh year anniversary of the storm’s landfall in Louisiana. The failure of the federal levee system that resulted in the unprecedented citywide flooding made a bad weather event a human tragedy with more than 1500 souls lost. Hurricane Gustav four years ago helped us to improve our preparatory efforts in dealing with these storm systems, making “contraflow” a part of our hurricane season lexicon.
Now, we are prepared to deal with what looks to be a tremendous rainmaker and minimal strength hurricane. We citizens of the Big Easy are a strong, resilient people and we will continue. The Jewish community located within the larger Greater New Orleans community has also proven to be shaped by the events of the past and, despite horrible personal property loss seven years ago, has come back stronger and more prepared to deal with the challenges of hurricane season. Our community is spirited and younger with an incursion of professionals who have proven they are ready to extend the hand of charity in the spirit of tikun olum (healing the world). Our numbers are up and our future appears to be bright. So let us gird ourselves and know that we will endure this with the help of the Almighty. During the month of Elul the shofar is sounded to warn of the advancing High Holidays. Perhaps, if we listen for the sound of the shofar, it will drown out the sounds of any storm and we will all be back stronger and better prepared for the New Year. Be safe.