Katrina Postmortems: Helping, Hyping, Looting

*As a result of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans will never be the same. Nothing will be Easy again. In aerial shots, Gulfport and Biloxi look like Leipzig and Dresden. And the ramifications – from economic and environmental to public health, marshal law and a national disaster fund — will ripple far beyond Bayou country.

*As for the rest of the Gulf Coast, we’re all still in the cross hairs. Our destiny can not be all dodged bullets all the time. At some point the Big Guava can morph into the Big Funnel Cake. Katrina has tragically reminded us that when you live near – let alone on – the water, and an evacuation order is given: Obey it. Only life is truly priceless.

*Thoughts and prayers for those whose lives have been devastated are fine. Thoughts, prayers and a check or credit card are much finer. Two good expediters of help are the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Contributions can be sent to the American Red Cross (1-800-435-7669), P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013, www.redcross.org and the Salvation Army Headquarters (1-800-725-2769), P.O. Box 269, Alexandria, Va. 22313, www.salvationarmyusa.org.

*Is there life any lower than those looting in the aftermath of Katrina? (And we’re not talking about taking bottled water and diapers; we’re talking TV’s, VCR’s, Rolexes – and guns.) Police have made it clear that arrest and prosecution await those who are caught. Didn’t the punishment used to be a lot more severe than that?

*To local TV media I: Dispense with the clichéd spots of clueless surfer sorts taking advantage of Gulf wave action that has spun off of others’ hurricane-related misfortunes. They’re annoying; they’re trivializing; and they’re on every storm season.

*To local TV media II: Most viewers know the difference between hurricane hype with its ratings-driven Armageddon teases and responsible tracking and community-service forewarning. Don’t think we don’t. There’s a reason why not everyone gets their weather news from a network affiliate.

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