Monday, September 13, 2004

Heartbreaking news from Jamaica

Ivan is missing us and heading directly for the Florida panhandle. I’m grateful we're not getting it, worried about people in the panhandle.

And poor Jamaica… Prayers worked, as Ivan didn't buzzsaw through the island as everyone feared. But 16 died, including some in a community where we did a lot of work. Maybe more are dead. How many times have I been to Portland Cottage? Too many to count. They are at sea level and didn’t evacuate. At least three children dead. Why, why, why? Why didn’t their parents leave before it was too late? Maybe they were worried about losing what they had. But what’s the point in protecting your valuables if you lose your life or your children? I mean, losing your house and all you own is devastating. But losing your child? Watching them get sucked down by the black water, oh dear God. Crying out for their mommies who were trying so hard to hold on. Then crying no more.

In Florida they come by if you are in a low lying area or mobile home and if you don't leave, they take the names of your next of kin. And in Jamaica, the shelters were half empty. No one left. WHY?? Would those children be alive today if they had left? Such a waste of life!!!

I remember my trips to Portland Cottage. Interviewing people before they got their homes and how proud they were after of their community. The center we built. The playground. The library. Oh God, the library… I was so surprised and happy to see it! They had books and tapes and a DVD player for educational videos so children could come in and watch and learn. Everything so neatly catalogued and shelved on these homemade wooden shelves. There was even a video of Egypt and I joked with the volunteer librarian about renting it. Now it’s all gone gone gone.

Even our president got choked up as he started to describe the body of a little girl whose arms were stretched out as if… he stopped there. I could finish for him. As if she were trying to hold on and couldn’t. Oh God, I’m getting sick thinking about the people and the children who were swept away, and everything destroyed. I want to cry. I want to run home, pull the sheet over my head and just weep and weep and weep. I hate hurricanes. I hate hurricanes. I put a shingle from my roof on ebay as a joke to cheer myself up after Frances. I had to laugh because the stress, anxiety and the new threat from Ivan were all like storm surge washing over me. Three hurricanes in a row. And now I can’t laugh. All I can do is think about those poor children in Jamaica who never had a chance. I’m glad I’m not going to Jamaica this week to write about the wreckage. I don’t think I could take going through Portland Cottage, seeing the people weeping, the wrecked buildings and the lives destroyed.

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