not gas. I’ve got some in all three cars. About half a tank in Janet’s new car, quarter tank in the old Honda, about 5/8 tank in my truck. I haven’t tried to get gas, there’s people who really need it right now, I don’t want to get in their way. We’ve had power since Tuesday morning. We’ve had cable and internet since Tuesday morning. We’ve been incredibly lucky, even for Madison, where some, only a few by now, still don’t have power. We were able to provide a refuge for a friend of my wife’s from near Hattiesburg who evacuated before the storm and went home Friday to find a mostly fine house. My mother still has no power at her house, but she’s happy being at home, so I’ve kept her supplied with water and batteries and Cubs scores. Did some work at the office to support our guys in the field, sent some supplies to the Colisseum. I’ve helped some, could have helped more, will help more. What I really miss, is bread. There hasn’t been a loaf on the grocery shelves any of the times I’ve been. None. Any type. Wheat. White. Sourdough. Rye. Sugar Free. None. We’ve got plenty of food – red beans and rice, jambalaya, chicken spaghetti, roast. But I want a sandwich. I don’t think I care what kind – peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, turkey, pineapple. I don’t care. I just want a sandwich. And I can’t have one. I should go get the breadmaker down and bake some. I’m being shallow here, I know. But this morning at communion, all I could think of was, preacher’s got a loaf of bread. I wanted more than the little piece he tore off.
We’ve all seen what’s happening to New Orleans as a city. But more than that, New Orleans as a society, as a piece of civilization, is breaking down. Emergency personnel are backing away from armed people who are threatening their lives. Helicopters are being shot at. People are ignoring law enforcement and looting things that are useless to them, that will be useless to them. Regaining control there won’t be a law enforcement operation, it will be a military operation.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast is ruined. The physical damage is done. Basic services will be unavaialbel for weeks or motnhs. But untold other types of damage will spin off from that. The personal damage, the thousands of homes completely destroyed, and the jobs of thousands which will be eliminated for months, if not forever. Big things, like the state’s economy, and the state budget, which will both take an enormous hit at a time when they were beginning to show some signs of health after several years of weakness. The casino industry, which had led the state’s recovery, has been eliminated on the coast, where it had it’s biggest presence. Seemingly small things, like the school records that have been lost – something that will affect college applications and class rankings, unimportant to most but very important to those directly affected. Just as hurricanes spawn tornadoes in all directions, so the aftermath will spawn dozens of consequences in the immediate future and further down the road.
Away from the coast, damage is widespread, with power outages over a significant part of the state. At one point, nearly half the state was without power. Four days after the storm, probably a third is without power, including most of the state capital of Jackson. There is no bread, no ice – and most serious at this point, very little gas. The few stations with both gasoline and power are besieged with lines of a mile in some cases of people needing gas. Rumors are spreading that sales of gasoline to the general public will be halted, with only emergency and law enforcement vehicles, and utility company trucks being supplied. There have been cases of people refusing to allow ambulances to break in line to get gas. It’s an ugly situation that could get uglier, but so far police have been present at every station with gas that I’ve passed. If more gas isn’t available tomorrow, however, the patience of hot, tired, worried people may break.
But there are also many examples of the more typical response of Mississippians in times of tragedy. The Colliseum at the state fairgrounds in Jackson had to ask people to stop beinging supplies this afternoon – they had received so much they needed to sort it out and see what they had. People are offering shelter in their homes. Target in Jackson got a truckload of ice this afternoon, and gave it all away. It’s not all bad news, but you have to work a little to keep some optimism in the face of it. Not too much. A little. Until the gas is gone, anyway.