Friday, September 23, 2005

The Red Stick:
In for a beating?

2005 © Adele M. Stan for AFGE
Inside the Red Cross staging facility in Baton Rouge.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Having recently returned from a whirlwind tour of southeastern Louisiana in its post-Katrina state, your blogstress has found it difficult to put words to the sights and smells she encountered there, and tonight proves no exception.

What your écrivaine can speak of tonight is her anxiety--not a state to which she readily admits--in examining the track of Hurricane Rita and finding Baton Rouge in its path. Though not expected to take the brunt of it, Baton Rouge is expected to receive torrents of rain.

What distinguishes the forecast for Baton Rouge from the more dire ones given the coastal cities? Baton Rouge is THE staging ground for relief efforts for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Red Cross operations are centralized there in a giant Wal-Mart warehouse. Most of the Border Patrol and CBP officers who serve as law enforcement for New Orleans sleep in Baton Rouge at night, in accomodations that are less than sturdy: RVs, an open helicopter hangar. Many FEMA folk and medical professionals are living in a tent city under an I-10 overpass. Interstate 10 is the designated danger zone for anyone who hopes to weather dear Rita.

It would be unnatural not to fear for the health and lives of the relief workers stationed in Baton Rouge. But then imagine the compounded misery if Louisiana’s state capital takes a bad hit. Who, then, will minister to the millions in already living in the region’s shelters? Right now, the supplies and the food are coming out of Baton Rouge. So are the law and order.

If you’re of the praying sort, do say one for the Red Baton.

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