Tags: One | Reporter's | Opinion | Hurricane | Experience

One Reporter's Opinion : My Hurricane Experience

Friday, 02 September 2005 12:00 AM

It is this reporter's opinion that unless you have lived through a hurricane such as Katrina, you cannot possibly know the utter horror experienced by our fellow Americans in the below sea-level states.

Let me take you back to 1924. Dad and mother Putnam left the calm and quiet of the Midwest Minnesota dry land to strike out for the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s. We came to rest in Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, close to the banks of the New River. Real estate values were exploding and at an all time high. Mom and Dad, transplanted from the Midwest, were finding their dreams come true and then suddenly all hell broke loose.

Back in Minnesota, we had known cyclones, tornadoes, blizzards, and the like, but never something called a 'hurricane.' Overnight, our lovely home in Buena Vista, a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, was engulfed. The windows of our home were blown out, shutters unhinged, the roofing blown away, and sheets of wind-driven rain poured into our living room. The New River was overflowing its banks. Neighbors were crying out for help. The winds had risen to 135 mph. Suddenly, we feared that we'd all be drowned. Water and food were contaminated or in short supply. Our shattered homes offered no shelter or protection. And there was our dream knocked to its foundations.

And we were the lucky ones! We were on the "right side of town." Unlike the pitiful impoverished who'd been living in cardboard shacks and had little, if any, hope against the onslaught.

The hurricane blew for 14 hours, then suddenly there was a lull in the storm... but only momentarily. The calm lasted only about an hour. Then the winds and the blinding rain reversed and blew the other way. We actually thought we would be completely engulfed by the ocean.

In those days we had no warning system. Word of mouth was all we had. And if there had been a warning, where were we to go?

In the midst of our fear and despair, mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was never again the same woman we had known. We picked up the few belongings we could salvage and headed back to Minnesota - to the land of cyclones and tornadoes. We had learned firsthand the horrors of the hurricane.

In those days, they didn't name the hurricanes, but I'd call it the shock of my life - even having fought in WWII.

My editor went through Hurricane Hugo (a category 4) in 1989 in Charleston, SC and will never forget the awe and respect mother nature demanded of the Holy City. "Even with all the devastation, we had to look at it as a cleansing - not only of the air, but of our souls."

We both send out our hopes and prayers to the victims, families and survivors of Katrina. Our suffering back in '24 was nothing compared to what these people are going through today in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. And our hurricane season has really only just begun.

It is this reporter's opinion that with some of our government representatives, we may not need enemies. Take for instance a top California state legislator who recently visited Mexico. His name is Fabian Nunez, Mexican-born head of the California Legislature's Lower House.

Nunez recently concluded a meeting with Mexico's President Vicente Fox obviously attempting to court favor with some of his Latino constituency. He offered a few of the following gems: Nunez, speaking before his Mexican hosts, said, "U.S. President George W. Bush turned his back on Mexico and failed to give the United States' southern neighbor the respect it deserves." Said Nunez, "I don't believe they (meaning you and I) have shown the Fox administration the respect it deserves nor has the U.S. given Fox the respect he deserves."

The California legislator (born in the border city of Tijuana) concluded his four-day trip to Mexico saying, "The relationship between our two countries cannot be considered 'bilateral' because the U.S. unilaterally imposes its opinions on its neighbor" - something Nunez said constitutes a lack of respect. He says Mexican aspirations within the relationship have not been fulfilled since the U.S. has allowed immigration reform to remain stagnant.

Nunez then criticized Bush's lack of support for the immigration reform bill sponsored by McCain and Kennedy, which allows family unification, reduces the number of pending immigration cases, and sets up an immigration status legalization program but does not provide amnesty for those who entered the country illegally.

Then, criticizing California's Governor Schwarzenegger, Nunez said, "The governor has said things that have insulted not only the government, but also the people of Mexico," that "the continued friction has not allowed the development of the bonds that should exist between neighbors," and that "instead of militarizing the border, he should seek ways to cooperate with Mexico and increase collaboration in technology and intelligence."

Then, the whopper: Nunez cites only 4.5 million as being undocumented (illegals) (the latest figure is actually 30 million illegals) who send approximately $30 billion dollars a year to their families in Mexico. However, he mentions not one word about the violence along our mutual border, or the smuggling of humans and drugs. Not one word about the governors of two border states declaring a state of emergency. Not one word about our law enforcement officers shot down in the line of duty by illegal aliens who then fled to sanctuary in Mexico. And not even the slightest mention of U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza being forced to close our consulate because of Mexico's failure to combat drug-trafficking violence.

Listening to the Mexican-born head of the California Legislature's Lower House, one is forced to ask, who does Nunez represent? America or Mexico? Fabian Nunez is one person should learn the meaning of the word "respect!"

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It is this reporter's opinion that unless you have lived through a hurricane such as Katrina, you cannot possibly know the utter horror experienced by our fellow Americans in the below sea-level states. Let me take you back to 1924. Dad and mother Putnam left the calm and...
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Friday, 02 September 2005 12:00 AM
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