Elster's World

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Flood - Some Katrina Perspective

The rains of the last week must have jammed up the sewer systems where I live because starting Yom Kippur evening, the streets between the shul I go to and the house I live in flooded over the sidewalks, causing me to have to walk out of my way to get home.

This annoyed me a little bit. I don't like to make any additional movements when I am slated to fast for 25 plus hours. But, as the night was cool and a light rain was falling, the walk home wasn't so bad.

But last night, things took a turn for the worse. Mother Nature kicked it up to High last. The sky was scorched with rain clouds. I was up hourly, listening to the rain pound off the skylight in my living room. I cannot recall such heavy rain lasting for such an extended period of time. And that's discounting the fact that it has been raining all week non-stop. It's almost like nature is attempting to balance out the arid, rain-less summer with an extra blast of the heavenly sprinklers.

So this morning on my way to shul (synagouge) I was driving down those same flooded streets when I realized that the water was up to my windows. And I was in a jeep. I backed out of chest high waters and found another route.

All this got me thinking. Imagine if, instead of all this rain falling over five days, it fell over the course of twelve or fifteen hours. Imagine if instead of a sewer stoppage, a levee and dam system designed to keep a huge lake (Ponchartrain to be exact) out of my town failed. Then the waters wouldn't be chest high. They would be twenty feet high. Welcome to the wasteland formerly known as New Orleans.

Insert joke about New Orleans here. Maybe the modern day Sodom deserved to be flooded, its corruption washed away by the purifying effects of water. Anyone who reads the Yom Kippur service sees that water is a purifying force. But still, stop and think. How many people died? How many innocents among the guilty? Did not Hashem tell Yona that he didn't want to destroy all of Ninveh because of all those who didn't know their left from right? Many interpretations were that those people were the innocents slaughtered along with the guilty.

Of course, I have no answers to these weighty questions. I only write this because it took this little flooding inconvenience in my own neighborhood to fully sense the destructive event which occurred last month. Perhaps as I have gotten older, I have grown callous to events which happen outside of my self-erected sphere of importance. Perhaps this is true for many of us. Sure, we give money and we say all the right things. But are we feeling it? How many people even care anymore when a roadside bomb kills a dozen people in Iraq? It's almoat background noise at this point.

Wow, I must still be in the Yom Kippur mood. Forgive my preachiness.


  • I didn't take it as preachy, but thoughtful. Anytime something happens that can wake us up a little bit to what is happening outside oure erected spheres, I take that as a good thing.

    By Blogger MC Aryeh, at 9:53 PM  

  • great post. really puts things in perspective. out here (orange county, ny) we got eleven inches, then i think another five, over nine days. our streams are flooding over the banks, a lot of the farmland is messed up. friends of mine who were supposed to get their schach from a farmer's harvested corn crop now can't, since that's been flooded. we should count our blessings since this is nothing like the disaster katrina was.
    glad you posted on my blog, i've been a bit out of the loop lately.
    chag sameach!!!

    By Blogger bec, at 9:15 PM  

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