The demands have finally been made for the release of the two journalists, working for Fox News, in Gaza. The tape was shown this morning and they look ok. I pray for them and their families.
It is hard to imagine your loved one in the hands of strangers solely on circumstance. This kidnapping business happens more than you might think around the world. And, if you are carrying an American passport, you are a prime target. A good catch, so to speak. International companies worry about kidnapping scenarios on a daily basis. My husband, being in the oil business and travelling overseas so frequently, has been taken hostage three separate times on oil driling rigs in foreign waters. He has been held on a rig off the coast of Angola, and off the coast of Nigeria. Africa, in particular, is very dangerous. The people are so poor and the governments are so corrupt that it happens frequently. My husband is among scores of oil drilling personnel with hostage stories. Typically the bad guys go out in boats and board the rigs, armed, and demand money from the oil company. When their money demands are met, the situation is over. They leave, the rig carries on with business. It terrifies me, frankly, and isn't anything but unnerving to the workers, either. So far, I haven't known about my husband's adventures until he is home and tells me in person. It's better that way. He's been lucky in the outcomes.
On a different kind of story, I am thinking about the upcoming anniversary of Katrina. Living here in Houston, it is something we deal with on a daily basis. We have seen the good and the bad in this situation. We enjoy the stories in the newspaper about successful transitioning to a new and much larger city and we shake our collective heads over the stories that tell a different story. Our crime rate in the city has risen 17% over the past year. In my subdivision crime is up 13% over the past year. We are experiencing armed robberies and recently a murder over a robbery. A large apartment complex borders our subdivision and many evacuees live there now. As I have written before, the evacuees receive free rent and utilites from the City of Houston, reimbursed by FEMA. The FEMA money has been extended from orginal deadlines and now has been extended yet again to next March. We continue to wait to see how many will remain after the money runs out.
I don't mean to sound harsh. I know there will always be a segment of society that will not or can not take care of themselves. And the culture of dependency was more than alive and well in New Orleans. The population of New Orleans, the majority of the minority population, was encouraged to rely on the local, state and federal governments. The politicans relied on the dependency for votes. It's the reality there, as well as many other places in this country. This culture, however, is not so dominant here in Houston. This city is too large and too diverse to be too widespread. A couple of nights ago I watched the local news before going to bed and heard a story about the police department and city utilities. In two weeks, the city will discontinue the free utilities program for evacuees and they will partner with the police department during disconnects at the area apartment complexes. The city does not want the utility employees to be in harm's way while performing their jobs. The reporter covering this story did a couple of interviews with evacuees and both people interviewed said they didn't know what they would do. They said it was terrible how they were being treated. Yeah, that's hard to swallow for me after all this city has done for them.
I watched a little photo op with President Bush and a Katrina survivor this morning. His name is Rocky and he is from St. Charles parish in Louisiana. He lost everything in the storm and yet he has chosen a different path. He lives in a travel trailor provided by FEMA. He is grateful for it, too. He is going around the country reminding people not to forget much is still needed on the Gulf coast. He thanks people for past support and is thankful to the government's attention. He thanks President Bush for what has been done and for the meeting with him today. He also said he reminded the president of what still needs to be done. It was a welcome change for me to see. I'm guessing his story won't get much play in the media, though. He doesn't have the victim mentality and he is moving on with his life.
I remember making a list of my top five favorite cities in the world not long before Katrina. New Orleans was my number one choice of cities. It has been my whole life. No matter where I have been fortunate enough to travel, there was no other city like New Orleans for me. It has been a part of my life since birth and I am still mourning the loss of it on a personal level. My husband has a personal connection with the city, too. His connection goes back to his mother attending college there and meeting his dad during World War II there when he was on leave from the service. My husband proposed marriage to me at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. So many memories connected with that city.
I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. I guess my original birth certificate is on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico now. Our home was in Ocean Springs when it was still a one stop light town. That house was taken out by Hurricane Camille in 1969. I was born in Biloxi because Ocean Springs didn't have things like a hospital then. That little bit of the world, from New Orleans to Biloxi will always be in my heart.
"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song." - Maya Angelou