The rumor mill is spinning out of control. Please please don’t believe everything you’re hearing on the national news. Unless you actually see the pictures, just take everything you hear with a grain of salt. I keep hearing these stories on the national news and then the local news tracks down the “real” story and either it completely didn’t happen or was embellished or misconstrued to something completely different. Or you hear from people that are actually there and they have no idea what the reporters are talking about.
One problem that I’ve noticed is that many of the out of town reporters don’t understand a lot of the geography of the area or they don’t understand those little nuances each city has that only the locals understand.
In Baton Rouge, things are fine. There are no riots, no armed robberies, no carjackings, no looting. These things are being reported and our local police are just bewildered about where it’s coming from. The supposed riot at the River Center that cleared out the governmental buildings turned out to be a shoving match between people in a parking garage. There are some people that are just going over board and running around like chickens with their heads cut off blowing every little incident way out of control. I went to a store, that shall remain nameless, and the ladies inside had their doors locked and we’re freaking out about how I needed to keep my doors locked and “watch out for the refugees”. It was really hard not to laugh because I understand their fear is real. The refugees are all either at the River Center or LSU my daily travels don’t bring me anywhere near there. The ones that drove here before the storm hit, aren’t going to carjack me because they have a car. I refuse to become part of the problem. I’m not going to spread rumors and I’m not going to act like all the rumors are true.
I won’t lie and say that tensions aren’t high. The refugees know that some people in Baton Rouge are scared and that makes them angry so there have been words exchanged. There have been fights at gas stations. People are just desperate, they’re scared, angry, shell shocked. They’re in a city that they don’t know, they know they’re going to be stuck here for months. They don’t know where they’re going to live, work, go to school.
However, on a positive note, I feel like this whole incident can potentially be boon to the city of Baton Rouge and many of the outlying areas. People are snapping up houses and buying them well over asking price, so they’re planning on being here for the long run. There are businesses that are displaced and trying to reopen, and maybe they’ll just stay here. The businesses here are just swamped. The lines at fast food restaurants are out the door and they’re running out of food. Gas station lines are completely ridiculous. But the practical side of me thinks about all those sales taxes that are pouring into the city treasury.
I know these are terrible tragedies, but I keep coming back around to positives. The Orleans Parish schools were an utter and complete mess, FOR YEARS. Orleans Parish School Board had a job opening for the equivilent position that James has, but paid 3-4 times what he is currently making. I asked him if he considered applying for it. He said there was no way that he was going to even think about it because the books for that system were so bad they could never be brought back in order. He said there were a lot of people talking about the job because it was paying so much, but they all concluded it was a job that couldn’t be done so there was no point in taking the job. Perhaps, completely destroying the whole system is what is needed. Maybe they’ll be able to rebuild and clear up all the problems that they had. In the mean time though, those kids are now in new school systems that they previously couldn’t afford.
We finally got our cable back on last night. We spent all night watching the national and local news. There was a lieutenant from the NOPD on last night and what he was saying was just so unbelievable. He was claiming that there was absolutely NO plan in place before the storm for them and how to deal with the aftermath. They had no weapons other than their service side arms. They only had their typical 45 rounds of ammunition. They had no food, no water, no power. They got 4 or 5 National Guard troops on Sunday before the storm, but they were unarmed, they didn’t come with any supplies, and 2 of their 3 trucks broke down during the storm. They had to go in and take over a Winn Dixie that had been taken over by looters. The police took all the produce. They also opened up a gas station and took all the food and drinks from there. That was all they had to supply the whole police station. Finally on Tuesday the Lieutenant took a marked car and made it to Baton Rouge where they got 2 pallets of water, socks and underwear, and some other necessities. He brought this stuff to the Lamar-Dixon Expo that’s a staging area for law enforcement and ended up just donating to a convoy that was going to New Orleans. He went back to his wife who begged him to please not go back. Her father and brother had died somewhere in MS in the storm. They lost their house in New Orleans and they have nothing left. She pleaded with him that it wasn’t worth him losing his life. So, he didn’t go back. He isn’t the only one. There are a lot of NOPD that are turning in their badges. They’ve lost everything and it isn’t worth it in their opinion to die for a city that’s lost.
Obviously, again, I’m rambling. I just don’t have a whole heck of a lot to do.
If you live in the South and you have room, check out shareyourhome.org to take in a refugee.
Another good local place to donate funds to is the Florida Blvd. Baptist Church. They're serving 15,000 meals a day to refugees. Their website is www.fbbc.org.