SHAKING blog

Monday, September 26, 2005

Welcome to Bayou Grand Caillou


All these disaster images, pictures of torn roofs, crushed houses, flooded towns, hurtling winds, pelting rains, downed trees, stranded people, abandoned pets, beleaguered officials--could be disaster images from anywhere, so universal is the pain and shock of witnessing such devastation.

They are disaster images from home, of course. But a home we weren't really familiar with before. Bayou Grand Caillou, Sabine Pass, Chalmette, Vermillion Parish, Bay St. Louis, Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard, Orange County, Beaumont, Valdor, Pass Christian--all these places that sound so foreign, but couldn't be more American.

The voices, too, an eclectic mix of Brooklynese-sounding Louisiana twang and the long drawl of the Southereastern Texas accents, sound foreign, so intensely regional are the cadences and accents of the storm victims and county officials we've been hearing from.

That part of the country is Walmart and Applebee's country, just like ours. But it's also another part of the country, obscure, remote, local, unknown to the most of the rest of the United States until now. It's eerie and melancholy that we should be getting to know it only now, transformed, and possibly never the same again.

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