Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ominous Sign of Things to Come...

Mikaela posts:
Nothing to fear but fear itself, right? Seems there's no safe harbor for some of us...

This from today's New York Times:

BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 6 - Last week came the rumors - of riots at Wal-Marts, of break-ins at homes, of drug gangs from New Orleans roaming the streets of its more sedate neighbor 75 miles up Interstate 10.

Today came the reality - of a dozen or more relatives crowded under one roof, of hours stuck in traffic trying to get to school or work, of frustration and fear about what kind of city Baton Rouge will be with at least 100,000 evacuees and rescue workers added to the 227,000 residents it had before the storm hit.

Make no mistake. The overwhelming response of people in Baton Rouge to Hurricane Katrina has been one of compassion and sacrifice with every church in town, it seems, housing or feeding evacuees.

But there have also been runs on gun stores, mounting frustration over gridlocked roads and an undercurrent of fear about crime and the effect of the evacuees.

After the chaos of the storm, which did some damage here, and a long weekend, Tuesday was the first day most residents returned to work and school. Before the evacuation, blacks made up about half the population of Baton Rouge and almost 70 percent of New Orleans, and in conversations in which race is often explicit or just below the surface, voices on the street, in shops, and especially in the anonymous hothouse of talk radio were raising a new question: just how compassionate can this community, almost certainly home to more evacuees than any other, afford to be?

"You can't take the city out of the yat, and you can't take the yat out of the city," said Frank Searle, a longtime Baton Rouge resident, using a slang term for New Orleanians derived from the local greeting, "Where y'at?"

"These people will not assimilate here," Mr. Searle said. "They put up with the crime in New Orleans, and now it's staring them in the face, but up here that's not going to be tolerated. People are going to handle it individually if they have to. This is the South. We will take care of it."