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Nature’s Fury Underscored

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who experienced tragic losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In this indelible image, Southern Yacht Club, the second oldest in our country, succombs to flames that cannot be extinguished amidst flood waters that cannot be contained.

The images on television bring a glimpse of a terrible reality to those who sit comfortably in their homes far away.  As we watched from our safe havens and laughed along with the reporters who kept venturing out beyond the confines of their protective shields, we had no idea just how badly our fellow sailors and friends would fare in the hours ahead.

Was it that disregard for nature’s fury that caused so much pain? Or was it a reminder to heed the warnings and pay respect to the natural forces that we humans cannot contain no matter how hard we try.  The levies around New Orleans have held for a long time.  The coastal communities have gotten lucky many times.  But this time, this one tragic time, it all came apart, as Katrina made landfall not once, but twice. First in Florida, then across the borders of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Our hearts and our prayers are with the survivors.  Such devastation is hard to comprehend from a distance and on a flat screen monitor, yet even from here we feel the pain.  The emerging stories are frightfully dire.  Yet among them we know will be stories of heroism, courage and perseverance.  

We have a 22-year-old nephew who was stuck in a hotel in downtown New Orleans and has just managed to find his way out three days later.  Now he is trying to find his way “home”. His life, we know is forever changed.  Our cousin lost two homes in the flood waters but maintains his perspective.  “Possessions can be replaced. Lives cannot.” he says. 

This was a monster storm, one we would not want to encounter at sea.  It’s tough to outrun in a sailboat moving at 6 or 7 knots. It is practically impossible to predict the path when the storm throws erratic curves as it did.  But this one was tough to encounter on land as well.  The storm itself struck with devastating force leaving a massive swath of destruction.  Its aftermath will live on for a long, long time.  Many lives have been forever changed.

Coastal sailors across the nation and around the world are reaching out with their thoughts to fellow sailors and friends along the Gulf Coast who have suffered tragic losses over the past few days.  The disturbing images of fire amidst flood waters that cannot be contained, the reports of lives lost among those who tried to ride it out, and the carnage of beloved vessels stacked along the shores have touched all of us.  The toll in lives and property are incomprehensible but our hearts reach out to those in need. 

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