I had what I was going to write this week all planned, but I changed my mind as more and more information and images came through regarding the terrible flooding in Louisiana.
The first thing to say is that I’m hugely saddened by what has happened, particularly the news of the deaths that are reported to have been caused by the flooding, and I send my sympathies and good wishes to all who have been affected.
I have been impressed, but not surprised, by how much the New Orleans community has been supporting those affected by the floods – in terms of cash donations, food and other practical supplies, and emotional solidarity, which I think is also important.
This quote, cited in this article in the Times-Picayune, from Amy Cyrex Sins of restaurant and cookery school Langlois, really struck me: “I think we all know after Katrina what it’s like to be hot, sweaty, wearing the same clothes or someone else’s clothes that have been given to you. There are a lot of people who are tired, but people are really coming together.”
What has surprised me is how little coverage the floods have had in the media elsewhere, particularly in the UK where I live. A notable exception is this article in the Guardian, which points out that the floods are part of a bigger picture of extreme weather events occurring across the world as a result of climate change.
This article and others making similar points are good reminders that while the Louisiana floods are in some ways very particular to their location, they are also one element of something that is pretty much everyone’s problem and that we shouldn’t be ignoring, in the UK as much as anywhere else. We often now have serious and sometimes life-threatening winter floods in the UK and it takes the huge Thames Barrier to protect London from the powerful waters of the Thames estuary.
Finally, I wanted to flag up that in the many excellent articles I have seen listing some of the ways that people can help with flood relief (thanks are due here to @UtopiaforCynics who sent me some great information), there are also options for people who live outside Louisiana or even, like me, outside the US, so can’t volunteer or contribute food or clothes in person.
You could mail items through an online store. You could make a donation. And there is one donation option that caught my eye in particular. Called the “Nola Pay It Forward Fund”, it’s designed primarily for those in New Orleans to help their neighbouring parishes. But whether you’re thinking from a cultural, environmental or simply human perspective, it’s hard to deny that we’re all neighbours of a sort, so I would say it’s a good way for anyone to help.
Image: Thomas Cizauskas