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Sirens for Haiti

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I heard sirens in San Francisco tonight. The wind was howling, a storm was blowing in. Maybe some power lines are down.

Tonight the earth cracked in Haiti. They're showing it TV. The same few images, over and over. Rubble, wreckage, pancaked buildings, people dazed, walking like zombies, covered in ash. There is no sound with the pictures.

This must be a hell of a storm we're fixing to have. The cats are freaked out, the trees in back are whistling, every now and again a gush of rain. But we need the rain, it's been a dry winter so far in San Francisco.

Port-au-Prince has two million people, or one million, I've heard both tonight. The facts are always in doubt at the bleeding edge of a disaster. But maybe they should have said had. We need to wait for morning to know how many still live.

I think there's some trouble out on I 280. The roads in San Francisco get slick when we haven't had any rain for a while. I can hear sirens down there. Cop cars, ambulances, fire trucks? I can never tell the sirens apart.

The Haiti quake measured 7.0. That's bad. I remember being in a 7.0 earthquake 21years ago, here in San Francisco. I was waiting in the upper-deck beer line at Candlestick Park before game three of the World Series. I had cheap seats. That old, dirty ballpark shook and twisted and rumbled like a subway train for nearly a minute. And stood. It stands still. It's considered an eyesore.

I hope nobody got hurt in this storm. It's whipping pretty good out there. But they're on the job. I hear sirens in San Francisco, bringing help to anyone who needs it.

The epicenter was only ten miles from town. This quake really smashed Port-au-Prince in the mouth. They say the ground acceleration was so fierce it crashed all the heavy buildings flat. Heavy buildings are good for hurricanes. They get a lot of hurricanes in Haiti; 2008 brought four of them.

It's getting quieter in San Francisco. I'm almost done writing and the power is still on. Looks like we've dodged the worst. The sirens have gone silent.

The man on TV says there are no "first responders" in Port-au-Prince. No fire department, he says. Can that be? The hospital downtown seems to have crashed. Is that the only one? Are there really no ambulances, no place to put the victims, no disaster relief, no Superdome for the homeless, no power, no phones, nobody to help the people of Port-au-Prince through their night of horror? Are the only sounds the screams of the trapped, the moans of the wounded, the cries of the bereaved, the whimpers of the broken? Are there no sirens in the shattered city of Port-au-Prince tonight?

I'll need to clean out the storm drains tomorrow. We're supposed to have even wetter weather coming in next week, and I wouldn't want the patio to flood. Things have been a little tight around here, but I'll find a few dollars and write a check. Things are always tight in Haiti; they'll be tighter in what's left of it.

It must be dawn there now. I hope they can find water. The web says rescue teams are rushing in from all over the world. I hope they're not too late.

Poor, battered, hungry, after-shocked people of Port-au-Prince--hold on. Hold on through this latest disaster, through the worst a malign world can throw at you. Please, hold on. The sirens are coming.

 

San Francisco based columnist, author, gym rat and novelist. My book, "The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie" is the best memoir ever written by a cat. Available on Amazon.com, or wherever fine literature is sold with no sales tax collected. For (more...)
 

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HomeSign UpFeaturesNewsAbout UsAdvanced Blogs... by MARGARET BASET on Saturday, Jan 16, 2010 at 6:54:26 AM