Sunday, May 15, 2011

Natural disasters highlight rural attachment to place

I've noted the attachment-to-place theme in recent news stories, such as here, but the theme was even more prominent in this story from yesterday's New York Times, dateline Butte la Rose, Louisiana. Butte la Rose is unincorporated and not even a census designated place, but wikipedia reports that this place in the Atchafalaya River basin and surrounding swamp features 800 homes, often referred to as camps. Those camps are in the process of being flooded now by the opening of the Morganza Spillway, an act of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which will help save Baton Rouge and New Orleans from flooding.

In this story, "Where Water is an Old Friend, Until it Turns into a Nemesis," for the NYT, Kim Severson writes in the lede:
You do not really want to ask a Cajun why he lives in a swamp, especially when he is packing everything he owns because the very swamp he loves is about to swallow up his house.
Later, Severson answers the question with reference to Russell Melancon, 55,as he "crated the belongings of three generations of family on Friday and got ready to pack his relatives into campers and cars, the answer was plain as the sticky Louisiana day." Severson quotes Melancon:

“It’s where we was raised. Where my daddy was raised. Where we make our living ... Why you are here is something you never even think about. You are this place.”
And that is reality for so many rural Americans, even when living in such places leaves them vulnerable to events like this one, which Severson labels "surely the nation's slowest moving natural disaster."

Here's a post from a couple of years ago on response to natural disasters in rural places.

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