Katrina reminds us of nature’s power

By Chuck Kajer

Reading accounts and watching news reports of Hurricane Katrina, her power and the devastation she caused along the gulf coast this week reminds us of how powerless man can be against the forces of nature.

In this area, we have experienced how a huge, rapid snowfall can effectively stop a region for a few days, and it was only seven years ago that a tornado tore apart large parts of St. Peter, leaving that city picking up the pieces for years to come.

But a hurricane is much more destructive because of the combination of elements it brings. Huge amounts of rain dumped on a region over a matter of hours, strong sustained winds that cause as much damage as a tornado continuing for an extended period of time, and the aftermath, with the flooding, lack of electricity and unseen dangers that residents of New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile and other large cities along the gulf will be dealing with for weeks. The rebuilding will take years and the stories of Katrina’s wrath may be told for generations.

As this newspaper goes to press, officials had just begun to tally the devastation. Buildings have been destroyed, neighborhoods have been flooded and officials say damage could add up to more than $30 billion. And it could be some time before we know the number of lives lost due to Katrina.

The effects of this storm will be felt nationwide. The cost of building materials will go up as the area tries to rebuild, and already record-high gasoline prices are expected to skyrocket because oil refineries in the region were forced to shut down.

The people of the U.S. have been generous in the past to those suffering through earthquakes, last December’s tsunami and other natural disasters. We need to continue this generosity and help in any way we can for those who have lost so much due to Katrina.

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