Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

The topic seemed appropriate so I wanted to share a personal story out of my life- and out of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the Southern US...

Its weird, now- its been over four years and the obvious destruction of Hurriciane Katrina has faded from the streets, signs of new development and life has moved on.
Yet- the levees in New Orleans are not complete (and won't be till 2011- one more hurricane season to go) And the poverty and memories still linger.

This wh*** food security topic brings me back to the days after the Hurricane. I lived about 60 miles northwest of New Orleans in the State Capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge.

In a span of 2-3 days, the cities population size increased by 200,000 people. Urban Migration/ Evacuation... whatever you want to call it. The system was strained. Roads, hotels, hospitals, everything was filled beyond capacity. Shelters out of basketball stadiums, the red cross setting up on football fields at LSU.

Rapidly, people had thrown whatever important things they could into their cars and drove off. Food- wasn't necessarily on that list, and as the
days rolled on 3,4 ...5 the system failed.

I remember the food riots. The food distribution system was thrown into a shock as one of the main traveling routes (I-10) was servely damaged, and gas stations between New Orleans and, oh Florida had been destroyed, were out of gas, the owners had fled or all of the above.

It meant that food that use to come from north, east and west, suddenly was only coming from the north and west. Also, simply- grocery stores were not prepared. 200,000 extra people with little adaptation in ordering amounts also helped deplete supplies quickly.

There was not enough bread. Riots broke out. People were hurt. Grocery Stores closed their doors at dusk. There was an increase in robberies in the parking lots- over necessities. Rice, bread, baby food. Do not go shopping alone they said.

I remember early early in the morning going to Wal-Mart, rumored to be the safest time, and walking down isles. There was only left wrappers, squished or badly damaged bread that no-one could figure out uses for- scattered on rows of empty shelves. Each isle showed the same, with odder and less common (or more useless) foods dwindling. Workers were tense, giving no information when any food would be coming in.

I remember mostly women sitting at some of the isles picking through. Sorting through trying to find the best the could, distant as they contemplated the ripped open bag of bread that had probobly been stepped on. Eyes gazing shelves hoping that maybe-maybe there was something everybody else had missed.

I felt disjointed, insecure, panicked. In my head I knew that companies would adjust, and that I had a
source of food through the university, but the images are there. An American City with not enough food for those WITH money.

Its pretty scary to me that this can happen again. That the food riots and panic was lost among the thousands of other disaster related issues (and partially rightfully so). A great nation suddenly had little fuel, an overflow of people and not enough bread.

It really made me rethink my world.

Views: 172

Comment by Ciaran Lyons on March 11, 2010 at 4:31pm
Great post, Crystal. Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Alex Stovell on March 11, 2010 at 5:21pm
Great post Crystal :) From my experience in the UK, it doesn't take much to trigger panic buying - we had a lot of unexpected snow in Jan and people were queueing for miles outside the supermarkets - so stuff started running out quickly. Nothing like as bad as your experience, but still shows that civilised society can all too quickly dissolve if stressed a little.
Comment by Sayel Cortes on March 12, 2010 at 1:50am
It's funny how the more we try to protect ourselves inside of big cities with stores, hospitals, etc. we get farther away from being able to have what we need. We don´t grow our food so now we depend on stores, we do far less exercise, live in more polluted places and have lost lot of knowledge about traditional medicine so we need hospitals, gyms, doctors, etc. It seems the stronger our "urban ecosystem" is, the more dependable we are of just a few key things (energy, transportation, etc.). I wonder if we're risking too much there.
Comment by The Garden Earth Project on March 13, 2010 at 4:26pm
Nice post Crystal, definitely food for thought.

An important part of food security is food storage. Growing up, my family always had at least 2 years supply of food storage on hand. Canned and dehydrated goods, stores of grains. I grew up understanding that it was my responsibility not only to take care of myself, but to have enough to share with neighbors in need. To rely on an external infrastructure that may or may not be sufficient, or even benevolent was never even a thought.

In my mind, the best way we can address the issues of mass food security for temporary crisis is to shift our mind set towards self sufficiency and away from being dependent on governments and corporations for our very survival.
Comment by Stephen Malinchock on March 29, 2010 at 4:25pm
I came across your post after looking for U.S. Food Riots on Google. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
First may I say that what you saw back during Katrina will take place again but on a much larger scale throughout the U.S. in the near future. I am a strong believer that we will see the nation's economy totally collapse which will result in mass riots,food riots , etc. in the streets of the U.S. . I believe that what we saw with Katrina will be played out again , but on much more broader scale . I also believe that we have not seen the last of such broad scale natural disasters such as Katrina. I have a strong public safety background as a firefighter who is quite familiar with FEMA'S operations. With that said, DO NOT THINK THAT THEY ARE AS EQUIPPED AS YOU WOULD THINK TO HANDLE THESE EVENTS AS KATRINA PROVED TO US. With this is mind we should get as prepared as we can to face the things that await this country in the near future.
I'm not going to push faith over on you but I would make a suggstion of checking out two well known ,solid , reputable preachers web sites (these men aren't screwballs) and see what they have said & have warned their congregations about along the lines of future events here in the U.S.(some of which you have witnsessed personally). Some of these warnings include the collapse of the nations economy, mass riots and mega natural distasters. Look up David Wilkerson/Founder of Times Square Church in New York City and John Kilpatrick a well know & well respected preacher from your part of the country. I believe what these men have to say will help you and yours to be prepared for the very tough days that lie ahead for this country.
Comment by Sarah Shaw Tatoun on March 29, 2010 at 5:28pm
Great story, Crystal! I wrote a long response, but was afraid it was too much for the comments, so I've made it into a separate blog post here.


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