First responders splinter locked front doors with sledge hammers while searching for survivors, but find more victims instead. Wooden jambs swollen from filthy flood waters keep out rescuers more efficiently than steel bolts dissuade looters.
Going house to house, the quiet is ominous. Where sounds of laughing children and barking dogs were once block music, silence now a stark reminder of the loss of life.
Vandals band into packs, defiling already ruined memories, leaving messages of contempt where comfort is needed, necessary.
Devastation, caused by demon storms bearing names as easily given to nurturing mothers and fathers, lingers even after the debris is removed from sight. Fading to shiny silver traces, scars never completely heal.
Three months remain in the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
- Hurricane Andrew (1992) Homestead FL: 26 deaths; $26.5 billion damages
- Hurricane Opal (1995) Destin FL: 59 deaths; $3 billion damages
- Hurricane Ivan (2004) Gulf Shores, AL: 92 deaths; $14.2 billion damages
- Hurricane Katrina (2005) New Orleans, LA: 1,200 deaths; $75 billion damages
- Hurricane Irene (2011) New York City, NY: 56 deaths; $15.6 billion damages
- Hurricane Sandy (2012) Mantoloking, NJ: 191 deaths; $50 billion damages
*National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
*Photo venue: New Orleans, Ninth Ward; 2010, five years after Hurricane Katrina. The graffiti on this house is not vandalism. It is X-code messages used by search-and-rescue teams.