Another Katrina anniversary, Isaac and Kenya

Sometime tomorrow I will bring in the bottles off the bottle tree.  Not sure yet what else will be involved in final preparations for Hurricane Isaac here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The kids have school tomorrow and we have evacuation plans just in case.

It is worth noting that the name Isaac in Hebrew refers to the laughter of Abraham and Sarah at having their first son together in old age.  In this case, we are in the most fertile part of the hurricane season–and it has been unusually quiet since we were decimated by Katrina seven years ago–so no surprises.

This might be the appropriate time to note briefly that it is unlikely that I would have taken a year’s leave to go work “democracy assistance” in East Africa without the Katrina experience.  Going through Katrina here was something of gateway for me in the sense of taking stock of my own reactions and a dissatisfaction with my own limited contributions to the immediate recovery.  There were people I admired that did so much to help others, and we got so much sorely needed help from all over the country, that the seed was planted to more substantially engage in some “service” activity.  Working in democracy support instead of agriculture or some other area was a function of having experience and credentials in practical politics (in the Republican Party)–and in particular I had had a great experience as an election observer in the Ferghana Valley area of Kyrgyzstan the month before Katrina.

The Kenya/Somaliland geography was a coincidence of IRI having a need come up when I was looking at a position in Moldova.

So that’s a little background on how I ended up going from one disaster to another.  Isaac seems pretty manageable in context at this point.  The situation in Kenya now, however, has an uncomfortable sense of familiarity.

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