Some people got lost in the flood.
Some people got away all right.
The river have busted through clean down to Plaquemines.
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline.
They're tryin' to wash us away.
Randy Newman, "Louisiana 1927", The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 1, 2003
Is there such a thing as compassion fatique? Oh yes, of course. Empathizing and sympathizing from a distance wears on a person so that when distractions arise, one is cheered by letting the suffering go. Unless you are in the midst of the suffering. This trouble is long term. Many people cannot get back to look at their destroyed stinky homes in Louisiana and Mississippi so they imagine the destruction but can't actually deal with it.
I showed LD a picture of the beachfront McDonald's on the Coast showing a Ronald statue standing while the restaurant is piled debris. We laughed then looked at one another. Who knows what our home area looks like? We don't really know 1000 miles away.
I hear that people in non-profits are worrying that Katrina donations will siphon off funds given ordinarily to them. I don't think so. Most people have regular contributions for churches, institutions, AIDS task forces, Heart Association, etc. Donations to Katrina will be one-time gifts above usual giving. Besides, as a colleague says, "poverty thinking" by non-profits doesn't do anyone good. Americans are generous.
I wonder how individuals who live on the edge without cash reserves will survive in my area. I know help is coming but $50 here or there can be big bucks for those with little money.