Archives for posts with tag: Hurricane

The Wake for an Emergency Manager in 2010
by Tricia Knoll

You in your coffin boat, so straight
in one of many starched white uniforms
with shiny buttons, braid, a black
and gold service patch.
Pews filled with co-workers.
I remembered the hard words I said
once and when you forgave me,
you were sweaty and your uniform
wrinkled in summer heat. You smiled
and we were friends again.

Those search and rescue dogs
you trained, tethers to show up
for impossible salvations.
Hugo. Andrew. Oklahoma City.
La Prieta. The floods of ’93.
Taking us to Katrina
to do what we could.

You said back then
fire was the next big threat
for emergency managers.
Wildland fire. Paradise.
You trained people
to work the lines.
You were right.

Your boat stirred ripples of care,
compassion. I think your chest
is breathing; your eyes twitching.
My dead friend. I never see
a corpse and fail to remember
how many lives you tried to save.

PHOTO: Metarie, Louisiana, 8/31/2005, I-10 at Causeway Boulevard. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 23-31, 2005), this was the last bit of unflooded passable highway out of town, and one of the main evacuation stations for Hurricane Katrina victims. Photo by soccerbum, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a tribute to Perry Hopkins, the emergency manager who led the response of Portland, Oregon, to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (2005). I was a responder working under his facilitation. Emergency Managers sometimes do not get the recognition they deserve for coordinating a response under FEMA’s emergency response system. He was my friend.

PHOTO: Perry W. Hopkins (1956-2010).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet retired from work for the City of Portland, Oregon. The Portland locations in the current news are places she knows well. Her poetry collection include Urban Wild (human interactions with wildlife in urban habitat), Ocean’s Laughter (change over time in Manzanita, Oregon), Broadfork Farm (the people and creatures of a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington), and How I Learned To Be White which received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Read more of her work at Find her on Amazon and Twitter.


Morning on Pier 86, New York City, October 30, 2012.

(Photo by Mike G, via New York Times)


East River (New York City) by Edward Hopper (1920)

The calm after Hurricane Sandy in New York City made me think of the above painting by Edward Hopper (1882-1967).


Photo: “It’s almost eerie that the city that never sleeps is at a standstill” by Kavita Dalal. 


Photo: “Looking west on Emerald Isle, NC, as Sandy moves away,” by E. Crane, 10/29/12.



Story by Jason Kerzinski

Another day at the office. My apron is soiled in coffee and splatterings of food particles. My mind is exhausted from another double. My feet ache. My calluses are starting to engulf both my feet. I should really get myself to a foot doctor. That or go to the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas and buy myself a pair of new shoes. I would have but I haven’t felt like riding public transportation the last few days.

It’s strange. I’m always gung-ho about riding public transportation. The symphony of voices puts me at ease. It’s my time to sit back, relax, and observe the comings and goings of the ever-eclectic bunch of passengers. I’m just not into riding. I’m hoping the joy of riding comes back soon. It’s my place of refuge. It’s my first wonder of the world.

“The streetcar is coming,” the man standing next to me says. He’s 5 feet 8 inches tall with gruff sideburns and the yellowest teeth that I have ever seen. I see he has a smoking addiction, too.

I enter the streetcar hesitantly. I’m not ready to ride public transportation again. Where is this sudden fear of riding public transportation coming from? I exit the streetcar cautiously. I decide that I’m not quite ready. Thankfully, I did, or I would have never heard such an electrifying musical accompaniment in my life.

Halfway home, in the distance, I hear toads. It’s symphonic in its beauty. I know I’ve heard this piece before. Was it symphony Number 4 by Bach? What was the song? It sounds so familiar. How do toads know about Bach?   Who knew toads were musical geniuses?

My head hits the pillow. The toad symphony lulls me to sleep. Thanks to the toad symphony, my mind is at ease. The storm blues are fading away. Tomorrow I’m going to ride public transportation again. United Cab Company isn’t going to get any more of my hard-earned dollars. Looks like things are looking up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jason Kerzinski is a playwright, short story writer, poet, and artist who lives in New Orleans.