Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
(Atlanta’s interstate fire and collapse courtesy CBS46 Atlanta)
There were so many titles for today’s post….
“Atlanta is burning…again”
“The domino effect”
“Catastrophe under, or is it of, the road”
as the camera would then pan to a sea of stopped cars stranded for hours as
they waited to be literally turned around and rerouted from one of the nation’s busiest
If you haven’t yet heard, Atlanta was on fire, again, Thursday.
I say again because if your history lessons have failed you,
you may recall that a certain General T. Sherman burnt Atlanta to the ground
as a Christmas gift for President Lincoln during the Civil War.
And that is now the reason as to why the mythical creature the Phoenix is Georgia’s
sacred state bird…that is, besides the brown thrasher.
For the Phoenix is a symbol of how a smoldering Southern city rose up from the ashes
to become a major US metropolitan megatropolis…
along with the world’s busiest airport,
and a horrific gridlock of interstates….
but I digress….
Our son called late yesterday afternoon asking if we knew Atlanta was on fire.
He had seen this during his commute home from work.
We flipped on the television, and sure enough, Atlanta was on fire…
or more exactly a large swarth of area underneath a section of I-85 near Piedmont Rd,
what is known to locals as the Mid town area….
If you’ve ever driven north or south through Atlanta, you’ve driven over this stretch
This was a Thursday evening, at rush hour.
The interstate in both the south and north bound lanes were shut down as the fire
The heat so intense, a large section of the interstate buckled under the strain and collapsed–
which may have been a good thing as it helped to snuff out much of the inferno.
And miraculously, no one was hurt.
Still not certain as to the actual cause….
But what is certain, a major US artery is now shut down for travel for who knows how long.
Listening to the various news stations and the reporters who,
as everyone watched in real time, first the fire then the collapse,
gasped in obvious overwhelmed amazement.
What would happen with all those cars now stuck?
What would happen in the days to come?
Where would all the traffic be rerouted?
What about Atlanta’s notorious Rush hours?
How much longer would it now take to get to and from work?
What about all the soon to be Spring Break travelers headed south to Florida?
On and on the mounting panic became palpable as a million questions flooded
the thoughts of everyone….
I had to drive over to Dad’s today to meet with the funeral home in order to gather up
some needed papers and documents.
It was not a pretty picture as traffic was rerouted over to my usual route….
bypassing around the city.
There had also been an early morning crash just this side of the Georgia / Alabama state lines
shutting down all of I-20 east bound. That swarth of interstate closed until late afternoon.
Meaning more rerouting, with all that traffic, with an endless line of tractor trailer trucks,
being rerouted again, to my particular route of travel….
and I have to go back today….
And with all this burning, collapsing and rerouting nightmare…it’s all gotten me thinking.
Thinking of our dependance upon our own limited abilities and vision…
Our world, the world in which we, man, has created is so tenuous and superficial.
Yet we assume and even take for granted that it is invincible.
Our massive buildings, our sprawling shopping meccas, our spaghetti maze of roadways,
our expanding bridges, even our modes of travel…
all seemingly built to last…
That is…until there is a bizarre or freakish event of catastrophic proportions…
which in turn sends us, much like ants, scurrying in an endless state of pandemonium.
There are no guarantees.
I can vividly recall watching the aftermath of the 1989 earthquake out in San Francisco…
the quake which collapsed and sandwiched the 880 interstate,
crushing and trapping both cars and people.
It was a horrific reminder of our fragility.
Just as each catastrophic earthquake has been in recent months in central Italy.
Centuries old buildings reduced to instant rubble in the blink of an eye.
It matters not the disaster…
It matters not if the victim be historic, modern, structurally sound or state of the art..
Nothing that we put our hands to, which we arrogantly assume is built to stand the test time,
will in turn do just that…last to kingdom come…
All will eventually give way to ruin…
For all of our ingenuity, our hutzpah, our try, try again mentality and and our plain
ol good intentions..
none of it will last….
for it will all pass away, just as we shall pass away to the very dust
from which we were formed in the hands of the Creator…
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life, and the man became a living being.