Yes, I’ve read the news reports and I’ve seen the TV coverage.Still, I know I can’t really comprehend the sheer magnitude of the situation in New Orleans.Unless you’re actually there and stuck in the bowels of this epic disaster, nobody can.The enormity of loss caused by Hurricane Katrina boggles the imagination.I was most fortunate to have visited New Orleans a few years ago, and I became enchanted with the city.The French Quarter had an ambience like perhaps no other place on earth.Notice the use of the past tense in the preceding sentence.Now, everybody must leave New Orleans because of immense flooding caused by breached levees.In fact, New Orleans is drowning. Matters are so utterly dire right now that Louisiana has put aside counting the dead to concentrate on rescuing the living. Still, the mayor estimates that thousands likely have died in New Orleans.Let that staggering figure resonate in the recesses of your mind. Indeed, surviving residents will need deep reservoirs of resolve and resiliency to salvage themselves and their possessions from this colossal nightmare.Who could blame them if Katrina’s wicked wrath has left them shattered and dispirited?When a torrential force washes away your heart, it’s difficult to keep your chin up.I imagine there are a lot of folks there who are having impassioned chats with their deity as they peer into the gargantuan void of despair — in their city and in their souls.Of course, they are not alone in their torment.The poor folks in Mississippi also find themselves swamped with destruction, their emotions undoubtedly swimming in raw adrenaline as they cling to any and all lifelines.Indeed, the entire Gulf Coast is redolent with the musk of soul-numbing loss.I’m sure plenty of people are wondering if there possibly can be enough glue and duct tape in the world to put everything back the way it once was.The blunt answer is no.Harsh but true.Still, Americans are blessed with an inordinate bounce-back capacity. It will take billions of dollars and billions of ounces — blood, sweat and tears — to rebuild.But rebuild they will — eventually. But it will never be the same.But it hopefully it will be rebuilt smarter, better equipped to provide shelter from the storm. There is a splendid side to living in a coastal area. But a dark side as well.Mother Nature is a true Gemini. She can be a warm friend and a terrorizing foe.To be blunt, Mother Nature has declared war on the Gulf Coast. It’s up to all of us to fight back.And get ready for the next round.Make no mistake.Mother Nature’s vicious backhand will be back, dealing destruction more adroitly than a blackjack dealer.Playing the hand we’re dealt is terribly hard to swallow at times.This is one of those sad, sad times.