05 December 2007

Meth in the FEMA trailer park

Caught Up in a Storm, With His Eyes Wide Open

On that hot July afternoon, Isaiah and two friends hunted for tiny crabs, threw dirt bombs and visited the cemetery across the creek where his grandfather, who used to give him firecrackers, is buried. They also found treasure: a mysterious black duffel bag that came with them on their return climb over the wobbly fence separating the forbidden from the forgotten.

The bag was jostled, kicked, and finally opened to reveal strange things, including a pair of pliers, some tubing, nail clippers and a two-liter plastic bottle filled with a milky liquid. Isaiah waved a younger boy away from the bag, then bent over to zip it up. He heard a hiss and then BAM!

The boys had found a bag full of chemicals from a methamphetamine lab. He was terribly burnt. The chemicals got on his face and in his eyes. But he appears to be making an amazing recovery. The story has called attention to the fact that there are still people living in FEMA trailers they were given after Katrina two years ago. Its also made people think again about the meth cookers.

When I was a child, one of our neighbors was dealing meth. I don't remember all of it clearly, but I remember the mean rottweilers, the hungry little kids and all the cars that would drive by. I was out of state when it happened, but as recently as high school a neighbor's garage burnt and there is still speculation that there may have been meth cooking in there. Besides the horrendous things meth use will do to you, meth production is very dangerous. Its some serious organic chemistry being done with equipment not made to handle it by people who may not even have a high school education. The laws that limit sale of pseudoephedrine have helped curb production, but obviously there are places where its still a problem.

More than that, my family is not a poor black family in the deep south living in a two year old trailer from the government because a hurricane destroyed our house. Thankfully the community has come forward to help, as much as it can considering the circumstances.

One way the community responded was down at the Wal-Mart, where the receiving manager, Patsy Poole, set up a fund-raising booth near Register 1 that displayed photos of Isaiah’s transformed face. More than $2,000 in four hours; more than $5,000 in a few days.

“Twenties!” Ms. Poole says. “They was just throwing in the money.”

Another way was by inundating the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County, still working out of a poststorm trailer, with tips about dozens of meth labs and dumpsites. Sgt. Curtis Spiers, its commander, said many calls came from local meth users, whose arms and hands often carry telltale burn scars of their own accidents. They hadn’t informed in years, but what happened to this boy was too much.

People can stand to see their own lives fall apart, but there is the idea that the innocent shouldn't suffer for the sins of others. Thats something at least.

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