A YEAR AFTER HUGO: thenGood Morning America helicopternmade several passes over the creekntoday in preparation for the “one yearnanniversary of Hurricane Hugo” programmingnthat was aired in September.nTwo of my shrimping relativesnwent in the ocean instead of participatingnin the ground-based interviewsnfilmed in advance. Surely a good sign.nThe media harvest is winding down.nThe harvest of the sea triumphs.nHooray and a sigh. Fifteen monthsnago my wife and I picked our waynamong the fallen trees that blockednthese streets. On every side mud,nmarsh grass, and dead fish were mixednwith parts of houses and house parts.nAn entire fleet of shrimp boats hadnbeen flung high and dry upon whatnwas once “the hill.” Helicopters hoverednoverhead that day as well, takingntelevision photos that I suppose werenshown that night or the next. We hadnno way of knowing, for electricitynwouldn’t return for another threenweeks. And I assumed we got the usualnten-second “bite,” but judging by whatnhappened next there must have beennmuch, much more. Huddling over anbattery-operated radio that night, Inheard the South Carolina governorndeclare that “the town of McClellanvillenno longer exists.” “Reports of myndeath were greatly exaggerated,”nquipped Twain. The governor mustnhave retracted soon after — and with anvengeance — for in the days that followednI would come to think “reportsnof our existence were greatly exaggerated.”nTrue, I wasn’t happy to hear ournobituary. Especially since at least anhundred citizens of the town propernand thousands in the inundated areanhad miraculously survived a tidal surgenof sixteen feet and hurricane windsnthat probably exceeded 175 mph.nMany of us that morning had beennwandering through the rubble beingnphotographed. We weren’t dead, justnin shock and hardly prepared for thenthirty-eight trailer trucks of relief suppliesnthat arrived one night. Suddenly,nthere was an army of well-meaningnhelp swelling our tiny community ofn6/CHRONICLESnCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSn400 souls. President Bush even tried tonsqueeze in but was rerouted at the lastnminute down to Gharleston. Badnweather was the official reason givennbut a false report to the Secret Servicenof dead bodies and rifles was the rumor.nRumors. There were lots of rumorsnand chaos that would rival thenmost surreal of Fellini’s carnivals.nDespair, greed, and petty corruption.nThat’s what the cynic in menrecalls most. What lobe of the brain isnthat? Perhaps the rear-reptilian. Shamenon me, for now almost one year laternthe town is at least recognizable. Thenlarge pines are gone but the greatnsprawling live oaks have survived.nHomes have been repaired and newnones are being built. The shrimp boatsnare not leaning against houses but innthe ocean towing. Dogs, church, children—nwhat we expect of normalcy,nall are there and in record time.nWithout the federal disaster aid (deliverednby sometimes generous, alwaysnbumbling bureaucrats), without thenMarines (now I understand the conceptnof martial law), without the Corpsnof Engineers (the S.O.B.’s finallynfound a job big enough to suit themnand they were very, very good at it),nwithout the Red Cross (they tried), andnwithout the insurance adjusters (yournlife is in the palm of their hghtlyngripped fist), without all these thenrebuilding of the town would havendragged on for decades. Without thenchurches (God does exist — watch anMennonite hammer), without all thenvolunteers (such astounding generositynfrom every corner of the country),nwithout the cash donations and thentruckloads of food, clothing, and buildingnmaterial, and without the median(they’ve got to be included), withoutnall these it’s possible our litfle communitynwould never have rebuilt.nSo why now, with the Good MorningnAmerica helicopter chopping ofi^nover the slightiy crippled horizon, whyndo I feel such anger towards my fellownman and most of all towards myself?nI’m not alone. Tempers still flare. Depressionnand insomnia are the norm.nThe subject of Hugo Stress driftsnthrough every conversation. It’s notnnnpsychobabble if it’s happening to younor your friends and neighbors. Obviously,nall this anger has something tondo with loss. We have our town back,nbut it’s not “our town.” I’m guessingnthat the words that apply are the optimismnof innocence. Maybe we lost it atnthe movies. Or maybe we just lost it.n— William P. BaldwinnW H E N THE NEA’S Council andnchairman last July refused to fund fournof the eighteen “solo performers andnmime” grants the NEA staff^ had recommended,nthere was a tremendousnreaction from the artists involved andnthe Joseph Papp crowd. Rejected! wentnthe headline in the Washington Post’snShow section. Most of the coveragenconcentrated on the personal orientationnof the three “out” rejectees, andnon the fourth’s (performance artist KarennFinley) now infamous way of expressingnherself artistically by smearingnchocolate on her naked body.nLess emphasized — though I am indebtednto the Post for mentioningnit — was the fact that one rejectee.nHolly Hughes, has received fundingnalready this year from the NEA’s Playwritingndivision for the same script fornwhich she was almost funded by SolonPerformers. Some might call thatndouble-dipping. But when asked pointblankna staffer in the Theater programnassured me that submitting a singlenpiece for both Playwriting and PerformancenArt was perfectiy OK. “Ohnthat’s fine,” she said. “It’s two completelynseparate panels” — in othernwords, two different funding categoriesnwith two different sets of judges.nFurthermore, all four of these Rejecteds!nhave received numerous grantsnfrom the NEA over the years. TomnMiller told the Post that he had receivedn”four or five” NEA grants innthe past eight years, Karen Finley hasnhad something like nine, and bothnHolly Hughes and John Fleck receivednNEA grants just last year. BothnHughes and Finley submitted threenapplications this year, in three differentncategories, all of them recommendednfor funding by their reviewing panels.n