“The Flood” is based on “Run, Come, See Jerusalem”
by Blake Alphonso Higgs, © 1952, 1980 TRO-Hollis Music, Inc.
The music and format of the song is by Higgs.
New words by Sarah Pirtle.
© 2005 Discovery Center Music, BMI
1. A big storm built up in the ocean.
Take my hand. Great God we were losing our home.
Felt like I’m back in a war zone. Take my hand the tide has turned.
2. The levee broke from the water.
Take my hand. Helicopters dropping sandbags.
Water close to the treetops. Take my hand, the tide has turned.
3. I had four more nights ‘til payday.
Take my hand. No money to leave New Orleans.
Sister ‘bout to have a baby. Take my hand the tide has turned.
4. Grandma, can you make it to the Superdome?
Take my hand. We can’t pass that wall of water.
Get ready to meet our Maker. Take my hand the tide has turned.
5. National Guard, why don’t you find us?
Take my hand. They can’t. They’re across the ocean.
Call them back to New Orleans. Take my hand the tide has turned.
6. Where’s the money to fix that levy?
Take my hand. Got lost in some fancy pocket.
Tell me, who ya gonna count on? Take my hand the tide has turned.
7. My sister went into labor.
Take my hand. Grandma held her through the night.
She gave birth in a carpark. Take my hand the tide has turned.
8. My Grandma she began singing.
Take my hand. There’s a new soul born today.
someone’s gonna find us. Take my hand the tide has turned.
9. A preacher from Chicago.
Take my hand. He was one of them searching for who been lost.
He says his church will help us across. Take my hand the tide has turned.
“Run, Come, See Jerusalem” was written by Blake Alphonso Higgs from Nassau. Blind Blake recorded his calypso music in the U.S. in the 1950’s. He wrote about a flood in 1929 in the islands, and his song was sung by the Weavers on “Wasn’t That A Time,” and on “The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, vol. 2.” I learned “Run, Come, See Jerusalem” in the 1960’s and never forgot the power of this song.
Calypso has always been a form for social commentary. When the inequities in the Gulf coast became spotlighted in the way the rescue efforts from Hurricane Katrina were handled, this song came to mind. I got permission from Hollis Music and the Richmond Corporation to record this new version, but the basic form of the song is his. Where Blake sings, “Run, come, see,” I sing instead, “Take my hand.” Where he sings, “Run, come, see Jerusalem,” I sing, “Run, come, see the tide has turned.”
The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) and Oversight Coalition at 1418 N. Claiborne, New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-301-0125, 888-310-7473, is an important group to know about. Here’s part of the statement they issued at an open meeting of survivors in New Orleans, December 2005: “The government must put an end to price gouging, stop all evictions, and make rents affordable. Local residents must take the lead in rebuilding our communities and must be hired to do the rebuilding work.” www.communitylaborunited.net
Spring 2006: “We’re writing to you from New Orleans, more than six months after the levees broke—killing loved ones and washing away the homes, life work and life dreams of hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians. Of the 270,000 evacuees who sought public shelter, 93% were African American. One third of them had incomes below $10,000. While people are no longer drowning in putrid floodwaters or suffering heart attacks from subhuman Superdome conditions, entire neighborhoods in New Orleans are still uninhabitable.”
A group of concerned African-American social scientists released a joint statement on principles for rebuilding New Orleans, coordinated by William Spriggs, senior fellow at the Economic Policy Institute. Here’s an excerpt: “The world is watching to see if this nation can tackle the inequities that this storm so savagely revealed. We must develop a long-term strategy that includes using the expertise and knowledge of local and grassroots resources with the large-scale means of the federal government to directly benefit the residents and businesses in the areas affected by the disaster.”
A “Peoples Reconstruction Plan” is being created for a socially and environmentally just New Orleans and Gulf Coast Region. They write, “Our process differs from officially-sponsored planning commissions because we are committed to social, economic and environmental development, self-determination, and equitable planning that prioritizes the collective social and economic needs of the people, not corporate profits.”
Describe one of the stories that stays with you of the many stories you have heard about the people in the Gulf area, not only during the hurricanes, but now during the rebuilding. Pause and connect to the people who endured these massive losses.
During a disaster, some people are able to reach in and help while others disconnect. How can we keep the people of the Gulf region in our awareness? What are your visions of what should and could be happening?