Monday, August 30, 2010

Five Yea Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

Hard to believe it's the five-year anniversary of Katrina.  The storm that took 1,835 lives and caused an estimated $81 billion in property damage. The city lost New Orleans lost 595,205 people prior to and shortly after Katrina. While much has been done in New Orleans, thanks to the strong spirit of the city and it's inhabitants, there's still so much to be done.  The parishes which were leveled, such as The Lower 9th Ward and even Lakeview, where some of my novel, Shaman Circus, takes place still have a long way to go.  For every house that's been built since the hurricane, thanks to people like Habitat for Humanity and Brad Pitt's Make it Right foundation, five houses are either demolished or left standing  in lots full of six foot weeds.  Thee are few local businesses in the area, no food stores, no restaurants.  The idea of a community is gone, although those who loved their neighborhood and had the courage to return hang in there. 
A lot of grassroots councils have been established as well to rebuild areas such as one near Lake Pontchartrain, where recovery has come a long way due to survivor's efforts.
Treme has seen some improvement, thanks to its musical heritage, but even there, houses still remain abandoned, the markings left behind by search and rescue faded, but still there to tell the story every time someone walks by.
The schools are fewer but better - same with the hospitals.  And while New Orleans resilience is amazing, the fact that we haven't come much further in the government's role of handling such tragedies, is unacceptable.  No one has been held accountable for the lack of support and mismanagement of funds and equipment, necessary for survival, which never reached the Gulf Coast.  Two years after Katrina, I saw for myself in Lumberton, Miss., thousands and thousands of FEMA purchased trailers which were just dumped on acres of land, never reaching those needing homes, even though they were only an hour and a half away.  People were still living in tents in their drive ways.  I'll never get over my anger at that sight, knowing how people were suffering, let alone the waste of taxpayer's money where what we paid for some trailers would have been enough to rebuild a small house.
So it, was with a heavy heart, and tears that I watched some of the newscasts this weekend.  Wishing we had wised up on a national level. Especially since the area is being hit with another massive blow form the oil spill, when recovery form the first tragedy isn't anywhere near complete. For tourists, life is good in New Orleans.  The French Quarter is intact, the Saints are bringing hope to the city, but for many families, it's still a nightmare to get beyond.  I give credit to the people of the area - they have pushed on through the miles of red tape and the years of struggling.  I hope they can continue on setting an example for the rest of the country, teaching us, we can't take anything for granted.  Everyday is a pivotal day we should cherish, a day which could change in a matter of hours - as it did for them.  

1 comment:

  1. I know someone in Miss. who's life has never been the same since that storm.
    New Orleans lost a theme park, too. Probably the only Six Flags to ever close down due to a weather disaster.


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