Wednesday, August 29, 2007

2 years later

Today is the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I'm not sure how to mark this day as I'm no longer in the city and some say that I turned tail and ran from the problems that followed the storm. On the other hand, I know folks that say I did the smart thing by leaving, that I was protecting myself and my future. I don't like to spend much time thinking about which group of folks are right, because I feel like a true New Orleans resident and the thought that I jumped ship hurts my heart.

Leaving was not an easy decision. And I know that, if it were possible, I would return to the city to do my part. I also know that jparks will hear none of this and has vowed that we will never live there again. He's not evil for saying this, just concerned for us. The truth is that the city has not recovered. Two years after being ripped apart, life is not back to normal for the majority of residents and the little bit of recovery that has happened is just waiting to get ripped apart again. Repairs to the levees and to the pump stations aren't enough to protect the city from another storm and the level of repairs that need to be made are too much for the city to take on alone. And sending aid seems low on the to do list for the government.

Today I was driving along 101 when I noticed a billboard asking people to help Free Vietnam. Right now the Gap wants us to support (Product)Red: the Global Fund. And everyone in Hollywood wants us to help Darfur. But who wants us to help New Orleans? Where are the billboards asking people to save a city within our own continental boundaries? Where is the clothing line that supports rebuilding the 9th Ward? This country is concerned with saving the world but could not care any less about saving one of it's own. Is this really the message we want to send to the rest of the world, especially since we've been saying for years that our goal in Iraq is to help them rebuild? I'm thinking it's not, but what do I know, I'm not in politics.

New Orleans deserves our country's attention. It deserves our support and help. It's a city worth saving. It's worth more than we are currently putting into it. Before Katrina the city had so much to offer; so many opportunities for its residents and for itself. Now people there have little hope and few are optimistic for their futures' or for the city's. And this is not the New Orleans I remember. This is the New Orleans that we need to work hard to make disappear.

And before I get ripped apart like a city by a hurricane (what, inappropriate?) for saying these things, I want to clarify that I know volunteers are in the city helping. Those people are amazing individuals for offering up their time and energy to help rebuild the city, a city most of them have never experienced before. They are one of the few reasons I have any hope that New Orleans will rise again. Thank you volunteers, your help has more of an impact on the residents and former residents of New Orleans than you will ever know.

We need to never forgot how amazing New Orleans was, how amazing it could be again, and how amazing its residents are for never giving up. We need to never forgot because that's the most painful thing we could do to New Orleans.


  1. Anyone who would rip you apart for saying the truth or presenting your opinion is stupid. This is part of an article from, just for some positive thoughts on the progress even if it IS slow as all hell.

    ...Trapolin and Foil/Wyatt Architects of Jackson, Miss., found a neighborhood with no height restrictions to stake out their 25-story, $55 million Tracage condominiums in the Warehouse District, scheduled for completion in 2009. Visible someday from a Tracage condo, the National World War II Museum plans a $300 million expansion by Voorsanger Mathes, LLC, including an immense re-engineered, more-weather-resistant-than-originally-planned awning that will shield the pilgrims trekking to the Greatest Generation landmark. The expansion is due for completion by 2014.

    In the Central Business District, uberdeveloper and reality television star and Donald Trump plans a $400 million, 68-story Trump International Hotel and Tower, which would be the city's tallest. It's designed by Adache Group Architects in Pensacola, Fla., and includes 622 condominium units.

    Mexican rising star Enrique Norten headlines a team of planners who may eventually convert New Orleans' sadly dilapidated industrial riverfront into a serpentine urban park, studded with futuristic structures. The as-yet-unfinanced $1 billion Reinventing the Crescent project, as it's known, is envisioned for completion in 2018.

    Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne, winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture's Oscar, has conceived a $100 million National Jazz Center performance hall that he envisions on Loyola Avenue in the next five years.

    Still, Eskew echoes some of his colleagues when he warns against slavish and nostalgic devotion to the past as New Orleans moves forward. "The loss in our community has been profound," he said, "New Orleans will certainly survive. But it will be a different New Orleans."

  2. I've been thinking of you with all the radio and newspaper stuff about the anniversary. It can't be easy. I hope you find joy living in Calif. in your new house!

  3. If the entire South caught on fire, New Orleans is the one thing I'd grab on the way out the door. Okay, I'd make my wife grab Nashville too, but still...

    I'd say that anyone who left New Orleans should do just what you did, and keep beating the drum for it...given the national attention span, the thing that will keep the city alive is people keeping it on the front burner. Just because the Saints are playing again (and hopefully slaughtering the Falcons) and Pat O's is open doesn't mean everything's back to normal.

    Which reminds me, I need to write and see how Joseph is....

  4. 1. agreed on every point
    2. Brad Pitt (although one hunk of a man can only bring so much attention to the cause, at least he is trying). Global Green Project