Monday, May 29, 2006

Forced to Become Pirates

In yet another example of the extent of the damage sustained by New Orleans and of the painfully slow recovery, nine months after the storm and average New Orleanians are forced to take it upon themselves to try and avert an environmental disaster happening in the many wasted marinas on Lake Pontchartrain.

With zero assistance from FEMA, the Army Corps and insurance companies, hundreds of sailboats and powerboats still lie foundered throughout the waters of the marinas - their bellies full of diesel, oil and who knows what other chemicals - these citizens have grouped together to try and clear the channels of these foundered boats on their own.

Using borrowed truck inner tubes, inflatable racing marks and pure gumption these recreational boaters are fighting to take control of their own recovery.

The organizer of this rag tag group who wishes to remain anonymous states, "If we waited for politicians, the harbor master, or the city or the Feds to clean up... well that's what you have right now, nothing. Just a bunch of devastated boats and houses."

It probably won't be long before we have average New Orleanians out there digging up still flooded gas lines, replacing water mains, building levees and forming bucket brigades to stop any future street flooding.

C'est la vie.

Although there is no direct method of helping this group financially, you can help out the environmental group, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, with tax deductible donations.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sifting Through the Sludge

Here we are nine months after Katrina roared ashore in Mississippi and the spin doctors are still spinning the aftermath. The amount of garbage one has to sift through in the national media to even get close to the reality on the ground is amazing.

I even found myself getting furious the other night at Tucker Carlson - Tucker do your research bud - Nagin is virtually a Republican. Landrieu is the dyed in the wool liberal. I'm sorry that you find it hard to believe that a white man from a southern state would be more liberal than an urban black - but it's true.

I endorsed Landrieu before the primary, but found myself voting for the man who came in fourth, Rob Couhig (R) and who actually endorsed Nagin in the runoff. In the primary I voted for Landrieu and I'll tell you why: Because I knew the rest of the country would start screaming that we'd be a bunch of idiots and didn't deserve any more help if we elected Nagin back for four more.

Well Nagin won - and that's exactly what's happening.

Am I disapointed now that he's won? Nope.

Julia Reed writes in Newsweek something that many of us have been thinking down here:
"Maybe now that the mayor no longer has to defend his job or his performance during Katrina, he can focus on the enormous problems at hand. Even people who voted against him admit there’s something to be said for a mayor entering his second term. He is freed from the political pressures that require him to be as timid as he and Landrieu were in the campaign. And he can put his controversial independent streak to good use by telling the people of New Orleans what they may not want to hear at long last."
Another great point was made today by Stephanie Grace who writes for the Times-Picayune:
"Before they scoff, people who don't live here might try to walk a mile in those (New Orleanians) voters' shoes. "

Moving on...

Here's a great article criticizing the MSM and explaining exactly how they got their coverage wrong during the first days - specifically as it relates to the horror stories coming out of the Superdome.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lakeview vs. the Lower Nine

Amongst Lakeview residents an issue has been quietly smoldering throughout the aftermath of Katrina and an article in the Washington Post today has finally brought me around to discussing it.

Why is it that even though Lakeview and the Lower Nine are comparable in size and residents, with both receiving equal amounts of flooding (I'm not going to bicker about who had the greatest water depth) leading to equal amounts of destruction, yet America knows everything about the Lower Nine and hasn't even heard about Lakeview?


It apparantly makes for a much more compelling story for devastation to happen to black people.

Now suddenly Lakeview is in the news because according to the Washington Post it is "roaring back to middle class life" while the Lower Nine languishes in some rascist purgatory.

Well sorry to break the news, but Lakeview is not roaring towards anything, unless as Blaine Harden, the WP writer, cherry picks his block.

Let me explain a few things about Lakeview and then I'll get into the block where my FEMA trailer and wasted third generation family home sits.

While Lakeview had its own personal levee breach over at the head of the 17th Street Canal, a mere stone's throw from anywhere in the neighborhood, the press fails to mention what is on the other side of that canal... a nearly fully recovered Jefferson Parish.

In the picture Lakeview is the dark area on the right with Jefferson Parish on the left.

In fact, there are two grocery stores, pharmacies, a Lowe's, gas stations, restaurants, banks - civilization - all right there over a bridge that was a boat launch almost nine months ago. You don't have that for miles in the Lower 9th. You can not buy food in a grocery store anywhere near the Lower 9th.

The Lower 9th is also basically an island, surrounded on four sides by water, whereas Lakeview buts up against Mid-City and Esplanade. I'm sure it is a little easier to get electricity off of a grid which is connected to the majority of the city and I'm sure it is easier to pump chlorine through water pipes that are connected to the rest of the city.

Now truth be told, Lakeview is 'wealthier' than the Ninth Ward and therefore propably has more insured homes (not that that means anything), but through the Lousiana Recovery Authority any unisured homeowner will receive $95,000 in order to rebuild.

But the fact remains that Lakeview is in a pitiful state of disrepair even considering these geographical bonuses.

On my block, out of ten houses, only two are actively being rebuilt, six have been gutted and two sit untouched; within a three block area there is only one trailer - mine.

Lakeview residents have quietly allowed the press to focus on the 9th Ward because it keeps all of our tragedies in the forefront, but to start blathering that it is because of racism that Lakeview is 'roaring back' is simply a crock.

Lakeview will eventually come back - stronger than before - but it's not because of race. It is really because of geography.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Status Quo

Man it's gotta suck to be this family... oh no wait. That's the norm for everybody in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The insurance companies are all working a litigation strategy and screwing people down here left and right all the while enjoying their greatest profits ever.

And trust me, it's a little hard to buy a home when mortgage companies demand that you have insurance, but the insurers are refusing to write new policies period.

Because of this, New Orleans may remain a city with huge swaths of wasteland forever. The National Trust for Historic Preservation gets that this is a problem - they've declared this entire city the most endangered historical site in America.

If you don't think this has anything to do with you... think again people. If you live anywhere along the unaffected Gulf Coast or the southeast coast, get ready because the insurance companies are going to screw you next.


Monday, May 08, 2006

The Great Deluge

Douglas Brinkley, the New Orleans historian and Stephen Ambrose protege, has released his historical narrative describing in depth the mayhem in New Orleans through the first week after the storm.

This is a must have book -- and clearly describes the boneheaded moves of government and lifts the individual heroes who gave of themselves in the face of the Army Corps of Engineers great feat of mass murder to their rightful position.

You can read reviews and purchase it online by clicking HERE.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Be Very Afraid...

The Federal Report on a possible response to a bird flu pandemic states:

“Local communities will have to address the medical and nonmedical impacts of the pandemic with available resources,” the report warns, because the federal government won’t be able to offer the kind of aid expected after hurricanes or other one-time, one-location natural disasters.

Jesus -- so we're really on our own on this I guess. What the hell is government for then?

We had better start stocking up on vitamin C and start killing chickens people.

Anyway... there was a great piece in Sports Illustrated today... It just goes to show that even a Sports Writer down here to cover Reggie Bush can only scream about how deplorable the conditions are down here in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast EIGHT MONTHS post Katrina.

I can't wait for the one year anniversary, so the rest of the country - in their Katrina boredom - might wake up and discover that none of those billions of dollars have come down here, we still don't have many operating streetlights, boats are still sitting in streets, people still haven't gotten FEMA trailers... it goes on and on.

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