Thursday, September 01, 2005

On New Orleans...

Tomorrow I will write one of my usual funny self-depricating posts but tonight I wanted to write about one of my favorite American cities, and vent about how reading about the events down there make me want to vommit. Be forwarned, this is going to be an uber liberal political post.

Taken from a bullitein board of citizen updates:

"I have a house on Prytania and 2nd in the Garden District. We just spoke to our an employee at the house who has said that the area is stabile. No water or flooding whatsoever, a few limbs and branches down, but no significanyt damage or flooding whatsoever. Perhaps this is why it is not covered at all on the news since sometimes no news is good news!"

Let's read into the second sentence shall we?! "We just spoke to our employee" As in, my employee is still in the house on Prytania.

Let's further analyze the sentence.

An employee is at the house and since the owner called for an update, I think we can assume that they are not in the house. As in, they are probably SAFE AND EVACUATED.

Actually, the employee is faring a lot better than his/her counterparts in the CBD (Central Business District) and in the superdome, where the inhabitants would prob do better as refugees in some war torn country in Africa. At least the Africans have the UN. Where is our national guard?! Oh yea, in Iraq protecting Iraqis. Now, I do have my issues with the war in Iraq but that is not my main beef at the moment. My problem is that the national guard is supposed to protect American citizens in times of national disaster. If government is going to start a war (even if I do not believe in it), just make sure that there are enough troops to go around!!! Do not take troops that are trained/specifically supposed to help AMERICANS IN TIMES OF DISASTER! And we all wonder why there is "anarchy"

I have never read such a blatent example of government turning its back on people, acting like there is no 14th ammendment that offers equal protection. Every time I read about the 'anarchy' the 'lawlessness' and any other words that people are using to describe the people who did not have enough money to evacuate, I have never seen a more obvious form of racism/classism. If the rich white people who live on St. Charles were "looting" the stores, it would be seen as a form of survival because government does not have enough supplies to feed and maintain a displaced population.

With 20% of the city in povery, government not providing food nor water nor PLUMBING, I can only speak for myself, but I would have no problem helping myself to a donation from the super K-mart or even a new handbag at Saks (for what they have been through, the women deserve it).

I felt that I had to write about what is going on because ever since I stepped foot in that city, I have never loved a place more. Granted the 6-7 months that I lived there was not the healthiest time in my life (alcoholism and working at Banana Republic with a 7 sisters college degree), but I have yet to meet a city filled with more kind/laid back/friendly people, a place where I felt incredibly at home and happy. And my backyard was the ghetto where you could have bought crack. Some of my fondest memories involved sitting on my friends' porch, throwing back beers, and giving beers to passerbys who sat to chat us up. I miss my $500 rent for a 1 bedroom, the people, the perpetual parties, and of course a po'boy from parasols and late night at Snake and Jakes.

I know this is going to sound trite and I do not even know how many readers I have but seriously, please, get in touch with your congress person (you could find it on the internet) and tell them that you are outraged that our government is doing all that we could for fellow American citizens. Because, if you think about it, if any of this happened in a place like NYC, LA, SF, or any other city where there is not such a disparity between the haves and have nots, the blacks and the whites, our government would already have the top engineers from the Netherlands, more national guardsmen, and be flying in supplies. If I did not have such an addiction to international travel, I would burn my passport at the Italian border because at this point, I am ashamed to be associated with this government. A government who, in a city's and its citizens' hour of need, is turning their back.


At 11:29 PM, Blogger sdm said...

What is happening is heartbreaking, I agree. Let's remember Katrina also devestated parts of Mississippi (which took the "direct" hit) & Alabama. We're dealing with an unprecedented event in our country's history. Early reports were that New Orleans dodged a bullet, until the levee broke. The response by local, state, & national (guard & FEMA) has been slow to say the least & that does bother me. I don't think the Goverment is turnng their back, however. Most of the National Guard is in the States, not in Iraq, & they are helping. More aid & man power will go to assist in the Gulf region than has ever been used before.

I cannot excuse looting (other than food & water), shooting at the helicopters trying to rescue victims, the rapes & murders that apparently took place in the Superdome. These people have turned their back on their own community. Again, the state & local authorities failed in establishing order. I have seen no "Rudy" type leadership from anyone in New Orleans like we saw in NY after 9/11.

Contacting your Congressmen is a fine idea, & so is contacting the Red Cross. I have donated to the Red Cross Katrina Relief Fund & so should all of your readers. The money will go directly to help the victims of this disaster.

I'm sorry for your personal loss. I've never been to New Orleans, but I've never heard a bad thing about it from anyone who has been there. I'm confident New Orleans will rebuild, as will all the areas effected by Katrina.


At 9:27 AM, Blogger katie said...

Shandoll, I've never been prouder.

sdm, who are you? I'm aware that there is also suffering in other parts of the gulf coast and that New Orleans did not take the direct hit, but as an individual who lived in that city for a year and loves it and its people (lawless though they may be), I'm not sure you understand the gravity of their situation.

1. It's drowning. An entire city has been swallowed by a bay of the Gulf of Mexico. Current estimates speculate that it may be a decade before the city will be habitable again.

2. That city is 70% black and 70% poor. They stayed because most people in New Orleans don't have cars, can't drive and don't have enough money to get out of the city.

3. Those people who remain aren't turning their collective back on their community, their community turned its back on them a long time ago. Do some research and you'll learn that New Orleans is not a city that has historically been kind to its most vulnerable, so forgive them if they aren't prepared to die waiting for imaginary help from the government. The problem is not the lack of military presence (plenty of men with guns showed up); the problem is lack of speed, organization and efficiency in terms of managing relief, basics--food and water. To many in higher places, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, this city isn't worth saving. The people are poor, but they aren't stupid. They know they don't live in Florida and that help typically doesn't rush into the housing projects. Though the armed forces and police do manage to show up in record time and with video cameras once word of "looting" spreads.

4. As for the lack of your "Rudy"--Mayor Ray Nagin has been doing an incredible job fighting for his city and the people still trapped within it. He's doing everything in his power to help, which at the moment seems to be limited to vocalizing his frustration with the lack of real mobilization and the failure to find better ways to get supplies to the people holed up places they were told would provide them protection.

5. Desperation does strange things to people. Imagine having almost nothing and then watching everything you have and love be swept away by a torrent of water that no one could stop. Hearing your downstairs neighbors bang on the ceiling until you know they've succumbed to the water that's rising toward you and your family. Imagine having no idea if help was on the way, not having any reason to expect it. What would you do? There are mothers in housing projects putting their children on boats and buses because there's not enough room for everyone to go.

6. My point is that we, as a nation, are really in no position to judge the actions of these people. I refuse to blame a deserted population for being angry or even violent at being victimized by this situation. At this point it is about individual survival, and four days in, with no food, no water and absolutely no way off what's basically an island--have you heard that there are soldiers with guns on the bridges pushing people back into New Orleans?--in many parts of the city, it shouldn't seem strange that people are willing to take from others to get what they need to sustain themselves. I just wish the government had been prepared enough and fast enough that they didn't feel they have to...

At 11:49 AM, Blogger sdm said...

hello katie (& shandoll), I am just an internet nerd from NJ. I stumbled across this blog a few months ago & have always been entertained by it.

I agree with you more than you may think. You are right, I do not have an intimate knowledge of the area. I do think the local & state officials failed more than the feds because ther was no clear communication of where to go - or not & what to do - or not. I use the Rudy example because right away he was specific about the subways & buses, where people could go to help & get information - & no one knew what would happen that day.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I have not seen that type of informed decision making in this situation. People, citizens, have shown up with boats ready to help but no one can tell them where to go or what to do. Day after day, we see people walking around & the 1st thing they say is "we don't know where to go." It takes time to mobilize a national response to such an event as this, but it is obvious to me New Orleans was not at all prepared to deal with this when we all know they are under sea level & would be devastated by a cat 3 storm, let alone Katrina. There was no plan in place to deal with this & that falls on the Louisiana State & Local Government.

I know you have a personal connection to New Orleans & I do not mean to be insensitive to the people of New Orleans. I understand if you need to break into a store for water, food, medicine, baby formula... but not TV's, stereo's, shopping carts full of clothes & shoes... it's wrong.

Again, I encourage you & everyone else to donate to the Red Cross Katrina Relief Fund. Katie, you are right that this will take YEARS to overcome, but New Orleans & the Gulf region will recover.

I hope soon, things will improve & people will be able to get their lives together.

Take care,


At 4:05 PM, Blogger Corinne said...

wow post-a-comment on shan's blog. my two cents:

poor, black, victimized (90% of the 'refugees' clamouring for water, food, housing, a shower are not white), uneducated (cause guess what? that cities social network failed... well never really existed, there was something very jim crow about nola) and yes you are going to take advantage of whatever situation you are in. be it for food or tvs, when life has taught you (and i don't like making generalized statements about people, but lets me realistic, life hasn't exactly been about girl scouts and applying to college for these people) to take advantage of things, you do it.

i don't condon the shooting, the violence but that is what happens when as katie put it 'their community turned its back' on them for decades.

its chaos down there, and lets be realistic on who to blame. not the storm, not the rich white suburbanites, not even the mayor elected every 4 years. the people to blame are the beaucrats on every level, and especially federal, where it is there job, nay their duty to protect and project solutions to projected problems has not be accomplished. and you know who their leader has been for the past 6 years? the man setting the agenda, and who should be pulling a 'Rudy'? it ain't the mayor of a city where all his resources to fix or manage the problem are underneath 5 feet of water (WT was a few city blocks wide and long, the rest of the city was still standing) this is a city completely annihilated for lack of a better word, its our dear dear useless president who thinks its appropriate to take a month off whenever the average american can't afford more then 5 days a year.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger sdm said...

I don't think the Presidents vacation schedule can effect weather patterns. Nor can the vacation schedule of Congress, who were also off during the month of August.

The local & state officials should know their state. They should prepare for a worst case scenerio & they seemed lost. In fact, they were lost & that is a shame.

It's time now to stop the finger pointing & focus on the task at hand. This is not a liberal or conservative thing, this is an AMERICAN thing. It is time to close ranks & help these people. God bless them.


At 1:38 AM, Blogger Shandoll said...

Comment warfare on my blog!



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