Once-displaced but now at home New Orleanian here wondering what the rest of the US and world are thinking of us, if you’re thinking of us at all. I’ll be the first to admit that immediate post-Katrina media coverage made us look like a bunch of hoodlums, later coverage makes us look like a bunch of incompetents, and the 60 Minutes story on Sunday makes us look like fools.
So… whatta ya think?
If you’re curious, I’m among the very lucky ones. Mrs. Ivorybill and the four fledglings and the dog evacuated Saturday before Katrina. We lost a lot of shingles, but not too much water got in the house. We got a tarp on the roof before Rita hit. We didn’t get flooded. We didn’t get robbed. Still, lucky meant that I didn’t sleep in my own bed for 46 days and am looking at spending about $20,000 dollars that I didn’t plan on spending this year (evacuation, rent, repairs, etc.).
I’ve been there once (20 years ago) and always hoped to go back – but whether I do or not, I was always happy knowing that there was such a place as NO. I just loved the history, the unique culture, the food, the music…and I’d be devastated if it doesn’t come back intact. So I’m certainly hoping there’s a happy ending to this story.
I think any other city, with similar demographics and faced with a similar catastrophe, would probably wind up looking just as bad. I don’t think NO’s experience was unique.
I think of Neworleaneans as victims, first of nature and then of negligence. And I don’t blame victims.
I agree with ivylass’s implication that you (and the rest of us) need accountability in disaster preparation and response, and would add that we could use some housecleaning at the federal level too, not just city and state.
Sincerely, E. Thorp
Seattle, Wash. (if a big earthquake doesn’t get us, a big lahar will)
Check. We’re working on that. Blanco is just too much for words. Nagin was by all acounts doing a fine job before Katrina, but (1) I think he actually believed that people would heed evacuation announcements and, as directed, bring 5 days of food and water with them to the Superdome. They didn’t. (2) He is not a good disaster manager.
We actually had (I guess still have) a disaster plan. Trouble was that Nagin enacted page one (evacuate) then skipped all the middle pages and went right to the Dome as the shelter of last resort.
We sorely need it. Hope you don’t mind seeing your tax dollars going down here for a while.
We’ve gobs of workers. Permitting has been tough as the city has cut so many staff and has scrambled to hire more inspectors.
Please come on down. The Uptown and French Quarter survived with relatively little damage. Hotels are up and running, restaurants are open, though most have limited menus and are using plasticware and paper plates. The weather is fine. The FQ is cleaner than I’ve ever seen it.
This will take a LONG time. Right now it appears that the Corps didn’t design them correctly, contractors didn’t follow the construction guidelines accurately, better systems were shot down by the local levee boards due to incompetence, and the whole system was patched and added on as the city grew into areas that had been farmed. The system needs a complete overhaul, but that will take YEARS and $billions.
Thanks. Wish there were more lucky ones like me. Given your location, good luck to you too, particularly during hurricane season '06.
If the experts are correct, it would appear that Mother Nature’s going to have the final word. They say that, no matter what choice is made about rebuilding, N.O. is going to be totally surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico in 80-100 years. There was a tremendous loss of land south of N.O. just between pre and post Katrins/Rita and they predict that it will continue.
I think there will be. There’s amazing energy here right now. For the most part, people who are in New Orleans WANT to be in New Orleans. That wasn’t always the case before Katrina. We’re also very aware of saving as much of the good as we can - - food, music, architecture, neighborhoods, people - - so that we don’t come out of this without our soul.
I’m glad to see you say that. I’ve heard some folks from other places get really down on all of us for the way the criminal element behaved after the storm. We had only 1600 police for a city of 450,000+ people. Lots of people who by there very presence would have deterred the looting weren’t there. I think that a similar situation in other urban areas would have a similar outcome, unfortunately.
Which experts? Coastal erosion and subsidence is a serious issue, but one that can be remedied to some degree with thoughtful coastal restoration projects. One stumbling block to working on them was lawsuits by oysterers, fishers, shrimpers, and others who were worried that their particular industry would be impacted. I’m hearing some sounds now that these folks would rather take a short term financial loss during coastal restoration than take another big loss like Katrina.
As for the guy on 60 minutes Sunday, the authors of the papers he used to come up with his projections have rebutted most of what he claims. There’s a lot of land between us and the Gulf, and while it’s possible that it will wash away, it’s somewhat unlikely.
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If I can be honest here, I think most of you are darn foo.ls for living below sea level in a huricane zone with only a level 3 seawall.
I think way to many of the people there were much too dependant of the gov’t to save them.
I think using some common sense this disaster could have been greatly reduced.
I think that the local officials have much to answer for, maybe criminally, including past admins.
I think that N.O. should either be totally abandoned and made a underwater national park OR be a shining example to the world of man over coming nature, built to withstand well beyond a cat 5 storm - nothing inbetween.
Hmmm… Okay. I guess people in Seattle are darn fools for living below Mount Rainier with no protection whatsoever. Los Angelinos for living in an earthquake zone. Ditto the folks in San Franciso. Charleston, SC is over a fault zone too. Now, I’ll agree that a levee system for a category 3 storm isn’t the brightest idea. There have been several commissions to study and then fund better protection over the year. The studies were done. The funding didn’t come through. Evidence is now surfacing that the Corps of Engineers had faulty designs - - sank levee pilings only 10 feet when they should have been sunk 25 feet or so. As such, we likely didn’t even have Cat 3 protection.
True. Too many people were just waiting for someone to come and save them. Hopefully they’ve learned an important lesson.
Ivorybill you asked me for my opinion about N.O. I didn’t hear anything about Mt Rainier lately, nor do I have that much knowleage about the buildings in the earthquake prone area. The media (both conventional and alternative) has done extensive coverage on NO and that is where I draw my comments and opinions from. (I don’t take offense to what you stated, just want to correct it in regards to me, if you were stating your humble O about people living in other disaster prone areas I apoligise).
Also I wish to moderate my statement a bit, I have no problem with you living on the rim of an active volcaino, or in the middle of a war zone. I have no problem w/ you obtaining private insurance for your home. It is the reliance on gov’t that I have an issue with.
I don’t think NO will be abandoned or made a fortress against mother nature either, but you asked me my humble O so I gave it.
I sent a very nasty piss off and die letter on behalf of a client to an outfit in New Orleans, and also reported the outfit to a couple of government agencies here at home. The next thing you know, New Orleans was wiped off the map. Sorry for such a broad and severe hex. I’ll try to target better next time.
I’m very sorry to see so many people suffer so much. I’m disgusted by your mayor, governor, and president. If you rebuild the city, I hope that you put in and maintain much stronger sea walls.
Any elaboration on that would be appreciated. He seems like a good, honest guy overcome by events, unlike the Feds whose first thought was “how can Halliburton make money off of this?”
What about a mass transit rail system that could be used for future evacuation? Halliburton could build it.
Did you choose your Doper name from the Woodpecker discovered in my fair neighboring state of Arkansas?
While I did see the 60 minutes segment on Louisiana coastal erosion, my opinion was based on much more than that one story. I’ve lived on the gulf coast and visited southern Lousiana a number of times. I’ve also seen a number of reports aired on PBS: http://www.npr.org/search.php?text=louisiana+coastal+erosion.
I understand the emotions involved in this, but is it realistic to spend billions to rebuild when it may only have to be done again in a decade or two? There are some serious questions that need to be answered, in an objective manner, before we commit to rebuilding N.O.
I take strong exception to the inference implicit in your “Iraq” comment. I’ve stated, w/o emotion, that the rebuilding of N.O. and the wetlands that protect it must be based on our best scientific evaluation of the efficacy in doing so.
There are other threads dedicated to the Iraq issue, or you are free to start a new one if you so desire.
Touche. I’m sorry if I came across rudely. There are just so many places that are bad places for humans to settle. Much of New Orleans, Seattle, SF, LA, etc. Some have been hit and have been rebuilt without (by my perception, anyway) as much handwringing over whether or not to rebuild.
I would think that in the long run, the USA could use a city at the mouth of the continent’s biggest river. If that is the case, we’re going to need to be smarter about how we do it.
My question is, in all honesty and without snarkiness: Why do you live there? I mean, don’t you have the opportunity to live somewhere else? Are you so tied to your job/property that you couldn’t go somewhere else?
Sure, there are inherent dangers in a lot of places, but they’re a bit more pronounced and more readily identifiable in NO as compared to even Baton Rouge, or Memphis, or Little Rock, etc.
Personally, I’d value my kid too much to live there.
I’m glad y’all made it through all right. I hope it gave you pause to consider whether remaining there is the optimal choice.
I think, though, that NO got its one-and-only chance with Katrina. If it’s hit again any time in the next few years, I seriously doubt that the government nor American people will be as forthcoming with the money.
Yep, good honest guy overcome by events is how I’ve described him in the past. N.O. has a long history of corrupt and quasi-corrupt city government dating back to the French and Spanish colonial days. Nagin was the first mayor in modern memory who didn’t play the patronage game, or if he did it, was much more subtle about it. He came from a business background (he’s a self-made millionaire) and set about modernizing city government. He did an admirable job of making city hall much more efficient - - replacing 3x5 note card with computer records, for example - - and was rooting out much of the corruption. He and other officials were just unprepared for Katrina.
An odd thing about Katrina was how fast she came on us. I remember feeling bad for the poor folks on the Florida panhandle on Friday morning 8/26. Friday afternoon one of the computer models showed the storm headed for us. Saturday morning the local forecasters started to get antzy. We left Saturday night. By midnight Saturday, Katrina was a category 4 storm headed straight for us. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued Sunday, the storm hit us Monday. Usually we have more lead time, more of a chance to implement plans.
Another thing about the storm was that it knocked out ALL modes of communication, except for text messaging. Land line phones were out (some still are - - my block got it back just last week); cell phones wouldn’t work. Radio repeater towers were knocked out. Practice sessions counted on one of these three systems working and when they all went out, panic set in. Curiously, the police hadn’t stockpiled enough food, water, gatorade, and batteries to supply the officers and their short-range radios. Major flaw, that.
The plans call for marshalling the city buses and taking people out of town. That requires drivers with class C licenses. Apparently enough bus drivers had already evacuated that the prospect of getting enough drivers together proved too daunting. Tourists were stranded when airlines quit flying on late Saturday and early Sunday. Amtrack apparently offered space on its last train out on Sunday, but the city didn’t take them up on the offer.
Rail to me makes the most sense. The railway station is near the Dome. The Dome is easy to get to. We just need to get enough trains here before the storm hits.
Yes indeed. I’m a self-professed geek who identifies with what was once thought to be an extinct bird.