Monday, January 23, 2006

Touring Tragedy

This weekend I decided to tour the areas most devastated by Hurricane Katrina. I had mixed feelings about doing this. Several people feel that their tragedy should be personal and they resent the many cars that drive through their decimated neighborhoods. But I felt it was important. I think the biggest problem we face down here in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is that other people in this country, and especially our government, just don't understand the level of destruction that happened down here. I don't understand it myself, but in an effort to be better informed, we drove through the Lakeview neighborhood on Saturday. Then on Sunday we drove over the Industrial Canal through the Lower 9th Ward, and then went all the way to Waveland Missississippi where the eye of Katrina hit. That's about 65 miles. That's what impacted me the most. From my neighborhood in New Orleans, which represents the western most flooded areas, we drove 65 miles and we never left a neighborhood that didn't flood and/or have severe wind damage. Plus I could have driven all the way to Alabama and seen the effects of this storm. It made me realize that it will take decades to recover from this catastrophe. While pictures can't begin to accurately capture what we saw this weekend, here are a couple:
This picture shows stairs leading to nowhere in the Lower 9th Ward. It is in a neighborhood that was once densely populated with houses. Now all that is left are the foundations. This damage was caused by the breach in the Industrial Canal, and the current must have been intense.About two miles from the breach you can see thousands of houses like this one:
The water apparently lifted the house up and in the end it came to rest on top of this car.
It's now nearly five months after this tragedy. We saw several people living in nearly collapsed buildings, or in tents where their houses once stood. Until our government leaders realize this wasn't an ordinary hurricane, and they realize that despite years of treating people down here in Lousiana like a third world country or ignoring us, we are actually citizens of the U.S. and we need some serious help.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael --

I'm a freelance writer here in New orleans, trying to get in touch with people who stayed through the hurricane and the aftermath. Could you send me an email?
or 504/418-4873.
Thanks, Bill Sasser

9:35 PM  

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