Monday, August 09, 2010

New Orleans 2010

 People wave from a float during a Super Bowl-championship celebration parade in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. The Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday for the first championship in the NFL football franchise's history.

New Orleans 2010
From The Ramparts
Junious Ricardo Stanton

I just returned from New Orleans Louisiana the city that will soon mark the fifth anniversary of the devastating the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the failings of city, state and federal policy makers to adequately prepare for a major storm like Katrina. We all are familiar with the pictures the corporate media showed over and over of the mostly black people stranded in the city which revealed the stark poverty and class divisions within this country and the callousness of the federal government under George W Bu$h. We heard so much about the lower Ninth Ward and the devastation it suffered but the fact of the matter is the whole city was devastated by Katrina. 

My wife and I went to New Orleans to attend her sorority’s national convention and to visit her relatives in New Orleans and other parts of the state. I got a chance to see some of the devastation the storm wrought on the area. The Gray Line Tour Company offers what they call the New Orleans Rebirth and the Katrina City Tours in addition to their regular tours and Steamboat cruises. In addition to driving to Jeanerette and New Iberia to see where my late mother-in-law grew up I also took the Katrina/City Tour. These trips were very informative. I saw the signs for the Katrina Tour when we first arrived downtown looking for our hotel, I thought to myself, “These people will find a way to make money on anything.” But I was drawn to it and I was glad I took the tour.

The two and a half hour sight seeing tour started in the French Quarter and spread out from there throughout the whole city. The bus driver/tour guide was very knowledgeable about the city, its layout, the chronology of the hurricane, its impact on city and why eighty per cent of New Orleans was flooded. The corporate media focused so much on the people trapped in the Superdome and the convention center and showed the lower Ninth Ward flooding, I thought they were the only areas that were innundated. Not so. Eighty per cent of New Orleans was flooded. New Orleans is a city surrounded by water and most of the town actually is below sea level which exacerbated the situation when the municipal pumps failed, the canals overflowed and the levy system’s underpinnings were compromised. Every neighborhood except for the French Quarter which due to its location near the Mississippi River and the silt build up the river brings sits on higher ground was impacted on some level. Some neighborhoods only got a few inches or so of water, others got a few feet and others were completely flooded. Five years after the initial impact of Katrina, there are still hundreds if not thousands of boarded up and abandoned houses with the first responder, National Guard and police markings still on them. According to the tour guide there are over one hundred thousand people who have not returned to New Orleans.

My wife’s cousin lives near the Seventeenth Street Canal which overflowed swamping the whole neighborhood with water. Her home is one of the few houses in that neighborhood that have been restored almost five years later! Getting the house cleaned out, gutted and restored was a major challenge. Fortunately for her she had adequate insurance coverage. Many didn’t, hence so many dilapidated and ruined buildings. Her son lives with her because his home is still not livable, he showed us where the waterline was in the home, I’d say it was at least a good six feet on the inside of the living room. Fortunately they heeded the mayor’s advice and evacuated the city before the storm hit. Even so they got caught in a massive traffic jam trying to get out of the city. It took them almost twelve hours to get to where they were headed, a trip that normally takes about three and a half to four hours. They first went to Lake Charles Louisiana to stay with relatives. They stayed there for a short time then they went to Texas then to Baton Rouge Louisiana where they stayed for two years. They just returned to New Orleans about two years ago. They are doing okay, he’s working, his wife takes care of his mother who just turned ninety in June.

I saw so much devastation in their neighborhood and just riding around the city in the rental car was mind boggling. I took my own tour and saw areas where whole streets are still blocked off and debris is scattered all over. But there are areas that are bouncing back nicely. I saw a lot of people who seemed they were in a daze, some trying to make by panhandling downtown and others making the best of a horrific situation.
The Katrina/City Tour went into the Ninth Ward but the bus is not allowed to travel up and down the side streets so we just stayed on the main drag. We saw Lake Ponchartrain looking so placid and scenic now. We saw million dollar homes in an affluent section that were destroyed, still boarded up or the empty lots where they used to stand. New Orleans has a large city park, the bust driver informed the group Philadelphia has the largest municipal park in the nation a fact I already knew. It was an extremely interesting tour. I am glad I took it. It gave me a much broader perspective on the devastation of Katrina and on the power and resiliency of the human spirit.

New Orleans was very appreciative of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. for coming their way. The sorority donated thousands of dollars to local organizations every day during the convention, they did public service projects while they were in New Orleans and they definitely stimulated the local economy. The various neighborhoods still have a lot of destruction and are in need of massive rebuilding. New Orleans has a long way to go to be restored and made whole physically as well as psychologically. I guess that’s why the town went nuts when the Saints won the Super Bowl. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the Katrina experience for this country; too many to list here now. We need to keep the people of New Orleans in our prayers and be as supportive of them as possible.


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special~Never Forget: Hurricane Katrina Three Years Later...

1 comment:

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Thank you for coming to New Orleans and checking out the situation.
I'm sorry for your relative's loss near the 17th Street Canal.
The most important lesson you can learn at this point is that the 17th Street Canal floodwall did Not Over flow. In fact it Breached 4 feet below design spec. That flood wall failed because it was build wrong by the US Army Corps of Engineers. This is a fact which they themselves admitted to Congress and in open Federal Court.
Another Fact is that 80% of the flood water came from that breach, the Industrial Canal and the London Ave Canal --all 3 failed at below design spec due to bad engineering and built by the Corps of Engineers.
Another fact: there were 53 failures in the Corps of Engineers flood control system due to "easily avoided design mistakes" by the Corps of Engineers.
These are facts. Katrina did not flood New Orleans. The US Army Corps of Engineers did.
Oh and another fact: over half of New Orleans is at or above sea level.
It is the people who built our failed flood walls that are responsible for this entire disaster. Not the locals in charge of cutting the grass on the levees, not "these people who will find a way to make money off of anything" (that one hurt very deeply thank you very much), Not Katrina, not even George Bush.
Yet not one person in the USACE has been punished, demoted, lost their jobs, nothing.

Learning the Facts of what cause this man-made disaster IS the Most important lesson anyone can gain.

If you'd like to know more I highly recommend checking out

I was living there when the flood walls failed.

Thank you again for coming to town and please come back with what I've told you here in mind.