Monday, November 27, 2006

Katrina Update

“You don’t have the internet?” I am appalled. Living as I do in Arkansas, I am used to people not having high-speed cable access, which is, you know, bad enough – but to be off the net entirely? Yikes.

“We don’t even have cable yet.”

“At all? No cable at all?”

“Hey, we just got power in June. We went halfway through June with no air conditioning.” My sister-in-law, the sainted one, the other liberal in the family, who married my youngest brother, shrugs. She doesn’t care about not having cable, or even air-conditioning. She and my brother – who is six-four, by the way—are living in a FEMA trailer, in Gentilly, still, a very small one, basically one room, from what I can understand, with two Large Dogs, and no cable, and no internet access, and an oven that uses up half their bottle of propane every time they cook anything, she tells me, and she has not killed my brother yet, and she shrugs at the information that the power was just hooked up in June.

You remember June, 2006? Which was very nearly a year after Katrina blew through, in August 2005?

Because I live some distance from my family I get these fast-forward shutter-like pictures of New Orleans. So: I visit for Christmas, I see some things. I drop the kid off in the summer, I see some things. Some of them come for Thanksgiving, I hear other things. Bits and pieces.

My nephew goes to Loyola. He tells me the area around the universities – Loyola and Tulane and there – is up and running. The Garden Districts, they’ve got that area all flash, he says. (I think he used a cooler word.)

My parents live out in Jefferson Parish. She claims things are fine out there. My father, though, is standing for the Levee Board. This tells me he must be tense about something.

My brother and sister-in-law, as I have said, live in Gentilly, in what is called, when one wants to be polite in New Orleans, a “mixed” neighborhood. This means both poor folk and richer folk live there. (No really rich folk, mind you – just some who actually own their own homes and lots who rent and some who are HUD folk.) This neighborhood is still FEMA trailers and houses being rebuilt and many houses not being rebuilt.

And down in the 9th Ward, I hear from one of my students who is a refuge from that area? She says it’s still a wasteland down there. She says nothing is being done in the 9th Ward. I don’t know that for a fact. But I wouldn’t be shocked, either.
(Scroll down for a charming picture of what the 9th Ward looked like after Katrina -- well after it.)


zelda1 said...

What has happened in NO is morally wrong. Let something horrible happen in Beverly Hills, wow, you bet they would have it put back together in no time. It's all about geography and economics.

Diane said...

Actually, nothing is the same, even in the "restored" parts. I speak of my own neighborhood. Our community across Lake Pontchartrain was devastated by the winds. Many people here are still living in trailers or with relatives. Many have houses again, though, and most of the debris has been picked up, except for some in the next town (there was a delay over FEMA negotiations).

Life in my immediate neighborhood, for example, is "normal." But my backyard looks like a moonscape because the pine beetles, finding a feast of rotting wood after Katrina, ate much our yard and our neighbors' yards, and loads of trees had to be taken down. This was after we had already had trees knocked down by the hurricane and trees taken down because they were weakened by the hurricane.

Since Katrina, our already dusty house is now dusty beyond tolerance and we are hoping that new weatherstripping will help. However, we are aware that the winds may have damaged the walls in ways that cannot be seen, and that that damage is part of the problem.

Traffic fatalities are up because so many more people live here now and many of them are not safe drivers. There are constant accidents and there is dangerous speeding.

Animal adoptions are almost nonexistent. Last month, one agency reported that a grand total of six cats were adopted. After Katrina, there were so many rescues and so many more ferals to feed that it is almost impossible to find homes for cats and dogs.

Many businesses are still operating on short schedules because they cannot find employees.

These problems, taken individually, range from irritating to serious, but my point is that nothing is the same as it was, and every time we turn around, we find something new caused by Katrina.

delagar said...

Diane -- I suspect that's what it's like in my parents' neighborhood too. When she says "fine," I reckon it really means "pretty awful." I'll be down there for the holidays & see.