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Lily Valley

Katrina at 13: A Backwards Timeline

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Where were you?  What were you doing.  God knows that on August 31, when the footage started to spill, you were somewhere.  I know where I was.  It took 2 days for the media to stop saying "Dodged a bullet".  Reports came in from the Superdome first, that was WAY WAY after the levees broke.  Talk, people.  The coverage was horrific.  The situation was horrific.  The National Guard was dragged in to kill people and enforce martial law.  I have friends that waded, boated and swam to the French Quarter, because they saw lights.  Lights for President Bush's Press conference.  In Puerto Rico, the situation is exactly 10x worse, 13 years later.  This is not how that is supposed to work.  We're supposed to LEARN from fuckups.  Why, WHY are we going backwards in the basics?  

I will preface this post with saying that I have been working since 5am and it is now 10pm here, in New Orleans.  Since Hurricane Katrina, I left school without a PhD, moved home, had a job I hated, got a job I loved and then watched my state go into a downward spiral of economic disaster.   Bought a house, filled it with sadness. Repeated that process twice over.  I saw a city fight tooth and nail for survival during that time.  It's still fighting pretty hard.

This city is fighting a moneyed makeover and it is a dirty fight.  New Orleans is now a great "cheap" place to go live.  Awesome.  Wages are still terrible.  I'd like to remind people that Portland, OR has had an unemployment rate of over 10% for over 20 years.  Bring a job with you to these "urban adventures"

Living in the South has been very interesting during the current administration.  A lot of people felt like "the powers that be" wanted to remove a big blue blot from an otherwise red state.  That's an interesting thought.  Louisiana was a swing state until Katrina.  Voted with the country like Iowa, until Katrina.

Thirteen years later and I have moved twice because of tax increases due to ABSOLUTELY city endorsed whiteness and pro-gentrification policies.  I have friends that still haven't come home and they cant because our education and healthcare system is in shambles.  Some of our people made it home.  This city has been here for 300 years, I think we'll survive urban fad living.  I grieve that it will cost so many families a chance to come home.  I grieve the cost to New Orleans children that they thought "Clean Slate:  Charter School Rollout" would be a good idea.  Ever.  Especially here.  I especially grieve that Teach For America taught young people from Not Here that they were Doing Good by Helping the Poor Katrina Kids.

Have y'all ever been here?  We are the northernmost point of the Caribbean.  We are more exotic, in general, than your nearest neighbors in Canada or Mexico.  Our people have habits that are cosmopolitan and seem decadent.  In my opinion, most people don't pay enough attention to the importance of greetings and the sanctity of mealtime should be prosecuted.  Importing teachers that didn't understand our kids and putting our schools under corporate and qualitative product control was AWFUL.  

New Orleans does NOT like outsiders.  Not just the people, but the city itself.  It will set you on fire, spontaneously if you don't belong.  With food, if not with bad wiring.

The death toll out of PR is shocking.  This thread is not for that discussion.  The toll of the missing from Katrina was originally 10k.  I cannot imagine what the toll of the missing is in PR right now.

What the hell is wrong with this country?  Why are things worse and not better?

Some of the answers are:  They stole public housing deeming it "unsafe".  So a population that was a backbone of our culture couldn't return.  

Schools were privatized.  Much property was grabbed as citizens couldn't afford to rehab / come home.  

I have libertarian (old school) friends that said that Katrina was the biggest police - state blueprint they've ever seen.

So how did we get to this place?  I really don't like this timeline, and especially don't like my city being a blueprint for it.  Not 13 years later.  Not ever.

@sologdin  @Ravenhair

Edith:  I left the board over the conversation happening about Katrina in 2005.  This time, y'all stuck with me.  Be mindful, please about talking about generalizations.  For some of us, it's very personal.

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Never been to New Orleans. 

 

Katrina did effect me months after the fact, though: a housing boom that instead became a bust resulted in ridiculously low priced lumber across the nation, including here in Alaska.   I bought 200 sheets of 4x8 OSB at less than half the usual price...which dropped the cost of my garage a corresponding amount.  Still got some tucked away nice and dry; contemplating using it to build a cabin someday.

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I have been to New Orleans.  I love New Orleans. (To be clear, I never want to live in New Orleans.  I don't belong and the city knows it.  Lord knows how she would get me - I'm going to go with Alligator.  Or maybe hippo.)

I believe that cities are organisms that live and breathe and change and develop.  But they can also get sick, and my third hand impression is that New Orleans got into a car wreck and instead of a trained doctor who knew the patient well, the city got a disinterested veterinary surgeon who flew in from another place to "try out something new."  And of course, the patient suffered.  *Hugs* 

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When Katrina hit, I was sitting in Little Rock, getting devastated by the news.  I had just BEEN there 10 days before.  My mom and stepfather lived in Mandeville at the time.  Thankfully they had evacuated and didn't have much damage.  But I watched and cried and wondered what was happening to a city that I had been unsure of when I first visited, but which I had come to enjoy and even love a bit.  I went to visit Mom over Christmas and was horrified at the destruction I saw then.

Then....I moved to Gentilly in early August 2006.  Had a job and an apartment.  Got my first car.  Helped with gutting houses on weekends for a while, then volunteered at the LSPCA. Fell in love with the good parts of the city, despised the summers, and was pissed at the slow pace of recovery.   Fit in somewhat, but as a foreigner (ie non-US-citizen), realized that it would take me forever to be fully accepted, but was glad for the parts where I was accepted.

Like Mlle. Zabzie, I realized that the city was wounded.  I describe it as a collective case of PTSD that had flashbacks over and over.  Bad management, a federal government that didn't care about minorities or the poor, state government that didn't like the blue sploch in red state, entrenched corruption....but still a city that knows how to survive.

I've been gone from New Orleans for 9 years.  I still miss it.  Yet I'm glad I don't live there anymore when I read the news.

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I've got family roots in New Orleans and some family members still living there. I do remember the worry and heartache when Katrina hit, not to mention the helplessness.

One thing I've noticed over the years is the rising home costs in the areas that were not flooded when the levies broke- people with the money buy the old home, knock it down, and squeeze a mini-mansion in the spot. 

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I was in the Panhandle of Florida, just about to move out of state to start a PhD program. Classes hadn't started yet, so I spent the week at my friend's house watching the news projected on a wall in huge format, and freaking out. I've got family there, who left their cat behind because everyone said it would only take a couple of days to get back. The cat was rescued and shipped out of town by the ASPCA. Fast forward two weeks and it turns out the cat had been shipped to my new state. Got the cat, housed it for a while, then put it on a plane to my family members, where it is still loved and happy today.

But from my family I've heard lots of terrible things about the what corporate interests and unrestrained capitalism have done to the city. Makes you think that part of disaster planning should include an urban planning for rebuilding and restoring

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On 8/30/2018 at 12:11 PM, OberynMormont said:

When Katrina hit, I was sitting in Little Rock, getting devastated by the news.  I had just BEEN there 10 days before.  My mom and stepfather lived in Mandeville at the time.  Thankfully they had evacuated and didn't have much damage.  But I watched and cried and wondered what was happening to a city that I had been unsure of when I first visited, but which I had come to enjoy and even love a bit.  I went to visit Mom over Christmas and was horrified at the destruction I saw then.

Then....I moved to Gentilly in early August 2006.  Had a job and an apartment.  Got my first car.  Helped with gutting houses on weekends for a while, then volunteered at the LSPCA. Fell in love with the good parts of the city, despised the summers, and was pissed at the slow pace of recovery.   Fit in somewhat, but as a foreigner (ie non-US-citizen), realized that it would take me forever to be fully accepted, but was glad for the parts where I was accepted.

Like Mlle. Zabzie, I realized that the city was wounded.  I describe it as a collective case of PTSD that had flashbacks over and over.  Bad management, a federal government that didn't care about minorities or the poor, state government that didn't like the blue sploch in red state, entrenched corruption....but still a city that knows how to survive.

I've been gone from New Orleans for 9 years.  I still miss it.  Yet I'm glad I don't live there anymore when I read the news.

This city has been outspoken about sanctuary status for non-US citizens who have made a life here.  This city not liking "outsiders" was not a commentary people who have come here to make the city home.  Since Katrina, a lot of politics have come down the pipeline that have been about citizenship and race and my city has, usually, stood on the side of "What is Good and Best for Us".  Casual racist shit like shutting down food trucks and permitting ICE to operate within our jail have been forbidden.  It's not exactly a welcome mat, but it's a reminder to me that this city remembers what it is.  It's a fucking port town and it's barely gotten past "Port town living in 1850".  This city is fighting back against the things that make it not itself.  It's just hard to tell who is fighting anymore and why.

 

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Lived in New Orleans for 2004 - 2005 academic year.  Was seriously considering permanent re-location, until experiencing my first hurricane evacuation within weeks of moving down there -- hadn't been able to completely unpack yet even.

By the spring of 2005 it was clear that the Really Big One was inevitable, so moved back here.

When Katrina hit I went to bed relieved, that the city had dodged that one. Woke up to catastrophe.  Spent the next months fund raising, etc.

Since then hurricanes have been an unavoidable fact of my life, even here.  Evacuated to higher ground when Gustav showed up.  Evacuated to -- New Orleans -- when Sandy was on her way here.

Spent all last summer in misery in anticipation of what happened. Have been fund raising etc. for those in Puerto Rico.

Today begins the nail biting over Florence, which may be the worst one yet in the history of the US.  It may well get here too.  Starting emergency prep today, including figuring out where to evacuate to, if necessary.  It's very difficult to evacuate from here, just as it was to evacuate from New Orleans unless one goes really early.  When something is as big as Florence that makes it even more difficult as one has ocean on one side, and everywhere else around for hundreds of miles is affected as well.

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