Monday, December 05, 2005

Weather or Not

As I sit here worrying about an approaching Nor'easter and the possibility of a needed snow day, it dawned on me that nature is a fickle thing. On the one hand, this seems awfully early for the 3rd snow. As a newbie still to the northeast, I don't know if my assessment is correct. I mean, it bodes well for the snowboarding season and winter activities, but does this portend a long and cold winter or is it just an anomaly? Do hurricanes mean something more than just a bitch of a storm with high winds and drenching rain? Is it like Ground Hog day signifying 6 more weeks of summer?

The news yesterday about Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and her attempts to get federal help just make me more resigned to my political view (which is leave me alone). The bulky, over bureacracized government couldn't send help until they had an "official letter." Cause the news reports and screams for help by the mayor which were televised and the broadcasts of WWL radio (which were received on the car radio as far as Memphis as I can relate from personal experience) pleading for someone to do something were not enough. Then the ineptitude on every level makes the tragedy even more horrifying. I remember Mayor Nagin, the governess, and Mike "You're Doing a Heckuva Job, Brownie" Brown on TV declaring Katrina a natural disaster ON SATURDAY BEFORE THE STORM. I will type that again because this is something that I have not been able to get out of my mind since August 29th - KATRINA WAS DECLARED A NATURAL DISASTER BEFORE IT HIT. How in the hell can a supply train and supplies, troops, etc., etc., not be in place to help remedy A PREDETERMINED NATURAL DISASTER? It boggles the mind. Bureacracy sucks. And Homeland Security sucks because the whole entire operation was designed to facilitate communication between governmental agencies. However, all it has done is complicate the issue. Nice layering.

I feel particularly bad for Aaron Broussard. He is a fool and a politician and I am not sure when you can tell the difference for anyone. But in Metairie, after he gaffed and asked for an evacuation for a storm that missed the area, he took his job seriously. He created a plan. Were input or suggestions offered or gathered? I don't know. But we knew of the "Doomsday Plan." He implemented this plan. Yes, Metairie flooded. It sucks. Who knows how things would have been if the pumps had been on. Would the levees in East Jefferson have been able to handle to load of Katrina's surge or was the back flow into the canals enough to alleviate the pressure and maintain the integrity of the levees as the storm passed? I don't know. It's not my job to know such things. But I bet someone does. Aaron Broussard did his homework and he did his job and for that he is going to get screwed. At least people evacuated. A crazy man, a buffoon, a clown - maybe. But he was clear to everyone - Get the hell out. (I have to say that I am rather confused by the blocking off of the Crescent City Connection. You know that in situations like Katrina, we have to remember that we are all in this together. Leaving those people, no matter how dire the situation in Jefferson (it certainly wasn't worse than in Orleans) was criminal).

Don't Shoot That Looter! He could be the police.
Nagin told his men they could take anything they needed. He did. I heard him. He said they could commandeer anything they needed in the pursuit of their duties. Cars, boats, furniture, Gap clothes, you name it. They had the authority to take it. Did they have to take it? No. Could they? Sure. Da Maya said so. In the scheme of things, what they did was wrong. But was it as wrong as the Orleans Levee Board chintzing on the sheet piling on the 17th St Canal? Was it as wrong as the Corps of Engineers not double checking the previous work? Was it as wrong as the insurance companies who won't pay for houses that have been damaged by the negligence of the government (on many levels)? People did what they had to do to get by. Maybe you don't like the Times-Picayune, but it's all I got here. And I look at the pictures everyday. And I can't believe how many thousands of people's lives are scattered, shattered, flooded, wind-damaged, washed away, and lost forever. And people are mad at the handful of cops that stole DVDs. They have been fired. They may now go back to their homes. Plenty to do at home and the insurance money is on the way. Of course, I have heard of no firings from the Corps of Engineers or the Orleans Levee Board. Those people get to keep their jobs and income. Cool. (Just to be clear, I am not defending the police who looted stores. I am just not sure of how to accurately judge the weight of the crimes.)

What are people doing down there? Who in New Orleans is working? What kind of work is it? Are people going downtown to work in the high rise buildings? Who's cleaning and repairing these buildings? What about the parts of New Orleans that were washed and blown away? Weren't there buildings and jobs there? Where are those people? If I had to guess, I would bet the French Quarter contingent is pursuing the tourism/out of state contractor dollars. What are the folks whose jobs have moved to Houston, Atlanta, Birmingham, Baton Rouge, and other southern cities doing? I bet with all the old houses their is a veritable fortune to be made in the roofing industry (especially with all the asbestos tiles on the older homes).

I was looking at pictures from "Down By the Riverside." I saw two people of color in the 7 or so pictures online. One was the gentleman in the band. The other person of color was in the very far distance of the picture so I could be wrong. That seems like we have lost some of the flavor of our fair city. Honestly, it was weird to see pics of an all white party going on on the river...

In an effort to better help me cope with this stuff, I have in my mind to write a song or two or paint some pictures (Mother-in-law told me about a plan to have the kids that are still in NOLA to create art documenting their journeys. As I looked online for info, I saw a picture of the daughter of a friend pondering her own "Trail of Tears.")

Answers, questions, comments, inspirations? Please share.


dillyberto said...

I went to mass at St. Jude Sunday. As always the church was packed for the 7:30am, it was about 80percent black and 20 percent white. I can't confirm the 'loss of color' story in New Orleans. We lost Lakeview - white. We lost the 9th ward - black. And we lost Gentilly - both. I think our city still remains pepper and salt. The Westbank is still in good shape.

When are you coming in?

LatinTeacher said...

I don't know if we are coming down again this year. We actually don't know if we will have a place to stay because my mom's house is still in shambles. So we are playing it by ear right now. I still want to go because there is an awful lot that I haven't seen that I want to check out. And I haven't seen my friend Kevin since my wedding...

dillyberto said...

say there, brown!

You gotta read oysters 10ish am log from today. It is a tear-jerker.

Similar to brett leonard.

Mr. Clio said...

Okay, first, I'm "of color." I'm pink, with some white, and some golden brown freckles. That's color, ain't it? Point taken, though, about EVERYBODY coming back. I don't think there's an effort to keep anybody away, though. There are physical realities here that just suck.

My fave Aaron Broussard moment was when he talked about shitting in plastic bags. If that ain't reality, I don't know what is.

Nice bit about Broussard there. He is a nutty clown (some of his plastic bags were probably pretty nutty too), but I think he's getting unfairly ripped.

I think we need regional government from Laplace to Ycloskey, from Bucktown to Belle Chasse. That would make for some better thinking and interesting political races.