I recently visited New Orleans for the second time since hurricane Katrina hit the city over a year and half ago. It is where I grew up and I have made many return visits, including a few months before Katrina. I was both pleased and angry that the paradox of two cities remains. I am pleased that the tourist economy seems stronger that last year and it was even hard to get into some places to eat. However, I am also angry to see first hand that little has been done to rebuild the devastated areas in the Ninth Ward and other places like along Louisiana Avenue in mid-town.
As I wrote a year ago, now more than ever is the time to visit New Orleans, have a great time and feel good about spending money there. This is important for the short term viability of those trying to make it and the long term viability of the entire city. I will cover the food and music and some other events in parts 2,3, and 4 of this series.
But first, a bit more of what needs to be done to help the city. While many individuals have come down to help with the effort, the Federal government has not fulfilled its promises and needs to step up. The help of individuals is very appreciated by the city and should continue. When we were at the zydeco night at Rock and Bowl, the announcer talked about a number of groups of college students who came down to help rebuild homes during their Spring break. We also heard positive comments at other venues.
However, the effort requires that type of resources that our government should provide to its own citizens who suffered the worst natural disaster in our history. I would urge you to contact your representatives to see what they are doing to help with Katrina. I am afraid that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are getting forgotten by both sides because of Iraq and other issues. It was not even mentioned in the Sate of the Union address.
Some donation options include the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation which administers grants to agencies that support affected families. The Louisiana Family Recovery Corps has a goal to “coordinate and mobilize a network of providers, organizations, and government agencies to deliver comprehensive humanitarian services to displaced Louisianans within the state of Louisiana. In addition, the Corps will reach out to displaced Louisianans wherever they might be temporarily sheltered across the country to assist them in returning to Louisiana.” All worthy goals.
Other organizations can be found at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation and the Foundations for Recovery site lists a large number of grant recipients that are helping with the recovery. Habitat for Humanity is helping victims rebuild, house by house. These donations will help but the money of the Federal government still needs to be brought to bear here to both help with the recovery and to ensure a disaster like this does not happen again. The promises delivered at photo opportunities need to be fulfilled. Here is just one image from the Ninth Ward. One image cannot convey the fact that block after block has badly damaged and abandoned homes or empty foundations.