Thursday, October 06, 2005

Katrina's Forgotten Ones

For those of us paying attention to the fallout from Hurricane Katrina, we hear a lot of talk about who among the affected groups has been abandoned and forgotten, who is being left behind, and why. Well, let me tell you what I think about this whole debate ...

I think the whole notion that some gindividual or group is more "forgotten" than others is a pile of selfish b.s. Everyone feels that way. I felt that way because St. Bernard residents were allowed officially to come take a look-see before Orleans Parish residents were. I heard a black female professional from New Orleans East say she felt abandoned because only poor black people in the Superdome and Convention Center and rich white folk in Lakeview and uptown were getting all the attention and coverage from media and public officials. I heard numerous people from Slidell say they were the forgotten ones and that New Orleans was getting all the attention. Folks affected by the breach in the industrial canal thought that they were forgotten amidst all the attention given to the 17th street canal breach and the neighborhoods affected by it. Lakeview residents felt abandoned because they couldn't see their property until a week after the CBD and certain parts of Uptown were given the green light. All who were affected by this, who experienced grief and separation from their homes, feel as if nothing is soon enough and that everyone else has it better. This person's FEMA check came and mine didn't... That person got a $1500 cash debit card from the Red Cross and all I got was a case of bottled water... My next door neighbor got his power restored or his cable connected, but mine still doesn't work... That person's flood or homeowner's adjuster came and met with him at his property to assess his claim, and I can't even get my adjuster to call me back, and we're both insured by the same company, so on, ad infinitum.

It's perfectly understandable that when one feels a loss, it's a very solitary feeling for that person. And the fact is that we from the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama Gulf Coast are ALL in this boat to some degree or another. And when we each have a problem linked to the same source, it is natural that my problem is just as important as the next affected person's problem, so when my problem is not addressed but the next person's is, I feel "abandoned" - and lash out trying to understand why I'm being "dissed." Is it because I am white (as Lakeview's Mr. Forgotston and St. Bernard residents have charged)? Is it because I am black (as Jesse Jackson and Kayne West have charged)? Is it because I am poor? Is it because I live in Kenner and not in New Orleans? Is it because I am just a worker and not a business owner? Why am I being left behind? What is it about ME that causes my sufferings to go unaddressed when others are being taken care of.

But the rational person would know that the FACT is that emotion and not reason is driving these false charges of abandonment. The rational person has to know that there is not a concerted effort to discriminate against anyone for any particular reason. It's a friggin' catastrophic disaster and we're all hurt and we all want immediate attention from someone in authority who will listen to us grieve, who will lament our losses, and who will tell us everything will be all right in the midst of upheaval and chaos. So when someone makes the claim that they are Katrina's forgotten ones, I say "Puh-leeze! Join the club of everyone."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Post Katrina Update

Hi, all. It's been a while since I posted anything here. I've been busy with many other things, including running multiple blogs for my scattered office. In any case, I thought I'd give just a quick update on how I've fared.

First, I've managed to get to my home in New Orleans some 7-8 times now, as of at least a couple of weeks ago.

My home sustained some serious flood and wind damage. It took on 2-3 feet of water in the first (ground) floor level. Fortunately, it is more like a garage/basement area and our main living area is on the upper floor. Still, we had a guest bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom on the ground floor level; and our laundry room, hot water heater, tools, kid's play room, etc., were also on the ground level. Needless to say, we lost a good bit of stuff, not to mention the demolition and rebuilding of the walls we'll have to do and the mold we'll have to content with. But it's o.k. We have good flood insurance (though I am still waiting to meet with the adjuster, so who knows how it will turn out).

I also lost about 75% of my slate shingle roof. One part of the roof which was made of sheet metal (it was over a formerly enclosed exterior porch that had been remodeled and converted to an indoor room) blew off and water seeped down into the room causing the ceiling to collapse and bring with it some mold. But, I'm not all that worried about this, yet, because we have an old seal-tab shingle roof underneath the slate shingles that, although very compromised itself, has kept the water (except in a few isolated spots) out of the main living area of the house. And now that I have a blue tarp on the roof, I think we'll be o.k. in any other rain storms. And, we have good homeowners insurance coverage, too.

My family (wife and two daughters) have relocated for the time being to Chesapeake, VA, where they are staying with my wife's father and step-mother. I'm basically still in the New Orleans area and will plan to rejoin them when I can, at least for short visits if not for longer stretches of time.

We're committed to being a part of a renovated New Orleans. Already the City is showing signs of life, and though it won't ever be exactly the way it was, it's charm will still be around. I can already see it. Hell, the Maple Street Bar is now open again! That's a great sign. I'll try to keep giving regular updates, but I make no promises. Just check back every so often and maybe I'll have something new on there.

To my fellow Louisiana bloggers: hope you made out all right in these storms and I look forward to catching up with all of you via your blogs soon.

Long Live NOLA!