Oliver “Buzz” Thomas: Will we stop to help New Orleans?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jesus' famous parable of the Good Samaritan is being writ large in the alluvial soil of southern Louisiana. You remember the ancient story: A man was mugged and left for dead by the roadside. The first person to arrive was a priest. He passed by the other side, probably on his way to the temple. Next came a Levite or lay leader, and he did the same. Only an outcast foreigner bothered to stop, tend the man's wounds and take him to a nearby inn.

This time, it's New Orleans that lies bleeding in the ditch while most of the nation goes about its business: dropping the kids off in Missoula, catching a train to work in Manhattan, running errands in Little Rock. Now, almost two years after Hurricane Katrina, the question remains: Will we stop to lend a hand?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-Watch

45 Comments
Posted August 27, 2007 at 10:09 am

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1. libraryjim wrote:

Excuse me! But the Federal Government and private organizations have poured BILLIONS of dollars and manpower into NOLA Relief. 

In the same amount of time, most of the coastal areas around Louisiana which were also hit by Katrina have rebuilt to become better than ever, and instituted and met new hurricane building standards.

Rather than ask, ‘why doesn’t the nation do something’, I think the question to ask is “who is responsible in NO and Louisiana for NOT rebuilding” and “where has the money gone?”

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 27, 11:12 am | [comment link]
2. anglicanhopeful wrote:

Also why re-build homes in a bowl-shaped city that sits 30 ft below the mean water line?  Isn’t that kind of like the definition of insanity?

August 27, 11:50 am | [comment link]
3. Brian of Maryland wrote:

... it’s called being compassionate with other people’s money ...

Md Brian

August 27, 12:00 pm | [comment link]
4. drjoan wrote:

I’ve been to New Orleans, too.  And the one thing I heard there that made sense was this:
  “New Orleans was broke BEFORE Katrina; it’s going to take a LONG time to fix it to that level. . . and it would still be broke!”

I saw hordes of Godly folks—most coming under the auspices of Christian Churches—doing hours of hard, dirty work under hot, sweaty conditions.  And they all—including me!—loved the people and the food and the town.  I heard loads of folks plead with us to help them restore NO to her pre-Katrina beauty and mystique.  They love that place and it’s their home!  But #2 above is correct: it is a dilemma for those who live there AND for those of us who help!  Surely God loves those folks.  But it is difficult catch the vision of rebuilding!

August 27, 12:46 pm | [comment link]
5. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Hmmm, that’s a little rough for first thing on Monday Morning.  As a man literally “on the ground” in south Louisiana since birth (1961) and working in a job where I get paid to know these things, let me share a few pertinent facts with everyone:

1.  Louisiana built and maintained its own levee system with scant (read: none) federal assistance from 1705 until the 1927 flood, at which time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led a push in Congress to federalize all the Mississippi River and Tributaries Levee System.  In that process, the state was pushed out of decision making and the Corps assumed more and more responsibility as federal funds allowed.  Essentially the Miss River System was declared a National Asset (thinking about supplies of materials and food in war time) and the fed took over.  Since the 1960’s, as actuarial providers for the National Flood Insurance Program (now owned by FEMA) the Corps decides what levees will be built, to what standard, and who will have flood insurance or not. 

2.  This same U.S. Army Corps of Engineers waived flood insurance requirements for some 50% of New Orleans housing due to “the strength and capacities of our pumps and levee system”.  The Fed told N.O. “have faith in us, and we’ll take care of things.”

3.  This vaunted system failed miserably, with some 47 different levee breaches taking place during Katrina and Rita.

Now, to be fair, lots of folks in the know in Louisiana knew levee protection to be less than stellar, and would never think of living in New Orleans.  If you spend any time over south Louisiana by air or boat, you realize the futility of long term efforts to keep New Orleans dry.  It is not, however, 30 feet below sea level.  Not yet anyway (it sank about four feet from 1933 to 2006).  The lowest point in Orleans Parish is about 8 feet below sea level. 

Now, Reverend Thomas has spouted a litany of facts that are incorrect.  Here are the corrections:

“Nearly half of her residents have never returned” 
Actually 67% of the population is back as of last month. 

“...the death rate is up nearly 50%”  We have no evidence to support anything like this conclusion, unless he is speaking specifically of the murder rate, which is indeed much higher than pre-Katrina.

“The grand old Fairmont Hotel is still boarded up” but was purchased this morning by the Waldorf Astoria franchisee and will be reopened in early 2008.

“Charity Hospital, the nation’s oldest and largest, boarded up…” True, and with any luck it will never be rebuilt.  Charity has always done a horrible job of providing the kind of care most needed by the urban poor (long term maintenance and control of chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia) and they would be much better served by taking that $1.5B it will take to rebuild it and putting it into expanding Medicaid coverage for the poor of New Orleans.  If common sense prevails, that is.

“falling real estate prices…..have made relocation to N.O. attractive”  real estate prices are falling in New Orleans because the cost of credit is skyrocketing, mortgage lenders are tightening credit standards, new property tax assessments have dramatically increased the property tax rates, AND property insurance is hideously expensive if it can be attained at all.  This is why house selling prices are falling.

Now, having said all this, I think the nation could benefit from the recovery of New Orleans, and that Reverend Thomas’s premise that we could all benefit from helping the city recover is a very valid one.  After all, we elected the officials that put the programs in place that allowed the pre-Katrina New Orleans to exist (federal and state officials) so we are all, I’m afraid, “responsible” for New Orleans.

KTF!....mrb

Mike Bertaut
Time to Go

August 27, 12:54 pm | [comment link]
6. William P. Sulik wrote:

One of the hard things to learn in public policy (but so self-evident, apparently to everyone else) is to not throw good money after bad. 

To follow up on the Good Samaritan parable, it would be like handing the mugged man on the side of the road and telling him to take care of himself.  What the Samaritan did was to remove the injured person from the scene of the danger and take care of him. 

It is not the New Orleans the city which needs assistance, it is the people of New Orleans—and the best solution might just be to evacuate and rebuild.  Not to rebuild a city below sea level on slowly sinking coastal marshland smack in the middle of Hurricane Alley (especially if global warming is going to lead to rising sea levels and more - plus more-intense - hurricanes).

“Let the reader, where we are equally confident, stride on with me; where we are equally puzzled, pause to investigate with me; where he finds himself in error, come to my side; where he finds me erring, call me to his side. So that we may keep to the path, in love, as we fare on toward Him, ‘whose face is ever to be sought.’”

—Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity 1.5

August 27, 12:59 pm | [comment link]
7. Sherri wrote:

“Nearly half of her residents have never returned”
Actually 67% of the population is back as of last month.

A story in my newspaper over the weekend said that more are coming, too.

I think the nation could benefit from the recovery of New Orleans, and that Reverend Thomas’s premise that we could all benefit from helping the city recover is a very valid one.  After all, we elected the officials that put the programs in place that allowed the pre-Katrina New Orleans to exist (federal and state officials) so we are all, I’m afraid, “responsible” for New Orleans.

Amen, Mike. And some of us *care* about New Orleans. New Orleans is hardly the only major city below sea level, either, so it’s not like that’s automatically reason for not helping. Culturally, New Orleans is one of the small handful of cities that have enriched American life with music, art, literature, and, yes, cuisine. grin That matters to me. It’s as if we’d said don’t help New York City after 9/11 because it will continue to be a target for terrorists. (Which, alas, it will.)

August 27, 2:00 pm | [comment link]
8. JerryKramer wrote:

Remember that we run the largest port system in the world, providing 40 percent of this nation’s energy. Also 60 percent of all grain exports run through here. All of this comes at a cost to us here. Cities like Minneapolis, Tulsa and Pittsburgh are port cities because we extended the Mississippi River into the Gulf—resulting in our losing a football field of coastal lands, lands that once protected us from hurricanes, every hour.  That’s the economic part. The missional part is that people are here to stay, more and more and moving back and moving in. You bet there is much darkness here. But are we to throw away/ignore God’s people here. . . or are we to shine the light of Christ?

August 27, 2:02 pm | [comment link]
9. Mike Bertaut wrote:

#8, JK you are so right.  And if we fail to cut those levees off right about at the Belle Chasse NAS and let if flow 1/2 into Breton Sound and 1/2 into Barataria Bay, (sacrificing everything south of Jesuit Bend as flood plain outside of levee protection) there will be no saving New Orleans no matter how high or how strong those levees are built.  The City is just sinking too fast.

The River built New Orleans, and only the River can save it.

KTF….mrb

Mike Bertaut
Time to Go

August 27, 3:12 pm | [comment link]
10. libraryjim wrote:

But the River is not the same Ol’ Man River that it once was, with dams and locks and levees all up and down its length.  For better or worse, the Mighty Mississippi has been tamed and channeled.  For now.

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 27, 3:18 pm | [comment link]
11. Larry Morse wrote:

NOn should never have been rebuilt. Its location is obviously impossible to maintain and this disaster will surely happen again.

  I have been in NO twice. I t would be hard to find a city as dirty, corrupt and dangerous as NO. There are some I suppose, but….  LM

August 27, 3:24 pm | [comment link]
12. Mike Bertaut wrote:

#10 You are correct, but at New Orleans, it has all the power and force to rebuild the land.  In flood, it’s not unusual for 3 million cubic yards of water A SECOND to flow at the GNO bridge.  And it carries literally megatons of silt.  Experiments diverting the flow below New Orleans into bays and estuaries have resulted in real landbuilding.

I also offer as example the Atchafalaya River Floodway.  A tributary of the Mississippi which flows into a hardwood swamp 50 miles wide in its northern reaches, by the time it reaches the Gulf of Mexico (at Morgan City) is is compressed into a single channel some 400 yards wide.  When I was a child, the trip from Morgan City to the open gulf took about 15 minutes, now it takes more than 45.  The difference?  All the restrictions on the river below Morgan City (levees mostly) were allowed to go fallow after a major flood in 73.  The landbuilding there has been phenomenal.  In fact, Morgan City is a small town also below sea level, surrounded by levees, and was bracketed by Katrina and Rita but had zero flooding.  It had a nice 15 mile buffer of new marshland between it and the gulf for protection.

New Orleans could still have the same thing in 50 or 100 years, if they made the sacrifices now.

Just my 2 cents….mrb

Mike Bertaut
Time to Go

August 27, 3:26 pm | [comment link]
13. John316 wrote:

Larry, Anglican Hopeful, and others -
Would you rebuild the West Coast after earthquakes, mudslides, wild fires?  Or is the West Coast lifestyle cleaner, less fallen?  How about Florida which dangles right in the path of many more hurricanes than New Orleans?  Should anything in Tornado Alley be rebuilt?

August 27, 3:43 pm | [comment link]
14. libraryjim wrote:

John,
Take a look at the infrastructure in the areas you have just mentioned.  How is it that they have managed to rebuild in less time each time following disasters?  It may be because they have State and local officials more willing to work with FEMA and other Fedreal and local aid-relief agencies than other places. 

Again, I think we need to look at where the money has gone that has been sent to NOLA and call for accountability for that money.

Oh, and about the levees, aren’t there city Levee boards that are supposed to make recommendations to the Corps of Engineers for improvements? They have or had quite a large budget, I believe.  And even though their budget is spent every year, and increased for the next, what is there to show for it? 

Before Katrina there was talk of serious auditing and possible charges of corruption and graft in re: to the levee boards.  Perhaps someone from the city can shed more light on that subject?  I only know what I’ve heard on the news, which we know is not all that reliable (witness the false reports from NOLA immediately after Katrina!).

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 27, 3:56 pm | [comment link]
15. Sherri wrote:

I have been in NO twice. I t would be hard to find a city as dirty, corrupt and dangerous as NO.

That’s a very narrow view of a very large city.

Mike wrote: ”  In fact, Morgan City is a small town also below sea level, surrounded by levees, and was bracketed by Katrina and Rita but had zero flooding.  It had a nice 15 mile buffer of new marshland between it and the gulf for protection.”

Would that this could come to pass for NOLA.

August 27, 4:01 pm | [comment link]
16. libraryjim wrote:

What we need are the best minds of city planners and designers to dedicate themselves to brainstorming quick, efficient, inexpensive ways to buffer NOLA from this again. 

Put it to the private sector—the government, whether local, state or Federal, don’t have the resources nor the will nor the time (nor, in some cases, the integrity) to devote to this (in spite of all the posturing by the politicians).

After all, isn’t that what Americans are supposed to be best at?

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 27, 4:37 pm | [comment link]
17. libraryjim wrote:

“don’t”? “doesn’t”?  oh, brother!  rolleyes

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 27, 4:38 pm | [comment link]
18. John316 wrote:

library,
Or was it a different FEMA and Federal govt. for instance that rebuilt Los Angeles in 1994 after the devastating Northridge Quake?
I don’t know, I wasn’t in Los Angeles then, but I was in New Orleans during Katrina, and right afterwards, and the pictures just don’t do it justice.
Does LA have corruption, vice, crime?  Is LA well situated in regard to the fault lines? 
Is New Orleans too dirty to rebuild?  What about St. Bernard Parish?  Plaquemines Parish? St. Tammany?

August 27, 4:39 pm | [comment link]
19. libraryjim wrote:

My POV is Florida, John.  I don’t know about L.A.  I do know that in those states that were hit by hurricanes two years ago, the states that rebuilt fastest (Florida, Alabama, Texas) were the ones that REQUESTED aid, and asked for designation of Federal Disaster areas.  Unfortunately one Governor is reported to have told the President “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” and then hung up on him when he called to offer aid. Care to guess which one?

The Federal Government can’t just send in Federal aid, due to states soverignity, it has to be requested by the governor of the state.  And Florida has not been lax in doing that!

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 27, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
20. Philip Snyder wrote:

Actually, I think the probelm with New Oleans is that Mayor Nagin was a Cable TV executive before becoming Mayor (true story) smile

Seriously.  There is a lot of problems with NO that other places didn’t have - being below sea level is one of them.  Extreme povery in a lot of places and a lack of flood insurance for many homes is another.  Political corruption and bad designs done for expediency compound all these problems.
Should we rebuid?  Well some of NO should be rebuilt, but I don’t government money responsible for rebuilding places that don’t have insurance and can’t afford it.  If you can’t afford the insurance for a place, you shouldn’t be living there.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

August 27, 5:34 pm | [comment link]
21. John316 wrote:

Library,
There are lies and then there are Karl Rove lies for political gain.  Here’s the governor on that one:
August 27, 2005

The President The White House Washington, D. C.

Through: Regional Director FEMA Region VI 800 North Loop 288 Denton, Texas 76209

Dear Mr. President:

Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. �� 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR � 206.35, I request that you declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period beginning August 26, 2005, and continuing. The affected areas are all the southeastern parishes including the New Orleans Metropolitan area and the mid state Interstate I-49 corridor and northern parishes along the I-20 corridor that are accepting the thousands of citizens evacuating from the areas expecting to be flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina. In response to the situation I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on August 26, 2005 in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act. A State of Emergency has been issued for the State in order to support the evacuations of the coastal areas in accordance with our State Evacuation Plan and the remainder of the state to support the State Special Needs and Sheltering Plan.

Pursuant to 44 CFR � 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. I am specifically requesting emergency protective measures, direct Federal Assistance, Individual and Household Program (IHP) assistance, Special Needs Program assistance, and debris removal. Preliminary estimates of the types and amount of emergency assistance needed under the Stafford Act, and emergency assistance from certain Federal agencies under other statutory authorities are tabulated in Enclosure A.

From here

August 27, 5:38 pm | [comment link]
22. John316 wrote:

Library,
The question this post asks:  “Will we stop to help New Orleans?”
That is the question at the heart of the terrific lie that you repeated in your post (#19 above) isn’t it?  Of course the Gov. requested help from the president.  Here is his response, before the storm came ashore, to her request:

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 27, 2005

Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana


The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Representing FEMA, Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: FEMA (202) 646-4600.

From here.
I don’t know what to make of the story that the request wasn’t made by the governor.  Snopes calls it False.  What do you make of that story?

August 27, 5:58 pm | [comment link]
23. libraryjim wrote:

Yes, and the President responded the same day with:

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 27, 2005

Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana

The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Representing FEMA, Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

But you can’t deny the incompetancy of the locals, especially Ray “School bus” Nagin in handling the aftermath of the storm.  Especially in turning away aid workers.

We still have to look at where the recent money has gone, and who has it, and why isn’t it being used.  That’s the question right now, isn’t it?

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 27, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
24. John316 wrote:

The Question is:  Will we stop to help New Orleans?
Here’s a blog by a young Episcopalian who has been down to help a time or two:
The Wayward Episcopalian
and here is a pretty good reading list that will catch you up:
NOLA Blogger’s Reading List.
and just for fun while we’re talking about political lies:NOLA Blogger’s Top Ten Vitter Excuses  (It’s interesting to note that when an initial vote to investigate the govt. response came up on the floor of the Senate in the days following Katrina, a notion that Repubs were planning to vote against presumably because they thought the govt. response was at least OK, Vitter missed the vote citing “family business” that day.  Hmmm, yeah!

August 27, 6:19 pm | [comment link]
25. JerryKramer wrote:

Every river delta port city in the world is below sea level; that’s a fact: Tokyo, Lagos, Osaka, Rotterdam, etc. Should we close them down too?
New Orleans is a hard place. I know, I live here. It was more dangerous, dirty, with worse schools, roads and hospitals than East Africa (where we also lived) pre-Katrina. New Orleans isn’t going away. The national cannot afford to close it down—gas prices would go sky high for starters. And the massive massive port system is essential. So the focus needs to be on how to fix it. We’re working very hard here on many fronts—chartering schools, designing libraries, running after school programmes, going after corruption, passing good legislation and, most importantly, sharing the Gospel. If nothing else, please pray for us. That’s what we need most.

August 27, 6:34 pm | [comment link]
26. Sherri wrote:

We still have to look at where the recent money has gone, and who has it, and why isn’t it being used.  That’s the question right now, isn’t it?

If we refused to help people because they have a corrupt government, why have we helped ... gosh, the list is just too long.

August 27, 6:34 pm | [comment link]
27. John316 wrote:

Here’s a recent story about a young Episcopalian who took time to go rebuild part of Slidell, LA (outside of New Orleans).  Thanks to the young man and his friends for helping and not questioning whether or not Slidell was “clean” enough to deserve his time and effort.  May God continue to bless this ministry.
It’s all here.

August 27, 7:11 pm | [comment link]
28. libraryjim wrote:

The question is: has help to NO stopped?

forget the nonsense scenarios in the article.  Look at the REAL reasons people are turning their attention away from NOLA:

Floods in Texas and the midwest
Fires in the South and West
Coal mine disasters
Hurricane Dean in Jamacia and Mexico
Droughts in the South and the West
Fires in Greece

We have not stopped caring, but there are a LOT of disaster areas calling for our attention right now.  Why is NOLA more important than the others?  But again I ask, has assistance, either in money or people, to NOLA stopped?  The answer is no.

By the way, did anyone catch Glenn Beck on CNN tonight? He had a special on NOLA and the insurance questions.

Peace
Jim Elliott

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 27, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
29. Wilfred wrote:

#25- Father Kramer, we lived in New Orleans for 4 years, before you came, & even attended Annunciation, as we were still Episcopalian in those days.  So we know what you are up against, & you are in our prayers.

One quibble with the article:  The death rate simply cannot have risen 50%.  That is impossible.

The death rate in New Orleans, as in every other city in this world, remains unchanged, at 100%.

August 27, 10:09 pm | [comment link]
30. Larry Morse wrote:

Would I have rebuilt San Francisco after the earthquake? No, unless there was some way to stop the effects of the next quake. I have read agaiin and again that SF’s quake will be a monster and that it is inevitable. Let us suppose it happens as the seismologists say it will. The loss of life will be enormous. Was it STILL wise to rebuild the city there? And should we rebuild towns at the feet of volcanoes tht will surely explode again. The answer is no, not unless we can forestall the eruption’s effects.

We cannot stop the Mississippi from flooding again no matter what we do to the levees because raising the levees in fact raises the level of the river above ground level. The process in short is self defeating.
Will there be another Katrina coming? If you think there won’t, I suggest you move to NO where land is cheap.  KM

August 28, 8:12 am | [comment link]
31. Milton wrote:

#29 Wilfred, I think Fr. Kramer meant that the murder rate had risen 50%.  Having lived in and around N. O. until 10 yrs. ago, that rise sounds entirely possible.

August 28, 8:51 am | [comment link]
32. John316 wrote:

There have been reports of the suicide rate being triple what it was before the storm.  I understand that access to medical services has been restricted due to lack of availability and that this has caused an increase in early deaths due to conditions that could have been prevented.

August 28, 9:27 am | [comment link]
33. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Complicated, complicated.  There is simply nothing simple about this scenario and how to handle it.  But I am telling you that Pre-Katrina New Orleans CANNOT be recreated and in many ways it probably shouldn’t be.  Pre-Katrina New Orleans was simply a paradise for the urban poor.  This was made possible by a confluence of factors that simply will not and probably cannot be recreated.  When New Orleanians talk of “Rebuilding New Orleans” many mean recreating the Pre-Katrina N.O.  I’m here to tell you now that is impossible, and that they should move on.  Here’s why:

PRE-K N.O. was a paradise for the Urban Poor.  Variety of reasons, none of which were intentional or planned:

1.  White flight from the city in the 1970’s-80’s meant empty housing.  20,000 residences were unoccupied when K hit.  That means rent below imagination (how about 1/2 a house 1 mile from the French Quarter for $300/month, subsidized to $100 by Section 8).
2. Dense, cheap public transportation (no car ownership required)
3. Free Health Care (via Charity HOspital, not good health care, not the kind the urban poor really need, but free)
4. Unlimited supply of low-skill, low-literacy, low-pay jobs. (tourism)
5. Mild climate (warm, but never cold)
6. Very low food prices (Port of N.O. major food import site, caused very low prices for food, among other things)
7.  Constant, inexpensive entertainment.
8.  Neighborhood retail models meant walking distance to everything.

I could go on and on.  My point is the engine that drove N.O. as paradise for the urban poor was plentiful cheap housing (often falling down condition, but still plentiful).  K took care of that.  This means there is about 200,000 New Orleanians living in exile that will never be able to come home.  Frankly, even if they don’t realize it, many are better off where they are now.  No matter where they landed, they will have better schools, better healthcare, and better opportunities for their children.

Oh, and someone above mentioned levee boards.  Yep, absolute historical pure political patronage and really useless.  Their main job was to keep the grass cut on the levees and keep trees off of them.  That’s why we only gave them access to 10% of the total funds allocated for levee construction, the Army Corps of Engineers provided the rest.  But even if they were doing their job and saw a problem, all they could do is report it to the Corps.

There’s more, so much more….Prayer is a really good start….

KTF!....mrb

Mike Bertaut
Time to Go

August 28, 9:42 am | [comment link]
34. Mike Bertaut wrote:

IN re-reading my #33, I forgot to mention the “potholes” in paradise:
  1. High crime rates
  2. Horrible public schools/low literacy and graduation rates
  3. Institutionilized public corruption at all levels
Again, more things that really don’t need to be rebuilt.

KTF!....mrb

Mike Bertaut
Time to Go

August 28, 11:02 am | [comment link]
35. John316 wrote:

In the same amount of time, most of the coastal areas around Louisiana which were also hit by Katrina have rebuilt to become better than ever, and instituted and met new hurricane building standards. - LibraryJim (in #1 above)

Here’s a video that shows rebuilding that is slow going in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  Do you suppose Haley Barbour is not doing his job or do you blame the Miss. victims for the slow recovery as you do New Orleans victims?

August 28, 4:06 pm | [comment link]
36. libraryjim wrote:

Nope, don’t blame anybody.  But Hey, John, you obviously have the solution: how do you solve everyone’s problems at once with limited resources? I don’t just mean NOLA, but the list I posted above, as well, plus overseas disaster aid.

But seriously, sure some areas are going to be rebuilt at a slower pace, especially with funds being so spread out.

But most areas are working faster then NOLA.  WHY?  Especially when NOLA has gotten the lion’s share of the attention and the funding and the people going to help? What is the cause? Can you tell?

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 28, 5:29 pm | [comment link]
37. libraryjim wrote:

hit send too soon:

Why? What is the cause? Can you tell? And why should we place so much attention on NOLA (which was the focus of the article, after all) when so many other places also need assistance? 

Oh, and notice I did say MOST not all.

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 28, 5:31 pm | [comment link]
38. libraryjim wrote:

In other words, why should I give in to those who say I have to feel guilty about NOT helping NOLA get rebuilt, when I have legitimate concerns closer to home?

Hmmm, I think that DOES sum up the article and my reaction to it. wink

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 28, 7:32 pm | [comment link]
39. John316 wrote:

library, you’ve made your feelings clear.  Thanks for your thoughts.

August 29, 11:53 am | [comment link]
40. libraryjim wrote:

Yep. My position is that the article is written from a false premise, and attempts to place a false sense of guilt on everyone else.  Yep. That’s my position.  And I now regret spending so much time on it when that should have been obvious from the beginning! :-~

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 29, 4:41 pm | [comment link]
41. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Interesting.  If the article was written to inspire guilt, then I think it was misplaced.  I think the real fear I see reflected on the face of every New Orleanian trying to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again is that they will be forgotten (again).  I think it is that fear that inspires this article, in that circumstance guilt is not really useful, what they really want is not to be forgotten before the remake of the levees and gates and pumping stations are complete.

KTF!....mrb

Mike Bertaut
Time to Go

August 30, 9:22 am | [comment link]
42. libraryjim wrote:

Mike, this line contradicts your argument, and proves mine:

This time, it’s New Orleans that lies bleeding in the ditch while most of the nation goes about its business: dropping the kids off in Missoula, catching a train to work in Manhattan, running errands in Little Rock. Now, almost two years after Hurricane Katrina, the question remains: Will we stop to lend a hand?

In other words:
Uou insensitve clod! How dare you say your daily concerns outweighs the needs of NOLA’s rebuilding efforts! Shame on you! Now stop playing around and get out your check-book!

At least, that’s how I read it.

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 30, 10:25 am | [comment link]
43. libraryjim wrote:

“You” not “Uou”.  I tried to capitalize the “Y” and hit caps + “U” instead.

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 30, 10:26 am | [comment link]
44. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Oh, I’m cool that you are right on with the tone of the article.  My point is that the average New Orleanian I run across is not interested in “guilting” the country into helping them.  Foolishly (in my opinion) they put their faith and trust in the United States Federal Government to manage what to me is clearly a local matter and since they built the protection, they are on the hook when it fails.  I think that’s basically how they think.  (I work with, have relatives in, and listen to N.O. radio all day long).

My 2 cents….mrb

Mike Bertaut
Time to Go

August 30, 10:31 am | [comment link]
45. libraryjim wrote:

Oh, ok, no problem. grin

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

August 30, 1:22 pm | [comment link]


© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

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