Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We Are Not OK

In solidarity with my fellow New Orleans bloggers, I join in transmitting this message on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:

We Are Not OK

3 comments:

Charllie [Louisiana] said...

Nothing personal, but everyone here in SW Louisiana is sick of hearing about you 'poor, poor victims' of Katrina. Quit whining and fix it yourselves.

We are.

Tim said...

Charllie,

I know it's difficult for people who are not here, but the devastation is so widespread and so pervasive we might not be able to fix it ourselves. It's not that some houses were damaged, MOST houses were destroyed. In St. Bernard, ALL the houses were destroyed, not merely damaged, destroyed.

I'm sure you had a lot of damage in Kaplan and Abbeville, but nowhere near what we have here. If your house gets damaged, I'm sure you can go stay with a friend or relative for a few weeks until it gets fixed. But not here, not now. I know entire families where everybody's house is gone. What can you do?

I don't take it personally, because I AM doing what I can to "fix it" myself. But I'm lucky because I have enough money and enough of a support system of family and friends to make a go of it. So many others are not so fortunate.

Thanks for your thoughts, and I hope we get through the rest of the hurricane season untouched. We all need a break!

Peace,

Tim

Darlene in Lakeview said...

I live in Lakeview, New Orleans near the 17th Street Canal Breach. I am lucky enough to have savings to cover some of the shortfall between insurance payout and actual cost to repair.
I won't go into a litany of all the damage and destruction. I will say this one thing loudly. I am furious!

My husband and I purchased a home in New Orleans February, 2005. We planned to finish the home in time for his August 1, 2005 retirement. We very nearly finished refurbishing the 80 year old house in Lakeview, had the appliances installed Friday, evacuated Saturday and Monday we were homeless.

For my entire adult life, my country taxed me and used my tax dollars to fund the US Army Corps of Engineers. In turn, the US Army squandered my tax dollars, ignored evidence that their plans were hazardous to my welfare yet continued to tax me to support their programs. They hid the frightening results of their own investigations providing a false sense of security luring home buyers to their doom. They used cheap labor, forced contractors to do work that the contractors deemed unsafe and based the entire existence of our city on shoddy work.

I am angry. Everyone I know is angry. Why anger? Because our government is guilty of negligent homicide, destruction of private property, graft, incompetence and misappropriation of funds. Because we have learned the hard way that our government helps where public opinion dictates they should help, that our government is not accountable for their negligence. Why do we keep talking about it? Because our need is too great to scratch off the list after six months or one year or two years or maybe five years. Recovery takes every breath of every moment of every day of every month and year. It is all we focus on.

We did everything we were supposed to do. We paid our bills, paid our taxes, saved for retirement, paid our insurance premiums, voted for the local, state and national office holders that we believed were the best of the options presented. We have lost two years of our lives. Our personal relationships have been devastated. Our lifelong friends are scattered. Our doctors are gone. Our grocery stores are gone. Our library is now a bookmobile. Our banks are trailers. Our church pews are folding chairs on a concrete floor. Our firemen and policemen work out of trailers. Our children believe this is life in America.

Everything we struggled to support financially in our community over our lifetimes is gone. Not because of an act of nature, but because of negligence. The negligence of our federal government devastated 300,000 lives. It killed, it robbed, it deprived, it pawned our welfare off onto homeland security who was focused on Iraq and then used our plight for political gain. When other countries offered financial help, our government said 'Nah - we can handle it.' What?? The United States pours out taxpayer dollars to help every country with a crisis, but refuses the help offered in return. Our tax dollars are paying for the stream of tours through the hurricane devastation. Lots of politicking going on at our expense. Lots of speeches. Even with all the publicity, the government has not yet provided enough of a kick-start to get us going.

We are senior citizens who spend hours every day doing physical labor to repair what our government destroyed. I have planted my yard: grass, trees, flowers and shrubs three times. The first two times, the salt and chemicals left in the soil by the floodwaters killed everything. We had to dredge out the soil, replace it and start over.

Anyone else injured physically or monetarily is enabled by law to receive restitution from the guilty party. That is what we want. We want the US Army Corps of Engineers to accept responsibility in every way, not just words. We want restitution. We want an apology. We want compassion.
No, I don't want pity. No I do not want something for nothing. Compassion would be nice. I want the villain to be punished and forced to pay for the damage caused. I want the culprit to have the accountability. I want justice. I want what I earned, what I have already paid for with my life's work.

Thanks to all those who have given up their time and energy and money to help out. Thanks to the colleges who re-planted Canal Blvd. Thanks to the volunteers who show up every week with their lawnmowers to cut the grass at City Park. Thanks to the Red Cross who even handed out coffee to us on the road as we evacuated and who fed us and gave us masks to wear those first few weeks back while we staggered back home in shock.

State of Louisiana: Clean up your own blighted property in New Orleans before you start spouting off about how we should have made more progress than we have. The old Troop B building at Veterans and West End is a mess. Start there.

Corps of Engineers: Hire some real engineers. Look how other countries do levees.

FEMA: How dare you hide the danger of formaldehyde for over a year from the citizens you were endangering? Just like the measles tainted blankets given to the Indians. Charity with a dose of snake venom. How dare you?

US Government: Who pays your salaries?

Born in New Orleans and will died here, come hell or high water.... been there - done that...

Darlene