Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kicked while down...still.

Brownie's heirs? Still doing a hell of a job.

Just another piece of evidence to heap onto the debacle that is the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina (of course not to take anything away from the impotence of the New Orleans government).

At this point, I'm no longer surprised by this type of story so much as I'm increasingly disappointed in my government and steadily losing faith in its ability to deal with domestic emergencies.

The most disturbing subtext about the entire article is that people are still living in their FEMA trailers. 2.5 years after the storm hit, roughly 40% of the city's population has yet to even return, presumably many of those never will. Of those few that have returned to the hardest hit wards, many of them are still in the process of rebuilding their homes while often coping with the difficulties of establishing insurance claims and navigating the convoluted procedures for claiming their federal funds.

I'm not trying to characterize the region's problems as easily fixable. I understand there are a million reasons why the rebuilding process has been so slow in New Orleans, only a few of which I can pretend to understand.

I'm just particularly disheartened because I've been to New Orleans twice since Katrina, in June of '06 and March of '07 and seen how decimated things still are. The damage was still extensive; one local cabbie estimated that "80% of the city is still essentially destroyed." It's an unbelievable sight. I know many people have said it's one of those things "you can't comprehend until you see." Well, I normally don't like to buy in that sort of thinking, but it was accurate for my experience.

I'll leave you with a piece of anecdotal evidence that I found most poignant.

This picture was taken in June 2006:

When I went back in March 2007, roughly 20 months after the storm, I took this picture:

I have no idea why the car is still there, whether it was merely abandoned by an evacuee in 2005, or something worse. Either way, that car is a chip off the tip of the iceberg that is the project of rebuilding New Orleans.

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