Thursday, March 02, 2006

Destruction's Bottom Line

This post has been stirring in my head for weeks. Being here validates what I was beginning to come to realize. I read Athenae's post today with this quote from Brian Williams on Katrina...
"If this does not spark a national discussion on class, race, the environment, oil, Iraq, infrastructure and urban planning, I think we've failed," Williams said last September, speaking by cell phone from the city.

Now that covers lot of issues but I bet many Americans can find enough wiggle room in there to think it really has nothing to do with them personally. And that is what's wrong. Though I'd welcome a discussion of race and poverty, guess what? It's the wrong discussion if you're talking Katrina. There ought to be a discussion though and it does include You.... IF.....
You are white....
You are black....
You are poor....
You are working class....
You are middle class....
You are upper middle class....
You are educated....
You are illiterate....
You are Catholic or Protestant or Muslim....

Because those are the people who have taken the bottom line hit of Katrina's destruction here. It's Everyone here.
And if it can happen to them and it is still very much happening........
It. Can. Happen To. You.

Destruction in the poor black 9th Ward is horrible. But go to white working class St. Bernard's Parish. It's devastated. Go to the white upper middle class area of Lakeview. Those folks are wiped out too. They have more means to come back??? Think about how you would pay the mortgage on your $450,000 home that is nothing more than a pile of debris and also pay rent on an apartment that you now must rent...if you can find one and with no job. (BTW $350 apartments are now going for $1500 where I'm staying here). That's just your own personal hell.... there's more outside your door.

The infrastructure is devastated. And it hits Everyone. It's great to see stop lights...they are few and far between in many areas. Wonder when someone will pick up that pile of garbage outside your home much of which was the inside of your home? No one can tell you. Want a phone? Sorry for many it will be months like 6. Trying to get electricity turned on? Perhaps soon and then perhaps not. You may get mail service.... sometimes. You need to get groceries? Be prepared to drive far and wait in long lines. You have children? It's best to find an out of state relative for them to live with for this school year at least. And whatever you do don't get hurt or sick. A small injury could be a Major problem. Ambulance drivers tell of sitting outside the few "hospitals" caring for people in their rigs cause it's better than what's available inside.

But you say I don't live below sea level in the path of Hurricanes?
2 things......

Terrorist attack (maybe Osama has a notion about Des Moines)
Avian Flu (maybe it Will jump from birds to humans one of these flu seasons)

Every mayor, governor and citizen in America ought to be scared. Because the federal government was not prepared and still is not.
That ought to be our discussion.
And it very much involves you and requires your participation.
Katrina is a Cautionary Tale for all of us which we ought to be forcing the Bush administration to act upon in a myriad of ways. I know that won't happen though. So hope, pray, sprinkle fairy dust in the meantime. And as for our personal wiggle room.....

Well wiggle room the Lower 9th.
Just don't forget the same in St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East, Gentily, Lakeview.....
and on and on and on.........


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this work. You should be in every daily newspaper & on the nightly news.

nick carraway

1:42 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Because the federal government was not prepared and still is not.
That ought to be our discussion

The triumph of Grover Norquist, plain and simple.

He has turned Texas into a laboratory for bad government (Molly Ivins' observation, not original with me). Is it a coincidence Bush came from Texas?

Everything wrong with Bush doesn't begin and end with Karl Rove.

Since Reagan's era, we have heard how useles "big government" is. Even Nixon wasn't such a mossback (and he was plenty conservative!)

Well, we listened to the siren's song, and now we have crashed on the rocks. New Orleans is just the canary in the coal mine, as you say.

Whenever a country as rich and powerful as the United States loses an entire city, a major city, one of the great cities of the world....

How can we simply call it an "Act of God?"

7:35 AM  
Blogger left rev. said...

scout, do you have any stills to post? My computer is so lame I can't really view your video properly (looking around for someone else's to use at work)

You are blessed to be a blessing, scout. Thank you for taking this on and sharing it with us.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous robinhood said...

That was some fantastic footage! That was great. I have seen what it looks like overhead too and whole coast line is wiped out. Very sad.

I wont spark a national discussion on class and race until tons of middle class white collar workers find they don’t have jobs...but thats happening. They have to see it happen to them first. So it goes. Plus, why would the corporations that own the news media, that own the politicians want to do that? Then they would have to take some of the billions paid to their CEOs and share it with their employees.

It’s called social stratification. And its a good thing for the wealthy top 10%. Why would they want to change it.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scout, thank you. I need to say that.

I grew up in Long Beach, Mississippi.

I was 13 when Hurricane Camille destroyed my neighborhood. New Orleans has been my second (and favorite home) for 35 years. I spent last September in the Katrina zone. Two weeks in Gulfport and 12 days in New Orleans.

For nearly 6 months, I have cried some every day. I can't control it. I ran your video but had to walk away after I saw a church that I knew from way back.

I want everyone to see this. Just fucking see it. I know it is beyond words. I still can't talk about it.

I wanted to tell you that I was glad you ran into Pete Fountain. Pete represents all my New Orleans good times. It's a long and fun story that I'd enjoy telling if I could stop crying long enough.

There are many discussions that Katrina should have spawned. I am apalled that we aren't having them. But all that is secondary to the gut wrenching horror of what happened and all that still hasn't been done.

At some point on the video you said that you couldn't picture that it "was something once".... well, hon, it was. If you'd seen it then, it would be even worse for you now.

--- Kay

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a thousand things to say and also nothing to say that can match the enormity of it.

But I was, and still am, struck at how much none of that bears any resemblance to America in 2005/6. And then also must think that even before the storm that neighborhood didn't look much like America in 2005/6.

It almost looks like time stopped there sometime during around the Depression.


10:40 AM  
Blogger dave said...

That video is fucking awesome. Nicely done.

9:42 PM  
Blogger charley said...

wow, everyone is making me want to look at the video. i tried to watch the first one you did, but takes too long on this slow box. what little i did see was great.

i'm more of a visual guy so i really wish i could see it.

but this is some great reporting/writing. hat's off to you scout. and RMJ's observation, too true.

there will be another shotgun blast to the face of america, and as usual they will conceal, obfuscate, and downright fuc'n lie about it. thanx for searching out the truth.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scout, I shared the URL to this site with my friends at a radio station chat forum in California, - and one reader commented the following:
"I only wish that I could write so well. She captures very well what is happening here, in fact it's the best descriptions I've yet read ..... truely captures what is the reality of the state of NOLA and the gulf coast six months after Katrina. This should be mandatory reading for every american."

It's a good thing.


1:28 AM  
Blogger Scott in Montreal said...

Stunning. Thank you. This is top-rate documentary footage. I can't believe how little has been done in six months. I can't believe how little we've been hearing about the snail's pace of the restoration effort.

But then Baghdad was also supposed to get electricity fully restored ...back in 2003 was it? 2004? And they still make do with four to six hours a day, as Bagdad Burning reports.

This is very sad. We had our Ice Storm in Montreal in 98, but it compares to this as an ant to an elephant.

2:20 AM  
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6:12 AM  

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