Monday, August 07, 2006

Katrina Victims Need Our Help

I have just seen with my own eyes and heard from residents of New Orleans that nothing significant has been done to rebuild much of New Orleans, to bring businesses, jobs and people back. I personally drove around New Orleans this week and saw for myself the state of devastation in which it still remains. Along Orleans Avenue in the mid-city area East of the French Quarter many blocks are completely deserted, no businesses are open and less than one-tenth of the homes are occupied. I participated in the renovation and reopening of the first church in the mid-city area this past week. One year since Katrina and one church is reopened. I went through the lower ninth ward which was so hard hit that many of the houses are damaged structurally and can only be replaced. In one neighborhood of hundreds or thousands of homes, I found only one "home" being occupied but I don't know how since the power company will not provide service to this area. I wonder who has enough grit or desperation to live among so many abandoned homes where for more than one mile in any direction there is no other human life - just broken down homes, immense piles of debris and rats. There were three men in my car, it was about 10 PM and we each worried for our safety. I was reminded of one of the Mad Max movies about the future after worldwide destruction. There was not one sign of recontruction and I don't expect one in the second year since Katrina.

The French Quarter is thriving. St. Charles Avenue and the neighborhoods of the monied look like Katrina had not struck. Only a rare home in that area is not fully repaired. But most of New Orleans does not have the money to make its own repairs. No businesses. No jobs. No people. No insurance checks because the insurance companies claim that the losses were due to flooding rather than the wind damage of a hurricane in spite of the fact that many of the houses that I saw were leaning or laying down. No job. No home. No insurance. No help from the government. FEMA is still making excuses.

After one year everybody has a share of the responsibility for so little being done in the areas struck by Katrina. Some politicians and some of the citizens in that area are now blaming the poor as the crime rate increases. Poverty begets crime. Hopelessness begets crime. After one year and no progress there can be little hope that help will come. Anger and crime are inevitible. Not because of race. Because of poverty and hopelessness.

Don't forget and don't blame the victims of Katrina. Demand that the government do something. Ask what YOU can do and act on it.


Karen said...

This has been most frustrating. My friend Chad and his family have suffered terribly because of this. Joe, what do you suggest the course of action? What should we do...who to go to, etc.? Thanks for writing this.

Karen said...

Where are yooooou, Joe? We missss you!!!!