A good night’s sleep goes a long way. On my way to this Tuesday’s work deadline, I’ve mostly recovered from the last two days of preparing for and executing the Rising Tide Conference with the best team of bloggers and neighborhood activists ever. A panorama of my fellow Rising Tide organizers and their work shows that we lived up to “a real-life demonstration of internet activism.”
Douglas Brinkley is on C-Span2 and suggests that our rebuilding is a function of money and willpower. “We’re short on both … but we can make New Orleans the best city in America.” Well there was no shortage of willpower and charity at this weekend’s conference, and the endeavour continues as Ray, Mark and out-of-town attendees help the Arabi Wrecking Krewe gut a house untouched since Katrina. Ray, I apologize for not being out there, but I’m worn out, man. Toast, zonked, wasted, done – stick a fork in me – and I have my day job to contend with.
Thank you to all of the organizers, panelists, attendees, exhibitors and the New Orleans Yacht Club.
I promised Scout Prime and NOLASlate my closing speech. The statistics are part of a Legal Student Hurricane Network request to watch Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, but form a succinct description of New Orleans and the surrounding area one year after Katrina. Here it is:
One year ago, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As the natural and man-made disasters engulfed the region, the nation turned its attention to the storm’s immediate aftermath. However, a year later, the crisis continues.
Today, less than half of pre-Katrina New Orleans residents have been able to return home; over 70,000 of them are living in 240-square foot FEMA trailers (which are particularly vulnerable during the hurricane season) and many people are still waiting for trailers to be delivered; the state’s charity hospital system is in shambles and psychiatric care is non-existent; most of the Lower 9th Ward is still without potable water; 6,000 criminal defendants await trial, many of whom do not have attorneys; 60 percent of the businesses within the city limits have probably not reopened; federal officials have doled out only about 40 percent of the $110 billion promised to the Gulf Coast; not a single dollar of federal funds to rebuild houses has made it to Louisiana homeowners; and renters have been virtually left to fend for themselves.
But the numbers do not tell the whole story. The pain, the frustration, the anger, the desperation and the anguish are still as real today as they were in the days after the tragedy first unfolded. The Gulf Coast residents have not forgotten – they are still living the tragedy. And we cannot forget, either.
I request all of you to keep writing and spreading the word about our city. Continue to talk with everyone. Engage those in discussion who are of an opposing mindset and let them know that We Are Not Ok. Thank you.
You know what this means: No break from work this week.