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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Monday, September 19, 2005

The Homecoming

After three weeks, a part of the city is officially coming home today – “my” little corner of New Orleans. My imagination is on the road with them, right now, as they pass formerly familiar landmarks and see, at last, what the future will look like.

As they pass the checkpoints, they’ll have been handed the “Guidelines for Re-entry” – a grim document that seems more suited to a nuclear bomb site than a homecoming. Obviously written with an eye toward the East Bank of Orleans Parish, these guidelines will nonetheless bring the reality of the catastrophe into sharp, personal focus. For instance,

“Access to medical services is extremely limited at this time.”

Where will they go if a chainsaw slips and gashes a leg? How will they know that? Another indication of this new reality:

“…you may not be outside between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. either in a vehicle or on foot.”

Clearly, security will be very tight. Yet Algiers is not the East Bank, and the situation is much different. They have power, potable water, and soon (hopefully) schools. If any part of the city will be able to maintain the pulse, while the rest tries to come out of cardiac arrest, it is Algiers.

I’ll be watching, today, while CNN covers their re-entry, trying to match the faces on my television with the thousands of polimom readers, and looking for friends and acquaintances from years ago.

It is going to be a sobering, challenging homecoming. There will no doubt be many who will decide to leave, and I have no trouble understanding such a decision. In many ways, I think their road will be the hardest. For those who stay, though – I’m looking forward to meeting many of them when I come to visit…soon.