Living in Limbo
Uncertainty. ‘Non-answers’. Evasions. Silence.
Few things are harder on the human spirit than having no clear path forward, and people can't live forever in limbo.
Information vacuums give rise to many problems, as recent events have demonstrated with a vengeance. Rumors, paranoia, conspiracy theories – they all rise from a lack of definitive input. From the immediate aftermath of Katrina at the Superdome, to the current speculation about neighborhood rebuilds, people have had to extrapolate, interpret, and frequently invent the future.
I think the City of New Orleans is trying much harder now to communicate with its residents. I’ve found myself listening to Mayor Nagin these days and nodding my head. Frankly, I believe him when he says they aren’t going to simply go in and bulldoze entire neighborhoods – but the city officials don’t have the answers people need yet, and they won’t for quite some time. Furthermore, it's not clear who will be making the decisions that matter.
An article this morning in the Houston Chronicle underscored the ongoing difficulty. Kim Cobb wrote,
Decisions about what is rebuilt versus what is bulldozed will depend on a knotty combination of insurance settlements, personal financial resources, city inspection regulations and federal rules for building in a flood zone.Wow. I read that paragraph and felt my mind absolutely boggle from the complexity of the situation. How can people make intelligent decisions about the future, when that is the information they are getting?
For the many thousands who want to go home, it’s going to require faith – a tenuous cornerstone – to bring New Orleans back to anything remotely resembling the former culture. Because there’s very little else to hold onto, and it's likely to be a long wait.