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Location:near Houston, Gulf Coast, United States

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

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Talk to me about Hope

Sometimes I look at the statistics of visitors to this site, and wonder who these folks are. What do they think, in Holland, Sweden, Bahrain, Tasmania, the UK…or in Ohio, California, and Idaho?

Many of these anonymous visitors come and go without a ripple, but often they come again – and then again. Are they worried, too, about what’s going on in Louisiana? When they read my blog, can they feel my growing sadness?

Do they sense the despair?

It’s been over three months since Katrina blew in and the levees failed. 98 days. An eternity of anguish manifesting in hundreds of posts and thousands of words. Tell me, anonymous readers: do you see anything rising from the ruins of New Orleans yet? Can you give me some hope? Because I badly need some.

Every day that passes is another mark of betrayal and forgotten promises – to Americans by Americans. Something very ugly was exposed by Katrina, and it’s so much bigger than it seemed initially.

The Republicans don’t trust the Democrats (and vice versa). The Blacks don’t trust the Whites (and vice versa). The North doesn’t trust the South (and vice versa). The Governor doesn’t even trust the Mayor! (and vice versa…) And apparently
nobody trusts New Orleans or Louisiana.

Taken individually, none of those is a terminal illness - but the hurricanes and flooding did more than shatter homes and lives. They took all of those toxic and carefully avoided distrusts and dropped them into a cauldron, heated them to a rolling boil, and spewed them into our faces.

We’re so broken. The United States? What a sad joke.

Talk to me, Ukraine and Japan, Washington and New York. Are you laughing? Or crying…


  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger Raven said;

    I can only speak to you as a New Orleans resident, but I might be able to offer you some hope.

    I moved to the city about two years ago, I left from Columbia, SC (a town where nothing happens and no one wants that to change) and I, along with my girlfriend of six years now, came seeking a new life, a new start and to chase new dreams. We wanted to be in a town where we could be who we were (and still are) without reprisal or disgust.

    However, my stay in New Orleans wasn't easy. It was frought with many of the social ills that have plagued the city. Unemployment affected both myself and my girlfriend, we never felt stable and, prior to Katrina, debated leaving, thus becoming one of the countless "transients" that move to the city and leave suddenly.

    When Katrina hit though, our lives changed. We expected to lose everything to the storm but, fortunately, didn't. Our home was almost undamaged and we were able to move back in without any problems or repairs needed. We were lucky. We were also lucky to have this site, which put an end to our nail biting during the "house check" period after Katrina. You and those who helped you took a load off of our minds.

    But now I'm seeing something happen. New Orleans is being rebuilt and it isn't FEMA or the government that's making it happen, it's people like the two of us. New Orleans is coming back. More stores are opening, more people are returning and things are starting to show life again. Yes, parts of the city are still ghost towns, but that's to be expected.

    Has NOLA been the victim of countless broken promises? Yes. Insurance companies, the local government, the state government, the federal government, everyone has turned their backs on us. We have been betrayed and abandoned.

    However, the residents that are here are the heartiest, most determined group imaginable. The spirit of cooperation is incredible in this city. Everyone is determined to bring New Orleans back and make it better than ever. Already the first glimmers can be seen. It's a safer city, one with almost no crime, a more polite city where everyone is working toward the same goals and, if you look at the people alone, it's probably the greatest city on earth.

    The biggest change I've noticed, however, is pride. Where once I was thinking of leaving the city, now I swell with pride every time I see a New Orleans water tower or reenter Orleans Parish. I'm proud to be a New Orleans resident. I'm proud to be a part of this city and I know my neighbors are too. Yes, I still cry sometimes when I cross the Mississippi and see the destruction and the waterlines, but now I take heart in know that, each day, things do get a little better.

    New Orleans isn't going to be rebuilt quickly or perfectly, but it will be brought back. People like us and those around us will make that happen, whether or not FEMA and the government keeps their promises. We in New Orleans have always been a tough people but now we are also proud and determined.

    Yes, we need help desperately. I'm not saying that we can do it alone. We can't fix or upgrade the levees, we can't fund everything ourselves and we can't do it alone but there is hope to be found.

    It's in the pride within our eyes, those of us who are down here cleaning up, rebuilding and creating a "New" New Orleans.

    I hope the nation does not forget that we are here, what we are doing and how much we have before us. It's us, not the politicians or the government, that need the money. If those in Washington can figure that out, the rest will fall into place.

    In the meantime though, we are here, working hard (most seven days a week) and creating a new city. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither shall New Orleans, but we are working and we are making progress.

    That much I know for certain...

  • At 2:27 PM, Blogger Mark said;

    Hope has been much on my mind of late. I was set thinking about it by the photo that landed in my in-box in Fargo, N.D. You can see it here:


    Hope Street, alas, does not cross Desire. It runs in part through a hard part of town of it's own, not far from the Agriculture Street superfund site, one of the parts of New Orleans that will likely become green space for a generation.

    I am twenty years and 1,200 miles removed from my home in New Orleans, and now I am ready to come back, because at some level my choices are hope that I can move back, and help to rebuild a city I will recognize in my old age as New Orleans. The other alternative is despair, watching my city and the people in it abandoned, as if they were a foreign race, to be dropped from our concern when the geopolitical spotlight moved on.

    Frankly, I have never felt more disconnected from being an American. My wife used to laugh (a bit derisivly) when I talked about emigrating from New Orleans to the United States, scrawled in Acadian unasked on census forms, or tried to list my place of birth as Minor Outlying U.S. Islands. In the aftermath of the storm, I have become even more of a foreigner adrift in an alien and midly hostile foreign country.

    Sure, people are nice. "How's your Mom and Sister?" the ask. "Did you finally track down that missing fiend?" Yes, I tell them, some of them people who came out every night for a week to load trucks in September. But I hear many of them suggesting, well, it probably isn't a great idea to rebuild New Orleans. It will only happen again. Then I tell them I hope to move back home. Then I just get a blank stare, as if they were afraid his was some symptom of Tourette's and I might burst into uncontrolled obscenities and nonsensee.

    The only hope I have is the hope of returning home. I labor hours every day to keep up my own blog, I read every scrap of news and gossip, I toss aside the newspaper hear because the only stories I care about--those about the Gulf Coast--I've already read.

    The only thing that keeps me going is the idea that despair can, by way of desire, find a way to hope.

    Remembering Katrina, Envisioning New Orleans

  • At 4:25 PM, Blogger TravelingMermaid said;

    I, too, wonder what the people "out there" are thinking about us. Or if they are thinking about us at all. I think we're off the radar screen for most now. It's not easy these days in New Orleans. The evidence of Katrina is still everywhere you look, from your own home & neighborhood to the streets when you get out & drive anywhere here. Debris everywhere. Long lines in the stores that are open, many still not. When you meet someone you haven't seen since the storm the only topic is what damage was done to the house and whether or not you still have a job. Living is a day by day thing. I agree that it's going to take residents returning to the city and doing their part. The more people return, the more schools,stores & restaraunts will open and the sooner we can resume some semblence of normalcy. It's happening bit by bit but it won't happen tomorrow. But anything worth having is worth fighting for.

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