Hope

Posted on Tuesday 29 August 2006

(I plan to keep this post at the top today, and will be adding links as time allows.)

A year ago, Katrina came ashore, wiping out entire communities along the Gulf Coast. The storm destroyed lives, dreams, and homes, and exposed hitherto unseen societal and governmental failures on an unfathomable scale.

The media has given a lot of attention to the hundreds of thousands who haven’t yet returned — who may never come back. We’ve read about their challenges, anger, and bewilderment at events and forces that have directed their feet onto journeys never anticipated or wanted.

What we don’t read a lot about is the other hundreds of thousands of people who, in the face of daily turmoil, depression, and chaos, are giving every possible ounce of human effort to pick up the shattered pieces and move forward.

To all my many friends in New Orleans: I’ve been searching all week for something profound to say for this post — some magical combination of words that would express the feelings, memories, and emotions about Katrina, but the refrain that keeps playing in my head is… I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that the levees failed, though they should have been easily able to withstand the forces they faced. I’m sorry that the leaders upon whom you relied failed you at every level. From the President to the Mayor, they let you down, and continue to do so.

I’m sorry that every day is a hardship — that the things the rest of the country take for granted, like power, water, garbage pick-up, and drivable streets, are memories and goals. I’m terribly sorry that the failures of the city somehow skewed the perceptions of what happened to the levees, and that Nagin keeps making everyone look like a fool.

And I’m sorry that this anniversary doesn’t mark the end of the suffering, but is merely a marker on a very long road.

Along with all those I’m sorry’s, though, I’m incredibly proud.

The people who are living and working in New Orleans are trying to re-make their lives in spite of it all. Gutting their homes, helping their neighbors… fighting for a future in that unique, beautiful, and tragic slice of America.

Late last night, one of those friends sent me a graphic to display today as a sign of solidarity. Her email said, in part:

“The last couple of weeks approaching the anniversary have been difficult for those of us still living in the shadow of the failure of the levees. Tomorrow will be extremely difficult – Recovery is at a snail’s pace and thousands are still displaced. Despite this, I have hope New Orleans will rise again.”

Remember

In spite of it all, she has hope… and as a result, so do I.

Remember.

* * * * *

Pay a visit to the New Orleans Bloggers today.

If you still think Katrina destroyed New Orleans, read this post at Wizbang.

By all means, let’s declare a War on Hurricanes!

Think Progress tightens the spotlight.

Every time I read this article, the second paragraph makes me gag:

“It’s amazing, isn’t?” he told a gathering under a sweltering sun. “It’s amazing what the world looked like then and what it looks like now.”

Bush was in Biloxi when he made these statements, but they apply to New Orleans also… in a much different way. Amazing.

Tara Young writes one about love, and it reminded me of one of my all-time favorite posts.

Bush seems to have said all the right things to New Orleanians today. We’ll see…

5 Comments for 'Hope'

  1.  
    Jeff
    August 29, 2006 | 1:06 pm
     

    “Mr. Bush acknowledged that, for some, rebuilding may have been so gradual as to seem non-existent. But, Mr. Bush said: “For a fellow who was here and now a year later comes back, things have changed.””

    C’mon “Mr. President” — Is that all you can stomach – one visit a year??????

    You disgust me.

  2.  
    August 29, 2006 | 8:08 pm
     

    La Nouvelle-Orleans Apres L’Orage

    blueshead
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    Post 1

    I read this poem today as I looked upon my ruined city. I cried for the first time in years..

    La Nouvelle-Orleans Apres L’Orage

    The cathedral bells’ untimely toll is awkward,
    Giving me a headache.
    It is my first time hearing it from home.
    The streets are too quiet, no longer flashing hypnotic lights
    And beckoning with its rum-soaked, flirtatious breath.
    Even the horns of men who made cocktails out of rhythm
    And drugs now lay rusted on my doorstep,
    Their notes a mere gargle.

    What happened to the Creole and Cajun aromas
    From mawmaw’s kitchen, that loved to shake their hips
    And wave their handkerchiefs in the wind?
    And the hail of Greek gods that drank from the goblet
    Of lust, and threw coins onto the heads of babies?
    And the fairy dust-like potions from voodoo priest
    That kept us all in an unsatiated worship of black and gold?

    The crows are grey now, and caw in a listless perch
    On great oaks that gasp to retell Noah’s tale.
    The grass once green and fat with greed in the humid air
    Now brittle, and petrified by the moment’s sudden enrapture.
    But there beneath lies mudbugs and slave bones,
    And the syncopated music of motherlands
    Beating their congos and timbales, massaging the earth
    With their festive feet and ash-crossed foreheads.
    Tunneling their way in song to the surface.

    Tarnished beaded medallions hang from the wires above,
    Grasping back at the past, trying to restore its antique luster.
    And the stench of soiled pants and molded treasures attract flies
    That feed on the bland gumbo of a decaying culture.

    Today my forbidden lover has drunk Juliet’s liquor,
    Lying pale and breathless as we mourn her death.

    But tomorrow we will place cayenne on her lips
    And she will awaken refreshed, hungry, and ready to dance.

    [Trenise Robinson]

  3.  
    August 30, 2006 | 11:46 am
     

    WOW! The poem is beautiful!

    As for Bush, what he said is bothersome. He said 35% of NEW oil leases, but he’s held the line on all the OLD oil leases that have pulled fuel out of the Gulf and contributed only minimally (compared to Texas and Florida) to Louisiana’s coffers. It was one of those well written sentences that sounds like one thing, but means something else.

  4.  
    August 30, 2006 | 12:57 pm
     

    It is a beautiful poem, blueshead. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    Re: the leases. How many years are left on the existing leases, Slate? Do you know?

  5.  
    September 1, 2006 | 11:55 am
     

    [...] Warning: Satire Ahead! President Bush campaigned for office as a “compassionate conservative” and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina gave him the opportunity to show us exactly what that meant. Compassionate conservativism, which I once described as “deeply sympathizing with peoples’ problems and sincerely hoping that private enterprise will be able to do something about them,” has left the Gulf region stronger and more self-reliant than it was before Hurricane Katrina. Despite the nay-saying of critics, many local people were genuinely touched by the sympathy the President showed as he toured the area this week and his message of hope that someone would help them rebuild. [...]

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