Saturday, February 17, 2007
There were three men came out of the west
I asked a few days ago for an example of someone who was leaving, and now I've gotten it. Reading the littany of indignities, this couple has my entire sympathy, although I think I would have preferred that the roofing contractors have crapped on my roof rather than case my house for a burglary on a rainy day when they had nothing better to do.
I'm disappointed by the story in a few ways, but welcome it as another canary in the coal mine. I plan to send a copy directly to the Mayor's and my council member's emails and challenge them to explain: what the hell are you going to do about this? We have all figured out, I believe, that it's not really up to them, it's up to us.
The flaws in the story's logic may seem small, but I think it is important to address them. Even as U-Haul shows more of an inflow than an outflow, it cites moving van services which show more people moving out. Frankly, so many people lost all of the contents of their houses this is a deeply flawed metric. The people moving back have only what you can buy with a $2,000 FEMA debit card and a partial insurance settlement, if they had flood insurance. The people coming back don't need moving vans. They need insurance and Road Home settlements.
What is important here is that this story is part of a growing conventional wisdom about the failure of New Orleans. A prominent bank and credit card company trumpets a study showing how New Orleans is lagging the rest of the Gulf Coast in recovery, even as contrary indicators begin to roll in. The state finds it has underestimated economic activity in the city, and even the Yellow Pages is putting out an extra edition to accomodate an explosive growth in advertisers post flood, and the study ignores the political disparity in how money was allocated between the states. From all I've seen, anything that trumpets Mississippi's recovery over Louisiana's is either fatally superficial or intentionally biased.
As Poppy Z. Brite pointed out, there are two sides to this story. I think the one everyone who is writing about New Orleans should strive to tell, and to insist that the national media tell: there are people (besides the movie starts) who are coming or coming back in spite of it all. As I've said repeatedly until I almost bore myself, this is the Great American Story right now. The spirit that settled a continent (for all that means, good and bad) is very much alive in one corner of America, where the Mississippi meets the sea.
Katrina NOLA New Orleans Hurricane Katrina Think New Orleans Louisiana FEMA levees flooding Corps of Engineers We Are Not OK wetlands news rebirth Debrisville Federal Flood 8-29 Rising Tide Remember
Actually, no, it doesn't (duh!). What you and Ashley have written on the subject, though, just might.
I, too, like the Perfesser (Not Dr A), have sent off a letter to the NY Times with a short description of how and why we left NYC in the first place - to move right back down to New Orleans.
If there is ANY justice in this world, the NY Times will follow up on this with an article about the folks who have moved back and intend to stay.
And add my wife and me to the ingress: we moved to NO from New England last fall, and brought our graduate degrees with us.
If you have recent photographs that you would be willing to allow CoHR to use as banner illustrations for the homepage, please let me know.
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