(NYT) New Orleans hardly needs an anniversary to help it recall a disaster that upended the life of virtually every resident. Read the rest here ... and keep all those who continue to be impacted by Katrina these two long years later -- in both Louisana AND Mississippi [update: AND Alabama ... in fact, the whole Gulf Coast!] -- in your prayers.
+ + +Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.
Dear Rev. Russell:
After five trips to New Orleans during the first 10 months after the catastrophe I can tell you that what I (and other members of my church) saw has stayed with us.
I constantly feel pulled to go back down and plan to again soon.
For those who haven't been there the sheer size of the area affected is mind-boggling. Television pictures simply are inadequate to show the extent and scope of the disaster.
Our first two trips (just 15 days and then 40 days after the event) were in sweltering heat and the smell of mold was overwhelming.
Churches of all denominations worked together with a purpose that I'm sure caused Jesus to smile.
Our small group of Anglicans stayed and worshipped with the Nazarenes at the Slidell Nazarene Church. They fed us, showered us (outdoor stalls with hoses, but some warm water) and we slept in what were once Sunday school classrooms. I never felt closer to Jesus than in those early trips.
We hooked up with a Michigan Nazarene effort to restore one of their churches (First Church of New Orleans in the Ninth Ward) so that it could serve as a center for residents in that neighborhood (off Franklin and US-10 that was so prominent in news accounts) to come for food and shelter while they worked on their homes.
That small effort worked, but there is soooo much more to be done. While the federal government failed miserably, anyone who has been there can attest, there is simply a massive amount of work to be done and even a good effort will take many, many years.
The small number of people in New Orleans during the early trips were heart warming as they were very grateful that others had come so far away to help.
We were hugged and thanked by people we didn't know and we thanked them for the welcome.
Even two years past Katrina my heart still aches for the city and its people.
May God have mercy on New Orleans and bring healing to the region.
For those looking for a mission, please consider a trip to New Orleans. It will change your life and you won't regret it.
A sinner saved by God's Grace.
Jim from Michigan
We've seen a concerted effort to keep the poor from returning to New Orleans, where most have spent their entire lives, revealing some of the worst of what is wrong with our government and our class-based society. New Orleans today shines a spotlight on the sort of hate toward the poor that has been endemic to our government and our culture over the past quarter century, and this is truly a national disgrace.
I encourage and participate in prayers for the people of New Orleans, but please, please remember as well the others along the Gulf Coast, in Mississipi and Alabama. They suffered estruction which equalled that in New Orleans, destruction on a scale unimaginable to those who haven't been through it. Those people have been -- by comparison with New Orleans at least -- completely forgotten by the rest of the country.
Valerie -- apologies for leaving Alabama out -- I would better have just said "the Gulf Coast" and left it at that.
We've seen a concerted effort to keep the poor from returning to New Orleans, where most have spent their entire lives, revealing some of the worst of what is wrong with our government and our class-based society.
What happened in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is truly an Act of God and the consequences were tragic. As is bound to happen, some people responded heroically, others despicably. We have seen both despair and determination on the part of those affected; often in the same people. Prayer is needed. So are hands and money. I've talked up going down there but I have yet to hit the right note to inspire people to make it happen. Unfortunately, it appears I'll still have plenty of opportunity. I can't be too ashamed of my lack of leadership on this issue, since it seems all the elected ones have failed as well. Nobody's hands are clean on this one.
However, the above comment intrigues me. What is the evidence can you offer to support your statement that a "concerted effort to keep the poor from returning to New Orleans" is happening?
I don't know where the commenter came up with "concerted effort" comment either.
Clearly and honestly, the destruction occurred in some of the poorest neighborhoods of NO. We'll have to blame that on someone, but it is sophomoric to say that Ray Nagin and those around him are trying to keep out poor people.
Nagin is dependent on the votes of poor people and is certainly not deliberately keeping them out. Most of the efforts I have witnessed are centered in the Ninth Ward and other poor parishes where work is underway to fix things.
There is just sooo much to fix. People should be cautious throwing around stuff like "concerted effort to keep out poor people."
There is plenty to criticize and plenty of people to criticize, but that charge is bogus.
A sinner saved by God's Grace
Jim from Michigan
It stands to reason that the poorest people would be the hardest hit in such a disaster. Low-lying flood-prone land is the cheapest anywhere - Chicago as well as N.O. The cheapest land is bought by the poorest people. When this kind of flooding occurs, it is inevitable that the poorest people will be driven out. This has nothing to do with any kind of "concerted effort".
The question now is, what to do? It will cost a great deal of money now and forever more to create and maintain flood protection for land which is a) below sea level, b) continuously sinking up to an inch a year and c) sandwiched between the ocean and a huge fresh-water lake. Especially considering it's in a target area for hurricanes.
Trying to keep areas like the 9th Ward in N.O. from flooding brings to mind King Canute walking down to the sea shore and commanding the tide to roll back. Now, technology has improved since King Canute's day, but the amount of money required would be just fantastic.
Here in Illinois we have had towns that were washed away by Mississippi River flooding. The reponse has been simple; move the townspeople to somewhere that doesn't flood. In fact, the whole town was moved in a couple of instances. To think that we can successfully forever defy the forces of nature and protect areas such as the 9th Ward from flooding is hubris of the first order.
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