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  • Monday, October 03, 2005


    The Continuing Crisis in NOLA

    As my peripatetic and displaced family members from New Orleans view it from a distance and consider the pros and cons of returning, I've been reading some of the firsthand reports of the situation there.

    One one hand, there are the happy-happy "official" reports claiming improvement day by day and saying to residents "Y'all come on back, hear?" On the other hand, the tales of problems, hardship, and disease are still creeping out of the area. My sister and brother-in-law's house is not far from the address at the top of the quote below. The following comes from an October 3, 2005 New York Times piece.

    In Uptown, two of these markings festoon the porch at 4734 Laurel Street. One dates from early September (one body), the other from late September (no body), an inadequate account of why the house's owner, Alcede Jackson, lay dead for nearly two weeks before men in white protective suits finally came to collect his body on Sept. 12.

    The different-colored scribbles on a house nearby provide a dialogue between animal-rescue crews: dog in yard; dog given food and water; dog still here; dog "taken."

    Of course, virtually no one is here to read these markings. A visitor can drive for miles along dusty, mosquito-infested streets and not see a soul, especially through poor neighborhoods like Bywater and the Lower Ninth Ward. A war zone is not the proper analogy; something approaching Chernobyl is.

    Stop anywhere, and uneasiness takes hold. Pull into the parking lot of the Sarah T. Reed High School in New Orleans East, and park between the vandalized Ford Windstar and the vandalized Dodge pickup. That crackling beneath your feet is not autumn leaves, but hundreds and hundreds of dead perch. And those abandoned dogs racing toward you: they are not looking to be petted.

    The few people moving across this deserted stage have stories to tell.

    Here, leaning against an old car on Dauphine Street in Bywater: Dennis Landry, unshaven, and Donnalee Eyraud, in Winnie the Pooh sneakers, drinking in the unnatural evening quiet with whatever is in that cooler on the ground. They talk simultaneously to create a symphony of hardship: no power, cigarettes hard to come by, a days-old Times-Picayune cherished as though it were the Gospel, looters still lurking.

    "I'm telling you, I've been packing a gun in my pocket for a week," Mr. Landry said.

    "Not me," Ms. Eyraud said. "I have my machete. I'm not into guns."

    Here is a quick roundup of a few other things I've found. I'm not going provide links because I just want to summarize and I don't really feel like doing them. Much of this comes through a Live Journal (LJ) group called Poor Planning. I'm a little unclear about whether anyone not an LJ member can read the posts but I'm providing the link anyway. They have lots of links and reposted news items.
    Another excellent resource for information is which seems to either be run by the Times-Picayune (the New Orleans newspaper) or has business ties to it. They obviously have roots in the community and understand what's really going on.

    Enough for now. Do I sound a little angry? You betcha.

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