Archive for November, 2005

That’ll be $300 billion dollars, please.

The time for excuses and foot dragging on the part of the federal government has passed. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the tremendous loss of property and displacement of the citizenry of New Orleans was not the result of a mere natural disaster.

Using data about the soil along the 17th Street Canal — data obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, data that was used to design the levees along the 17th Street Canal — and plugging that data into engineering equations used to determine whether a wall is strong enough to withstand the force of rising water, Team Louisiana found that sheet piling driven to the depths indicated on the Corps’ plans for the levee would not resist 14 ft. of water, but would fail at 11 to 12 ft. of water. Further, they determined that the sheet piling was not driven to the design depth of 17.5 feet, but that it was driven to only 10 ft.

Investigators have been puzzled by the corps’ design since it was made public in news reports. They said it was obvious the weak soils in the former swampland upon which the canal and levee were built clearly called for sheet piles driven much deeper than the canal bottom. It was not a challenging engineering problem, investigators said.

Prochaska said a rule of thumb is that the length of sheet piling below a canal bottom should be two to three times longer than the length extending above the canal bottom.

“That’s if you have uniform soils, and we certainly don’t have that in the New Orleans area,” he said. “It kind of boggles the mind that they missed this, because it’s so basic, and there were so many qualified engineers working on this.”

WHAT THE FUCK?!?

First, they develop a design that is fundamentally and obviously flawed. Second, they fail to even implement the flawed design to spec. Third, the flaw is so obvious that at least two engineering firms and two divisions of the Corps of Engineers (a minimum of 4 points of review) missed it.

Call me a radical, I suppose, but I think someone has a lot of ‘splaining to do. And I think that the federal government has a lot of money to shell out: to homeowners, business owners, residents, and yes, even to insurance companies. Because this disaster was incredibly unnatural and very preventable. It shouldn’t matter whether anyone in the area affected by the 17th Street Canal levee had flood insurance or not, because their damages were the result of negligence by multiple government agencies and multiple independent engineering firms.

Congress needs to get off their bribe-fattened asses and pony up the cash, pronto.

Lakeside is no place for laughing, comrade!

For Frank Evans, designer of Lakeside Shopping Center’s holiday display, getting into the spirit of the season this year meant building a Christmas village that riffed on the post-Katrina landscape.

He created a winter wonderland replete not only with churchgoers and trains, but also abandoned refrigerators, houses covered in blue tarpaulins and a storm victim suspended from a helicopter.

Shoppers paused to enjoy the tongue-in-cheek cheer. Some of them did, anyway.

Evans, a landscape architect who has crafted the display for 13 years, removed some of the 2005 features Tuesday on orders from mall management, which said some patrons failed to see the joke. Tricia Thriffiley, Lakeside’s marketing director, issued a statement saying that the mall did not “conceive or install” the decorations and did not intend to “hurt anyone’s feelings.”

NOLA.com

Yes, New Orleanians have been through a lot in the past few months: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Despite that, we’d be well advised to rediscover our collective sense of humor–and fast–unless we wanna spend our remaining years downing wee fistfuls of Prozac, Paxil, and Wellbutrin.

Luckily, a friend of the Minx managed to snap a few pics at Lakeside before the priggish powers-that-be took down the aforementioned display:

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Portal to Permit Hell

If you are dreading the trip to city hall to apply for construction permits, you should know you can apply online. I tried it, it costs $50.00, the database is hard to search but don’t give up. I had luck with searching Gov. Nicholls only as “gov nicholls”. Even then the database still had the previous owners as the current owner. We bought the property in May. At least I didn’t have to battle for a parking spot and didn’t have to put up with being yelled at by a bitter city employee.

https://secure.cityofno.com/portal.aspx?portal=37&tabid=15

Official End of Hurricane Season

Just to remind you, the end of hurricane special on the Weather Channel will be airing some stories regarding the rebuilding going on in New Orleans throughout the day today, Wednesday, Nov.30th.
In case you want to look for your neighborhood and friends.. .Treme, Gentilly and Lakeview. Germaine Bazzle starts at 10:30 am. Her story is repeated again in the evening too.

This Week, I’m an Electrician!

For those of us in this city with flooded houses, there are a lot of difficult decisions being made. The first of which was the eternal

Thanks Mr Nagin

I have to say thank you to our Mayor, C Ray Nagin. Living in the French Quarter, ak- after Katrina, I have been helping myself to internet service for free with no idea who I was stealing it from. I kept waiting for the Internet Police to come bust down the door, handcuff me and lock me away with those poor souls who insist on strealing Cable TV. My guilt and shame have been removed by our fearless leader today though. Free Internet Service to all in the Quarter and the CBD is the city governments newest battle cry to return the city to prosperity. It was officially announced today that the city of New Orleans will be offering free wireless internet access to the entire city within a year. Now I’m not sure how those wonderful ladies who man the phones at Cox Cable will feel about this, but I for one think its a great idea, and trust me when I tell you that the service has been outstanding! And did I mention it’s FREE? No matter what you think of C Ray, how can this really be a bad thing unless your a internet provider? And with the issues Cox, BellSouth and the other service providers are having, it’s a sign that C Ray is still about bringing business back to the area. I feel like a 5 year old in a candy store.

On the same subject, kinda- I see where many people compare the job Mayor Nagin did after Katrina with the job that Rudy Guliani did in New York City after 9/11. Folks if your not on the ground here you just don’t get it but I will try and give you an example. The World Trade Center area’s devastation was about the size of the French Quarter. Now think, the Quarter and Uptown were really the only area’s in New Orleans not completly destroyed. If the flooding that took place was confined only to the Quarter and C Ray couldn’t handle that, then I would be all over him. It’s the exact opposite though. Imagine if in NYC the only area that was okay after 9/11 was the WTC. Does anyone really think that Guliani or any mayor for that matter would have been able to get control of things? If you do please pass that pipe your smoking cause I need some of that. Badly.

Deal with it, baby

It’s only Tuesday and it’s already been One Of Dem Weeks. Between more water incursion at the business (thanks to a combination of weekend rain and having only a partial roof), the usual glacial progress of various gubmint agencies and bad news about repair to the building (my landlord still has heard nothing from his insurance folks), I find myself, well, in the same situation as 85% of this city.

It’s the little jealousies — some neighbors have a FEMA trailer and you don’t, some businesses are operating near-normally and yours can’t, some have received insurance checks and you haven’t — that are starting to get to us. What started as An Adventure in the Post-K world is now simply Getting Old. And on top of it, many of the breaks we’ve been granted (delayed mortgage payments, for instance) are about to end. I have no problem with that, since life goes on at all different levels.

But what exasperates me most is pretty much summed up in the first half of this column in this morning’s paper. Nearly everyplace New Orleanians turn these days, we’re being hit with this increasingly noisy Greek chorus of folks saying, “get over it. It’s only a hurricane. Florida gets them every year. Stop whining.”

To paraphrase a line from a few political seasons ago — it’s the flood, stupid. If you want hurricane damage, and lots of it, head east of here about an hour, over to Mississippi. That’s what a hurricane and storm surge does. Here in New Orleans, we’ve had a FLOOD — as in Johnstown, except, for the first time, in a major American city. And until you come down here and see what it has created, you really have no freaking clue. You can’t find pictures or accounts of something like it, you can’t compare it to anything that’s happened in Pakistan or someplace else in the world and, most of all, you can’t pontificate about what we ought to be doing or should have done — because it has never happened before.

This doesn’t make our situation any more or less tragic and difficult and this is not to say we are more worthy of help than anyone else in the wake of a natural calamity. if anything, we have more empathy than ever when tornadoes strike the Midwest, with a hurricane hits Florida or when other such events occur. We wit’ ya, babygirl. But here we are, three months to the day after Hurricane Katrina arrived, and (except for high water) nearly the entire scope and breadth of the initial damage remains. And they’re still pulling bodies out of homes.

Many people have selflessly helped and continue to do so every day. We’re deeply grateful. But please understand the situation we find ourselves in these days is as unique as our culture, our food, our history, our music, our architecture and our neighborhoods. We’re slowly bringing all of these back and trying to fix what was wrong before Katrina arrived. Negativity is the last thing we need.

Buy New Orleans for Christmas

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I’m officially old.

Back in my clove-smoking days, sticking it to The Man was part of my daily routine. Whether the issue was queer rights, animal rights, or abortion rights, a day wasn’t complete without a heaping helping of good old fashioned activism.

Not so much anymore. Maybe I’ve gotten smarter (doubtful) or more jaded (probable) or maybe I’ve just morphed into The Man myself (though I still have lots of baby fat). Whatever the case, I’m way more skeptical of fresh-faced idealism these days and far more prone toward pragmatism–so much so that I’ve come very near to slicing the throats of more than a few Zendik Farm hippies hawking their crummy magazine in Jackson Square.

The most recent case in point: last week’s mildly infamous Buy Nothing Day and the upcoming Buy Nothing Christmas. Both were conceived by the folks over at AdBusters.org as a way to stem the tide of conspicuous consumerism–which is fine, I guess, except that (a) that consumerism fuels our ailing economy, and (b) while such consumerism does have some ill effects on the environment, its worst offense is that it’s tacky, which is hardly a cause to get behind. I mean, Elsa Klensch might start a campaign to stomp out white shoes after Labor Day, but how many people are gonna stand with her?

Anyway, several weeks ago I wrote a letter to the folks at AdBusters. Basically, I said, “Hey, I get what you’re trying to do here, but what if, just for this one year, you changed things up? What if this year you made the events into ‘Buy New Orleans Day’ and ‘Buy New Orleans for Christmas’? Not only would it generate some kickin’ press for you, but there are plenty of local businesses who could use the help. Most of the places that have re-opened are the small places, not the big, national chains, so you’d be directly supporting our economy–and, in turn, our schools, our police and fire departments, and the city’s recovery in general. C’mon, how about it?”

You know, of course, what I got from them.

Bupkus. Not a form letter, not an “undeliverable email” notification, nothing.

While that’s probably typical for activist sites, where you’ve got jillions of nutjobs like moi writing in every day, part of me likes to think AdBusters hasn’t responded because they don’t have anything to say, no viable counter-argument. I mean, how could you argue against helping one of America’s most beloved cities get back on its feet?

If you’re listening, AdBusters–and I seriously doubt you are, but what the hey?–wake up and smell the coffee (which was probably routed through, roasted in, and shipped from New Orleans). If you’re really committed to improving life on Planet Earth, maybe you should spend a little less time pushing anti-capitalist merchandise in your online shop (I’m not the only one who sees the irony in that, right?) and do something that stands at least a slim chance of making a difference.

Fishing unaffected, guides not so lucky

Mike and dad fished the bottom all day while Tom and I stuck with shrimp under corks; each group caught about the same number and variety of fish.Fishing has been largely unaffected by the Katrina and Rita storm surges. If anything, the two surges have improved the trout season. Guide Bill Lake, of Houma, is says, “I stay pretty busy in the winter months, but this year I have been inundated with calls from the east and west of us. All their infrastructure was wiped out. The fish are there, but there are no boat docks, no motels and most of the guide services were wiped out. There are probably 250 guides in Louisiana out of work right now.

Insurance and Adjustment

Last night we met a nice adjuster from State Farm, a good old boy from Texas. He gave us a little free advice regarding our insurance issues and then proceeded to tell us what our core sociological dilemmas are in the city.

Good old boy from Texas said he was sorry he hadn

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