Archive for the ‘Katrina’ Category

Dear Media Idiots: Hurricane Isaac Is Not Hurricane Katrina

Let’s get one thing clear: Hurricane Isaac — or, at the moment, Tropical Storm Isaac — is not Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina was a monster, scaling the heights of the Saffir-Simpson scale to become a rare Category 5.

Katrina was also huge. At one point, she covered almost the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Worse, Katrina arrived in the middle of a relentless hurricane season — one that produced so many storms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ran out of names for them and had to start using Greek letters.

In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, our nerves were shot. By the end of August 2005, we felt like we were swimming in a shark tank, with paper cuts etched across our ankles. (Don’t ask me how the cuts got there, just go with the metaphor.)

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Much Of America Still Hates Louisiana (And Our Congressional Delegation Isn’t Helping)

Many of us bitch and moan about the commenters on NOLA.com. To the site’s credit, it’s doing a better job of moderating these days, but it’s still pretty easy to find racist, homophobic, inflammatory remarks lurking below the fold. I mean, I’m not asking anyone to curtail her right to free speech — if you want to expose yourself as a bigoted asshat, that’s your prerogative — but for Pete’s sake, STAY ON TOPIC.

More troubling than the folks at NOLA.com, though, are the people who comment on New Orleans stories found elsewhere on the web. This piece on CNN.com about the marsh fires generated some fairly representative remarks. For example:

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Hurricane Katrina, Or, Enough Already, Lady

Six years after the fact, you’d think that most of us in New Orleans would be tired of talking about Hurricane Katrina.

We are.

That’s not to say that everything’s as it was. That’s not to say that everyone has come home. And that’s certainly not to say that people, communities, and the city we call home haven’t been deeply, deeply scarred by a particularly forceful force of nature.

And yet, we don’t want to talk about it. I certainly don’t. None of my friends talk about it. My family doesn’t. In fact, the only time it comes up in conversation is when I’m out of town, and someone finds out that I’m from New Orleans — as happened while I was paying a visit to my birth mother, Callie, this past weekend.

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Hurricane Irene: Be Prepared (And Please Don’t Blame The Gays)

Since New Orleans isn’t directly in the path of Hurricane Irene, I haven’t heard as much discussion about the storm and all that she threatens to disrupt as I normally would. But of course, Irene is likely to cause a lot of damage, and at the very least, she’ll put a serious damper on people’s weekend plans along the East Coast.

One of the biggest disruptions is undoubtedly the official dedication of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, which is scheduled to begin on Sunday at 11am — almost exactly the time at which Irene will be giving D.C. her most powerful stink-eye. It looks as if the storm will be downgraded to a category 2 by then, but that’s more than enough to flood roadways, knock out power, and force cancellation of all outdoor events.

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WTF, Spongebob? Jazzland/Six Flags Needs Another Buyer

Two years ago — nearly two years ago to the day — a certain cueball-headed mayor of New Orleans announced that Jazzland/Six Flags was coming back. The theme park where so many of my friends had worked before the storm, performing to crowds of dozens (on a good day), has done nothing but gather mold since Hurricane Katrina swamped it. Which wasn’t hard to do, since the whole thing was built on a swamp anyway.

But I digress.

On August 19, 2009, Nagin stood for a photo op with Spongebob Squarepants and announced that Nickelodeon would be redeveloping Six Flags. But like a good souffle, the deal didn’t keep, and now the city is looking for a new partner to rescue the property.  If you’re the sort of person with a dream in your pocket and several million dollars in a Swiss bank account, you have until October 10 to submit your proposal.

My personal take? There are certain parts of New Orleans that are perfectly fine for habitation and others that should return to their natural state. There were some contentious discussions about which neighborhoods fit into those two categories after the storm, but I don’t think anyone would complain if Mitch Landrieu ripped Jazzland off the map and signed the deed over to Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.

“Exhilarating and frightening to behold”

curtis-architecture-new-orleans-wide

I’m not sure where I found this article about New Orleans’ rebuilding process — probably via Gambit or from my pal Tyler. But no matter: it’s a beautifully written piece. Here’s an excerpt:

Four years after Katrina, the rebuilding of New Orleans is not proceeding the way anyone envisioned, nor with the expected cast of characters. (If I may emphasize: Brad Pitt is the city’s most innovative and ambitious housing developer.) But it’s hard to say what people were expecting, given the magnitude of the disaster and the hopes raised in the weeks immediately following. Seventeen days after the storm, President George W. Bush stood in Jackson Square and promised: “We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.”

The terms we, as long as it takes, and help turned out to be fairly elastic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency shuttered its long-term recovery office about six months later, after a squabble with the city over who would pay for the planning process. Since then, depending on whom you talk to, government at all levels has been passive and slow-moving at best, or belligerent and actively harmful at worst. Mayor Ray Nagin occasionally surfaces to advertise a big new scheme (a jazz park, a theater district), about which no one ever hears again. A new 20-year master plan and comprehensive zoning ordinance was being ironed out early this summer, but it remains subject to city-council approval. A post-Katrina master plan has been under discussion since before the floodwaters were pumped out.

In the absence of strong central leadership, the rebuilding has atomized into a series of independent neighborhood projects. And this has turned New Orleans—moist, hot, with a fecund substrate that seems to allow almost anything to propagate—into something of a petri dish for ideas about housing and urban life. An assortment of foundations, church groups, academics, corporate titans, Hollywood celebrities, young people with big ideas, and architects on a mission have been working independently to rebuild the city’s neighborhoods, all wholly unconcerned about the missing master plan. It’s at once exhilarating and frightening to behold.

“If you look at the way ants behave when they’re gathering food, it looks like the stupidest, most irrational thing you’ve ever seen—they’re zigzagging all over the place, they’re bumping into other ants. You think, ‘What a mess! This is never going to amount to anything,’” says Michael Mehaffy, the head of the Sustasis Foundation, which studies urban life and sustainability and has worked with neighborhood organizations here. “So it’s easy to look at New Orleans at the grassroots level and wonder, What’s going on here?’ But if you step back and look at the big picture, in fact it’s the most efficient pattern possible, because all those random activities actually create a very efficient sort of discovery process.”

–full article at TheAtlantic.com

Open mouth, insert foot

America's most ignorant man

I haven’t been paying attention to the wonderful Mayor of New Orleans lately mainly because he has become irrelevant. No one pays attention to him locally because he is a buffoon. Actually he is the leader of the buffoon’s. Now that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been screwing things up, saying dumb things or attempting to hide his corrupted ways but I just haven’t had the energy to care for the last year.

My ears did perk up last week though when it was announced, 1 hour before he boarded a plane to Cuba, that he was going to Cuba, along with other politicians (all of them of the worthless variety of course) and other in the loop business people, to learn about Hurricane Evacuation techniques from the Communist regime in Cuba. You are reading that right. The Mayor of a major American city flew to Cuba to learn what a police state government does when a Hurricane approaches.

Well it seems that the Mayor of New Orleans learned more than any of us thought was possible. Or maybe he didn’t. In a statement to the Associated Press correspondent in Havana, the Mayor of New Orleans praised Cuban leaders for “knowing their citizens at a very very detailed level,block by block.” Really Mayor of New Orleans? Please tell me why you think that is the case. Is it because that government is so concerned about their safety? Or did you think it’s possible that the Cuban leadership knows so much about it’s citizens on a very detailed level because they keep those citizens on a tight leash and possibly watch every move they make or do not make?

This isn’t the first time that the Mayor of New Orleans has gone to a country with a history of repression. Last year the Mayor of New Orleans traveled to China and stated that he “didn’t see a communist country. There are Chinese people there making serious money.”

I am all for safety. I am all for people evacuating in the face of a hurricane approaching New Orleans. Evacuations in Cuba basically go this way. Get on the bus or you will be shot.  Seeing how this still is America Mr Mayor of New Orleans, I will pass on the “Cuban Evacuation Plan”, thank you very much.

The Criminals and the Crime Cameras

If only the crime cameras had been focused on THIS guy

Jury selection started this past Monday in the civil trial that alleges the City of New Orleans Technology Office basically stole other companies ideas and then tried to sell them to other cities as their own technology. The guy to your left is former technology chief Greg Meffert. During the 2006 mayoral campaign, the radio station met a man named Grant Holcumb. This was maybe 5 months after Hurricane Katrina and the issue of interoperability in communications was a major issue and topic of discussion. Mr. Holcumb had developed a system that basically would have allowed all types of different communication systems to operate openly during times of emergency. I’m not attempting to re-hash old news, just point out that Mr. Holcumb basically accused Greg Meffert of squashing the program because the city had existing deals with Microsoft, which would not have benefited from the open system Mr Holcumb had developed.

Mayor Nagin has touted the current “crime camera” program over and over again as a way to assist the NOPD with not only getting a handle on crime in so-called hot spots throughout the city but also help the police and DA’s office solve crimes. The initial plan was for 1000 cameras throughout the city. Then it became 240 cameras at a proposed cost of 2.6 million. Which wasn’t the case. The IG’s office released a report that stated the city at that point had paid 6.6 million out for far less than 240 cameras. As we have found out recently as well, the cameras that have been installed rarely work because of networking and other issues. It is also my understanding that not one city owned crime camera has lead to a arrest of a suspected criminal of any kind. Privately owned surveillance cameras have given the police more leads than the city owned and installed for 6.6 million dollar cameras have.

The Mayor’s Technology office has been under fire frankly since the interoperability issue came to light. Focus on that office seemed to grow after then local Homeland Security director Col. Terry Ebert stated that he thought the system Mr Holcumb had developed would have worked during Hurricane Katrina and “helped save lives.” The Mayors office didn’t allow any more interviews from Col Ebert after that one. Shocking huh?

The civil suit is just the beginning with the Mayor’s Office of Technology. The Feds are all over that joint like white on rice. Trips paid for by companies receiving city contracts through that office, companies owned by the “Director’s” of the office doing business with basically the office and budgets they controlled. This is the tip of the iceberg with these folks and I would be willing to bet everything I own that some folks who worked or ran that particular city agency will end up in jail for a long time. If only the crime cameras had been working and recording the criminals who were charged with installing the crime camera network.

Dubai on the bayou

Half of me thinks this is crazy. Another half of me thinks it’s nice that someone’s envisioned New Orleans’ architectural landscape in a wacko, high-on-life, rich-from-petroleum, bring-on-the-Bangladeshi-slave-girls kind of way. And a third, nonexistent half of me thinks that the residents of One River Place are probably already pissed that someone bothered to imagine this Tron-style tenement (click through for video):

noah1

Rebuilding New Orleans is an ongoing effort and pitching into the concept-zone is the New Orleans Arcology Habitat or NOAH. Since the details on this structure are in-depth and plenty, lets plunge into them right away. NOAH proposes to be a habitat for 40,000 residents who can benefit from the planned residential units, school system, commercial, retail, hotels, casinos, parking, and public works facilities.

NOAH is based upon the following preliminary program outline.

1. Residential Units / Rental and Condominium; 20,000 units @ average 1100 Sq ft
2. Three Hotels; Average 200 rooms plus associated services
3. Time Share Units; 1500 units @ average 1100 sq ft
4. Three Casino Facilities
5. Commercial Space / Rental and Condominiums; 500,000 sq ft
6. Commercial Space / Retail; 500,000 sq ft
7. Parking Garage / within foundation; 8,000 cars
8. Cultural Facilities; 100,000 sq ft
9. Public Works; 50,000 sq ft / includes storage
10. District School System; 100,000 sq ft
11. District Administrative Office; 50,000 sq ft
12. District Health Care Facility; 20,000 sq ft

Estimated Total Square Footage : 30 million

Location/Site Specific: In reviewing all the options and possible sites for NOAH, the most logical location is on the Mississippi riverfront and adjacent to the Central Business District.

Oh: and it goes on.

Good news for New Orleanians (maybe)

Apparently, New Orleans City Business covered this Cold Storage story last week, although they’ve just posted an update on their WordPress (freebie WordPress!?!) blog. Keeping up with the Joneses, the Picayune has now pubbed an article of its own:

Facing mounting opposition to the construction of a poultry exporting operation at the foot of the French Market, the Port of New Orleans is looking for a new home for New Orleans Cold Storage.Port administrators are asking tenants along the Mississippi River if they could make room on their property for the company, which the port fears will leave New Orleans without a new headquarters. New Orleans Cold Storage is the port’s second-largest customer.

“They’ve made it very clear that they’re going to continue to oppose this, and we’re going to see what the other alternatives are,” port spokesman Chris Bonura said of residents in the French Quarter, Marigny and Bywater. Signs emblazoned with the message ‘Poison Port’ can be seen posted throughout the neighborhoods.

There are no guarantees that the port will find another home for New Orleans Cold Storage, Bonura said, and the company may very well end up on the Gov. Nicholls Street and Esplanade Avenue wharves as planned.

But the fact that the port is even considering a new home for the company represents an aboutface for the agency, which just a few months ago said that the wharves near the French Quarter were the only option for New Orleans Cold Storage.

NOLA.com

But really, who cares who ran the story first? We’re close, y’all! Not out of the woods, but, you know, cross those fingers.

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