Bullet Proof Soul

As I walked out of Canal Place after last night’s showing of Capote, a friend remarked, “It’s been seven months since Katrina hit. Two days after that, this mall was on fire and being looted. And here we are walking out of it like nothing happened.” Such is an example of statements from The Sliver. While the rest of the city struggles back from destruction, a small part of it lives on.

This reminded me of Kuwait and the last home I never saw again after the Iraqis invaded in the late summer of 1990. In the last week of February, as we celebrated the first Mardi Gras in a shocked, awed and rejuvenating city, Kuwait marked 15 years of freedom from Iraqi occupation. Fifteen years later, the marks of invasion, destruction and violation still scar the landscape of that small Arabian nation. A lot of people like us left, some returned and a new generation of Kuwaitis and immigrants appeared to fill our voids. Life went and goes on. Mines have been completely removed from all the beaches and parks. Hospitals, schools, mosques, soccer stadiums and other buildings have been rebuilt, while some have been razed to the ground, like the one I was born in. Parks and malls have been restored and people walk, shop, eat, laugh and live in spaces that were once deserted, burned and scary. Universities were revamped like never before and more women than men make up the student population. Kuwaiti women now have the vote. Life got better for some.

As I fell asleep last night, these thoughts gave me some hope for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. And then, this morning’s paper said that the cost of fixing the levees has doubled.

[Donald Powell, the federal coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding] … did not commit to a financing source or whether the administration would seek the traditional 35 percent local share for the work. He said that “will be part of the deliberations” in coming weeks … Some of those who attended the meeting said they believe, based on information they received from Powell, that the final total could be even higher.

Powell also told the officials that the Bush administration believes the release of flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, eagerly awaited by residents and businesses deciding whether they can rebuild their properties, requires authorization that the levee restoration work will in fact go forward.

Do you know why life went on in Kuwait? Despite that they are extremely rich, the government made a promise to restore the country to its former glory, no matter the cost. We, too, have the money to take care of our nation – we can’t be poor or wealthy as and when it suits us. Rich enough to tackle this, but too impoverished or tight-fisted to address this? Our priorities are misbegotten.

With the levee restoration cost doubling or even tripling, non-renewal of home insurance policies, the increase of the Orleans Parish millage (property tax) rate by approximately $10 per $1000 of assessed value and CH2M Hill and some contractors royally screwing the area, I WONDER.

I wonder what the hell this means, “Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.”

I wonder what New Orleans will be like in fifteen years.

Until then, I need a bullet proof soul.

3 Comments so far

  1. Laurie (unregistered) on March 30th, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

    This’s gonna’ sound drastic.

    What if Louisiana sued the Federal Government for screwing us over?

    Then, the entire general public can see what goes down

    here and who’s causing it all.


  2. Marco (unregistered) on March 30th, 2006 @ 8:05 pm

    I’m not a New Orleanian. But it doesn’t really matter, when you look at it all. We’ve visited NO once, but it has stayed in our souls. The City and its People. I tend to get melancholy for what once was. I know that it will never will the same, but is anything? I trust that the essential soul of the city will remain. How couldn’t it? The mouth of the river makes it so.
    The people must come together. Fuck the politicians. The people have to do it block by block. It’s easy for me to say up in cold upstate NY. I don’t know what is to lose everything. One can only offer the hope and creative spirit that has sustained mankind from his inception.

  3. Laurie (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

    Has any one else had it with the PR on this board?

    They can put up a thread and say to cheque

    this out instead they block us out!


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