Archive for the ‘Katrina’ Category

Heritage Foundation & Solar Energy?

Weirdest email I’ve received all week (and I’ve already gotten some doozies):

Greetings and salutations!

I would like to let everyone know of our upcoming Permaculture Courses.

RiverSolar in cooperation with the Heritage Foundation is offering weekly courses in Permaculature and Design concepts. Core concepts will be provided in block format on Fridays from 12 – 2 PM beginning July 10, 2009 at the ArtEgg Building.

Students can choose to take one class or all leading to a Permaculture Design Certificate. Please contact Doris for enrollment information.

1001 So. Broad St. New Orleans, LA

Which sounds great except for the part about the HERITAGE FOUNDATION.

Seriously: THE Heritage Foundation? The same ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation that worshiped at the feet of Ronald Reagan? The same war-mongering Heritage Foundation that pushed heavily for the invasion of Iraq (and, less successfully, Iran)? The same Heritage Foundation that looked at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and found it a perfect example of the need for relaxed environmental regulations? That Heritage Foundation?

UPDATE: Of course it’s not that Heritage Foundation. As the friendly Alex just pointed out:

It’s actually the Heritage Foundation for Arts and Cultural Sustainability, which shares a space in the ArtEgg building, along with RiverSolar.

Which is great, but also a really unfortunate choice of names. Oh well: at least the world makes sense again.

Hello, and welcome to summer (a few days early)

Oh, summer. Full of strawberries and handkerchiefs and ceiling fans and these:

I hate to say it, but there’s something comforting about that image. Not the storm, obviously, but the graphic itself. For folks along the Gulf Coast, those particular shades of blue and green–garish and jarring–they’re the look of summer. From now through October, they’re what we see first thing in the morning and what we look at all day long. They’re like the curtains at your grandmother’s house: dated and kind of ugly, but pleasantly familiar.

Dude. Am I getting nostalgic about hurricanes? Holy crap.

Bhopal In The Making: Port of New Orleans Sets Itself (and New Orleans) Up for Disaster

Port of New Orleans sets itself (and New Orleans) up for disaster

It’s Monday morning, and the sun is shining, and the temperature is just right, and Spring is definitely in the air, so I hate to be that guy, but I really have to point out that New Orleans is about to get screwed. Again.

The backstory:

  • The Port of New Orleans is one of the largest ports in the country, and New Orleans Cold Storage (NOCS) is one of its biggest clients.

  • NOCS processes poultry for shipping. Recently deceased chickens are trucked to NOCS, where they’re frozen solid, loaded onto ships, and sent around the world.

  • NOCS used to have a facility on the Mississippi River, but that plant was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. For the past three and a half years, the company has been operating from temporary digs on the Industrial Canal.

  • NOCS needs a new home on the Mississippi River so that big ships can have easier, faster access to the plant than they currently do. The company’s former location is unusable, so the Port wants to custom-build a new facility for NOCS on a wharf adjacent to the French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.

PETA may take issue with the whole livestock thing, but for me and for most of my neighbors, that’s not the real concern. We understand the need for commerce and industry, so chicken processing is fine by us. Our problem is with the facility’s location. Here’s why:

  • NOCS uses large volumes of anhydrous ammonia to do its work–a dangerous, highly flammable chemical compound.

  • Housing such a dangerous, highly flammable chemical just steps from the historic French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny neighborhoods is reckless and shortsighted and shows complete disregard for the residents and businesses of the area–not to mention the millions of tourists who visit each year.

  • At the very least, the planned NOCS facility will generate loads of traffic (approximately 100 big-rigs per day) and interrupt important city- and state-sponsored urban renewal plans that focus on the riverfront.

  • At the very worst, the facility could present a massive safety hazard, complete with explosions, evacuations of homes and businesses within a three-mile radius, and untold damage to one of Louisiana’s most historically (and fiscally) significant sites.

Let me reiterate: it’s not the project that most of us find offensive, it’s the location. Is it in anyone’s best interests to put such a high-risk facility next to the state’s most notable tourist attraction? Right next to two of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the state? Jindal and others–particularly legislators and lobbyists from north Louisiana–keep pushing for the project, apparently having forgotten what happens when the goose that lays the golden egg (for Louisiana’s budget, anyway) gets dealt a nasty blow.

You wanna see something funny? Check the video that accompanies this story, wherein the Port’s CEO, Gary Lagrange, calls complaints like mine “hogwash”. Which makes me wonder, (a) don’t you have to be wearing a Colonel Sanders bowtie to use that kind of language, and (b) who’s put the gun in Gary’s back and said, “Get this done, or you’re toast!”?

You wanna see something not so funny? Check the following video about a similar processing plant in Arkansas that experienced an explosion and ammonia leak exactly one year ago today. Not only were the government and the factory owner, Cargill, forced to evacuate local residents, but the company chose not to rebuild and forfeited its multi-million dollar investment. (There are follow-up stories here and here; free registration required.) Or you could read all about a similar accident that hospitalized a dozen people just last week in Connecticut.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: This is not a done deal. The Port still needs massive allocations from the state if it’s to proceed with construction. However, it’s making headway, and chances are good that Lagrange & Co. will find the requisite cash unless pressure from the general public forces the state to reconsider.

If you live in New Orleans, please visit the Faubourg Marigny’s Stop Cold Storage website. The site’s still in development, but you can definitely sign a petition opposing the NOCS’s planned location. If you’re on Facebook, you can also join the “Stop Cold Storage Group“. And for free spirits who’d rather do things on their own, below you’ll find the email addys of city and state representatives; drop them a note and ask them to oppose funding for the project at the Governor Nicholls location–while there’s still time:

James Carter:
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell:
Arnie Fielkow:
Stacy Head:
Jackie Clarkson:
Mary Cunningham:
Shelly Midura:
Cynthia Willard-Lewis:
Rep. Juan Lafonta:
Rep. Charmaine Marchand:
Mike Moffitt, VCPORA:
Meg Lousteau, VCPORA:
Chris Bonura, Port of New Orleans:
Chris Costello, FMIA:

Thanks for bearing with me. I haven’t had an Erin Brockovich/Karen Silkwood moment in a long time.

Rebuilding Expectations

Was over at the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe library on Loyola’s campus the other day. They have the most kick ass magazine collection. And, I think, as long as you don’t cause a riot in there, you can just walk in and browse. I happened to be reading the Harper’s Index and found this little tidbit:

“Year by which New Orleans is expected to be rebuilt at the current pace: 2028.”

Wow. This info came from McKinsey & Co., but I wonder what standards they were comparing this to. If “rebuilt” means to the standard that the city was before Katrina, I think we’ve already hit that mark. Before Katrina I had to boil the water before drinking it, and a large portion of the buildings were vacant. Actually, now, there is a lot of stuff going on in terms of funding and help and that. You can get free health care here. You can get free mental. I think you can even get cheap dental. Art is everywhere. And, on any given day, you can probably find a free meal. It’s still hard to get housing, but that’s always been a wrangle here.

If we are talking about rebuilding to the standards of a World Class City like London or Paris (and I DO think that New Orleans is one of America’s World Class cities), then I think 2028 is just about right.

Jingle Bell Glock

Were you fool enough to ride out Katrina over by your mama’s house? After the storm, did the Boys in Blue putter by in a tricked-out swamp cruiser and declare that they would be better stewards of your Cadillac, your plasma TV, and your Remington 12-gauge? Well, Xmas has come early, kiddo: thanks to a new program overseen by the people who violated your Second Amendment rights in the first place, now you can get the 12-gauge back!

To retrieve your confiscated weapon, just read and follow the list of procedures below. Please note, however, that there’s no guarantee the NOPD has your firearm. (Sometimes they lose things. Nobody’s perfect!) But don’t let that stop you from saying a couple of quick novena’s to St. Jude and dropping by the Evidence Room. With a little luck and a little “palm grease”, you’ll be shooting yourself in the leg in no time!

Hurricane Katrina Firearms

City will return lawfully possessed firearms that came into possession of the New Orleans Police Department during the Hurricane Katrina period, August 29, 2005, to December 31, 2005.

Those who may have had a firearm turned into the New Orleans Police during the Hurricane Katrina and aftermath period, August 29 to December 31, 2005, may apply for its return.

New Orleans Police Department

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Office hours, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

1116 Magnolia Street, New Orleans, LA 70115

Complete this Firearm Release Form and submit in person to the New Orleans Police Department.

Firearm Release Form Directions/FAQ

  • This form only applies to firearms that came into the custody of the New Orleans Department during the period of Hurricane Katrina from August 29, 2005 to December 31, 2005.

  • There is no guarantee that we have your firearm!



  • The form must be submitted with all fields completed in order to identify the proper firearm.


  • The Form should be submitted in person to the New Orleans Police Department.

  • The Claimant is the firearm owner and the person who fills out the form.

  • Once NOPD receives the completed form which sets forth the specific identifying characteristics, a search for the firearm will be conducted.

  • If the search is successful, the Claimant will be asked to personally examine and verify ownership.

  • Only the Claimant may come in and inspect the firearm.

  • Proper identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID, will be required at the inspection.

  • The Claimant’s name will be run through a background check to determine if the Claimant is legally able to possess a firearm.

  • If it is determined that a particular firearm is in fact Claimant’s, the Claimant will be required to sign the Affidavit part at the bottom of the form at the Evidence Room.

  • The Claimant will also be required to complete a Release and Hold Harmless Agreement, agreeing to indemnify the City should a dispute arise as to the ownership of a firearm returned under these procedures.

  • This Release and Hold Harmless form must be signed in front of a Notary Public.

  • Once this release is returned by the Claimant to the Evidence Room, the firearm will be released to the Claimant.

  • Children should not be brought to the Evidence Room.

If there are any questions, please contact Sgt Robert Blanchard at (504) 658-5550

Note: This is only for lawfully possessed firearms for the applicable period, and does not apply to any firearm that is being held as evidence in a case or investigation.

–via the always unintentionally entertaining

More crap from the Times-Picayune

Bruce Alpert at the Picayune has written a completely speculative article (framed as “news”) about Obama’s plans to ignore Gulf Coast recovery. If you’re not up for reading the entire goddess-awful thing–and really, who could blame you?–Alpert basically says that Katrina won’t be on Obama’s list of priorities, then spends the bulk of the piece getting quotes from Bobby Jindal, Dollar Bill, Mary Landrieu, and our other hamstrung senator who’s been in hiding so long that I can’t even remember his name. Of course, there’s nothing from Obama at all, and the “writer” obviously didn’t bother to do much Googling, because if he had, he’d have stumbled across this:

As president, Barack Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Joe Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.

Barack Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina. Citing the Bush administration’s “unconscionable ineptitude” in responding to Hurricane Katrina, Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims. Obama visited thousands of Hurricane survivors in the Houston Convention Center and later took three more trips to the region. He worked with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to introduce legislation to address the immediate income, employment, business and housing needs of Gulf Coast communities.

As president, Barack Obama will partner with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild now, stronger than ever.

So where was that? On, the president-elect’s official transition website that outlines his incoming agenda. You know: the agenda the reporter was criticizing? Oops.

In light of all that, the Alpert kinda comes off like Dawn French in that skit where she plays the British royal “expert” who’s got zero insider info and is clearly a total hack. You know the one I mean. (I’d insert it here if the Metblogs backend weren’t so tight about such things. Snore.)

Now, just so we’re clear: I have no problem criticizing the president. In fact, we could and should have had a LOT more of that in the early days of W’s administration. (Remember back in 2001 how excited we were that Bush could form complete sentences? And how, after September 11, questioning him was made to seem unpatriotic–nay, an act of terrorism? Who was grilling the man then?) No one is perfect, and everyone should be held to task. Everyone.

That said, at least let the man take office before you start blaming him for his failure to undo all the crap that’s been left by the previous administration. In the meantime, maybe the Picayune should try its hand at reporting, say, news.

UPDATE: Obama’s agenda is down for revisions. Good news? Bad news? Killer bees nesting in the circuitry? The breath, she is bated.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: Obama’s agenda is back online, with the Katrina section intact.

Rollins: Potentially Bland Blather, But Uncut

Am I a total douchebag for being COMPLETELY uninterested in Henry Rollins’ special on IFC tonight? Here’s the description:

Three years after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, Henry Rollins ventures to New Orleans to examine the city’s current condition first hand. Avoiding the tourist center, Henry is overwhelmed by the lack of progress being made in the surrounding areas. In his search for answers, Henry instead discovers a fresh slate of devastating problems that now threatens this community post-Katrina. Even as tourism approaches pre-storm levels, tens of thousands of residents find themselves dealing with the depression of a city still living with the wreckage of the levee’s breach and now being victimized by a surge in violent crime.

In exclusive interviews with author Jed Horne (“Editor of leading New Orleans newspaper, “Times Picayune,” during Katrina”) and city officials like Cecile Tebo (Mental Crisis Coordinator, NO Police), and Jim Bernazanni (FBI), it becomes glaringly obvious that New Orleans still needs our help. Henry’s stage performance, at the legendary Tipitina’s music venue, is thus a tribute to the people of New Orleans who continue to persevere. Henry also has the opportunity to meet with music legend, Irma Thomas, the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” who explains how the music community has been affected and the role they continue to play in the aftermath.

So (a) it’s slightly old, and (b) feh.

FYI, this is one in a series of IFC docs that Mr. Rollins is doing–a series called Henry Rollins: Uncut. Which brings to mind a completely different image of the man. CAN WE PLEASE SEE THAT DOCUMENTARY PLEASE PLEASE?

There’s a party in Nagin’s mouth, and we’re all invited! (To cringe!)

Great: first comes insult, and now, injury:

Blakely gave an interview last week to The Times-Picayune in which he said he needed to talk with his wife and with the mayor about whether to stay for a third year in New Orleans. Since then, Blakely has alternately called the newspaper story a “false report” and reiterated his intentions to consider his options.

Yesterday, the mayor made his first public comments on the subject, telling television reporters that he thinks Blakely will stay, but confirming that he’d have to discuss it with his aide in December.

Nagin tried to dismiss Blakely’s interview with The Times-Picayune by saying, “I think a reporter sat him down after he had a couple bottles of wine, he got a little too relaxed and started talking about how homesick he was….”

“He has done, in my opinion, a lot of great work. I don’t think this recovery would be where it is today without his great work.”

–more from the fucktard at

So not only is Nagin doing that thing again–you know, where he talks out his ass?–but he’s trying to convince his Partner in Asshattery to stick around and screw us over for another couple of years. Neat.

Frankly, I think the happy couple ought to take a pied-a-terre in the Pontalba and invite fellow whackjob Chris Rose over for a few more bottles of hooch. Who knows where things might go–though, in my dreams, all three wake up naked and spent on an iceberg north of the Artic Circle. Maybe Ms. Palin would rescue them and put them to work on her 2012 presidential campaign? Adorbs.

UPDATE: Bitch cannot seem to make up his mind.

Inside New Orleans High

Teacher Julie Murphy advising Keitron durning lunch

This week, I got sent a preview of “Inside New Orleans High,” a National Geographic Channel documentary that premieres on the channel this Sunday.

[The program] chronicles the stories of students at Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans. The majority of the Cohen students are Katrina refugees, bused from other areas because no other schools could take them. And, as in many American teenagers’ lives, school is only part of the story. More money is spent on security than books, and violent gangs often dominate the school. With inner-city unemployment and infant mortality rates higher than those of some developing countries, in many households, drug and alcohol abuse are the norm.

I must admit that, having been inundated with stories of hurricane woe for the six weeks I’ve been here, I am suffering greatly from Katrina fatigue. I was not looking forward to watching this program. But, here’s the thing: the program is not about Katrina. It’s about the everyday struggle of three teens to make a better world for themselves. It’s about how many Americans living in inner-city America are living in the third world. It’s about how the America Dream is not accessible to every one of us. It’s reality and not some Joe-the-Plumber dream world that the politicians and the media are trying to sell you.

This program wasn’t some big bitch-fest about how the system sucks and the city sucks and the government sucks. It highlighted the near-impossible struggle that some American teens have to better themselves. The educators in the program were portrayed in a very favorable light. They were not willing to give up on these kids, despite their lives being threatened, despite the kids giving up on themselves, despite the violence that plagued the school on a daily basis.

With the election looming, I’m thinking a lot about the American Dream. I’m thinking that maybe a couple of Senators should take a year off and teach in one of these inner city schools. I’m thinking if they did that, then maybe they would start thinking that the 10 billion dollars a month we spend in Iraq to make those people free might be better spent making our own people free.

Stepping off the soap box now.

“Inside New Orleans High” premiers on National Geographic Channel Sunday, October 26 at 10PM ET/PT

More tempest re: Tempest in Crescent City

Another developer for Tempest in Crescent City has written me. He did so in confidence, so I don’t feel comfortable posting his email, but here’s my response–slightly redacted–which pretty well sums up my feelings at this point:

Thanks for the note. I’m happy to hear that you spoke to a New Orleanian about the project…. And rest assured, I didn’t dismiss your project simply because it’s a game. Obviously, I’m a pretty avid gamer myself–otherwise, I never would’ve stumbled across the link at

Here’s my problem: I don’t believe you’ve fully and honestly addressed the “shock” factor of Tempest. You could’ve focused the plot on any number of disaster scenarios, real or imagined: fires in the Southwest, tornadoes in the Midwest, an earthquake in San Francisco, etc. I’m guessing you chose Hurricane Katrina because it’s known to students and because it’s emotionally and politically charged.

Which is fine, but many New Orleanians–myself included–are tired of Katrina being used to foment race/class conflict and for other political ends. We just want our city, homes, lives back. You’ve appropriated the disaster for your own purposes, with little obvious benefit to the people who’ve actually suffered from the disaster. (FYI, if you were intending to use it to ease the stress of school children in New Orleans, you’re probably a couple of years too late.)

I hate to sound essentialist or parochial, but here’s the fact of the matter: for the past three years or so, we’ve had non-locals giving us advice–mostly unsolicited. What we’re doing wrong. What we ought to be doing. How we ought to feel. They don’t speak with us so much as at us. Their hearts may be in the right place, but their words are often patronizing and very, very offensive. Whether you like it or not, your team and this game have fallen into exactly the same trap.

So my suggestion to you–and can take it for what it’s worth, but bear in mind, I have the pleasure of negotiating these issues every day–is don’t worry about the New Orleans market, because you’re probably pretty doomed on that front. If nothing else, your identity as a non-New Orleanian–to say nothing of your race/class identity, about which I know nothing (beyond a pretty accurate Google Image search)–will prevent you from being taken seriously by many here. Although a lot of people have moved on from the disaster, Katrina is still a HIGHLY volatile issue, and the mere fact that you’ve made it a game will render it offensive to most. Add to that the fact that you’ve done little on-the-ground outreach here in New Orleans, and you sink another few inches.

I don’t speak for all New Orleanians. I can only guess at what they’d say. But based on my experience of the city and its communities and outreach efforts and everything else, I can pretty much guarantee that the cards are stacked against you.

Your target demo, as I’ve said, may be more comfortable with the game, but if I were you, I’d use this for the kids in your own neighborhood who aren’t weighed down by the baggage of homes, lives, and family members lost to a sudden, violent, unstoppable meteorological event–one that, given climate trends, is likely to re-occur any summer now.

Am I way off base?

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