Michael Barnett, the computer network administrator who barricaded himself in the central business district after the storm, has returned to New Orleans.
After his first week back, Barnett was extremely pessimistic about the city's condition:
It has been a week now, and I've had a chance to drive all around the city. All I can say is that this place is broken down. Crushed. Demolished. It is a moral lapse of the first order for politicians to keep telling people to come back. I am going to take some flack for telling the truth, but since that's what this blog is for, that's what I'm going to do. New Orleans is a wasteland. Sure, there are a lot of contractors out there trying to clean up, but it's barely making a dent.
Maybe we should take Barnette's heart-felt lamentations with some leavening. What is he talking about? Is this, horrible as it is, worse than the firebombing of Dresden, in terms of total devastation, or worse than the Nazi bombing of London? They recovered very well.
No. New Orleans will rise again, surely. I think Barnette was emotionally overwhelmed by what he saw. That's understandable.
If you know New Orleans, you know it has ancient magic. 'New Orleans' transcends the limitations of physical disaster, and it will rise again, like the 'Phoenix'-- reborn as something even better. As the wise Man said, "Be honest to yourselves, brothers and sisters, let me tell you now."
New Orleans is a jewel of the world. I want it to come back. I'm a singer. I sing what I feel. I hate to say it. My singing is full of pain. But the audience likes the expression, and shows its appreciation. That's why I do it. They hear me.
New Orleans has always been such a rich cultural stew. It's one of my favorite cities in the world, notice I use the present tense.
Talking about Frankie's, the food of New Orleans is one of the greatest things about it, and I believe that the very strength of it is the will of the people to eat good food. Do you relly think Cajuns will put up with tasteless food?
I don't think so.
NOLA is pure hedonistic heat, at least it was. What's so bad about that? If God was trying to send some kind of message, why were the abominations spared, huh?
What is he talking about? Is this, horrible as it is, worse than the firebombing of Dresden, in terms of total devastation
Reply to Alex:
Check out the movie Slaughterhouse-Five, from the book by Kurt Vonnegut. A man tells his story of how he became unstuck in time and abducted by aliens. Not trying to be smart, it actually applies, in a weird way.
What I want to know is, have the lessons from this disaster been learned, or will the same thing happen all over again somewhere else, or even God forbid, in NO again?
Question- came across your website when searching for information on Microsoft Bob. I have an older copy of Bob for windows 95 - anyway i can get it to run on my new computer?
I was in NOLA for a week in mid-Nov doing relief work (gutting flood damaged houses for free). The situation there is bad, much worse than the mayor is making it out to be. 40% of the city has no electricity, the electric utility is bankrupt and even recently doubling the number of repair crews only brings them up to 200 repair crews on the job), huge parts of the city will be uninhabitable for years, and to top it off, we now find that the govt is rejecting rebuilding loans for most (82%) of nearly 300,000 gulf coast homeowners who have applied so far?
As bad as Dresden? No.
But we don't exactly have a Marshal plan in place to rebuild the Gulf and NOLA either.
The mayor is understandably desparate to lure residents and businesses back but from what I saw, most of the damaged areas of the city won't be habitable for another 6-12 months at best. And if you want to be safe, you'll wait until the canals are either shut off or the levees rebuilt properly to withstand at least a cat 3 before going back to the damaged areas. That is 1-2 huricane seasons down the road, barring another direct hit next year before they're fixed.
Should we continue to help and do our best? You bet. But let's not let the the NOLA mayoral sugar coating confuse us.
As Rogers knows I live in Baton Rouge and my wife's two sisters lived in New Orleans. I went to Lakeview for the first time yesterday. If you head west on Canal Blvd. from downtown New Orleans in a little less than five miles you'll be in Lakeview. This is a middle to uppermiddle class neighborhood where both of my sisters-in-law lived.
I am not going to bore you with details of how their houses were destroyed and how places where I have spent Christmas and other holidays have no windows or doors and sport watermarks about ten feet high. What was amazing wasn't that houses were off their slabs. It was to see an entire section of town where every single house was destroyed. I mean every single house, one after the other for blocks and blocks and blocks. Since I only had thoughts of this being a thriving, fun place to visit with quaint neighborhood bars, restarants and grocery stores, this image just didn't register - it was like a movie set.