Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hurriane Katrina News

Hurricane Katrina News

This looks ike a good clearinghouse site for recovery news, launched in time for the anniversary. It's put together by Joshua Clark, author of the Katrina memoir Heart Like Water -- who incidentally is giving a talk about his book at Author's Night at Hubbell Library tonight.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Katrina Index, Special Anniversary Edition

Well, this is interesting. It specifically mentions the library.

I wonder what it says about murders?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Happy Talk in the Ruins

I've noticed lately, since I've been back, that a lot of the Nolablogers that I read regularly are angry. Really angry. They have just had it with the crime, the incompetence, with the pumps that don't work, with the Corpse, the Road Home to Nowhere, Hizzoner C. Ray, Gov. Maw Maw, Dr. Flakely, the Recovery School District, the lameitude of the Picayune, just the whole stinking pile of hot bayou mess that is "the recovery."

And who can blame them? It is a mess. These things are bad. It is not going as well as it should. I don't blame them.

But for myself, I am coming from a different place. I just got back to town after two years away. And I feel good.

My husband and I are very happy. We are living together again, in our old stomping ground, the uptown Magazine Street corridor, where I have lived since high school. We are happy to have our old jobs back, more or less. I feel quite fortunate to have had gradaute school to keep my mind and spirit busy in the painful post-K years, and then to have the job I have, helping the recovery with a library in the flooded neighborhoods. My husband sings in the car on the way to work.

And speaking as someone who has spent the better part of the time away, who only came home to gut my house or visit family, I can say, things are better. Things are way better. Hey, the streetlights are working! The water is running! (In most places.) Magazine Street is open! Many beloved businesses are operating again. Vegetation is blooming. Rebuilding and recovery is all but complete in some neighborhoods, booming in others. In Mid-City, where my library branch is, it seems like every house is being renovated. People are even rebuilding in the Lower Nine. The search tags are painted over.

I've been away, so I see it with fresh eyes. But for those who have been here for the last two years, I know how hard it seems, how far there is to go. It just grinds you down, living in the recovery, the constant parade of bad news. I've seen it in my own family. Last year I had to have my Mom come and spend part of August in Baton Rouge, just to get away, because the one-year anniversary had brought her so low.

I'm sure I'll get there myself at some point.

But thst's the nature of the beast. Recovery. A long, grueling process. I remember hearing around the anniversary last year that people were still living in tent cities in Kobe, Japan five years after the big earthquake there.

It's a long grueling process. So if some people are angry and burned out, it's OK to step away for a while. I want to say to any of my fellow bloggers and citizens, that if you need to stop blogging for a while, or take a less demanding, more lucrative job, or go on vacation, or move to the Northshore, it's OK. I'm here. Other newbs are here. We can take up the fight. New people are moving into the city all the time -- I see it every day at my library. College students, Teach for America teachers, young professionals. I've heard several stories of volunteers who came down to help with cleanup, and loved New Orleans so much, they moved here. An amazing development. New people who are optimistic and ready to put their shoulders to the wheel.

This long haul is a relay race. No one has to do it alone. And I'm ready for my leg.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Other Side of the Camera

I feel so strange watching the news coverage of this bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Because I know what it's like now, to be on the other side of that news camera. To be in the midst of a huge disaster. The confusion, the terror, the despair.

In the first couple days after Katrina, the aftermath, I couldn't stand the thought of people in the rest of the country just sitting on their couches, watching CNN, thinking, Wow, huge disaster. Like it was just a TV show. It made me sick.

And now here I am, sitting on my couch, thinking, Wow, huge disaster. I feel so guilty.