David Rae had a number of hurricane Katrina-related photographs selected for the Acadiana Center for the Arts' recent Southern Open 2007 exhibit, and he asked me to pick up and hold onto a few of his photos when the exhibit ended. Can't make it to Lafayette to get the pictures right now, he said. He was going to be traveling and working in Mississippi, but he'd be back for the anniversary.
His shorthand description has stayed with me. No need to mention the name or date of the event that killed 1,800 people, drove more than 200,000 people from their homes and irrevocably changed Louisiana forever. If you were affected, the anniversary is understood.
Unfortunately ' no, tragically ' it's a travesty how many people both outside and inside our state don't understand the real reasons why New Orleans was devastated on Aug. 29, and how their uninformed viewpoints have devolved into talking points that continue to chip away at Louisiana's recovery efforts.
It all started with former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's ridiculous comment that it didn't make sense to him to spend billions of dollars rebuilding New Orleans since the city was below sea level. Hastert backtracked, of course, but the damage was done. That opinion still gets trotted out two years later on television talk shows and in letters to the editor across the country, often presented as a civil, measured, even logical argument. It's now a springboard for additional, equally insidious assertions: Why should U.S. taxpayers give money to a local and state government known for its corruption? After all, President George W. Bush has authorized $110 billion in recovery funds, and it's Louisiana's fault that the state doesn't have a recovery plan.
Pardon my French, but that's a load of merde.
A recent study by Tulane University notes that 51 percent of New Orleans is at or above sea level. And New Orleans was devastated because the levees designed and built by the federal government and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ' levees constructed so the rest of America could access the rich oil reserves that supply 30 percent of our nation's energy ' failed in the most horrific way possible. But instead of honoring his pledge to "do what it takes" and "stay as long as it takes" to help the Gulf Coast recover, the Bush administration still refuses to commit to Category 5 levee protection for the Crescent City, claiming it's too expensive.
Meanwhile, the price tag for the war in Iraq is now estimated at $1 trillion.
Yes, New Orleans has serious problems with its crime rate, leadership and education system. And New Orleans Councilman Oliver Thomas' recent guilty plea to corruption charges and Mayor Ray Nagin's beyond-idiotic statement that the high murder rate is a double-edged sword because it "keeps the New Orleans brand out there" are not helping the city's image or its recovery.
But that is no reason to let the callous, uninformed naysayers spout their nonsense about our state's recovery. Left unchecked, it spreads like a virus and inhibits the ability to see all the positive things ' especially the tireless activism and inspiring devotion to the rich cultural traditions of the Cresent City. Relentless negativity dishonors every honest, hard-working person, family and volunteer who spends their waking hours trying to rebuild one of America's greatest cities.
And what about Buras, Port Sulphur, Chalmette, Arabi, Meraux, Violet and every other community that was devastated by the storm? Like the victims of Hurricane Rita a month later, these towns and regions find themselves overshadowed by the lightning rod of New Orleans, but their struggle is no less painful, difficult or important.
As Louisiana faces continued challenges in our recovery, the anniversary is also a time to remember Acadiana's incredible response to Katrina. In the aftermath of the storm, countless volunteers' actions at the Cajundome and the relief and sheltering efforts from local nonprofits, churches, schools and businesses provided hope when it was in short supply. Despite immense hardships, our region sent a message that we can face this crisis together. Two years later, we cannot let that unity fade, and must stand together as one and continue to hold our leaders accountable as we rebuild our cities, homes and lives.
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.