People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

People get ready!

Posted by schroeder915 on November 27, 2005

Meet the Press today spent not more than 3 minutes in passing today talking about New Orleans. The consensus among the panel of journalists was that New Orleans has already been forgotten by the nation, that it’s lamentable, and that there’s no money to rebuild the city with $200 billion spent in Iraq already, and President Bush’s campaign to cut taxes for the wealthy again his top budget priority.

I’m sick of it! People: It’s redemption time!

It’s time for the people of this nation to redeem their obligation to their fellow citizens of the Gulf Coast. It’s time for the people of this nation to come together to combat the lies and promises of a President and a Congress that, once the camera lights dimmed, turned their backs on a city with the most unique and most historic cultural character, turned their backs on a region that supplies nearly 20 percent of the nation’s oil, 30 percent of its natural gas, and as much as 25 percent of its seafood. It’s time for all Americans to remember their moral duty to hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans who remain exiled from their homes, most of them jobless, many with absolutely no resources to restart their lives.

I am in a rage! I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe that Americans would allow this to happen. I can’t believe that New Orleans will become nothing more than a strip of land along the river, with scattered little shanty towns where people wager their homes and livelihoods against another disaster, and the whole city at risk of being completely destroyed in the inevitable direct hit Category 5 storm, after the busiest and most powerful hurricane season on record showed us its fury, and with many more future hurricane seasons anticipated to be just as active.

I’ve said it before in this forum many times, and I’m not the only one saying it. A chorus is shouting it. It’s the new gospel: People will NOT return to this city, businesses will NOT return to this city, if there is NO commitment to fortify storm protection and rebuild the city. We need a rock solid, gold standard guarantee to:

1) Promise that the New Orleans area will never, ever, flood again by committing NOW to building Category 5 storm protection.

2) Help rebuild people’s homes and businesses in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast.

I know that these issues are on the lips of every person who lives here. It’s been 3 months. Nothing is happening. We need action on these issues immediately. Every day that passes, another family decides not to return, and another business shuts its doors or relocates.

I don’t know what it will take to get Americans to listen, and to force the President and Congress to make good on their promises and their obligations to this region, but I think we need to make ourselves and our concerns heard by the rest of the nation. We’re past the point of just writing letters. We need to make ourselves more visible and amplify our voices by joining together and staging a massive demonstration.

Who among you are sick of the failed leadership? Who among you are tired of the lies and empty promises? Who among you are ready to stand up and be counted?

I propose a demonstration — maybe a march from Jackson Square to one of the breached levees, or a mock secession in Jackson Square, or the longest jazz funeral march in history, carrying a coffin for the city.

What will it take? Where is the resolve? Who will join? How soon can we act?

Let’s move forward.

People! Get ready!

Update:

The Washington Post printed an opinion piece today written by the editor of The Times-Picayune, Jim Amoss.

I know that most people who read People Get Ready must think I’m a raving lunatic. They wouldn’t be mistaken. The reality is, we’re all raving lunatics here, impatiently waiting for the federal government to say the words we need to hear.

Amoss pleads, “Do Not Forsake Us”:

At the site of the worst urban disaster in American history, we are a city obsessed. Rebuilding New Orleans is our breakfast-table conversation, our lunchtime chatter, our pillow talk. But while we talk, we also wait. …

We are waiting for Congress and the federal government to decide that New Orleans deserves strong levees — stronger than the sorry system, designed and built by the Army Corps of Engineers, that collapsed, wrecking our neighborhoods. We want word from Washington that a great American city will not be left to die.

Amoss describes what the city looks like, naming the very street I live on as the dividing line between light and dark:

New Orleans has become two cities — an enclave of survivors clustered along the Mississippi River’s crescent and a vast and sprawling shadow city where the water stood, devoid of power and people.

The ancient heart — the French Quarter and Uptown — is throbbing with commerce and signs of life from the hardiest returnees. But cross Freret Street, and you enter a dim realm. …

The vastness of this destruction is almost impossible to fathom.

Amoss ends with the New Orleans mantra:

Without a substantial levee system, homeowners won’t muster the confidence to rebuild, and businesses will not see fit to invest.

President Bush was still smarting from the embarrassing federal response to Katrina when he stood in the heart of our city and made his promise to rebuild. It would be a greater embarrassment to an entire nation if that promise went unfulfilled.

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