Mayor: New Orleans will seek aid from other nations

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Mayor: New Orleans will seek aid from other nations

Postby nomo » Tue Feb 07, 2006 5:37 pm

Mayor: New Orleans will seek aid from other nations<br>06 Feb 2006 21:30:00 GMT<br>Source: Reuters<br>By Michael Depp<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N03281051.htm">www.alertnet.org/thenews/...281051.htm</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>NEW ORLEANS, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Shortcomings in aid from the U.S. government are making New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin look to other nations for help in rebuilding his hurricane-damaged city.<br><br>Nagin, who has hosted a steady stream of foreign dignitaries since Hurricane Katrina hit in late August, says he may seek international assistance because U.S. aid has not been sufficient to get the city back on its feet.<br><br>"I know we had a little disappointment earlier with some signals we're getting from Washington but the international community may be able to fill the gap," Nagin said when a delegation of French government and business officials passed through on Friday to explore potential business partnerships.<br><br>Jordan's King Abdullah also visited New Orleans on Friday and Nagin said he would encourage foreign interests to help redevelop some of the areas hardest hit by the storm.<br><br>"France can take Treme. The king of Jordan can take the Lower Ninth Ward," he said, referring to two of the city's neighborhoods.<br><br>Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,300 people in Louisiana and Mississippi.<br><br>The Bush administration has pledged billions of dollars to Katrina victims but five months after the storm, New Orleans remains largely in ruins.<br><br>Nagin said his message to President George W. Bush would be that the federal government needs to refocus on the devastated area.<br><br>"We need your undivided attention over the next six months," he said. "We need backup. We need for you to make the words that you spoke in Jackson Square a reality."<br><br>Nagin was referring to the president's Sept. 15 address to the nation from New Orleans, in which he pledged "we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes" to rebuild.<br><br>French Transport Minister Dominique Perben, leading the French delegation to a city that was founded by France in 1718, said, "This catastrophe has deeply upset the French people and the French government."<br><br>France, Perben said through a translator, "wants to be a long-term partner for Louisiana and New Orleans." <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Mayor: New Orleans will seek aid from other nations

Postby nomo » Tue Feb 07, 2006 5:44 pm

<!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>An update from a friend of a friend who lives down there:<br></em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END--><br><br>Dear friends,<br><br>Many of you email or call, wanting to know what it's like living in New<br> Orleans these days. Sometimes I muster a few paragraphs and comments,<br>but the situation here is so overwhelming, that I usually just shy away<br>from responding with any depth. Today, five months after the hurricane<br>hit and the levees broke, I'll try to update you.<br><br>Big picture in New Orleans: 3 out of 4 people lost<br>everything….house, contents, probably a car, possibly a job. Imagine<br>what that is like. If you were a family of four, and three of you lost<br>your homes and all your worldly possessions, it would be a mammoth<br>blow. It also puts a great strain on the one person left standing.<br>That is our city now. Three fourths of the residents have been<br>displaced. We had 470,000 people on August 29, and five months later,<br>we have around 110,000. About three fourths of the city is<br>uninhabitable. There are miles and miles and miles of houses, shops,<br>fire stations, schools, hospitals, playgrounds….gray, smelly, moldy,<br>destroyed. There are mounds of debris…soggy couches, sheet rock,<br>bicycles, clothes, appliances, mattresses…piled up and strewn about in<br>all of those desolate neighborhoods. Some of those areas are in poor<br>parts of town, some are in elegant lakefront areas. The bulk are in<br>working class and middle class neighborhoods…the places where people<br>paid taxes and had lived for several generations.<br><br>Loss is the overarching fact of life here. Katrina was a huge storm,<br>and vast parts of the region suffered terrible wind and rain damage.<br>But the breaches in the Army Corps of Engineers-built levees are what<br>did the real damage to 75% of the city. The critical distinction in<br>how individuals fared in the storm is whether they had flood, or just<br>wind, damage. Those of us who live on high ground….along the naturally<br>high ridges of land where the city was originally developed in the<br>1700's and 1800's…only had wind damage from the hurricane. We live in<br>what's called "the sliver by the river", and we are the lucky. For us<br>personally, we have about $55,000 worth of wind damage, and are making<br>some headway in getting the broken windows and missing roof tiles and<br>caved in ceilings fixed. In fact, we should be almost back to where we<br>were pre-K by Mardi Gras, February 28.<br><br>Daily life in our little bubble of normalcy is not too bad much of the<br>time. Many grocery stores are now open, though lines are long and<br>supplies are somewhat scarce. Traffic is astoundingly clogged. The<br>city is crawling with thousands of pickup trucks filled with Mexican<br>workers and ladders. Fewer than half of the stop lights are working,<br>so there are stop signs resting on street corners everywhere. Traffic<br>accidents are common, but you better hope you don't get hurt. There<br>are just 120 hospital beds in the entire city! Only one full service<br>hospital, one children's hospital, and a makeshift emergency room in a<br>tent downtown. The hospital where Larry and our children were born,<br>and where all our doctors were, flooded 14 feet and cannot be<br>salvaged. It will be imploded this spring, and hopefully a new<br>hospital will be built in its stead someday.<br><br>The 911 emergency service is severely compromised; the police and fire<br>departments are understaffed. Our neighbor had a kitchen fire and 911<br>never answered. We now have a cell phone number posted in the kitchen<br>for the nearest temporary fire station should we ever need it. In<br>addition to inadequate essential services like police, fire, medical<br>care, garbage pickup, telephone service, street lights in inhabited<br>neighborhoods, even mail service (we now get mail delivered five days a<br>week, but no magazines or newspapers. There are still not enough mail<br>carriers to support the few neighborhoods that are getting home<br>delivery…in other parts of town, people have to go to a regional post<br>office station to pick up their mail), the most critical problem is the<br>lack of housing.<br><br>Very few of the flooded houses have been repaired enough to live in<br>yet. Some folks are able to live on the second floors of their homes,<br>above the gutted-to-the-studs first floors.<br>So thousands of people are still living out of town, or bunking with<br>relatives or friends…<br>five months later. (My friend Hortencia has been living with her<br>husband and 16 year old daughter in a married daughter's small<br>house…staying in one bedroom that the rest of the family has to walk<br>through to use the bathroom, since October, with no hope of moving in<br>the foreseeable future. Like thousands of others, she is awaiting a<br>FEMA trailer.) Apartments are scarce, with long waiting lists. Since<br>only 25 % of the city stayed dry, and much of that still has wind<br>damage, the housing shortage is extreme.<br><br>FEMA trailers are beyond scarce. It is disgraceful. Fewer than 10% of<br>the needed FEMA trailers are operational. Some people have room in<br>their driveways or yards to park the trailers and want to live in them<br>while they rebuild their decimated homes. Others are looking to live<br>in FEMA trailer clusters of several hundred so they can return to the<br>city. One reason the city cannot get functioning is that there are no<br>places for people to live. There are not enough workers to staff gas<br>stations or grocery stores, restaurants or dry cleaners, doctors<br>offices, and on and on and on.<br><br>So. Daily life for those 25% of New Orleanians blessed enough not to<br>have flooded, is far from normal. We do not put on blinders and hide<br>in our bubble. There is too much pain all around. The sadness is<br>palpable. Much like during the Depression, the movie theaters are<br>jammed (despite long lines with the shortage of ticket takers or<br>popcorn sellers) and lots of people have taken up jogging and yoga and<br>any other physical diversion they can manage.<br><br>And for the 75% still displaced, still homeless, still wondering when<br>and how they can ever return home…I cannot even imagine. When they<br>visit their old neighborhoods and see the ruins, it must seem a<br>hopeless future indeed. For all New Orleanians, spells of weepiness at<br>unexpected times are common…the slightest remark or sight or smell can<br>trigger a wave of despondency. And no one will wonder why you are<br>crying; we all have our moments.<br><br>Enough of the gloomy. What of the future? Why do we live amidst this<br>despair and desolation? For us there was no question of moving. Larry<br>has a business here with 42 employees, so he can provide jobs, and<br>health insurance and stability for a group. His business is solid, and<br>he is a lifelong local who has always been an advocate for the city.<br>And me, I'm alongside Larry. I cook comforting foods and there are<br>friends around the kitchen table several nights a week. We have folks<br>staying with us often, and I am repairing our house. I thought I was<br>easing on into a lazy life in Pass Christian, but Katrina changed<br>that. So, I am a civic activist again. Some days I weed and plant in<br>the botanical gardens of our suffering City Park. Lately, I've been<br>training as a volunteer lobbyist and will spend much of Feb 6-18 in<br>Baton Rouge, lobbying our state legislature to pass levee board and<br>levee district consolidation.<br><br>This has been a fascinating side effect of the storm…citizen<br>involvement in government reform. Our grassroots levee reform group<br>got 54,000 signatures on petitions statewide and the issue is agenda<br>item #1 in this special session of the legislature. "United we stand,<br>divided we flood." There is another group of young women I play tennis<br>with who have started the Katrina Krewe. Every Wednesday and Saturday<br>mornings, they gather volunteers (240 of them last Saturday) on a<br>different street and collect and bag debris. This is not candy wrapper<br>and beer can litter, this is heavy duty storm debris…roof shingles,<br>hubcaps, tarps, boots, paint cans, sheet metal, whatever. The city<br>sends a garbage truck and street cleaning machine out behind them and<br>it's astounding what a sensational job these folks are doing cleaning<br>up the city. Concerned citizens are engaged across the city. Those of<br>us who are here are the hard core committed.<br><br>There are so many opportunities in this crisis to change our community<br>for the better. For us to build decent low income housing, to overhaul<br>our miserable public education system, to consolidate our assessors and<br>dock boards, our criminal and civil courts, to reform our notoriously<br>corrupt government. And the great thing is that people truly are<br>involved. We have a mayoral and city council election April 22nd, and<br>issues of reform, race, and rebuilding are the hot topics.<br><br>Our son James is in southern California, where he will get his master's<br>in sports management next month and then look for work out there. Our<br>younger boy Brittin jumped into storm recovery work just weeks after<br>Katrina. He spent six weeks doing debris removal on the Mississippi<br>Gulf Coast, and for the past few months has been supervising a crew of<br>30 men rebuilding the largest employer in Plaquemines Parish, the<br>Daybreak fish processing plant. His clothes smell remarkably bad, but<br>he's out the door at 6 every morning, making money and accomplishing<br>work that needs to be done.<br><br>I hope this hasn't seemed too discouraging or too down. We are truly<br>among the blessed and know it. But it's somehow important to let you<br>know that life is not normal, even for those of us who whose homes were<br>relatively unscathed. Our community is torn apart and our neighbors<br>are in pain. We probably all wish we could wake up to discover this<br>was all an incredibly bad dream, and that we can have our pre-Katrina<br>lives back. Despite all the anguish, though, we do have remarkable<br>opportunities to remake our city, especially its school system and<br>governance.<br><br>I'll write again in a few weeks to try to justify why we are having<br>Mardi Gras. It was a tough sell to me, but I'm now agreeing that we<br>need to celebrate our uniqueness, and since it's going to happen<br>anyway, we may as well be on board. But I also hope I'll be able to<br>report on a wonderful project some friends and I are working on in a<br>new charter school…horticulture, nutrition, science.<br><br>Again, this is clearly not a situation anyone would have wished for,<br>but it is what it is. So we put one foot in front of the other. As<br>Winston Churchill said, "When you're going through hell, keep going."<br><br>Love to you all…and keep New Orleans in your thoughts, and in front of<br>your congressmen's thoughts too.<br><br>Karin <p></p><i></i>
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