Today is the 2-year remembrance (I started to say anniversary but somehow that word doesn’t seem quite correct) of Hurricane Katrina’s attack on America’s Gulf Coast and in particular the damage it caused for the city of New Orleans. Easily one of the most tragic events of this nations history and an undoubtedly scarring event for our generation. The post below was written by one of my best friends, Tino Pasquier. He lived through the storm and remains in the area so his viewpoint is highly valued. Thank You.
2 years and counting: New Orleans Post-Katrina Challenges
By: Tino Pasquier
This week America will once again be reminded of that fateful August 29th when everything changed down in a place known as the “Big Easy.” However, as a resident of New Orleans, things have not been so easy even two years after Hurricane Katrina struck the city. Quite frankly, it’s near depressing. That’s the feeling one would feel after watching the city’s local evening news. Two years later, it is even more evident that New Orleans still needs a lot of work. I’m not writing this blog from an outsider’s perspective or a so called “expert” being interviewed on CNN. I’d also like to add that you are not getting this viewpoint from a die-hard New Orleans native. Honestly, I’m someone who moved here just one month prior to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the city. Regardless of my ties to the city, I still get asked the ageless question like many New Orleans residents: Why are you living there?
Can one be honestly surprised at those outside of the city for asking this simple question? I’m not, especially not after hearing a guest speaker from Nebraska (of all places) this past month during a work seminar. The speaker sarcastically threw the city under the bus for its numerous problems from crime to crooked politicians. At one point he even started to compare “fraud risk” for a company to the probability of getting mugged in the city’s French Quarter district. As this man continued to dog the city, I found myself asking…Is this what the rest of America thinks about New Orleans?
Regardless, the most important question facing the city two years after Katrina is whether the current residents of New Orleans will stick around to help rebuild the city. With a population of just over 200,000 (just about a third of the pre-Katrina population) it seems every day we are given a reason not to stay. Whether it’s front cover TIME articles discussing the bleak future of the city’s levee protection system or the staggering rise of crime crippling the city’s already tarnished image of being the murder capital of America. It seems the city of New Orleans just can’t catch a break. Just recently, one of the city’s most trusted councilmen, Oliver Thomas, was found to be involved in a huge bribery and corruption scandal. Moreover, the city’s embattled but re-elected mayor Ray Nagin can’t escape criticism these days either. Most folks have become so disillusioned with the mayor’s efforts to clean up the city that they have nicknamed him “Ray Nay-Gone”, a reference to the perception of the mayor never being around to address the huge problems of the city.
So once again this week the national spotlight will flash on America’s most unique city probably just for one quick segment on a news network. At that brief moment, those of you living outside of New Orleans will wonder how we residents are doing down here. In the end what gets us through the day is one word, faith. One thing that I’ve learned living down here is that New Orleanians love their city. They believe things will get better…they have to. As we approach the peak of Hurricane season, public officials will keep pointing the finger at one another for the many failures that plague the city. However, New Orleanians will keep their fingers crossed once again hoping that another hurricane will not happen for a long time.