Picture this: You fly into an airport, expecting the usual airport business: long lines, long waits, expensive cabs. And naturally, you encounter all of this, but you notice a bit of a difference: There’s Dixieland Jazz playing over the intercom, people are standing in line for Jester Express and Popeye’s instead of Wendy’s and Burger King, and people are savoring cigarettes and beer on old wooden bars-and you haven’t even left the airport! These are signs that you’re in New Orleans, quite possibly the greatest city in America (and the city where I was born, although I was raised in Mexico City).
Unfortunately, the great city of New Orleans received the beatdown of all beatdowns, courtesy of Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to Katrina, entire neighborhoods that were once worth centuries of history and human interest were drowned in a lake of putrid gunk for weeks, and once the water was pumped out, all that was left was a ghastly reminder of what used to stand in the 9th Ward (hint: people used to live there).
Following the Katrina tragedy, different people took different approaches. Many businesses in the French Quarter resumed operations as soon as the rain stopped falling-they were on top of things during a time when FEMA was having trouble pulling it’s head from its behind. At the same time, idiots like Dennis Hastert advocated bulldozing the city, even though Mr. Hastert has probably never been either to the city (at least not according to his bio) or through a major hurricane (again, check his bio: www.house.gov/hastert/bio.shtml).
Hastert obviously has no idea what’s going on, but that’s (sort of. maybe) understandable, as he’s a politician (and a Republican politician, at that). However, what I’ve found particularly disturbing was the opinions of several Floridians as to the damage New Orleans has received from Katrina. These opinions are usually along the lines of “Give me a break!” and “We get hurricanes all the time, you guys can rebuild like we have!” Unfortunately, these people don’t realize the scope and intensity of the damage New Orleans received-to describe the devastated areas of Lakeview and the Lower 9th Ward as “war zones” is a verygrave understatement.
Fortunately, people have started operating tours of the destruction. Of course, some may consider such ventures morbid, even more so if one profits from it. However, I believe more people should see the sheer devastation in New Orleans, the devastation you’ll never see on CNN or FAUX News. so they’ll not only count their own blessings, but also contribute to the efforts to bless those who’ve lost everything. Also, the fee paid for said tours means more money to the city, a city whose economy desperately needs a jump-start. Hopefully, these ventures will pump enough money into the city to make it operational enough to host Mardi Gras next year (which will bring even more money into the city).
But even then might not be enough to not only rebuild the city, but prevent future storms from wrecking it again-it will take a concerted effort from not only private enterprise, but from government at the local, state and federal level, to prevent another Katrina.
We almost lost the greatest city in America-let us not come so close to losing her again.
Jay Rooney is a junior majoring in journalism and history. He can be contacted at email@example.com.