Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life in New Orleans.... Almost 7 Months Later

Well, here we are - I can't believe it, almost 7 months after the storm hit. It doesn't look much better than it did 4 months after the storm. I just wanted to write a bit about it to give people who aren't here a better perspective about what is going on- not just what you see on CNN.

I have to admit that not much has changed here, except for the fact that more stores have opened- not a lot more-- mostly restaurants and some gas stations that have come back to life on Carrolton and Claiborne. A few months ago- there really wasn't any life on either of these streets but its good to see some businesses back up and running as these streets were both badly flooded.

So here is the low down (these are pretty accurate but by the time this is posted, all of this may be wrong):
- MAYOR'S RACE: There are 23 candidates running for Mayor. I take that back - 22- now that one (a woman, some city official)- don't know her name- got arrested. Hold your comments to the end.
- MARDI GRAS: It rolled and all things considered- it went pretty well. Attendance was 350K (not sure where the News got this figure), compared to the normal 1 million visitors. We can't pick up the debris and trash from the hurricane but we'll throw the biggest party we can! The city paid for it as streets are still trashed (weeks later) from the parades.
- BUSINESS AS USUAL? More places have opened that the community is in dire need of and there has been a major shortage since the storm- gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies. However, the lines are still long and you do have to mentally prepare yourself to go to any of those places. I was at the Walgreens on Tchoupitoulous yesterday and it took 50 minutes to get a prescription filled.
- STAY OR GO? It seems that in the last month, more and more people have decided to move away. After the storm, obviously a lot of people didn't return- or came back to get stuff and then left again. Then the population stabilized and went up after Christmas- most families returning after their kids finished the semester out, Tulane, Loyola and the other colleges returning, etc... I think everyone who was really, really trying to give it a shot are just at their wits end. It took 2 days at City Hall and my experiences there to realize just how bad things are here and how many people are displaced. I was only a very small percentage of those who actually lived there at City Hall. The rest of the folks used to live here, and are just back to settle up their property, etc... Because there are a shortage of City Hall workers, they never answer their phones- shoot, you barely get helped going there in person. So many people had traveled here great distances just to get their situations settled.
- JAZZ FEST, ETC: Jazz Fest is going to happen and their line-up rocks. If its one thing this city won't stop doing- it's partying. It's held at the Fair Grounds, which was badly damaged and the stages, etc... will be the same but they won't have the VIP areas, the musician clinics and talks- anything that was in the actual club house area because of the damage from the storm. The Fest has new sponsors like American Express, Shell Oil, etc.. so we have support from big companies to throw it. Everyone you talked to is much more excited about this than Mardi Gras and I hope to be here when it happens. FYI- French Quarter Fest, CCC 10K, etc.. are still on too!
- LEE CIRCLE: ... is not like you remember. Because there are so many people here trying to get work - mostly gutting houses, construction work, etc..- they all gather around Lee Circle in the morning and you can see them between 7 and 8am. Because most of them are illegally here, they go to the circle every day and contractors, etc... yell from their windows-- I need 3!-- and people just flock to their cars looking for work. There are literally hundreds of them and along with them, there are ladies selling home made meals, coffee out of their cars, etc...
- LEVEES FIXED? Nope. And hurricane season starts in a few months... and even if they did finish then, we only have enough money to build them back to category 3 levees... and we need 5!

These are just a few things.... but I thought I would post some thoughts while they were on my mind. I really do hope for the best for New Orleans.... I love it so much and will be sad to go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Riza,
Your commentary is awesome! My family members are saying the exact same thing that you are expressing about the process, the shortages, etc. When I saw Lakeview on the news, I thought of you, Rose and Connie. You and your family and all of my fellow New Orleanians are constantly in my prayers. Sadly, a vast majority of the world has moved on to business as usual;however, there are many, such as myself, who have rich hertiage there and are still praying and supporting our friends & families.

I am planning to attend Jazz Fest in 2006 (my birthday weekend..)

I truly believe in New Orleans and believe it will come back. You are 100% correct, it will not be the same... The culture and heritage is beening flush out, more & more by the slow processes which you mentioned. They aren't giving peple who want to stay enough support. My family owned & operated a renowned meat market, next to the Circle food store, Bachmin's Meat Market. My family's famous creole hot sausge has sold for over 50 years. After Katrina, my uncle decided to close it down. He purchased a new home in Texas and has retired our heritage creole hot sausage! Wow... and that's only a sliver of our missing heritage & culture.

When you get to LA and settle in you, Rose and the family must come out to visit with me in Palm Springs. There isn't many diving opportunities here in the desert, but you will love the natural mineral spring spas, the hiking and Big Ben is right around the corner!

You all will love Cali... The Pacific await you!!
Be blessed, Renee