Monday, August 28, 2006

"Right-sized" = white-sized

In the Ninth Ward. 2006 © A.M. Stan

NEW ORLEANS, LA. -- Today your blogstress took a little tour of New Orleans, courtesy of the Democratic Caucus and the Army Corps of Engineers. The tour was organized for members of Congress, who wanted to check in on the progress on post-Katrina rebuilding. In all honesty, except for a wonderful Habitat for Humanity project in the upper Ninth Ward called Musicians Village, the news is not good. Devastation still abounds.

Democratic members of Congress at Musicians Village with Jim Pait (front), executive director of New Orleans Habitat for Humanity.
2006 © A.M. Stan

In the lower Ninth Ward, which was the scene of the most death and destruction -- the television pictures of people on rooftops and corpses floating in the currents -- there is still no electricity. There is no sewage service. There is no any kind of service. And so, there are no people, because FEMA will not give you a trailer unless there is electricity and running water on the site of your devastated home. The city -- and our nation -- may as well have hung out a sign on the lower Ninth that reads, "Good riddance."

The people who used to live in the lower Ninth are now scattered throughout the U.S., living with whomever was able to take them in. Most, I'm told, would like to come home. But there is no home, and no way to rebuild, and no place for the many who rented their abodes. The Ninth Ward was almost exclusively African-American. And it was totally impoverished.

During the course of the tour, your écrivaine learned that Price Waterhouse Coopers issued a report that describes the city's decimated health care system as now "right-sized" for New Orleans at its current population level -- which is about half of what it once was. Most of those who have not come home are African-American. Welcome to the new New Orleans.

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