These were some of the headlines seven years ago:
- Snipers halt hospital evacuation
- Dome evacuation descends into chaos
- Stranded kids cry out for rescue
- 'Modern day genocide'
- Thousands stranded
- Mayor: Police forced to leave convention center
- Police say some officers have stopped showing up for duty
- Houston's Astrodome full, turns away refugees
- Where’s the help?
- Stranded, sick, dying, still waiting
There’s no reason in the world why a situation—caused by nature, not terrorists—had to deteriorate to the point where headlines like this described any American city. This wasn't Rwanda or Somalia or some war-torn country in the heart of the Third World. This wasn’t a city under seige by insurgents or cruise missiles. This wasn’t happening in a country without resources or manpower. This was New Orleans. A major city in the richest country in the world. A place that government emergency crews could have travelled to—snipers or no snipers—if our government had the inclination to do the right thing. If CNN and NBC were able to get "boots on the ground", why couldn't our government do the same? (It's interesting to note that in that same year, government officials air-lifted hay bales to starving cattle in the mid-west. Were the people of New Orleans any less important? Surely they could have organized a drop with bails of clean t-shirts, wipes and tissues, pallets of water?)
These photos were taken not days after the hurricane but 14 months later. There was still no running water or city services. The dates spray-painted on the houses range from mid-September to mid-October. That's when officials finally made their way into the 9th ward—in some cases, nearly seven weeks after the area flooded—to search for survivors. Or bodies.
As a result of Hurricane Katrina, 80% of New Orleans was under water, in some places as much as 20 feet. 705 people are still missing and 1,836 people were killed. Hundreds of thousands of residents were left unemployed. I frequently write about my garden and cottage, the things I make or buy, and the lovely items that give me pleasure. I am so lucky in my possessions, in my home.
Things still are not right in New Orleans. And until they are, I hope people won't forget.
I hope they will continue to volunteer to build, will continue to invest some sweat equity, and will donate what they can.