14 February 2006



The above link contains two New Orleans articles--one from the Los Angeles Times and the other from the BBC. The L.A. Times article is entitled "Misery on Every Corner" and the BBC piece is named "New Orleans Risks Extinction."

The L.A. Times piece follows the controversial "America's Worst Disaster" Gray Line tour through devastated portions of New Orleans. The first time I saw one of the buses (on Wisner next to City Park) a couple of weeks ago my first inclination was to be angry. Was this not a case of exploitation? But as time has gone on (and as this article and the Times-Picayune has conveyed) I am not so opposed to these tours any longer. We desperately need people from the outside to be floored by what they see here. The outrage of locals and people like me ranting and raving and writing manifestos don't mean anything. What does mean something is when outsiders go back home and tell their friends and neighbors how bad it remains here because they have seen it firsthand and how something needs to be done to restore New Orleans now. The key thing they need to learn from what they see is: THE DESTRUCTION OF NEW ORLEANS WAS CAUSED BY A MANMADE DISASTER, NOT A NATURAL DISASTER. The levees and floodwalls protecting New Orleans are the responsibility of the federal government and the citizens have trusted that federal government to protect New Orleans from catastrophic flooding. That federal government failed the City of New Orleans both in regards to flood protection and the post-storm response--and it is obligated to right the wrong. Period. There should be no debate.

The BBC piece is more a background type piece discussing the effects of coastal wetland loss, subsidence, and channelization of the River on the ability to protect New Orleans from hurricane-induced flooding. The usual experts are cited in the article such as UNO's Shea Penland and LSU's Ivor Van Heerden. Both WCNO and DaPB give deserved accolades to local FEMA representative Marty Bahamonde who went beyond the call of duty during KTMB to try to communicate to his superiors the reality of what was happening in New Orleans. I think Ivor Van Heerden is another individual who deserves to be thanked and given acknowledgement for his role both pre- and post-KTMB.


At February 14, 2006 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took the bus tour with my father-in-law who was visting on Saturday morning. It was well worth it. Some things that people may not consider about the bus tour vs. other ways of "touring the devastation" as we call it:

#1 - Even at $35/head it's cheaper than yet another flat tire.

#2 - You don't have to concentrate on driving and being a tour guide at the same time

#3 - New Orleans tour guides (the tours are given by licensed New Orleans tour guides) are more knowledgeable than most residents - so you don't have to look stupid when you don't know the answer to a question


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