22 August 2006

Katrina 101: Katrina Literacy

The one-year anniversary is rapidly approaching. As I have stated before, I am not down there with the day-to-day experience. However, I have family and very close friends still fighting the good fight in New Orleans and Louisiana. But the one advantage I have is that I have to face EVERY SINGLE DAY conversations with people who basically have no knowledge whatsoever about New Orleans or Katrina. So I know and hear what they think. Some honestly want to know (and help) but don't have a clue about what's going on. But many others have been fed so much misinformation from newscasts, commentators, politicians, you name it, that they are almost beyond redemption on the topic.

So please indulge me as I begin a declaration. One of our primary goals at this blog is to inform people, both locally and abroad, of the issues both New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in general are facing. This is necessary, in part, because of the deficiencies of the mainstream (for profit) media, who either perpetuate misperceptions or ignore real issues for the sake of exploitation, juicy stories and higher ratings.

As I read these blogs, I see consistency in a lot of the posts. The same issues keep coming up. I have also combined them with the same old questions people ask me as well as their misconceptions. So I have created a list of issues, misperceptions and stereotypes that we have to fight as a whole. This way, in case we get lost, we can remember what we are up against.


  • New Orleans was the only victim of Katrina
  • New Orleans is entirely under sea level
  • New Orleanians were generally uninsured
  • All of the victims of Katrina were poor African-Americans
  • The entire African-American population of New Orleans consists of looters, drug dealers and murderers
  • The Ninth Ward was "just a bunch of projects"
  • The "government" blew up the levees, sacrificing poor African-American areas to save the French Quarter and affluent white areas
  • Most victims aren't coming back or aren't making a serious effort to come back and rebuild their homes and lives
  • Houston's escalating crime epidemic can be entirely blamed on Katrina victims
  • All Katrina victims wasted their assistance money on strip clubs, tattoos and Saints tickets
  • Katrina a) was the only hurricane that devistated Louisiana last year, OR b) somehow reemerged in the Gulf two weeks later and devistated Lake Charles and Cameron Parish
  • The problem in New Orleans can be ENTIRELY be blamed on corrupt New Orleans politicians (the "Chris Matthews defense")
  • New Orleanians and Louisianians in general never warned the rest of the country and the federal government about inadequate levees and coastal erosion

and, perhaps most importantly (as our president points out):


If anyone wishes to expand on the list, feel free. That's what the blogosphere is all about.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, We Are Not OK, Louisiana, Gulf Coast


At August 22, 2006 6:55 PM, Blogger Editor said...

Excellent points.

I run The New York Inquirer -- we're doing a feature on the anniversary of Katrina next week.

Can someone -- Seymour Fair?? -- hit me with an e-mail. I'd like to talk.

Cheers -- Andrew Bast

At August 22, 2006 7:50 PM, Blogger TravelingMermaid said...

We are sitting back and expecting the gov'mnt to take care of everything.

At August 22, 2006 11:50 PM, Blogger mominem said...

We all saw something coming.

Not this.

We all knew that the "Big One" was possible and perhaps inevitable.

Katrina was not the "Big One".

The levees we paid for (in our property taxes, in the taxes on our off shore oil, and in our income taxes) were improperly designed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers an agent of the Federal Government.

At August 23, 2006 9:15 AM, Blogger Mike Ferg said...

This is no less true now then it was in 2004 before the storm. Between people trying to get their lives back together and the political blame game fraught with typical louisiana law suits Most people fail to see and truly act on the big picture. Like the oysterman who sued to stop wetland restoration becuase litigation is actualy the biggest industry in Louisiana. It is true drive across the state on Highway 90 and 9 out of every 10 billboards is a lawyer ad ready to sue...

A few days after talking with Morton, I'm sitting on the levee in the French Quarter, enjoying the deep-fried powdery sweetness of a beignet from the Café du Monde. Joggers lumber by in the torpid heat, while tugs wrestle their barges up and down the big brown river. For all its enticing quirkiness, for all its licentious pleasures, for all its geologic challenges, New Orleans has been luckier than the wetlands that lined its pockets and stocked its renowned tables. The question is how long Lady Luck will shine. It brings back something Joe Suhayda, the LSU engineer, had said during our lunch by Lake Pontchartrain.

"When you look at the broadest perspective, short-term advantages can be gained by exploiting the environment. But in the long term you're going to pay for it. Just like you can spend three days drinking in New Orleans and it'll be fun. But sooner or later you're going to pay."

I finish my beignet and stroll down the levee, succumbing to the hazy, lazy feel of the city that care forgot, but that nature will not.

At August 23, 2006 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At August 25, 2006 10:39 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Misconceptions about Katrina:

* If we would just let the river run wild, everything would be okay.

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