Sunday, August 26, 2007

WE ARE NOT OKAY

The upcoming week brings with it the two year anniversary of Katrina. Coverage of that storm will be everywhere you turn. Here are some excerpts from local bloggers on this painful anniversary.
Over at the Chicory, Varg puts into words the feelings of many, many Gulf Coast residents . Thanks, Varg.

From Hurricane Radio I don't have to tell you what week this is.

There are black days on the internal calendar that rests in the psyche of all Americans. December 7th. September 11th.

And August 29th.

To be honest, the nightmare started before that, and for many, the horror continues even now. Today is August 25, and tonight, families in Florida are grieving. Their loved ones were taken from them in the opening moments.

Two years ago today, a category 1 hurricane named Katrina battered southern Florida and killed 14 people. Over the next week, this storm would march across the eastern United States, causing thousands of deaths in seven states from the Gulf of Mexico in the south, north as far as Ohio.


Taken from "Living on Earth", the words of Washington Post reporter Michael Grunwald ..... what happened in Hurricane Katrina was in many ways a tragedy of priorities. Everybody knew that wetlands are important. Everybody knew that New Orleans was vulnerable. But it was never anybody's top priority to make sure that this didn't happen. So that's why you have Louisiana's Congressional Delegation at a time when they never could get the Corps to build a decent levee for New Orleans. They never really did get a decent restoration program going for those coastal wetlands. You had these incredible boondoggles that were still getting funded like the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet which is supposed to provide a shipping shortcut to the port of New Orleans but actually ended up increasing Katrina's surge and contributing to the disaster. So, again the Corps is this strange beast that's controlled by Congress. You hear a lot about these earmarks and the entire Corps budget almost is controlled by these Congressional earmarks. It's pet projects. And the pet projects were not the projects that made New Orleans safe.....

Taking you to Slidell, Louisiana in a review of what's changed/not changed since the storm, I present the following:



Old Town Slidell Soda Shop owner Frank Jackson stayed in his house next door on August 29, 2005 and rode out the monster storm. He watched the floodwaters — which covered the town in a massive, tsunami-like wave after Lake Pontchartrain overflowed — engulf the little company he and his wife built from scratch in 1988. He saw Katrina take down friends’ and neighbors’ businesses all around him.

“You just watch it go and move on,” said Jackson standing near the rusty old soda fountain in what’s left of his shop. “You watch your friends’ businesses go, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You figure life will be different.”


Around the corner from the broken-down old soda shop is another business that had to close down: Slidell Cleaners, a 77-year-old family venture owned by close friends of the Jacksons.

The upstairs apartment, where owners Eric and Mary DuBuisson lived for the 24 years they ran the cleaners, came out of Katrina unscathed. But the downstairs sustained immense damage – too much to keep it going after all the recovery they’d done since the 1995 flood a decade earlier.

“This time, we had six feet of water and it destroyed everything … clothes, equipment,” said Eric DuBuisson, 56. “It was a real heartbreaker. We knew really quickly that there was no point [in trying to rebuild].”

The decision not to reopen came about two days after Katrina hit, he said, when the DuBuissons realized it would have cost between a quarter-million and a half-million dollars to bring Slidell Cleaners back.

“When both of you work in the same business and it all ends in one day, it’s very scary,” said Mary DuBuisson, 52.

“We seriously were afraid of bankruptcy,” added her husband. “I didn’t know what we were going to do.”

On top of their problems getting back on their feet professionally, the DuBuissons also had to worry about where to live, as the lakefront house they’d planned to retire to was flooded by three feet of Katrina water.

Onto some brighter notes, the best Chinese Restaurant (IMHO) in Slidell endured 4-6 foot flooding and has come back nicely.


A little over a year after the storm, Slidell was blessed with Louisiana-bred Rouse's supermarket that caters to good food.

A welcome relief to Walmart Supercenters, we're glad to have Rouse's here in our "bedroom community".

In the fast food world, Slidell lost a few fast-food chains and gained a new one


McD's on the southside of town (Pontchartrain Drive) hasn't reopened, but the one
on Hwy190 (aka Gause Blvd) was razed and rebuilt in a few months.

More new businesses have sprung up along Slidell's main thoroughfares.






And others sit silently - as if stopped in time as a result from the storm


Evangelines
Coffee House



A once bustling Burger King

Mickey Dee's on Pontchartrain Drive.

The Katrinaville Chronicles

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