Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Guest blogger: Keith from Nola

My friend Keith sent me a response to this morning's blog. I begged him to let me post his e-mail for you guys to read. After some arm-twisting moments, he agreed. - typingelbow


Aw, you’re very sweet. Thanks for the kind words on this strange day.

People often ask what this whole experience has been like. What is it like to live in New Orleans? How do you feel about seeing your house now? It’s all so raw— even a year later — that it’s still difficult to process.

Initially, I used to think that the best way to describe the chaos, turmoil and fear was to say that it felt like someone blindfolding you, spinning you around and asking you to cross an interstate. That is what it was like in those first few weeks. We didn’t know anything. We didn’t know what we had, what we had lost and where we would end up. Remember, we didn’t actually get to go back into the city to see our house until Oct. 3.

Now that we’re a year away from all that, we know the tally of loss but we have to live with the overwhelming weight of the long road we have ahead to rebuild our lives and city. Do you realize that it will take 15 to 20 years to rebuild this city? I will be pushing 50 when we start to realize the fruits of all this hard work. I think few people realize this. That is why this is so different from something like 9/11. When they said 80 percent of the city flooded, they meant it.

The thing that bothers me most in the Katrina coverage is the Katrina cliché that just about every reporter who parachutes in here says: I’m shocked by the lack of progress I see here. Of course, they are usually saying this in a live shot from the lower ninth ward (which was a mess before Katrina).

My answer is — what did you expect? You can’t rebuild an entire city in a year. My parents are very well off and they have yet to move out of their trailer into their almost finished home. And they have tremendous resources. It is taking so long because there aren’t enough workers to rebuild this city fast enough. That is a simple reality. Mix in insurance problems, job setbacks and uncertainty about which neighborhoods will be viable and you’ve got lots more reasons for the delays.

My street, a success story by most accounts, is still dotted with trailers and will be for some time. America has never dealt with anything like this and most people outside of the city will never grasp its magnitude.

Anyway, I appreciate your blog entry and your voicemail. I’m glad you called. (And remember, we couldn’t have spoken to you very long during or after our evacuation because none of our phones worked! I still remember the moment I understood the scope of this disaster. It was when I sent you that text message Monday evening: The levees are breached, it’s all over. We found that out and understood it before the mainstream media caught on. It was during a live phone call with a staffer over at Tulane Hospital who said that water was rising about six inches an hour and that there were whitecaps on Canal Street. Do you remember that text message? I wish I had saved it.)

I’m about to go walk the dog on the levee of all places. They are ringing bells throughout the city at 9:30. I’ll probably go to Jackson Square today And maybe have a po-boy at Mothers.

I’m not sure what to do to commemorate today. But I do know what I’m doing tomorrow. I’m getting together with Chris, Verena, Peter and his wife for wine, cheese and “Project Runway” Wednesdays. I’m bringing a birthday cake. We’re celebrating Aug. 30, the end of Katrina anniversary coverage! And maybe the fact that we’re all still here.


1 comment:

Mary B. said...

Ah, wine and cheese with a Bravo show continues. That lets me know that even in the aftermath, life that's really being lived, not just survived, goes on. :)