Tag Archives: asheville north carolina

Hurricane Katrina – six years later

It was six years ago today that Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana/Mississippi Gulf Coast. I remember the dire warnings prior to Katrina. I remember the initial news reports suggesting the damage wasn’t as bad as we expected. Six years ago, I had just moved to Asheville, North Carolina. I was sitting in a rental house exchanging e-mails with some friends in a discussion group. This was a medical discussion group which was made up of people throughout the world. There are approximately 1000 people who participate in this discussion group. It was around midnight when someone suggested that the levees had broken. I looked everywhere. I looked at every single website that I could think of but couldn’t find any information about the levees. Even the New Orleans Times Picayune which, as I recall, had moved its headquarters from New Orleans and most of its staff writers were in Lafayette or Baton Rouge, had nothing about the levees breaking. I remember saying something like we need to stick to the facts and we shouldn’t speculate. The member of the discussion group was insistent that his information was correct. I remember having an extremely sick feeling in my stomach. Over the next several days, we saw a city, a region of the country, cry out for help. For five days there was no response.

Over the last six years I’ve written on Katrina many many times (herehere, here and here. This last one is an interview with James Perry who was running for mayor of New Orleans at the time.) I think there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from this disaster. I’ve been to New Orleans twice in the last six years. New Orleans is a city that I truly love. New Orleans is a city that is completely different than any other city in the South. It’s not like Atlanta or Miami or even nearby Houston. The only city in the United States, in my opinion, that comes close to the feeling of pre-Katrina New Orleans would be San Francisco. There was something wonderful about New Orleans. It wasn’t simply a great mecca for music. It wasn’t simply one of the best places in the United States to eat. It wasn’t the unique architecture of the French quarter or even the garden district. It wasn’t brunch at Commander’s Palace or the fabulous art shops where we can buy original paintings from national and internationally known artists at prices the 10th of which you’d find in New York or Chicago. It wasn’t the abject poverty or the wealth of the financial district. It was all of this and more which made New Orleans a great city.

The tragedy of Katrina is that it exposed a dysfunctional political system. New Orleans politics has been famously dysfunctional for decades. Louisiana politics is almost laughable. It was nearly impossible to get anything done in Louisiana unless you “knew somebody.” Then, on top of this dysfunctional system you had the Bush administration. You had an administration that actually hated government. You add all of this together and tens of thousands of people suffered needlessly. My conclusion after reading tons of information on Hurricane Katrina is simply that we need to treat each other better.

I found this article in the New Orleans Times Picayune:

In April 2010, four and a half years into recovery, the Census Bureau found that Katrina cost New Orleans 29 percent of its population; Jefferson, 5 percent; St. Bernard, 47 percent; Plaquemines, 14 percent.

Some of those people settled nearby. St. Tammany’s population grew 22 percent; St. Charles Parish grew 10 percent; St. John the Baptist grew 7 percent.

But census takers counted a net loss of nearly 150,000 people who were driven out of a metropolitan area of what was once 1.3 million.

Allison Plyer of the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a co-author with Elaine Ortiz of “The New Orleans Index at Six,” an annual recovery analysis, said the region has showed unusual resilience in facing not only Katrina, but the 2008 recession and last year’s BP oil spill. (more…)

Update: Melissa Harris-Perry does a great job at summing up the lessons of Katrina.

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Wednesday Morning News Roundup

By now, everybody knows about the earthquake which occurred in Virginia yesterday. I felt it here in Asheville, North Carolina. The news coverage from the mainstream media was over the top to say the least. There appears to been some damage to the National Cathedral. There appears to be only minor damage to the Washington Monument.

The North Anna nuclear power plant, which is located on an earthquake fault line, shut down yesterday as a precautionary measure. At least, that’s what we were told yesterday. Today, we find out that its off-site power supply had been lost. It was basically using diesel generators in order to cool the units. I’m not sure about the wisdom of building a nuclear power plant on a fault line. Also, we found out that this power plant, which is indeed located on a fault line, removed all of its seismic detection equipment because of budget cuts. Finally, the North Anna plant was built to withstand an earthquake of approximately 5.9 in intensity.

Hurricane Irene is now a category three hurricane. Currently, projections have it possibly hitting the South Carolina/North Carolina coast early Saturday morning. It is projected to be a strong category three if and when it hits the coast.

Al Sharpton is getting his own show on MSNBC.

Jamie Leigh Jones, the former KBR employee who stated she’d been drugged and raped in Iraq, is now being sued by the company to recoup their attorneys fees for over $2 million.

I find it kind of funny that Rick Perry’s campaign continues to disavow his book that he only published nine months ago. The communications director actually had the nerve to tell the Wall Street Journal that the book did not reflect the governor’s current views. Although I doubt that Governor Perry actually wrote the book, I do believe that there was a team of consultants who sat down with Rick Perry and went through the book line by line before it was published. The book reflects exactly what he thinks would get him elected. That’s why he wrote it.

Libya is still in turmoil. The party seems to be nonstop in Tripoli. The elusive Colonel appears to be in hiding.

Worst Persons in the World:

Rally!! Rally for Jobs!!

This is an announcement specifically for those who live in the Asheville, North Carolina area.

Jobs, Not Cuts!

Pack Square
Wednesday, 10 Aug 2011, 5:30 PM
The American Dream Movement will succeed only if we stand up and work TOGETHER for a new American Dream. In July, 25,000 of us came together to share our stories and hear from others who are struggling in this economy. Together, we submitted and rated ideas to create the Contract for the American Dream. At the same time, politicians—from city councils to Congress—are focused on “cuts, cuts, cuts” instead of “jobs, jobs, jobs.” That’s why we’ll take every opportunity during the August recess to ask Congress and other elected officials: “Where are the jobs?” We’ll get started with a “Jobs, Not Cuts!” rally at Pack Square as part of a national day of action on August 10. Join us as we team with the N.C. AFL-CIO and other groups to demand a response to the jobs crisis.

Message from host: We’ll gather at the Vance Monument on the western end of Pack Square.

Status: Public, open for RSVP, 66 attendees (max. 250)
West Pack Square (Map)
Asheville, NC 28801