Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We Need RADICAL New Ideas

Recently, I've had a lot of thoughts concerning rebuilding the New Orleans area, but my ideas are from an outsider, at least outside of the immediate New Orleans area, yet my area, Terrebonne Parish, still faces many of the same and similar issues.

For instance, we don’t have ANY hurricane protection levees here in Terrebonne or Lafourche Parish, as is the case in many other areas of South Louisiana. Yet had we been hit here, over 200,000 people could have been displaced in much the same way as New Orleans. Houma is also an important oil-industry and tourist city. If NOLA gets billions of dollars from the Feds for levee protection, why can’t we get some too? What about all of the millions of coastal residents in cities across the Gulf and Atlantic? What about Galveston, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, Destin, Panama City, Miami, the Keys, etc. (this list is very long).

Or is it that since New Orleans placed itself in one of the worst possible geological locations, at up to 15 feet below sea level and dropping annually, they are somehow rewarded with billions of dollars in federal relief. But our country and the Big Easy have a long history of rewarding poor performance.

Oh, by the way, had the nation’s insatiable thirst for oil and gas not sucked so many resources from Louisiana, we would not have destroyed our marshes with oilfield location canals, intercoastal waterways, and allowed the devastating coastal erosion that has vastly undermined our hurricane protection. These marshes HAD the ability to absorb billions of gallons of storm surge and protect the inland areas like New Orleans.

Finally, I am starting to grow tired of al the bullshit clichés too. But what we really need are plans to really fix things. These MUST be radical ideas. The ideas are not optional ones, if we don’t really fix the underlying problems this area will be unhabitable in the not-too-distant future. However, since I hate to complain without providing ideas, I will follow up shortly with what I believe we need to do.


Don't you dare read any more of this!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Something everyone should see (part 2)

Last week I posted a brief story, which included some pictures from the levee breach in the Lower Ninth ward of New Orleans. To the non-locals in the audience, a ward is a political subdivision of our city; their are seventeen wards in New Orleans. Most might remember this place better as the levee that was, according to Minister Farrakhan, purposely blown to save Uptown and the French Quarter. To be fair to the Minister, his baseless accusation isn't completely far-fetched; however, the last time this occurred was during the Great Flood of 1927 (see Rising Tide)

But I've digressed.

Continuing upon my theme of showing you things you may not have seen or will ever see, I again travelled to the devastated parts of our city. My first stop was in New Orleans East (right) where, indeed, pimping is still not easy. There's a book out there just for the things people say on their refridgerators after this storm. The best usually include comments on either President Bush or FEMA, my favorite being one that said, "FEMA, eat me!" To the non-locals, East is not only a direction here, it's an entire neighborhood. The rest of pictures can be viewed here (Da' East).

I grew up out here, but the area is too vast to pictorialize in a couple of visits. More later.

Next, we went to Chalmette and greater St. Bernard parish. Parts of this area not only flooded, but also suffered an oil spill from the Murphy Oil refinery. This is the area home to the Chalmette Battlefield, aka the site of the Battle of New Orleans in 1814.

It is doubtful that much crack can be found here anymore.

[Editor's note: before any angry Chalmatians send us hate-filled emails, we know it says "Cracked House" and fully get the joke. Furthermore, we applaud this owner's spirit.]

Again, the scope is too much to document in an hour, but what we did get can be viewed here (St. Bernard Parish). More of that later, too.

Our final stop was back to the Lower Ninth ward. Apparently, someone kind of important preceeded our visit. If you look closely, you'll see two military Humvees escorting this caravan to see the infamous barge. Each time back reveals more jaw-dropping pictures, which can be viewed here (Ninth Ward).

Like I said last week, I believe these are places that people must see to fathom. Most will not have a chance to visit before things are fixed, so that's the reason for these pictures. However, anyone who'd like to tour these areas firsthand, may email me to arrange it.

And, before I go, I must not forget to thank my fellow blogger, cheezwiz, for joining me in this mini-adventure. As always, you must sign-in to view any pictures in my Kodak photo albums. If you're with the media, proper citation to this website is required to use my photos.

Uncle Speed

Don't you dare read any more of this!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Same Old New Orleans "Rag" time

Well the old Times-Picyanose (aka the Times-Picayune) hasn't changed its cowtow-to-the-political-powers-that-be stance. Today I watched a Congressional committee lowrate Blanco and Nagin unmercifully. At one point the chairman quoted from a report issued by Louisiana listing $180 million federal dollars received for emergency communications equipment in the past five years, with only $15 million spent. He asked #1) Why wasn't the remaining $165 mil spent on equipment, and #2) Where is the money? [Editor's note: Where's the $15 million in equipment?]

Blanco's answer after a pregnant pause: "We'll get back to you."

The T-P website publishes her speech verbatim but makes no mention of the above or of the fact that Representative Steve Buyer chastised Blanco and asked her why his constituents should pay for Louisiana's folly and misspending of hundreds of millions of federal dollars to prevent the disaster of the storm's aftermath. He cited the contrast between the LA debacle and MS and AL's preparedness and then walked out of the hearing! The T-P also makes no mention of the question unanswered by Blanco regarding what was planned to get the poor, sick, and disabled out of harm's way. As much as I am no fan of Blanco or Nagin, it was uncomfortable to watch. Unless they are subpoenaed, don't count on them returning to DC anytime soon.

When and until Louisiana gets its act together and submits specific plans to Congress, the response will be the same. Taking a shotgun approach and asking for blank checks ain't gonna work. Railing at the Feds while not taking responsibility for their failures will continue to backfire. The only hope to turn around Congress is for the quick departure of both Blanco and Nagin where some new faces can make the plea without any baggage.

Peter Fenerk

Don't you dare read any more of this!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Something everyone should see

If anyone wants know why the levees broke in the Lower Ninth ward, they merely need to take a 30 minute drive towards Chalmette. Follow the path of slightly more damaged homes along St. Claude until you reach Caffin Ave. Take a left and drive until you cross Claiborne Ave., then turn left on any of the streets that are passable. If it's raining, you might want to bring a truck and boots. When you get near Surekote and Jourdan, you'll know where to look.

Thanks to fools, such as Minister Farrakhan, a sizeable portion of our city and the nation believes the levees were blown intentionally to save Uptown and the French Quarter. But I can assure you that the large brown object behind me was to blame for this disaster, and not some conspiracy of rich, white and Creole bankers circa 1927.

My neighborhood, Lakeview, which took 10-12 feet of water in most parts, looks like Eden compared to this place.

This low-income neighborhood to the East of downtown was comprised of mostly shotgun doubles and singles. Many of the occupants weren't the owners, so it's doubtful they'll return. Unfortunately, most were built up on piers that were not cemeted, and many houses in this area ended up floating like driftwood.

To my neighbors, please make sure that you take the time to think about these people and their homes, when you start complaining about how many thousands your insurance company should be paying you. To my fellow citizens, keep in mind that this is but one small section of the greater devestation and we need your continued support in our rebuilding efforts.

The rest of photos can be seen here: Ninth Ward photos. This site requires that you sign-in with an email address.

Uncle Speed

Don't you dare read any more of this!