Making Bradbury Proud
Of all the columns Ronnie Virgets has published over the years (and I had quite a collection of them saved prior to Katrina), his column of Nov. 1 is perhaps his most poignant. Ronnie is a word painter in much the same manner as Ray Bradbury. With a word or a phrase turned as only he can turn them, a fleeting emotion or a permanent insight is etched into consciousness. That's quite a gift, and I'm glad that Gambit Weekly has selected Ronnie to grace its pages for all these years. It's one of the many things I'll miss now that I've relocated to Memphis. After losing the bulk of my possessions twice to flooding, I'll take my chances with earthquakes. Thanks for making Gambit Weekly available online. It's a site I'll be visiting regularly. Thanks, Ronnie, for all the years of memorable writing.
This is a sure-fire plan to bring back New Orleans so that people with limited means can afford to rebuild. As you know, New Orleans flooded primarily due to canal breaks. Gentilly, the Lower 9th Ward and Lakeview all would have survived Katrina had the federal government's walls and levees not failed. Inland canals that are not part of the natural landscape failed. How can anyone say that these sections of town flooded due to natural occurrences? The government built an inland waterway and that is the reason these homes flooded. Natural flooding was not the issue. Now the government's leftovers are being punished by having to elevate their homes in order to get a building permit.
I live in Kenner and my elevation is lower than most of New Orleans, but since the levee did not break here and my home did not get flooded, I am not punished and forced to raise my home. This is not fair; my elevation is lower than Gentilly and Lakeview.
I offer this compromise. Since this was a catastrophic government failure, if a home did not have a history of flooding in, say, the past 25 years, then there should be no need to elevate. I think that we as citizens need to force FEMA into this compromise. How are we going to preserve our city's architecture by elevating homes that survived the flood of 1978 and the flood of 1995 and Hurricane Betsy?
Why isn't anyone asking for this compromise? Is it because they have their own agenda for these properties? Who is looking out for the middle class that is willing to rebuild but cannot afford to elevate? It is time that elected officials become an advocate for the people who elected them. These homeowners are being punished for levee breaks, and many already survived a 100-year-flood.
We'll Be Back
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, my employer temporarily relocated our law office to the city of Alexandria. We were fortunate in that our firm's main office is located there and they were able to make room for us to work and keep our office running. In comparison to New Orleans, Alexandria is a small town, but one filled with people with big hearts and generous attitudes. I was personally blessed by the kindness of strangers in that a fellow employee opened her home, her heart and her family to me by giving me a place to live while my husband remained behind to tend to our home and his business. I feel fortunate to have ended up in a nice town such as Alexandria during the last couple of months. My office has just moved back to New Orleans, and it is time to look to the future.
New Orleans is my birthplace and the city where I grew up and went to school. I have lived my whole life in and around various parts of New Orleans and saw those areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that happened after the storm. We have all been affected. I have always been proud of my city and believe that its spirit continues to exist in the hearts of all true New Orleanians. New Orleans will always be a travel destination. The music, which is the heart of the city, and the food, which is its soul, will always be here.
The French Quarter has withstood many disasters through its history, including fire, flood and disease. It will never die, and it will remain a fun and historic place to visit. Mardi Gras in New Orleans has roots going back into history some 200 years. It will go on and the legacy will continue.
Katrina took a huge bite out of the Big Easy, but the people will rebuild. The true New Orleanians are loyal to their city. The friendliness of the people, the flavor of the communities will remain. That's what makes us unique.
Give us time. We'll be back and we invite our friends from all over the world to come on over to visit, enjoy some food and music and celebrate with us.
Patricia G. Poupart