Hurricane Katrina

Monday, August 31, 2015

Y@ Speak: 10 years and some days later

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 12:30 PM

If Twitter was around 10 years ago, what would New Orleans look like today? (I got in touch with friends and family through, um, Livejournal back then; Facebook wasn't really helpful.) Last week was most definitely a week. We talked about it, listened, goofed around, then Lil Wayne came home, we walked a lot, then cried a lot, then Thomas Morstead ended it appropriately by puking in a trash can.

Because I can't fit it all on here: read Michael Grunwald's tweets on the frustrations of reporting on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, all of the updates from Rising Tide X, and the story behind @skooks, in his words.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Memorials and second lines in New Orleans commemorate Katrina's 10th anniversary

Posted By on Sat, Aug 29, 2015 at 4:40 PM

Several social aid and pleasure clubs led a march and second line from the Lower 9th Ward.
  • Several social aid and pleasure clubs led a march and second line from the Lower 9th Ward.

Before he led a procession of city, state and U.S. officials, all carrying wreaths, clarinetist Dr. Michael White performed "Amazing Grace" to a crowd gathered under a white tent nearby.

In marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and elected officials held a somber memorial for the lives lost in the floods, particularly the dozens of people interred at the memorial.

"They are not unclaimed, because we claim them," Landrieu said.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Community Voices Project asks longtime New Orleans residents to assess the city's recovery

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Victor Carter
  • Victor Carter

It's inevitable during anniversary periods for New Orleanians — especially those of us who lived the experience and survived — to feel bombarded to the point of overwhelmed with all the Katrina-related news stories and events this month.

For me, I figure if I’m going to be here enduring the chronic scab picking of our collective wound, I need to come up with an antidote to the memory of feeling so helpless and broken during those first early days, weeks, months... It was from this mindset that the Community Voices Project was born.

Ten years after the worst disaster our country has ever faced, New Orleans is alive and thriving due in large part to residents that banded together and worked tirelessly towards a recovery that would have otherwise failed had it been left up to government. In recognition of the community-driven, grass-roots fueled recovery,  Linda Usdin and I co-produced a video project called the Community Voices Project, which features native-born and longterm residents discussing the city’s recovery to date: what worked, what didn’t work and what steps we need to take going forward to help our city evolve further.

There are 15 interviewees, each answering the same set of questions:

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#BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza delivers keynote at Katrina memorial

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 10:57 AM


#BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza told a packed audience at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center that despite the city’s largely positive message of recovery during the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, there exists a “tale of two cities.”

Garza helped coin the hashtag and phrase, which has gained traction worldwide, in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. She delivered the keynote speech for “Katrina 10 Year Memorial: Equity, Justice and Black Leadership for New Orleans” on Aug. 27.

Garza, special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said Katrina and the levee failures were another chapter in the country’s “storm of structural racism and violence.” The government’s failure to protect black lives as infrastructure crumbled and levees collapsed, as well as its failure “to bring people home,” are among the “most defining moments of my generation,” she said.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Michael Brown absolves himself of Hurricane Katrina blame in Politico editorial

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 11:17 AM

MICHAEL BROWN: FEMA’s nimble. We’re only 2,500 people. We can move on a dime.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Uh-huh. And what dime were you standing on during the hurricane?
 — From Brown's 2006 appearance on The Colbert Report

You thought we could get through Katrinapalooza week without hearing from Michael "Brownie" Brown? Dream on. The disgraced former FEMA head, who now has a radio talk show in Denver, weighed in with his usual chorus of "It Wasn't Me" on Politico this morning:
People are still saying now, as they said then, that what went wrong in New Orleans a decade ago was all my fault. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. There were many dark moments in those three weeks on the Gulf Coast, and FEMA and the federal government certainly made some mistakes, but perhaps the worst part was being held responsible for the things that I didn’t control at all.
If you've heard Brownie revise history over the years, there's little new here, except a new chorus of blaming the media (of which, it should be pointed out, he's now a member). "My mishandling of the press during the disaster response was among my greatest mistakes," he writes, citing CNN's Anderson Cooper and Time magazine as two of the worst offenders.

His conclusion? Cut down the size of federal government (of which, it should be pointed out, he was an employee):

Today government needs to affirmatively reassert its commitment to the all-hazards approach to disasters. Whether a disaster is man-made, natural or the result of terrorism, the response is the same. And the federal government must not become a first responder. The more state and local governments become dependent upon federal dollars, the weaker and more dependent upon the federal government they will become.

Why is that important? Disasters happen every day. The federal government should be involved only in those disasters that are beyond the capacity of state and local governments to handle. Centralized disaster response at the national level would destroy the inherent close relationship between citizens and those who save their lives and protect their property in times of everyday disasters. We must not allow that to happen.
Those who want more Brownie on Brownie can listen to his talk show Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. New Orleans time, where he promises more hot takes and hard truths.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

World's largest second line set for Katrina anniversary

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Rapper Dee-1 joins a march and rally to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, along with Wild Wayne, Mia X and other artists and community organizations. - KOWARSKI/FLICKR
  • Rapper Dee-1 joins a march and rally to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, along with Wild Wayne, Mia X and other artists and community organizations.

Among the dozens of 10th anniversary events commemorating Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures is one annual event that promises to have its biggest, most important year yet. An annual second line and interfaith prayer service that begins at the site of the Lower 9th Ward levee breach will be the "world's largest," according to organizers, highlighting the needs and injustices still faced by low-income New Orleanians and people of color despite the "progress" championed in the Katrina narrative.

The event — presented by the New Orleans Katrina Commemoration Foundation, Hip Hop Caucus, Nuthin But Fire Records, Q93, People’s Climate Music and Sierra Club — will honor the lives lost during Katrina, calling on city, state and federal officials to fight for racial and economic justice and to recognize Aug. 29 as a local and state holiday, as well as global action on addressing climate change.

"This will be the people's march," said Hip Hop Caucus president Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. "We believe demonstration without legislation leads to frustration."

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The only music I listened to after Katrina was a New Orleans punk band

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 4:00 PM

I packed two clear Sterilite boxes full of CDs in the trunk of my two-toned "Champagne" Toyota Camry. That's the most 2005 sentence I can think of, but I wish daily that I had used that space to pack something that wasn't completely obsolete (and mostly unimportant — no, I did not need to bring every badly scratched mix CD with Bad Company and Foghat songs that live on the radio until the end of time). I made a last-minute decision to take my car with me to Mississippi instead of leaving it in my parents' driveway in Slidell. I also packed sweaters. In August. (All of this is a lot funnier if you consider that, for most of us, we thought we'd be gone for a week at most, so in that sense, I was way over prepared. Something I learned over the last 10 years is "how to pack like a human being.")

The CDs never left my trunk, and my car didn't leave a friend's driveway in Mississippi. My 1996 Camry wasn't likely to make the drive to Birmingham, Alabama, where I'd stay for the next month or so. I took one CD with me: The Ghostwood's Development. If my car stayed in Slidell, it would've floated to the other side of town or onto a brown pile of everything from inside the house where I grew up.

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What does "resilience" mean? In new plan, it drives disaster preparedness

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 2:30 PM


Resilience: "the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens."

FEMA director Craig Fugate said he loves the word because it means whatever you want it to mean.

And if you've been paying attention over the last couple of weeks, you'd think he was right. "Resilience" has replaced similar words, or been used in sentences where it didn't necessarily need to appear, to define the City of New Orleans' philosophy as it prepares for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has planted his "resilience" seed (or some form of it — "resilient," "resiliency") in speeches throughout his terms as mayor. (And if you're keeping score at home, you can add "vibrant," "new Orleans" and "NOLA for Life" to Landrieu's list.) The word has seemingly grown into a jungle of word salads with business lingo and jargon-y nothing phrases that have taken over dozens of panels, events and speeches this week. Its overuse implied it not only didn't mean anything but that there wasn't anything to be "resilient" about. But the word now defines a plan that the city will look to over the next decade and beyond.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Y@ Speak: Ten Years Gone

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 1:20 PM

As New Orleans nears the 10th anniversary of The Complete And Abject Federal Levee Failures of 2005 and every news outlet on the planet serves up heaps of hot takes, let's look at how y'all are getting the led out. Also: The New Orleans Saints don't completely blow it this time and (not) Bobby Jindal unveils his latest campaign vid.

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Atlantic conference discusses "New Orleans: Ten Years Later" after Hurricane Katrina

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 11:32 AM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, left, being interviewed by The Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg.
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu, left, being interviewed by The Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg.

This week will see dozens of events related to the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods, and today saw one of the biggest — The Atlantic's "New Orleans: Ten Years Later" conference at the Sheraton New Orleans. 

After an introduction by The Atlantic's editor in chief James Bennet, Gwen Ifill of PBS News Hour introduced writer/filmmaker Lolis Eric Elie, New Orleans native and national student poet Madeleine LeCesne, VAYLA executive director Minh Nguyen, writer Chris Rose, former City Councilman Oliver Thomas and Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Center. 

Washington had the crowd's attention, questioning the city's recovery pointing out that 50 percent of black children in the city live in poverty — more than before the storm —  adding that special needs children are being ignored in the New Orleans school system. She also took exception to "resilient," which has emerged as the buzzword du jour of Katrina recovery. "I'm not resilient," she said, scoffing. “I have a right not to be resilient!”

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