Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Living in Infamy Forever

New Orleans - December 7, 2006

December 7th...another one of those days that will live in infamy forever...or at least for a little while.

We spent yesterday in New Orleans, checking out the disaster and the recovery efforts. We had lunch in the French Quarter in a garden courtyard. I had jambalaya and shared a salad with Mrs. Phred. The French Quarter shows little sign of the Katrina disaster. It’s on relatively high ground and was not flooded. There is no obvious wind damage.

The French style 2nd and 3rd floor balconies are decorated for both Christmas and for the Mardi Gras coming up in February.

The business district is a little worse for the experience. The trolley cars are not running yet and there is an occasional small business, obviously smashed and looted, that remains shuttered. Soaked drywall is still being replaced in other ground floor businesses.

In the suburbs, the extent of the devastation is mind-numbing. There are literally hundreds of miles of homes on the beach that are simply gone...washed away... and untold square miles of damaged and destroyed homes and businesses in the sprawling New Orleans suburbs. FEMA trailers are parked everywhere next to damaged and destroyed houses and the countryside is dotted with clusters of FEMA trailers in formerly vacant fields.

This makes me think of Japan in late 1945. I have my own thoughts about the causes of the relatively slow pace of recovery and other thoughts about the public policy of providing insurance for mansions built on the edge of the ocean.

If your house is destroyed or damaged, why not just rebuild like the Japanese?
- First, you need to wait to see what government assistance, if any, will be provided. So get in line.
- Second, if you have insurance, you need to wait and negotiate a settlement amount with them. So get in line.
-Third, you probably don’t have any money or a job and the government didn't help and the insurance didn't pay.

What a spectacle. Fifteen months and very little rebuilding or even refuse removal are evident. Even a superpower needs competent leadership to get things done. They don’t make them like Franklin D. Roosevelt anymore.

1 comment:

  1. I think that's probably the bigger scandal. Disasters happen, irrespective of who is in power - good or bad - and you can expect that not everything will go right during the first few days of any major disaster.

    However, as you say, now it's been 15 months or so, and still people are suffering great distress. People have had the time, the resources, the time to plan, and yet you paint a picture that there is very little to show for it.

    Anyway - well done on getting yourself into the thick of things there.