10 Years After Hurricane Katrina
Black Lives Matter. I remember the events of Hurricane Katrina like yesterday. It was the worst hurricane national disaster in our generation. It heavily damaged the Gulf Coast region with lives ruined forever. It is important to note that lives have been strengthened and the courageousness of the people of the region is amazing too.Also, the events five years ago further confirmed the anger that my black people had at systematic racial discrimination and economic oppression. Katrina opened the eyes for others that investments in public infrastructure was a necessity in order for human beings to have more productive, happier, and blossoming lives. The hurricane hit U.S. soil in the Gulf Coast on the date of August 29, 2005. Katrina was about 175 square miles at its peak. Almost 1,800 people died and more than 500,000 human beings have been displaced from the region after Katrina. I was 21 years old and a senior in college during the time when it happened. From the start, New Orleans experienced disgraceful neglect from all levels of the government. Hundreds of bodies floated in the streets of New Orleans. Charity Hospital, founded in 1736 to provide for the poor and indigent, was shut down in 2005 despite minimal flood damage, depriving thousands of uninsured residents of a crucial source of health care. There is a new hospital completed in August 2015 was named University Medical Center New Orleans. However, in some neighborhoods (including the Lower 9th Ward, which was among the hardest hit by the flooding) the population is still barely a third of what it was a decade ago. Other sections of the city, such as the Tremé neighborhood—a historic center of jazz and working-class culture—have been gentrified.
Black people in New Orleans were on roofs begging for help. There were people starving to death and others have died. The black people and the poor were not only mistreated, but they were unfairly scapegoated by many disgraceful right wing commentators like Glen Beck and Sean Hannity. Not to mention that many black people and other human beings (of every color) during the disaster, helped the victims of Hurricane Katrina, gave food including water to people, and they saved lives. Their courage, sacrifice, and activism must be acknowledged and respected.
Some police officers tried to frame black Americans on the Danziger Bridge too. This incident happened on September 4, 2005. Members of the New Orleans Police Department killed 2 unarmed black people, who were 17 year old James Brissette and 40 year old Ronald Madison. 4 other black civilians were wounded too. Each of the people never committed any crime. Madison was a mentally disabled man and he was shot in the back. The murdering cops are total disgraces. The New Orleans police fabricated a cover up story for their crimes. They falsely reported that seven police officers responded to a police dispatch reporting an officer down, and that at least four people were firing weapons at the officers upon their arrival. This was a racial tragedy as said by Raymond Brown (or the local head of the National Action Network). On August 5, 2011, a federal jury in New Orleans convicted five police officers of myriad charges related to the cover-up and deprivation of civil rights. An attorney for the Justice Department described it as "the most significant misconduct prosecution [in the U.S.] since the Rodney King beating case." The Justice Department appealed the decision to vacate the convictions, but a federal appeals court agreed that a new trial was warranted. The bad news is that the convictions were vacated on September 17, 2013, because of prosecutorial misconduct, and a new trial was ordered. The Justice Department appealed the decision to vacate the convictions, but a federal appeals court agreed that a new trial was warranted. The cop involved in the killings should be prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. So, Justice must come in the case of overt police terrorism against Brothers and Sisters.
10 years later, we have a long way to go. While richer neighborhoods in New Orleans have been massively invested, many poor and black communities are filled with decaying homes and lax investments. We must continue to promote mental health resources in New Orleans. We live in a new era where Black Lives Matter is a powerful motto where people are confronting police terrorism, racial injustice, and economic inequality. These issues existed in 2005 just like today in 2015. We have a long way to go, but we fight on. We will fight for more solutions and we will always believe in justice for all.
There were tons of warnings about an awaiting disaster that was about to come to the Gulf Coast, especially New Orleans for years and decades. In 2001, the Houston Chronicle published a story which predicted that a severe hurricane striking New Orleans, "would strand 250,000 people or more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned under 20 feet (6.1 m) of water. Thousands of refugees could land in Houston." For the record, the victims of the Hurricane are not refugees at all. The Houston Chronicle story is wrong to call people refugees. So, I want to make that perfectly clear. In 2002 the Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with the Louisiana Water Resources Research Institute at Louisiana State University (LSU), and the authorities in Jefferson Parish, modeled the effects and aftermath of a Category 5 strike on New Orleans. The model predicted an unprecedented disaster, with extensive loss of life and property. The study identified the problem: the New Orleans area is like a bowl, surrounded by levees which are strongest along the outer Mississippi and primarily intended to contain river flooding. When a hurricane drives water into Lake Pontchartrain, the weaker levees bordering Pontchartrain and canals leading to it are overwhelmed. Water then flows into the below-sea-level city, accompanied by water overflowing the levees along the Mississippi on the south side of the city center.
Spike Lee and Greg Palast interviewed Dr. Ivor Van Heerden or the Deputy Director of Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center. Van Herden said that his job was threatened for giving the information (about who knew what and when before, during, and after the storm). The Louisiana State University’s hurricane Center had developed a hurricane evacuation plan that was totally ignored by the local, state, and federal governments. Van Heerden personally tried to make the government aware of the dangers, if a Hurricane hit New Orleans. After Hurricane Betsy, the levees were never rebuilt to withstand a flood brought on by a Hurricane, not even a Type 1 Hurricane, which Katrina became as it hit the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans. He said that someone in the government ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to build the levees one and a half feet lower than their original plans, which were inadequate. People knew that the lower 9th ward was going to be flooded and part of Lake Pontchartrain. Van Heerden points out that 129,000 people without transportation were going to be left to the whims of the flood waters, if the government did not use its resources to evacuate them from harm’s way. His warnings fell on ears that would not listen and eyes that would not see.
He told Palast that “FEMA knew at eleven o’clock on Monday August 29 that the levees had breached, at 2 o’clock they flew over the 17th St. Canal and took videos of the breaches, by midnight on Monday the White House knew, but none of us knew.” The Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center was never informed of the levee breaks until noon on Tuesday. Refusing to inform the citizens of the 9th ward about the impending danger and the local governments, if they were so inclined, from helping them get to higher ground. The 12 hour silence of the White House was deafening and an example of the conscious decision to begin the process of the Ethnic Cleansing of New Orleans — to remove the working class and Black poor from New Orleans.
Spike Lee’s documentary called “When the Levees Broke” Spike Lee’s 2010 documentary entitled, “If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise,” and Greg Palast’s documentary called, “Big Easy to Big Empty: The Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans” are excellent resources of information for people to understand about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans including the rest of the Gulf Coast region.
The events of Hurricane events started in a realm of numerous calamities. On August 26, 2005, the Hurricane was approaching the Gulf Coast and Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a state of Emergency in Louisiana. On that date, the Gulf Coast states requested troop assistance from the Pentagon. In order words Lt. General Russel Honor (the commander of the commander Joint Task Force Katrina) said that the Gulf States began the process of requesting additional forces on Friday on August 26. On Saturday, Hurricane Katrina was upgraded to a Category 3 Hurricane on 6 am. EST. Governor Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency in Mississippi. Governor Blanco asked then President George W. Bush to declare a federal state of Emergency in Louisiana. She said so in the following statement from her: “…I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.” The federal emergency is declared and the DHS plus FEMA has given full authority to respond to Katrina.
On Sunday, August 28, Hurricane Katrina was upgraded to a Category 5 Hurricane by 8 am. EST. On 10:30 am. EST, Mayor Nagin issued the first ever mandatory evacuation of New Orleans in August 29, 2005. During the Afternoon, Bush, Brown, and Chertoff were warned of levee failure by the National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Max Mayfield. By 5 pm., the National Weather Service issued a special Hurricane warning: “…Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.” On the late pm in August 28, 2005, there are reports of water toppling over the levee. About 30,000 human beings gather at the Superdome with roughly 36 hours worth of food. The Louisiana National Guard requested 700 buses from FEMA for evacuations. Yet, FEMA only sent 100 buses. FEMA and other agencies did a terrible job in helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Monday, August 29, 2005 (in 8 am. EST). George W. Bush was notified of the levee breach in 8:30 am EST. 30 minutes later; Mayor Nagin reported that the water is flowing over the levee. He said the following words: “…I’ve gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we’ve had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much.” [NBC’s “Today Show”]. The White House circulated an internal memo about the levee breach being so bad that its sends 6-8 feet of water throughout the 9th ward area of the city (on 12:13 pm. EST). Brown warned Bush that this is the big one, this is a catastrophe, and the Superdome was ill-equipped to be a refuge of last resort. In the morning of August 29, 2005, in the same briefing, Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center Director, warned, “This is a category 5 hurricane, very similar to Hurricane Andrew in the maximum intensity, but there’s a big difference. This hurricane is much larger than Andrew ever was. I also want to make absolutely clear to everyone that the greatest potential for large loss of lives is still in the coastal areas from the storm surge. … I don’t think anyone can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but there’s obviously a very grave concern.” [AP].
George W. Bush talked with Secretary Chertoff about immigration and he shared a birthday cake photo op with John McCain in Monday morning. By noon EST, Michael Brown finally requested that the DHS dispatch 1,000 employees to the region. He gives them 2 days to arrive. By the late morning, the levee is breached. 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new “hurricane proof” Old Hammond Highway Bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north. When this is happened, George W. Bush is visiting an Arizona resort to promote Medicare drug benefit instead of immediately calling radical actions in helping the people of the Gulf Coast. Rumsfeld in 9pm. EST attends a San Diego Padres Baseball game. In 9pm. EST, Governor Blanco again requested assistance from George W. Bush. At night, George W. Bush goes to bed without acting on Blanco’s requests. Katrina was a total catastrophe in New Orleans and in the rest of the Gulf Coast region.
Then comes Tuesday, August 30, 2005. George W. Bush on noon EST speaks on Iraq at the Naval base Coronado. Chertoff claimed that he knew that the levee failed in midday EST. The Pentagon (via spokesman Lawrence Di Rita) claimed that there are enough National Guard troops in the region. People are in rooftops fighting for help. Many people are rescued and many die. Also, people are desperate food and water. People are desperate for survival in the French Quarter. On that day, the USS Bataan sits offshore and is virtually unused. The 844 ship was designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults. It has helicopter doctors, hospital beds, food, and water. It can make its own water up to 100,000 gallons a day. It was out in the Gulf of Mexico. President Bush on 3 pm. EST plays guitar with Country music singer Mark Willis while people are dying. Bush returned to Crawford for the final night of vacation. On Wednesday, August 31, 2005, FEMA requests for ambulances, but the DOT doesn’t have them. In 12:20 pm. EST, FEMA staff warned Brown that people were dying at the Superdome. The National Guard troops arrive in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. They arrive 2 days after they are requested. Tens of thousands of mostly black people are trapped in the Superdome. The conditions continue to deteriorate there. A 2 year old slept in unsanitary conditions. The restroom is filled with vials. Blood stained the walls next to vending machines. There was rape and one man jumped to his death from 50 feet in a suicide. These are horrible conditions as a product of lack of infrastructure and an abominable state, local, and federal government response. These human beings in the Superdome are victims of economic oppression and negligence. Finally, George W. Bush organized a task force to coordinate a federal response. Bush said on Tuesday that he will “fly to Washington to begin work…with a task force that will coordinate the work of 14 federal agencies involved in the relief effort.” [New York Times, 8/31/05]. Jefferson Parish Emergency Director Walter Maestri said that the food and water supply are gone and that FEMA including other national agencies are not delivering the help as fast as it needed. During this time 80,000 people are believed stranded in New Orleans. Former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy “estimated 80,000 were trapped in the flooded city and urged President Bush to send more troops.” [Reuters]. Mayor Ray Ragin had ties with Cox Communications and was convicted on corruption charges.
There are more than 3,000 people stranded at the Convention center without food and water. There is no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with the problem. Some people have been there in Tuesday morning without food, water, or instructions. A public health emergency declared for the entire Gulf Coast. President George W. Bush on Tuesday, 30, 2005 surveys the damage from Air Force One. He has a 35 minute rotor without landing in the area. He saw the stadium in New Orleans including flooded neighborhoods, wiped bridges, and slabs of foundations where houses used to stand. George W. Bush on that day never lands in New Orleans or immediate send National Guard troops or other forces to help the suffering victims. Chertoff said that he’s pleased with the response of the government. He is totally wrong. Blanco again request help from President George Bush. She called for 40,000 troops. On 5pm. EST, President George W. Bush gave his first major address on Katrina on August 31, 2005. Condoleezza Rice on 8pm. EST, goes to a Broadway show called “Spamalot!” or the Monty python musical at the Shubert. FEMA Director Brown said that the storm was bigger than anyone expected Bush on September 1, 2005 claimed that no one expected the levees to break, but as former FEMA Director Michael Brown told CNN, “the president knew from our earlier conversations that that was one of my concerns, that the levees could actually breach.” [Situation Room, 3/2/06]. Condoleezza Rice visited the U.S. Open in NYC. There has been no command and control in three days as said by Terry Ebbert or the New Orleans Homeland Security Director. On 3pm. EST, Mayor Ray Nagin issued a desperate SOS to the federal government as the buses aren’t readily there; the convention center is unsanitary and unfair. New Orleans runs out of supplies to help people. People are raped, fights are occurring, and corpses lay out in the open. Rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers are shot at. Condoleezza Rice on the same day goes sue shopping at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue. Michael Brown learns of the evacuees in the Convention Center.
On Friday, September 2, the Rove led campaign to blame local official begins without blaming all levels of government (since the disaster is a regional problem). On 11 am., President Bush staged the photo op with Brown. In 11:35, Bush praised Michael Brown with the famous words of “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” Later, “Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.” [Times-Picayune]. Bush has a photo op with firefighters. He said that he’s satisfied with the response, but not with the results. Congress approved initial funding in $10.5 billion in initial aid for rescue and relief efforts on September 2. On Saturday, September 3, the Bush administration lied and said that Gov. Blanco never declared a state of emergency. FEMA finalized the bus request. Only a dozen of buses come into New Orleans on the same day of September 3. Kanye West said the famous words to the worldwide audience in a charity campaign that: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Chertoff said that one could have predicted Katrina. The Louisiana Superdome is fully evacuated when trash in there was 5 feet deep.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush made disrespectful, patronizing comments about the poor victims of Katrina by saying (on September 5th) that: “…Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.” Bush suspends the Davis-Bacon Act on the next day. That act set the minimum wage pay for workers on federal contracts. That move was outrageous. More relief funding was approved by Congress. FEMA chief Michael Brown was removed of his overseeing relief operations on Friday, September 9th. He resigned on September 12. Bush takes responsibility for the terrible response on Tuesday September 13, 2005. Allstate refused to reimburse the victim on September 20. The evacuated victims of Hurricane Katrina live in hotels, FEMA units, and some go across the nation in cities like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, North Carolina, etc.
Republican Congressman (and former real estate entrepreneur) Richard Baker of Baton Rouge told lobbyists in Washington, D.C. the disrespectful, blasphemous words of: “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” Many authorities left thousands to die and some of them left corpses to rot in the street. That is a total disgrace.
Malik Rahim was a veteran Black Panther Party member of the 1960’s and is a local activist in the Algiers neighborhood. Rahim wrote that: “… the people who could help are being shipped out. People who want to stay, who have the skills to save lives and rebuild are being forced to go to Houston” (San Francisco Bay View, August 31, 2005). Rahim described, “gangs of white vigilantes near here riding around in pickup trucks, all of them armed, and any young Black they see who they figure doesn’t belong in their community, they shoot him.” When a group of about 200 people including visiting paramedics from a downtown hotel tried to walk out of New Orleans over a Mississippi River bridge into a white area, suburban cops turned them back and fired over their heads, saying, “This isn’t New Orleans” (New York Times, September 10th, 2005).
There are other events during this time too. Jeremy Schaill reported on how the private contacting group Blackwater existed in New Orleans to act as mercenaries. The city of New Orleans was like an armed camp with National Guard troops and active duty soldiers. The local police superintendent back then illegally all weapons (even legal ones) to be confiscated. But as the Times noted, that order didn't "apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property…[who] openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles." So, the Blackwater agents acted as vigilantes. Members of Common Ground Collective (like Vietnam veteran and community activist Malik Rahim) helped to give people basic aid and medical services to people in the first days after the hurricane. Rahim said that the police and the troops patrol the streets and treated him and other as criminals or “insurgents.” Many African American men were harassed and even shot by these vigilante Blackwater groups. So, Common Ground had to use white volunteers to move through a city that was dangerous for black people during that time period. Common Ground heroic helped more than a half of a million people. They operated feeding stations, opened free health and legal clinics, and rebuilt homes plus plant trees. But they "never got a dime" from the federal government, says Rahim. The feds did, however, recruit one of Common Ground's founders, Brandon Darby, as an informant, later using him to infiltrate groups planning actions at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Malik Rahim is one of the heroes of New Orleans.
The House of Representatives releases a 600-page report on February 15th, 2006 that further criticized the White House’s response. The report lays primary fault with the passive reaction and misjudgments of top Bush aides, singling out Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Operations Center and the White House Homeland Security Council. The House of Representatives releases a 600-page report that further criticizes the White House’s response. Also, the Report lays primary fault with the passive reaction and misjudgments of top Bush aides, singling out Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Operations Center and the White House Homeland Security Council
It has been 10 years since the Katrina catastrophe in the Gulf State region. We have seen the disaster of the storm in New Orleans, the rest of Louisiana, Alabama, and other states in America. After 10 years, we have seen how much New Orleans have changed. A decade later, about 100,000 people (mostly black people) have not returned still to New Orleans. White people in New Orleans have gotten a lot richer while poverty still is a problem in many Black neighborhoods of New Orleans. We have seen New Orleans schools chartered, rents skyrocketing, and other realities in the name of “renewal” and “privatization.” The population of New Orleans a decade later is smaller. There has been billions of dollars poured into Louisiana, but the impact on the poor and working class people in New Orleans has been minimal. Not everything is bad news in New Orleans, so we have to be fair and progressive with the facts. We know that rent in New Orleans is up 33 percent for one bedroom apartments and 41 percent for two bedroom apartments since Katrina hit. 55 percent of the residents rent. The national average is 35 percent. In 2005, one bedroom was $578 and two was $676. In 2015, it is $767 for one and $950 for two. In 2005, 38 percent of the children in New Orleans lived in poverty, 17 percentage points higher than the US as a whole. The most recent numbers show 39 percent of the children in New Orleans live in poverty, still 17 percentage points higher than the national average. Only 32 percent of African Americans believe that the new nearly all charter school system is better than the public school system before the storm versus 44 percent of whites (as over 7,500 mostly African American public school teachers and paraprofessionals have been fired after Katrina when Louisiana took over the New Orleans public school system). Many students have graduated in 2005 and we should celebrate any student graduating from high school.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the fired teachers in May of 2015. New Orleans now has 44 school Boards and before Katrina nearly all public schools in New Orleans were overseen by one Orleans Parish School Board. New Orleans is now 59 percent African American, which is down from 66.7 percent in 2000. The city is 31 percent white, up from 26 percent in 2000; and 5.5 percent Hispanic, up from 3 percent in 2000. Before Katrina, New Orleans incarcerated more of its citizens than any city in America or five times the national average. There have been ongoing efforts of community members and local officials, the number of people held in jail have been reduced by 67 percent. 73 percent of New Orleans students who start high school graduate on time. There are now 3221 fewer low income public housing apartments in New Orleans than when Katrina hit. In 2005, New Orleans had a population of 455,000 and in 2014 its population was 384,000. So, we have a long way to go, but New Orleans is a strong city with great people and great culture. In the future, New Orleans will be better and justice will be made real.
We still have a long way to go after 10 years of Katrina in New Orleans. There are massive injustices in New Orleans that must be addressed. Kristen McQueary of the Tribune editorial board made the disrespectful comment that she wished for a displacement of people in Chicago similar to what happened in Hurricane Katrina. After Katrina, many black people were displaced. There are fewer black politicians who can represent the aspirations of the people of the black community in New Orleans. There are 2,006 public housing units now available in New Orleans as compared to 12,270 before Katrina. There are 4,444 families on the waiting list for public housing. It is a fact that poor and working class Black New Orleanians face discrimination in the housing market. As reported by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, African American shoppers were either denied the opportunity to rent or received less than favorable treatment than white shoppers 44% of the time. We see a massive privatization of housing as well. There is the environmental justice issue in New Orleans. The Gulf Region including New Orleans has the issue of being exposed to toxic soil, air, and water. The BP disaster has enhanced this problem. Many of the FEMA trailers have been filled with toxic formaldehyde. Environmental racism has caused many high rates of asthma, cancer, and other health problems among many African Americans in the Gulf region. Louisiana has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation, with African Americans ranking 30% higher than the state average. In June 2015, the Louisiana legislature failed to pass a bill that would have prevented the construction of public schools for grades K-12 on contaminated waste lands. 2,000 truckloads of toxic waste and debris per day entered a landfill located in mostly African American east New Orleans. There is the issue of economic inequality in New Orleans as well. This has increased as a product of the massive displacement of New Orleanians after Katrina. The majority of job creation in New Orleans exists among low wage jobs in the service industry. There is 49 cents that Black women make for every dollar that White men make in Louisiana. 52 percent of black men in New Orleans are classified as unemployed.
There are always hope for the future. The good news is that the future will be better than the past. Many people are graduating from high schools in New Orleans. There are strong people in the Gulf Coast region. There has been a great rebuilding of homes in the Gulf Coast including in New Orleans. We will never forget about the Katrina disaster and we will always remember the heroes then and now who are helping people, educating students, and making a difference in the lives of human beings every single day. We want New Orleans and the Gulf region in general to be much better 10 years from now in 2025. We will never give up and we will always love the truth and fight for freedom and justice. There are many organizations and activists who are doing great work from charities, community develop programs, and other individuals who are engaged in social justice activities. Many people in New Orleans are rebuilding. There is the Creative Alliance of New Orleans and Alembic Community development. They are displaying an exhibition of murals painted by hundreds of people in New Orleans. The African American Leadership Project has been working constantly to end racial injustice and oppression in the region as well. They have worked with others in improving public policy since Hurricane Katrina. Trymaine Lee is a journalist who covered Katrina back in 2005. He has interviewed people in the city and he won a Pulitzer Prize for the breaking news coverage of Hurricane Katrina. He has worked in many media companies and now he is a national reporter for the MSNBC, where he writes for the network’s digital arm. He interviewed many people including Sister Lucrece Phillips. She was a victim of the storm and she loves her family. To this day, she is fighting for justice in New Orleans. Her story will not be forgotten. General Honore was one of the leaders in New Orleans during the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He organized people to help the victims and he gave speeches on the necessity to build infrastructure and for all levels of government to organize solutions to the disaster. Today, Honore is still in New Orleans to help New Orleans citizens, work in an pro-environmental organization, and he has called on Congress to establish funding for further rebuilding efforts in New Orleans in 2015.
There are non-profit organizations that are doing their part in rebuilding the Lower 9th Ward with affordable and sustainable housing. There are many activists in New Orleans. One activist is Deon Haywood. She is the Executive Director of Women With a Vision Inc. This organization is a New Orleans-based community organization. It was created to improve the lives of women, their families, and the communities. It specializes in health, education, and other issues. In other words, no human can be liberated without women being liberated. That is just a fact. Sister Deon Haywood has worked hard in addressing health disparities and socioeconomic injustices. There are many black businesses in New Orleans like DBLBLK Café, Café Du Monde, Dooky Chase’s, Lil Dizzy’s Café, etc. Community organizers are pushing for new housing and educational plus social justice. Sister Tracie L. Washington is a strong New Orleanian resident with deep roots in Louisiana. She is also the President and CEO of Louisiana Justice Institute. This organization is dedicated to make New Orleans a city filled with recovery and justice. This organization want all displaced human beings to return to their land in NOLA, they want people to have self-determination, they endorse housing rights to exist for all, they believe have the right to work, the group want all citizens to have affordable, accessible health care, and the organizations promotes the truth that all citizens the right to have access to technological services. Sister Chrissy Percell is part of Grow Dat Youth Farm (which is a nonprofit organization who is dedicated to growing healthy food, improving the environment, and build communities in New Orleans). Katrina Truth is an important website. It shows accurate statistics on the realities found in New Orleans 5 years after Katrina. It is also filled with people who want social justice and want the end to racism, economic oppression, and environmental injustices.
We have much more to do. We have the situation of gentrification in New Orleans where select corporations buy up property and sell them at exorbitant, expensive rates (which causes poor people to leave while the wealthy gets the property in the process). The city of New Orleans has less black people than before and many people are struggling with emotional hurt. There is massive unemployment and overtly in many areas of New Orleans. This reality is a product of Western capitalism and how exploitative it is. Decades of neglect of social infrastructure, the incompetence of the political establishment, and the indifference of the ruling class (like when Mayor Landrieu recently said that New Orleans is a little more expensive and poorer people from New Orleans can just live in the suburbs and the exurbs if they can’t afford to live in New Orleans, which is disrespectful). Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, declared at the time 5 years ago taht, “They have M16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will.” So, both Democrats and Republicans have great responsibility for the terrible consequences of the Katrina disaster (by diverting social resources from infrastructure and social programs to the corporate and financial aristocracy for decades). We want a real recovery not a commerce, free market driven faux recovery where gentrification is the order of the day. We want people to return to New Orleans and the poor areas of the city to develop. What works is about community connections where people get to know each other and where communities are respected. So, we have to fight to have justice and freedom. We are in favor of the masses of the people’s interests.
Power to the People.