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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Archive for the Hurricane Katrina Category

Refugee, American-Style

March 9th, 2009 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

“I still have family who is scattered,” says Kirk Stevens over lunch at the iconic Little Dizzy’s in New Orleans, 3 ½ years after the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina blew his family throughout the South.
kirk3.jpg
“My family is scattered,” said a 75-year-old woman in Amman, Jordan, half a world away, 5 years after the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq sent her family scrambling. Her husband died during the first Gulf War. Her 3 adult children fled to Sweden and Jordan, her youngest committed suicide. “I brought nothing (except) the death certificates for my husband and son.”

“Refugee” became a politically charged word to describe the displaced Louisianans and Mississippians strewn throughout the south. How could an American be a “refugee” in his or her own country? Yet, we don’t blink when we use the neutered term “internally displaced refugees” to describe the 2 million Iraqis who have been forced from their family homes but don’t have the funds or the desire to leave their home country.

Perhaps the image of lines of people carrying scant (more…)

Locked Out of the Lower Ninth

March 6th, 2009 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

“People in the Lower Ninth Ward know more about climate change and what it can do than [people] anywhere,” said Pam Dashiell, fighting a cold, “and they know it on an intrinsic level.” The co-director of the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Engagement and Development said the communities of the Lower Ninth Ward have a goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.global-green-homes.jpg

“We have more solar here than in any other part of the City. There were 17,000 people here, pre-levee breaks. We are projecting 15,000 prosperous, environmentally conscious, forward-looking people [will return].”

It’s been proven that global warming contributes to the Gulf of Mexico’s increasingly aggressive and frequent hurricanes. New Orleans’ environmental vulnerability is compounded by the debris and toxics (more…)

Rocky Start for Schoolchildren

March 4th, 2009 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

“I don’t think they expected kids from this community to go to high school,” said Oscar Brown, a graduate of Carver High School. When the City of New Orleans produced its “master plan” to raise the hurricane-razed city into the 21st century, it entirely ignored the Ninth Ward – the largest of the City’s 17 wards – precluding the devastated community from receiving any federal rebuilding funds. children-play-in-unsafe-yard.jpg
When the school district prepared its “master plan,” it omitted rebuilding the one high school in the Ninth Ward – leaving 3,000 high school students languishing. “But they do that all the time,” said Brown matter-of-factly.

The community fought back and now the high school will be rebuilt – eventually. But today, three and a half years after the levees broke, children are still being taught in temporary trailers.

New Orleans was broken long before the levees collapsed. Seventy percent of adults in Orleans Parrish did not read at a high school level, (more…)

Stillness in the Ninth Ward – Still

March 3rd, 2009 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

There was nothing alive but the mold that marbled the walls and ceilings. No rats or roaches, just the intimate remnants of people’s lives: An upturned tricycle, intact figurines, a porn DVD.
Abandoned Homes in the Ninth Ward
Standing outside, I could smell the mold. “Imagine an entire city smelling like that. That’s what it was like right after Katrina,” Oscar Brown turned from the abandoned housing project. Front porches were tattooed with spraypainted symbols indicating the date each home was searched and the initials of the unit of the national guard that conducted the search – and the number of bodies discovered inside.
Abandoned Tricycle
Brown toured 19 masters’ students from the Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University and me through New Orleans’ Ninth Ward in preparation for our week of assisting with home rebuilding.

He pointed out the former police station, now closed and abandoned, mentioning that the National Guard’s last day securing the Ninth Ward was three days ago. Louisiana can no longer afford their services, said Brown. We saw no patrolling police during our five-hour tour.

Gone are small stores owned by members of the community. “We need businesses. We need banks,” said Marcia Peterson of the Divine Street Ministries, for whom Brown also works. “There’s no internet here. This is the only part of the City that has not rebuilt its basic services. When I moved back, I had to rethink and replan my life around when services are available.”
Mold-Ravaged Kitchen
Indeed, as we drive throughout the Upper and Lower Ninth Ward, we see no neighborhood restaurants or bars, no shoe repair shops or dry cleaners, no little convenience marts. Only one grocery store remains, although we hear reports of a second opening “soon.”
Ninth Ward House
“My wife and I just had a daughter,” Brown says in response to a question about access to health care. “The nearest was 45 minutes away.” Mortality rates in the Ninth Ward have tripled since Katrina, says Peterson. “They had to create a whole new section of the newspaper to deal with the obituaries.”

Hurricane Katrina hit August 28, 2005, displacing tens of thousands of people. Three and a half years later, less than half have returned home.

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