NOLA is US
There are a lot of t shirts and bumper stickers in NOLA these days.
They mostly make fun of FEMA and Bush and Nagin and Blanco.
But perhaps the most powerful sign of all is the spray painted X.
You see it on so many structures.
In the area on the top, is the date the structure was examined.
To the right of that is whether or not it was entered.
On the left, are the initials of the search team.
The number on the bottom, is how many bodies were found.
We rode in a yellow orange lincoln cab with George to the lower 9th.
At the old funky antique drawbridge over industrial canal,
we found ourselves in an unlikely traffic jam.
On the other side of the bridge, at the boundary of the ninth,
a large group had gathered in a solemn ceremony
and monument christening.
The traffic jam gave us the time to view the scene below
from the top of the bridge.
Most of the lower ninth is now gone.
In the higher areas, closer to the River,
you can still see the extent of the destruction.
I was impressed with the cars.
They were not just banged up, they looked like
they had been in multiple high speed collisions.
One SUV was upside down and crushed under a house
that had somehow floated on top of it.
George took us by Fats Dominoes.
It was still there, but everything in the area had been submerged.
One year after this great loss of life and culture and soul,
I couldn't help but be amazed with how they have cleaned up.
With their party hardy history,
I guess New Orleaneans know more than most about cleaning things up.
And it shows.
Those areas that were totally submerged
are slowly sprouting out of the blackened love canal muck.
Given that the entire city was dark and evacuated until Christmas,
the amount of progress in the last eight months is a testament
to the strength and tenacity of the bayou breed.
Here are some of the numbers from Environmental Defense
1,836: Estimated death toll from Katrina
1 Million: Number of people displaced by the storm.
80: Percent of New Orleans that was flooded, some places under 20 feet
$500 Million: Amount needed annually for 30 years to restore coastal
marshes and wetlands to fully protect New Orleans in the future.
$80 Billion: Amount of federal spending designated to rebuild New
When we returned to the Airport, the lack of "normal" became evident.
Louis Armstrong International Airport is a tomb.
There are precious few flights in,
and a precious few flights out.
While we were walking in the Quarter,
We saw a T Shirt that said,
Make Levees, not War.
As Climate Change rears its unstoppable head
above the horizon of our consciousness,
the truth of that truth,
Will become increasingly clear.
And we will know that in that truth.
NOLA is us.