SLABBED salutes CrescentCityRay who posted comments here several months ago, a man of courage who stepped forward and told the cost of floodwalls that failed to protect the city of New Orleans.
I am one of the crazy people from a flooded area in New Orleans.We rebuilt our home – above the Katrina flood line. The kids are back in school and seem ok. Over 60% of our neighbors are back. Things are looking up.
Nevertheless, I cry uncontrollably nearly every day. While I have been fortunate (up until recently) to have work since the levee failures, the crying and stuff has made it a lot harder to be productive in my work and I don’t think co-workers want to be around people like me.
I think of suicide daily too. Yes, I am getting talk therapy as well as medications that make me cry less at the expense of my motivation and attention. Call me names if you must, but I am doing the best I can.
Why are we feeling so crazy? There are a number of reasons:
1. People claim our disaster, in New Orleans, was a natural disaster, when in fact our outfall canal floodwalls fell down long before even being overtopped by floodwaters because of stupid engineering mistakes made in the floodwall foundation designs by US Army Corps of Engineers’ engineers as reported in all three levee failure investigation reports. But, many people choose to blame us flood victims for these floodwall failures and that really hurts my feelings.
2. People everywhere call us bad names, claim we are responsible for our losses, and do not begin to acknowledge the extent of our destruction (140 square miles of deep urban flooding by salt water that sat for weeks).
3. The Engineers that did this to us are in charge of rebuilding our flood protection and and we fear they are purposely designing unreliable structures again.
4. Most of our local politicians are worthless. Our future does sometimes seem hopeless.
5. Politicians and much of the general public made our disaster nothing more than another partisan issue. The previous and current administrations have made unkept promises. Many of us feel very disillusioned about our governments at every level.
6. The pain is not just mine. While we lost everything we ever had and have suffered and struggled to get home, the same thing happened to my neighbors, relatives and nearly everyone I ever knew. I haven’t been able to help relatives as I would like because of my over abundance of problems and lack of resources. I look around at my missing elderly neighbors and get really angry at how our elderly and disabled have been and are being left to die without any help from anyone.
7. Of course, the initial Katrina response was a nightmare, but only a small part of the ongoing pain felt in New Orleans. I wish the evil posters that seem to wish we were dead would stop their hostility.
I don’t want to be crazy and cry everyday. I am ashamed of my mental illness. Believe me, it is very humiliating. I want to work and support my family and continue to help rebuild my community. My doctors say I must reduce my stress – yea right. Vindication might help.
We the people, now collectively humbled by his strength, failed him as we failed others and ourselves when we did not challenge those playing the word game that promoted Katrina the windstorm as The Great New Orleans Flood:
Immediately after Hurricane Katrina came ashore, and before anyone could possibly assess the damage, the insurance industry began pushing the message that the damage was caused by flooding, rather than wind. “The fact that a government-run levee fails and creates a flood does not create a liability for private insurers,” said Robert Hartwig, chief economist with the Insurance Information Institute in New York. “I would say on dollar terms, at least among homes, the majority is related to floods.”
The distinction was important because wind damage is covered under homeowner policies – flooding is not. Industry representatives took the message one step further when they tried to spin the story as “The Great New Orleans Flood”.
The phrase first appeared in a press release issued by insurance industry Risk Management Solutions (RMS), just three days after Katrina made landfall…
From time to time I read how “Katrina broke the heart of the American people” and I don’t diagree that it did at the time. However, the public has a short attention span and a year later it was clear many had become ready to move on.
Harry Shearer tells what was left behind on the Huffington Post in New Orleans Mental Health Crisis, Exposed. Commenting on the series of stories in last week’s Washington Times, he wrote:
The…stories focus on all the salient points of the mental health mess: the long-term depression of many Katrina survivors, the degree to which the crime rate is swelled by mentally-disturbed people acting out, the heroic efforts of police crisis units and volunteer organizations to find and help people who can’t seek out help themselves, and the increasing disparity between the need and the resources available for care and help.
CrescentCityRay’s response to a comment suggesting he relocate suggests the deeper the roots the deeper the sense of loss:
I cannot do that. I must live here. This is home. My family landed here in 1765. Whenever I leave town, I feel like a fish out of water.
I found CrescentCityRay’s comment hanging on Editilla’s Ladder along with such a moving closing comment that I picked it up too:
It is a Quiet Lie that New Orleans is Hopeless.
It is a Quiet Lie that we should not have flooded.
It is a Quiet Lie that we are beyond recovery because we were crazy in the first place to live here.
It is a Quiet Lie that what befell New Orleans was something most Americans can get their mind around.
It was not… something to “get over”.
I was there. I may forgive, but I Will Never Forget.