Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

Start with the good news first:

A demographer predicted that many New Orleans-area residents will return if they are guaranteed good housing.

William Frey of the Brookings Institution was one of the speakers at the Louisiana Recovery and Rebuilding Conference, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

"This is a population that would really like to come back," William Frey said.

Frey cited statistics that 77 percent of the area's residents were born in Louisiana, a much higher percentage than other southern cities. For African-Americans, the percentage is even higher, 88 percent.

Some experts have predicted the city's population will fall by almost half. They cite its long decline in population before the hurricane, and suggest that many poor residents will find greater opportunities in Houston and other cities that took in large numbers of evacuees.

Frey said the number of people who return depends largely on what direction rebuilding takes.
But still, so much depends on so many who have proven undependable. Case in point: the horror, the horror:

More than a month after the official search for victims of Hurricane Katrina ended, the death toll in Louisiana has jumped by 104 as returning families in the New Orleans area continue to find bodies.

New Orleans coroner Frank Minyard says medical examiners have worked tirelessly. Some have blasted their records as incomplete.
By Judi Bottoni, AP

Many of the newly discovered victims are elderly people who sought refuge in attics and upper floors from the rising waters throughout New Orleans' devastated 9th Ward, said Frank Minyard, the coroner in greater New Orleans.

"Some people are just now getting back to their homes and to the homes of their relatives," Minyard said. "The bodies are still coming in."
Bodies that have been in attics in the sub-tropical climate of New Orleans since the end of August. Human beings, loved ones, being found by family members. These aren't ruined refrigerators that can simply be discarded. At first, reflexively, I blamed FEMA; but I was wrong, and Sheriff Jack Stephens is right:

Louisiana's decision to end the official search for victims last month triggered harsh criticism from Jack Stephens, sheriff of ravaged St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans. He said state authorities never completely searched some of the most heavily damaged areas where many elderly residents lived when Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.

"For people to come home to that damage and then to make that gruesome discovery — that doesn't seem fair to me," Stephens said.
But the state of Louisiana says it is overwhelmed, much like the city of New Orleans was overwhelmed. And I don't doubt it. So I want to know, again: why does Michael Chertoff still have his job? If this isn't part of the recovery from a disaster, what is?

What is Chertoff doing for homeland security? What is he doing to help the people who need help? Why is FEMA so completely useless?

UPDATE: As Scout Prime notes, things are only getting worse.

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