Two years ago today. I don't feel as emotionally raw as I did on the one-year anniversary--I guess time really does have a way of numbing pain.
I think I feel the same as most people living along the Gulf Coast these days--one day I wake up and can't fathom the thought of living anywhere else; the next day, I'm longing to escape the realities of life here and just start over somewhere else--somewhere that doesn't have all of these problems. I dream of a city with smooth, paved streets and a local newscast that doesn't lead every day with the latest murder.
I don't think any of us envisioned how little progress we would make, two years down the road. Lakeview, St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward are still ghost towns, sad remnants of what they used to be. Doesn't it at least seem like all of the damaged houses should have been gutted by now?
How can it be that in the U.S.--the richest country in the world--there are still houses with moldering furniture and belongings in them, two years after the levees broke? What does that say about us as a people?
I think defeated would be the best word to describe how I often feel these days. Defeated and drained. Not every day, mind you--but the reality of living in a disaster zone can wear you down over time. I think back to when Kenny and I made the decision to return, like so many others, because we thought we could help make a difference in the rebirth of this city. And progress has been made by individuals--by the citizens of New Orleans and by the innumerable volunteers who have come here to help. But the refusal to act--to do something--anything--at all levels of government has been disheartening. Two years later, and this city is still in shambles.
I suppose by now that I should be used to the callousness of others--the whole "they deserved it for being stupid enough to live below sea level" ethos. The people who are still out there writing that to rebuild this city is madness and a waste of taxpayers' dollars, while at the same time, continuing to blithely support our failed nation-building attempt in Iraq. The people who are still out there writing about how everyone in New Orleans is lazy, worthless, shiftless--that we're all sitting around with our hands out, waiting for a government handout and believing it's our due. The people who live in areas that are just as vulnerable to natural (and man-made) disasters who don't think it could ever happen to them and therefore feel justified in spouting platitudes at us. If you don't get it by now, you're not going to. And I'm incredibly tired of trying to explain to you why it matters.
So to my fellow New Orleanians and Gulf Coast residents, happy anniversary, y'all. Sinn Fein.