New Orleans and environs are a kind of petri dish for global climate change—what's happening there will be showing up elsewhere sooner than you think.

The rest of the nation already has plenty in common with New Orleans. For decades, government agencies at all levels have subsidized development in risky areas. Along coastlines and in river plains, this arrived in the form of flood defenses, federal flood insurance, and aid for businesses (in Louisiana, for example, oil and gas drilling and refining). Near fire-prone forestlands, road building and the marketability of nature itself drove construction of subdivisions. Katrina exposed this ad hoc approach as both lethal and unsustainable. The current wrangling over New Orleans is a preview of what will happen over the coming decades.
Storm Warning: The Unlearned Lessons of Katrina, By John McQuaid -August 26, 2007 Mother Jones

Isn't this already happening? More 'natural disasters' are happening all over the world. Flooding and tornadoes has plagued the Mid-West and NorthEast this year.

Isn't it unrealistic to expect the government to rebuild homes placed in naturally dangerous areas? Isn't it unrealistic not to look at the developers who built homes in potentially dangerous areas and those in government who helped them? And what about the ignorant public?

Ignorant is not stupid, or is it? This is a capitalistic run society. The adage is: "Let the buyer beware!"

So how did these developers in the last 100 years manage to create these housing developments in these dangerous areas?

Prospective homeowners in the New Orleans and adjacent areas are now studying the projected flood-prone and protected areas maps recently released by the US Army Corps of Engineers before making purchase or rebuilding decisions.

And FEMA sends a herd of Deathly Trailers to Oklahoma for tornado victims just before announcing that FEMA would no longer use those trailers because of the formaldehyde issue.

What a herd of vultures have taken advantage of the huge windfalls from charity and government relief programs, leaving many who actually needed the relief still struggling to get promised assistance.

Herds of politicians are now descending on the Crescent City for the anniversary of the Katrina to get their sound-bites in, a multi-million dollar memorial is planned, that has some residents up in arms.

"Why don't they build a school instead?" demanded one angry New Orleanian. Yeah, they could make that the memorial with an even better warm-feeling. Anything else will be rubbing the wounds with salt. IMHO.

New Orleans is not just a tourist destination, or a city consumed by decadence and crime. It is a major port.

First defence against monster storms on the Gulf Coast is not getting enough attention. Projects in the huge Water Resources bill scheduled for Senate decsion this fall include a dangerous coastal levee that is projected to greatly increase wetlands erosion while protecting a mere 100,00 population. This is a stickler for Pres. Bush, and a legitimate one.

"I can see the Gulf from the ramp. There is no marsh left to speak of. I wonder if anyone in this state realizes what is happening?" asked one fishing business owner from Buras, the town on the Mississippi Delta, the Louisana toe, that got a direct hit from Katrina. "The amount of marsh we lost in those storms and since then is just staggering....when the marsh is gone we won't have any fish, shrimp, oysters or crabs." Treading Water, by Bob Marshall, Times-Picayune, August 26, 2007

So everyone is on notice: Your catfish, shrimp and oyster supply is in extreme danger of disappearing.

"It isn't some nameless entity known as 'the government.' That entirely takes culpability away from the INDIVIDUALS in the government who believe stupid things and make stupid decisions. Can we please stop electing these idiots, already? Lives depend on it. Literally." posted one Mother Jones reader.

And stop believing none of them take bribes or accept other benefits to make those stupid decisions.

Maybe we need to ask these candidates what reassurances they can offer that they would not be, will not be, and have not been suborned? (Suborned, induced secretly to do an unlawful thing. )

Hurricane Anything, Polictical cartoon by Mark Fiore.

References to Important stories:

Mother Jones

  • Mysteries of New Orleans - 25 questions

  • Why are They Making New Orleans a Ghost Town?

    • The Renters Quandry

      October 31, 2005
      Fully armed National Guard troops refuse to allow over ten thousand people even to visit their property in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood. Despite the fact that people cannot come back, tens of thousands of people face eviction from their homes. A local judge told me that her court expects to process a thousand evictions a day for weeks.

      Renters still in shelters or temporary homes across the country will never see the court notice taped to the door of their home. Because they will not show up for the eviction hearing that they do not know about, their possessions will be tossed out in the street.

      New Orleans renters facing evictions from landlords who want to renovate and charge higher rents to the out of town workers who populate the city. Some renters have offered to pay their rent and are still being evicted.

  • The Levees

Analysis by René O'Deay, August 28, 2007 New Orleans

  • Many months after officially ignoring reports of toxic chemicals infusing
    overtly overpriced trailers belatedly supplied to displaced hurricane victims
    and steadfastly sidelining and obstructing any investigations or tests on
    the trailers, FEMA finally admits there is a problem.

  • Deadly Trailers and campers have been already been sold to users, number unknown to FEMA.

  • FEMA sends some of the deadly trailers to Oklahoma for the flood and tornado victims.

  • 500 frustrated Deathly Trailers residents finally bring suit against trailer supplier/manufacturers.
  • Then FEMA announces it will no longer supply these deadly trailers.
  • Then FEMA promises to buy back any trailers or campers sold.

  • Then offers to give rental assistance to any who wish to move out of the over 58,000 deadly trailers now inhabited in the area.
  • Or pay them to relocate somewhere else.

BUT-- Wait! There's more!

  • Rental demographics in New Orleans and the surrounding areas have drastically changed.

  • Many do not want to rent, just want to rebuild homes they own. BUT

    • Less than 20 percent in Louisiana have received the FEMA grants to rebuild that they have applied for.

      While 80 percent and more in Mississippi have gotten theirs.

    • Not to mention the myriad problems in getting insurance companies to pay up so they can rebuild.

  • For whatever reason, the tax assessors for the remaining houses in New Orleans
    area drastically raised assessments way beyond reasonable increases.

    • Like from 35,000 to 300,000! With taxes doubled, tripled and more!

    • With a sadly staffed, unreasonably limited time and torturous location
      for those wishing to appeal these exorbitant tax assessment increases,
      many of the appealers did not get heard, thus leaving many out in the
      cold, sorry, literally the brutal heat with no tax relief. IOW long lines
      outside in the sun, no shade, water or restrooms, not enough staff to
      handle the numbers of complainants. (This was torture!)

    • 5,262 New Orleans property owners have appealed their new assessments, only about 3 percent of property owners.

  • As a result, those who have rentals are being forced to raise rents or maintain the high rents

  • The reality is that pre-Katrina, most rentals were about one-third above
    $1,000 a month and two-thirds were under, many even under $500.

  • Now post-Katrina, rentals demographics have reversed. Less than 10 percent are under $1000 a month, even in out-lying areas, and hardly any are under $500.

So, although FEMA is supposedly buying back the Katrina trailers that have been sold, some have found their efforts to get their money back bounced from one agency to another and back. Evasive tactics.

And although FEMA promises to find everyone a place to live and to give them a year's rental assistance, there are about 200,000 people in these Deathly Trailers now, in the high heat and humidity of a Southern summer which increases the deadly fumes given off by formaldehyde, with very few affordable alternatives to rent.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of people are living in or near the Deathly Trailers, suffering many serious health problems. Some have even died from the effects of the toxic fumes while waiting for FEMA to stop stalling.

Complexity or Complicity?

Read all about it on New Orleans Times-Picayune or on the Gambit

The Gambit features:
Times-Picayune features:
Other News sources:

The People

Undervalued homes may have hurt recovery efforts

Getting enough insurance or grants to rebuild from Katrina damage at today's costs may have been hindered many who wanted to rebuild. Especially if they
had to pay for living expenses elsewhere, and many had to as FEMA assistance was a long time coming if at all.

Misguided Assistance

Questions have been posed about the costs of providing these deadly trailers vs. providing the funds for actual rebuilding and recovery efforts. FEMA excuses are all about the legality of providing funds and the complexities of trying to get these funds. Leaving many to wonder understandably if the complexities are deliberate.

Now FEMA has even put up a website with available qualified rentals in the area for the thousand that need to find alternate housing than the Deathly Trailers.
The biggest problems many now face is how to qualify and how to pay for these
expensive rentals once the FEMA or HUD payments finally phase out.

Rental owners want tenants who have incomes equivalent to 3 and half times the monthly fee. Very few rentals are under $1000 a month. Jobs that can provide that kind of income are just not there.

The biggest problem here that all seem to neglect is all those pre-Katrina renters who do not qualify for assistance, who were not on any public assistance at all. But, who not only lost their homes, but their jobs, schools, medical support, many cars, and often all their possessions.

And this is just part of the deadly mix of incompetance, corruption, greed, just plain meanness, exhibited by many individuals within and without government agencies and in the private sector. A case in point, the shameful treatment of many workers who came to New Orleans, or returned to take part in the recovery and rebuilding of the city and the surrounding areas by government agencies and shameless contractors and subcontractors empowered by the suspension of laws meant to protect laborers especially those funded by government money.
Many were not paid or highly underpaid, as reported in Mother Jones, Reconstruction workers another Casualty

The 'Suborned and FEMA funded' implications, "You can work here in New Orleans, but we don't want you living here."

FEMA housing portal:

FEMA & the Deathly Trailers, Pt. I

Analysis by René O'Deay, August 27, 2007 New Orleans

What do you miss most in post-Katrina N.O.? - In Your Own Words -
"Posted by aylicat on 08/25/07 at 12:04PM
I miss the sense of community and the sense that people really looked out for each other. I miss the friendliness and greetings of strangers walking down the streets. I miss going shopping with my grandmother at Krauss, Maison Blanche, DH Homes, and Godchaux's. I miss going grocery shopping at the little neighborhood store, ZARA's. I miss McKenzie's bakery and all the goodies there. There are lots of things that will never be the same again. I live in VA now, and dread coming to visit NOLA, knowing that every fond memory in my childhood is just that--a memory. The landmarks are gone, the storefronts now turned into unbelievably high-priced condos, and businesses once patronized are out of business for good. "

There is just no way to express the loss of this special community.
But from an article I wrote "After the Deluge"
I remember from the 90s hot summer nights wandering down some of the side streets of Mid-City, finding castoff treasures like an old cast iron chaise lounge, the scents of delightful flowers covering hints of rot and mildew, music drifting from the corner bars, lights spilling out from Mom and Pop deli/convenience stores, and mingling with the odor of Creole and Cajun cooking .

The community of Mid-city then and actually all of New Orleans was somewhat cowed by the violence of the druggies and gangs, mostly blacks, but gangs of all different nationalities: Hispanics, Columbians, Jamaicans, and Asian. So people tended to mind their own business in vain hopes of not getting “involved.” But the exuberance of most of this unique community broke through at Tipitina’s, Bayou Barn in Lafitte, in the Quarter, at the music fests.

What do I miss most? It is indescribable!

A mere visitor, even for a few weeks, can't even touch on what seeps into your soul. But frequent visitors will miss the streetcars and many of the buses, the street artists and musicians, vendors and fortune tellers, clowns and mimes, on Royal Street during the day and around St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square day and night. All the great seafood and volleyball places out on the Lake.
Bakeries and the great Natural food and deli/bakery out on Esplanade near the racetrack. Cairo Cafe.

Mid-City and all the great rents for places not recently renovated. Gone forever with rebuilding costs and triple tax assessments on many homes.

But the rental situation had already begun to seriously deteriorate after the riverboat casinos and the Sultan of Brunai tried to take the town. A lot of speculation and renovation started up, rents were raised all over the commercial districts in the Quarter and in the CBD (Central Business District, on the other side of Canal from the Quarter) and the residences that were leased out to visitors who came for Mardi Gras, JazzFest, football and other events. Long-term rentals were also often raised in hopes of driving out the renters so the flats could be leased out to the increased number of visitors vainly expected.

See more blog posts on the Times-Picayune blog.

What do you miss most?

René O'Deay

Did you Know?

Some of the facts used may be dated in this presentation created by a college professor for a faculty meeting, but the ideas are highly relevant to everyone.

Food for thought.
Technological advances at the speed of thought present many problems of keeping up to both professors and their students, not to mention sometimes bewildered parents.

Take it as a challenge.
Outsourcing only aids the competition in the long run. Course they welcome it.


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