Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flooded with Painful Memories

It was five years ago today that Hurricane Katrina clobbered southern Louisiana, causing initial storm damage as it passed through, but also provoking the breakdown of New Orleans’ levee system, which led to 80 percent of that beautiful city being flooded and thousands of people losing their homes or their lives. As bad as the natural destruction was, it was compounded by the incompetence and sluggishness of America’s then Republican administration to respond to the needs of Katrina victims. Half a decade later, New Orleans is still suffering the effects of that disaster.

I’ve been to the Crescent City once since Katrina hit, and it’s looking much better than it did in the hurricane’s wake. “New Orleans is coming back,” declared President Obama during an anniversary visit to the city today. He’s right, of course, but it must also be said that Louisiana’s most historic city is a changed place, a place at once stronger and less diverse than it was before the storm. It will be decades before New Orleans overcomes its sadness and cynicism born in those tragic days of 2005. I hope I’ll be around to celebrate its rise from the floodwaters for many years to come.

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