Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

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Olbermann and Geographic on NOLA

I've resisted the urge to share too many links to articles and editorials and columns about New Orleans, partly because those of you who want those links probably have already seen them, and partly because I feel like there's already overload.

But here's Keith Olbermann's blog entry from yesterday. If I hadn't felt overwhelmed by coverage last week, I would have tuned in to see what Keith was reporting on "Countdown." He always seems to cut to the chase, with sane reporting and usually, though probably not the last few days, plenty of wit.

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..." Well there's your problem right there. If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The other link I thought about sharing this weekend was to the National Geographic feature in their October, 2004 issue, about Louisiana's wetlands and the risk of a disastrous hurricane strike, describing almost to a T exactly what happened eight days ago. When I first heard about this, I thought it was a hoax, a joke, one of those "Look, they said this was going to happen," things, like the 9/11 Nostradamus nonsense. But it wasn't a hoax, or 20/20 hindsight, and it's infuriating to see that we knew this was going to happen. "It's not if it will happen," says University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland. "It's when."

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.

Last but not least is a column in The New York Times by Anne Rice, novelist and New Orleans native.

I guess another reason I haven't been sharing too many such links over the last few days is that this isn't abstract for me. I was just there. My friends live there. Some of them, I only know online, in one way or another. Some I only know casually, or just for a few months. But some I've known for years. Many of the streets and neighbourhoods and landmarks are familiar to me, especially after my visit this March.

I'm going back. Call me a crazy optimist, but I'm going back to New Orleans... to visit friends, to visit some of those landmarks, bars, and eateries, whatever form they may take when this beautiful, old, storied city is rebuilt. I told marrus yesterday before I left her in Atlanta that we were going to have a Yo Mama Burger again, and dammit, we're going to. It's not if it will happen. It's when.

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