Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Jan 13-New Orleans-Final Stop on Katrina Trip-Part I

Photos: (1) Driving into New Orleans on I-10;(2) At Press's Office;(3) Press Making his case to rebuild New Orleans;(4) Mr. Edinburgh's Neighbor's House on a resdential block in NO. All photos taken by C. Wilson

Today we drive into New Orleans from Biloxi,Mississippi by way of a small town in Alabama. We had to detour because of a technical glitch about which venue we could return the vans. The drive was good . Our team had a chance to bond more. We had our usual reflections and sang some songs together. Our reflections were abruptly interrupted by the force of the winds hitting against the van.Ironically,it was a very windy day and our van swayed and rocked a few times violently back and forth as we traveled down the highway. It began raining like cats and dogs soon after these several frightening episodes. It was a bit unnerving to say the least. I'm sure some of us were thinking,...well, at least me, if no one else..."Not another hurricane". We immediately tuned into the AM radio weather station.

As we approached New Orleans we were able to see some of the devastated areas of the city. It was hard to capture it accurately on video,because we were simply moving too fast. But, I did manage to get some footage which will be available in the future. Our group split into two sections. One was scheduled to travel directly to Ache Community Center and the other,which I was a part of, headed over to meet with an influential New Orleans real estate developer, "Press" the brother-in-law of group member Susie Hermanson, who had also organized the meeting. We would soon discover that there was a lot more to the New Orleans disaster than "meets the eye".

The presentation was very informative. Press spent almost an hour and a half presenting a power point on the political problems the city is facing and the various alternatives being proposed to rebuilding. It was good to have the other side of the story i.e., the viewpoint of a member of New Orleans' influential business community i.e., wealthy and powerful real estate interests. This is definitely the flip side of what we've seen and experienced so far on the trip. The most important result of the meeting, in my view, was the insight shared about:(1) the various political twists and knots involved in the whole rebuilding scenario; and (2) the Baker Bill, a piece of legislation that Press is hoping will be passed; and, of which, our President doesn't appear to be too supportive. More to come...

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