Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Orleans: The Ninth Ward

We continued to meet for our training. This was useful stuff. The BSSV program is a collaborative effort between the American Psychological Association and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to train folks who can translate research and provide training in empirically based interventions to community based organizations that serve people at risk for HIV. The training was great and so was the interaction among so many very different people.

After the training three of us rented a cab and went to the Ninth Ward. It would have been impossible to be in New Orleans and not acknowledge the devastation of Katrina. It was impossible to ignore it. There were 25 fires in one night. There simply are not enough Fire Fighters and Police Officers to serve the city.

The Ninth Ward looked as if the hurricane occurred yesterday. There were still houses on top of cars, barges on land. The devastation went on for miles. There were no noises, no animals. The smell of rot and fish were everywhere.

Homes in which folks died had wreaths painted on the front door. One house had nine wreaths, we sat in silence.

I worked a shelter for victims of Katrina, I knew people from this area. I have worked many disasters and Katrina is the only one to effect me so negatively and for such a long time.

85% of this city is still an active disaster. The schools were still closed. Money and assistance was not predictable.

T-shirts expressed the frustration of the city:

Make Levees Not War

NOPD: Not Our Problem Darling

FEMA: Fix Everything My Ass

Return, Rebuild, Re-New Orleans

Finally, there were signs of hope. Trump was getting ready to build a tower. Shipping was beginning to return and the Super Dome, while still in disrepair was frantically being worked on. The Saints planned on returning to New Orleans!

The Drive: The Lower 9th Ward

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