Here comes Irene. Take care of yourself if you are near the path.
I keep thinking of the last weekend in August six years ago, and the realization of what was happening in New Orleans in the weeks that followed. The restoral of the WWOZ radio station was a huge part of the recovery of New Orleans. Listening to 'OZ on the net got me down there just 5 months later, after hearing "what we need now is some tourists who like great food and real local music..."
Very timidly and gingerly, asking lots of permission of passers-by, we photographed some of the destruction in the time of the fraying FEMA tarps. Here's a building that caught my eye.
This house was just one of many scenes of loss that I saw, and it was in some ways modestly destroyed. It was not too ruined to hang new curtains and live in. The question in my mind was how much damage was sudden and how much was from slow poverty.
So a few years later, having a chance to return and to enjoy the continued revival, I went to find some of the same place. I as struck by this little house again.
Three years out the roof was fixed, but the board over the window was looking worse. I talked to a neighbor about how slow it was getting anyghint fixed, but I didn't run into the residents and I was left with all kinds of worried questions.
So in 2010 going back to New Orleans I knew I wanted to visit this little house on the corner once again.
And here we go. Paint. A for rent sign. Visible signs of renewal. Who had lived there, what had changed? Many people in the 8th and 9th Wards were home owners, so perhaps a success story was behind this, and there was a moving out to a better home while making this one a rental. Or perhaps there had been a sad leave-taking. My eyes saw all kinds of hard stories in the transitions, but that was only my worried guess. The physical city heals. The spirit of the city heals, too.
So that's good, but it's pretty faint comfort when I think about it. Sure, cities can come back. Not at issue. Take care of yourself in the face of a hurricane, my eastern friends and family. Don't be harmed. Buildings can be repaired and replaced. You be sure you can be healed, because I don't want you replaced. Stay safe.
Finally, to be optimistic as well as parnoid, I want to look forward and think about better preparation for future large natural disasters. For one thing, we could look at emergency cell phone capacity and require carriers to design for more coverage. That's one small change on the regulatory front that could allow people to take care of ourselves better, using services we purchase partly for emergency use, in the hardest times.