I notice I haven’t been writing about issues in the recovery of New Orleans nearly as much lately. That’s because my primary mission here is to write about what’s going on in my life, and my life has been more preoccupied by personal issues lately.
Nevertheless, I try to keep tabs on what’s going down in the world around me. I wouldn’t want to give the impression that the recovery is complete, or that it’s going great guns, or that it’s stalled either. We continue to creep forward, but at a slow pace.
This past week’s NBA All-Star festivities dramatize the point. By all accounts it was a huge success, as were the two college bowl games the city hosted in January. (And yet they say we’re not ready to host a presidential debate?) These are clear indications that certain sectors of the city are back, full force. But the really revealing moment was the massive volunteer day organized by the NBA. It was the biggest single volunteer event since the flood. What does it say about the state of the recovery, that we’re having the biggest volunteer effort two and a half years after the disaster?
As Cliff says, “I like the days of service but that also means that there are still hundreds of things that need to be done.” We have a long way to go.
I’m aware of this every day. All I have to do is look around me. Our renovation may be done (though in an old house the work is never really done) but on one side we have a house that’s half-built, and on the other side we have a house that hasn’t even been gutted since the flood.
Meanwhile around the city, FEMA is urging the 30,000 still in FEMA trailers to get out because the formaldehyde causes cancer. People are still waiting for Road Home checks. The streets still run with blood. And in Baton Rouge the new governor is trying to push “ethics reform” while his own administration fends off mounting allegations of impropriety.
Don’t get me wrong. We’ve made plenty of progress. But we still have a long, long way to go. A couple years ago I said it might take the rest of my life, and that’s looking like a good estimate.