The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Lower Ninth Ward, Part 6: Spreading the Health

This is the final chapter of this series. To read the previous installment, Lower Ninth Ward, Part 5: Swamps, click here.

To start at the beginning of the series, click here. And if nothing else, be sure to watch the music video at the end of this post.

There should never have been any doubt that New Orleans would recover, and though I have focused on the Lower Ninth Ward, similar efforts have taken place in other areas of the city. The French Quarter recovered quickly, as did the adjacent Faubourg Marigny district where we often stay.

In spite of the huge inadequacies of the government response (at all levels) New Orleans began recovery efforts almost immediately following Katrina. Here, 7 months after the storm, and just weeks before the 2006 hurricane season began, Father Michael Jacques of St. Peter Claver Church in New Orleans and others speak of the response by faith based organizations and community organizations that got the ball rolling. He speaks of the spirit of the people of New Orleans, and says their spirit was not broken.

Through epidemics of yellow fever and malaria in the 19th century and numerous fires and floods throughout its history, the city has always come back. The spirit that Father Jacques referenced, which has developed over the history of the city, is the reason.

And the residents of New Orleans are not selfish with their spirit. While we were there in July, the people of Iowa were experiencing sever flooding that destroyed towns and areas of several cities. Volunteers from New Orleans were in Cedar River, Iowa north of Cedar Rapids, helping Iowa flood victims to gut and repair their homes. An Iowa resident called the experience "trauma-bonding" and recalled how Iowans travelled to New Orleans following Katrina in 2005 to offer assistance.

In addition, a group of New Orleans nurses had travelled to Iowa carrying supplies they had gathered.

"When they pulled up to St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, the Iowa nurses started clapping.
The Louisiana nurses started crying."

"It was moving, almost spiritual, to see folks who had gone through a very similar set of circumstances reach out to us in our time of need," said Ted Townsend, the CEO of St. Luke's.

A truck load of surgical scrubs, Hubig's pies, Abita beer (and more) and a wealth of moral support was much appreciated by the Iowa nurses, but was also therapeutic for the nurses from New Orleans.

Hug a nurse. And be thankful.

So, I have shared what I learned about New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and the levees (as well as bit about the swamps near the city) and a little about the people of the city. The city is recovering, the Lower Ninth is recovering. The Marigny is full of music and bohemian fun. Go visit and enjoy.

This music video by SONOMA (Spirit of New Orleans Music Alliance), sung by Romy Kaye backed by Craig Cortello on guitar, is a good place to end this series.

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