One year ago
Our population sky-rocketed. Traffic was a mess, traffic lights had to be reset all over the area to handle the extra traffic, there was public panic. Yes, public panic. We ended up with about 2,000 people from the Super Dome. Narcotics departments on both sides of the river saw drugs they'd never seen here before, namely heroin and crack cocaine. Every single day. For two months. There was a carjacking at the hospital where my dad works, a sharp rise in burglaries and a couple of murders. We saw more crime in those two months than we'd seen in the last two years.
Then nearly one month later traffic came to a complete standstill when evacuation orders were issued for southwest Louisiana. It took me an hour to get home that day, and that was going the back way that is not an evacuation route. Lake Charles was a ghost town. And then came Rita. A week later I was shocked and appalled to hear a Red Cross worker refer to the hurricanes jointly as Katrita. I did manage to bite my tongue at that moment, since I'm in the tourist industry and they were tourists that day. But I've never forgotten it and I never will. It was insulting quite frankly. The Louisiana victims of Katrina that were on the news are a completely different breed of people from the Louisiana Rita victims. The Rita victims have quietly put their lives and homes back together. Without help from FEMA and the feds I might add.
I still applaud my parish for standing up to FEMA and saying no to a FEMA trailer park in Rapides Parish. A few parts of the country- namely Houston, now understand why the residents of Louisiana have a love/hate relationship with New Orleans. We need the tourism dollars for the state budget. What we don't need is the Lower 9th Ward. Pre-Katrina it was not safe to go down there if you're white. It had gotten to the point where tours of St. Louis Cemetary, which borders the Lower 9th Ward, were dangerous and sporadic. There are cops who wouldn't go down there for anything. The Lower 9th Ward ALWAYS had the highest violent crimes rate in the state, and usually the highest violent crime rates in the entire South. Rapes, carjackings, shoot-outs, murders, drug-deals gone bad and more happened every day down there. To save their own lives, NOPD generally ignored it. I never had the chance to go to the Chalmette Battlefield because the only way you could get there took you on the edge of the Lower 9th Ward. Many residents would not go into New Orleans without a gun. My dad was one of them.
I see Katrina in New Orleans as sort of a blessing in disguise. The 9th Ward was finally cleaned out and if the state has any sense at all they won't rebuild it. Most of those 60,000 people from there aren't coming back anyway. The New Orleans metro area is still losing residents, there are 18% fewer residents now than before the storm. They're leaving Orleans Parish for the surrounding parishes and states. With an idiot like Nagin in charge, I can't say that I blame them.