Moving the Money: Kartina Plus Five

Community Organizing Ideas and Issues Louisiana Recovery Personal Writings Rebuild New Orleans
Vanessa's picture in the Times Picayune by David Grunfeld
Vanessa's picture in the Times Picayune by David Grunfeld

New Orleans    These things all take time.

I finally am bothering friends and family about how to make our fishing camp on the bayou abutting the Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge a mile up from Lake Ponchartrain useable again without rebuilding. A pontoon and pulley operation rather than a bridge, decking with temporary structures or tents or yurts, rather than a house-like thing, and adding ducks to fish as part of the attraction, are finally real discussions and plans.

I finally am starting to clean out the damage in the garage this weekend. Throwing away or salvaging tools that the water seeped in and rusted in the tool cabinet. Putting wrenches and sockets where they belong. Looking at the whole in the overhang floor and getting out the tape
measure to face the problem head on.

I’ve got a lot of feelings about the tons of articles, films, and whatever on the 5th anniversary. I’m mulling. I’m worried. We’ll cover that later.

I looked long and hard at the Times-Picayune’s picture today of Vanessa Gueringer, the
leader of A Community Voice in New Orleans, a pillar in the Lower 9th, and a woman whose
courage, conviction, and true grit have made her a personal hero of mine.

In a meeting in the lower 9 with city officials only a few days ago, Arnie Felkow, one of the city wide elected at large members of the New Orleans City Council, admitted that over the last year he and others on the council had moved recovery money that was earmarked for rebuilding the lower 9 to Algiers of all places, which was basically untouched by Katrina. How could that have been done? Why was it wrapped in silence? How can city officials be offended at the anger and attack of Vanessa, her neighbors and her organization, when they feel, correctly, that they are still being abandoned?

The big things are like the little things. Just like my work in the garage, rebuilding has a lot to do with removing layers of dirt and grime, and putting things back in their right places, throwing some things away and keeping others, whether it be finding justice for murders covered up in the water and chaos or even today keeping eagle eyes on every dollar to make sure it finds its proper path to people, there’s more to do than has been done, and we’ve only just begun.

Five years is forever and just yesterday when thinking of Katrina.