Tag Archives: NOLA

Real Life, Real Tragedies in the Pandemic

Pearl River     Trump is in trouble, and it’s getting worse.  Reportedly, top Republicans and their political strategists are trying to tell him that his daily press meanderings are hurting him, and that he needs to step aside and let the health experts handle the news.  He can’t seem to stop.  He’s addicted to the ratings, even this narcistic drug kills him at the polls.  A CNN poll found that registered voters were considerably more likely than nonvoters to give the federal government’s handling of the pandemic a bad review with 57% of voters rating it as poor, while 39% gave it positive marks.  His core constituency of seniors over 65 is also eroding rapidly as they fearfully watch his horror show at home.

Every Friday evening in our shared workspace, I sometimes hear bits and pieces of the weekly call of ACORN’s affiliate, A Community Voice, and its leaders in New Orleans discussing plans for the week and the impact of various issues, including the pandemic on their members.  These calls often run over ninety minutes, and then there are sometimes members who call to talk more after the formal call has ended.  From the other room, I can hear them opening with singing and sometimes closing with a long prayer.   When the call is on a speaker phone, it is frequently moving.

Last night one of the old members returned a call, answering a message from earlier in the day.  She hadn’t been able to copy the call-in number quickly enough.  She was an old lower 9th Ward member, who had been forced out by the post-Katrina economic squeeze.  Taxes and utilities were too high.  She now lived on the West Bank in Gretna and her utilities were only $40 a month and her taxes were about the same.  She didn’t necessarily like it, but she could afford it there.  She had had a tough week in the pandemic.  Her 78-year old brother, who she was extremely close to, had died.  Earlier he had gone into the hospital and been sent home with a diagnosis of pneumonia.  A little more than a week later he was back in the hospital and the test confirmed coronavirus.  He was dead within days.

Mi companera shared her grief and sorrow and asked about her best friend and running buddy at many actions and meetings who lived in the Treme.  This ACV activist was trying to hold on to her house.  The bank seemed to be allowing her to make some partial payments.  The taxes in this gentrifying area were suffocating her.  Tragically, her brother also died in the same week as her friends.  Covid-19 claimed another older African-American man in this city where death per capita is virtually leading the country.  In our lives, death seems everywhere now.

These women are not the core demographic for President Trump, but older men and women of all races and ethnicities are going to be more than able to judge how the president decides whether they are his priorities or whether Fox News, Wall Street Journal editorialists, Wall Street, and his rich and business friends matter more to him than their lives.

Real life and real tragedies in the pandemic, rather than the bubble around the Potomac are going to drive the polls more than the ratings.  If the elderly are fearing for their lives, Trump should fear for his political life, and right now he’s on a death watch whether he knows it or not.

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Twelve Years Since Katrina, and Water Rising in Houston May Teach New Lessons

Houston flooding

New Orleans   A tiny frog hopped out from under the dryer in our kitchen this morning to mark the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the wet water wonder world engulfing us today.

It’s still dark outside though close to 9 in the morning with a steady rain pouring since the predawn from our share of Tropical Storm Harvey that continues to inundate the Gulf Coast and has turned Houston’s bayous into small rivers and whole neighborhoods into lakes. The papers compared the differences and similarities between Harvey and Katrina. We had a record storm surge. They have a record rain that eventually may top 4 feet in some spots and has already equaled the average annual rainfall amount in others.

Local 100 represents school workers, but the schools have all been closed and won’t open until after Labor Day at best. We know from Katrina that some schools, as well as other public and private buildings, may be so damaged that it may be months, not days before they reopen. Where I was supposed to stay tonight in Houston on my original travel schedule reports that they have electricity, but no water, making it a campground of sorts. Chaco and I were going to catch our almost annual Houston Astros game tonight and tomorrow night against the Texas Rangers, but that game is now being played in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Rays stadium. All of my Houston work is now pushed to the end of next week, when we hope everything has dried out and things are back to normal.

We know from Katrina though that the so-called “new” normal is simply an expression that things can never be as they were before. Hearing the New Orleans mayor report that one pump in the city caught on fire and has been taken off line and trying to assure the citizens here on the Katrina anniversary that we can handle 10 inches of water if it falls between Tuesday and Friday is hardly comforting. Of course there is a “but,” as in, but if a rain “band,”as they now call them, stalls over us, many areas are in trouble.

The never normal is now coming to Houston just as it did to New Orleans, but maybe there’s a bigger difference than the papers have listed. Houston is not a majority African-American city, and is a thriving, economic engine throughout their metropolitan area growing great guns. Land is worth more, and there is more wealth. New Orleanians saw that in the response and welcome of the Houston to our refugees.

Looking for a silver lining to this climatic catastrophe, perhaps Houston will marshal the will and resources to grab the bull by the horns and finally do something different to prepare for the next time, rather than refusing to learn – or afford – the lessons of this time. Breaking out of the denier mode and forging a new path would be a gift in Houston for all Texans, and for all of the rest of us it would also show the direction and force us to follow.

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