Hi Sky Dancers!
It’s Friday, and it’s been quite a week for me. I want today’s post to be a more personal story. I live in a city with worn-out infrastructure that’s on the frontline of climate change. We have all the usual urban problems that all cities have these days, including opioid abuse and challenges with families and people struggling to make ends meet.
Let me introduce you to the place that used to be my favorite neighbor when I moved down to my neighborhood about 23 years ago from the French Quarter. I lived 5 doors up from an active navy base filled with marines and sailors. It had been the center of the Navy’s Logistics and Supply since World War I.
Daily, I was greeted with the “sound off” song of marines and soldiers jogging down my avenue. The street was filled with houses owned by gay men, and I frequently went over to drink some coffee on a porch during the daily jog that happened slightly after reveille sounded. I always felt relatively safe here even though tourists and many people didn’t venture here, which was fine by me. Most everyone was either in the service industry or some work related to the port. We had the usual neighborhood bars and old-school food places. That was until Hurricane Katrina.
Afterward, the base’s operations were moved to Jackson, Florida, in one of those Dubya Bush/Turd Blossom political moves because Jeb was Florida’s Governor and Florida was and still is a critical swing state. They gave the base to the city with money to maintain it. Here’s what it looks like today.
Let me tell you about my day-so-far and month. Today, I woke up to the sound of a rape happening there. I hear everything because it’s a big echo chamber pointed at my house. There was some kind of music for a few hours before dawn back there near the old gas station. However, it wasn’t as bad as what happened Saturday night, when an illegal rave went on again from dusk to dawn with its loud, thunka thunkas repetitively screeched out by driving electric bass and drums.
Last week, I had to call 911 because there was essentially a shoot-out that was still going on when I was talking to the operator. Over a dozen rounds from two guns endlessly ringing out. They sent three cars, but I have no idea what went on. I told the operator I wasn’t going to go out and take a look. Thank you very much, and I’m sorry I have to keep sending police over there.
The place is home to about 300 homeless–mostly drug addicted–people. They’re also pretty young. There’s an encampment behind a locked gated area with tents. Then, there are the folks that grab a room in the base and essentially live there. There’s even a free store over there where everyone dumps their extra street grabs. There are frequent fires too. If you’re suspected of stealing someone’s stash, your room gets set ablaze. Stuff also gets dumped out the window. All the furniture and things the navy left there have been essentially destroyed or sold off.
I also lost my power early this morning for the second time this week. This time there was no reason given. The early Monday fire that burned a friend’s house mostly down was associated with a power outage. Two weeks ago, a blazing transformer caused another power outage. Our feeder lines fell in the Mississippi during Ida, and I was without power for over 2 weeks and I’m wondering if it’s all due to that and old wiring in old houses. Now, my laundry room has no power in it, and I’m trying to get an electrician out to see what happened. However, I just got told by my dearest Allstate that my damage didn’t meet my $7,800 named hurricane deductible that has reduced some from the $12,000 named hurricane they gave me after Katrina. It was suspiciously the amount of money they gave me for damage too. I’ve got to go back to FEMA yet again.
So, my point with all of this is that this shouldn’t be normal in any city, but it is expected here. We’re lucky the Corps of Engineers up-armored our flood defenses with new and expensive equipment after Katrina. We didn’t flood this time. We’re fortunate the Public Sewerage and Water Board figured Entergy outages into their plans a few years back, and their backup generators stayed on, or the entire area would have lost potable water. Entergy–a for-profit company–failed and is failing us miserably. It still is, as far as I can tell.
After Hurricane Katrina, the LLC that serves New Orleans declared bankruptcy and passed all the costs on to us. Even before then, we had some of the highest electric rates in the country. I was in charge of the budget of the Atlanta Fed and its branches for several years. One of the extensive reports I always had to write was why the New Orleans Fed had higher power bills than the SF Fed, the NYC Fed, and all of the Fed Branches in the country. Take a guess. And this was way before Katrina. Privatization of Public Services should not be a default option for policy. Letting them literally get away with murder during storms should be a disqualifier.
So, I would like some sympathy and help like the rest of my neighbors, but that’s not why I’m writing this. Well, maybe a little. However, I want to warn you that it’s coming to a city near you if it hasn’t already. Think of Texas and its adventure in being out of the grid during a winter storm. Think of Florida, where buildings are collapsing because they were built near sandy buildings where water has encroached and exposed bad building practices and again, maintenance on the structure.
This is what you get with years of ignoring infrastructure and undermining nature by ignoring the impact fossil fuels have had on the climate and geography of the one planet we all live on. It impacts our health and our ability to live safely with what should be normal services in a developed country like ours.
So, this brings me to why we should be fighting like hell for all the Build Back Better Plan components and thankful that it’s really infrastructure week. The funds going to Louisiana and New Orleans are much needed. Both of my Senators are educated men with a tendency to kowtow to idiots. However, this is one bill that we owe thanks to one of my Senators who is now experiencing the full treatment of the confederacy of dunces. He helped write, sponsor, and cast a yes vote for the bill. He did have some coverage from McConnell but the Republican Base has been threatening every Republican who voted yes.
Please stay on top of all the infrastructure, climate change initiatives, and social structure needed to truly correct our course that got so skewed starting in the Reagan years. My neighbors and I stand as anecdotal evidence to all that bad policy from closing down mental health facilities to privatizing things that didn’t need to be privatized and selling out to the drug and fossil fuel industries. Let’s take our no war atm bonus and solve those problems.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Happy Birthday to hometown hero Jon Batiste and congratulations on all the success with this album! Here’s everything that’s right about my home town! Watch him and the band play his beautiful music!