Hurricane Katrina 2nd Anniversary Letter

New Orleans Almost 18 months after Katrina…

My dear friends of New Orleans, I am writing to update you nearly 18 months later. Progress is very slow. Everyone blames everyone else for the slowness of recovery. Therefore, the people have decided to rebuild on their own. Only those that have the resources can begin to rebuild their lives. Thousands have depleted the last of their life savings doing so. A friend just wrote me from New York several days ago. She asked me if New Orleans felt forgotten. I answered her back a resounding, “YES!” Thank God for customers like yourselves who have supported me during this difficult time. The kind words and emails have been deeply appreciated. Some emails have moved me to tears and these days that is not a hard thing to do.

The non-profits here are doing very hard work. They are doing a great job and need continued support. Volunteers have been coming in from all over the world to help gut homes and rebuild them. But volunteerism is slowing down and that is something that we need desperately. New Orleanians are still in the process of rebuilding their lives and this leaves little time for us to volunteer in our own city. Please see below for volunteer links to come and help us.

The French Quarter and Garden District are still as beautiful as they have ever been. Please come and pay us a visit. The areas that tourists love are intact and ready to be toured. Tours are being conducted on a regular basis. Our streetcar line in Mid City is up and running. The St. Charles streetcar will hopefully be repaired by winter 2o07. Jazz is being performed regularly at Preservation Jazz Hall and Snug Harbor. The restaurants and boutiques in the French Quarter are open and need visitors badly. Business owners in the French Quarter appeared on the local networks expressing that if this Spring/Summer doesn’t bring in enough money they will have to close for good. Many have exhausted their life savings keeping their small businesses open during the last year and a half.

President Bush is now saying that he is going to cut funding that he promised to Southeast LA back in September 2005. No matter what political affiliation you may have, I ask that you take a moment to email the President and ask him not to cut any funding to Louisiana due to flooding during Hurricane Katrina. The President stood in our beloved Jackson Square and promised us that he would do all that it takes to get New Orleans up and running again. Katrina was the largest man-made disaster in United States history. Yes, I said man-made. The pumps and the levees failed us. It is going to take the commitment of the entire country to help our region recover. Cutting funding to Southeast Louisiana will further hinder our region in its rebuilding efforts. Those of us living in this area can not afford to let that happen. Please see link below to email President Bush.

Twenty-eight states have levee protection within them. If you live in an area that is protected by levees, please visit the website listed below for information on the Army Corps of Engineers. New Orleans was not decimated by Katrina; she was decimated by a man-made disaster. The Corps of Engineers did not provide us with a functioning levee system or proper pumps. It was just made public last week that the Corps knowingly installed faulty pumps before hurricane season 2006. This could have been another deadly mistake for the Corps. Please see this link for information on their performance http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17597203/

Living here isn’t easy at this time but I can’t bring myself to live anywhere else in this world. New Orleans is my heart and soul. My people are strong and determined. I gain strength every day from the fortitude of my fellow New Orleanians. We will get this job done. But it is going to take years of support and help from those who don’t want to see New Orleans die. Please join us in our fight.

Much New Orleans Love,

Heather Elizabeth

Email the president: comments@whitehouse.gov

Or write: The White House,1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500

Volunteer links: http://www.volunteermatch.org/bymsa/m5560/c/opp1.html

Levee information in New Orleans and across the United States: http://levees.org/

Make plans to visit us: http://www.neworleanscvb.com/

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