By Dr. Jolie Harris
March 23, 2006
Virginia, you either don't have a clue as to the scope of the destuction or you are a person with a heart of stone. The area of devastation is the size of the country of Great Britain. There are billions upon billions of tons of debris. Families, churches and businesses were wiped out overnight. And your response is "help yourself".
The city sat under 5-10 feet of water for weeks and then was barricated against the return of its population for weeks after it was drained. In a tropical environment that amounts to total destruction. 200,000 homes need to be gutted. But your response is to "help yourself".
Well, for seven months now, we have been helping ourselves because the federal government certainly isn't. It is so incompetant that many are still waiting for a FEMA trailer. They are still waiting for FEMA to release new flood maps so they will know if they have to raise their homes to be able to get insurance if they re-build.
The city of New Orleans as of two weeks ago has of yet not received one red cent from the government. Why? Red tape. Do you know that of all that money the government has "allocated" the biggest proportion is payouts of flood insurance claims that people paid premiums for?
As you sit in your comfortable home, people doing normal things and having your everyday life, we deal with trauma after trauma. Fighting with insurance companies that are not living up to their contracts, fighting with all sorts of government agenies that don't have a clue as to what the procedures really are, fighting to live in a new world where stores close at six PM, where there are few stoplights, or consistant mail delivery. And the people here endure because of their love of their city and their culture. That is truely the sad part of all of this is that none of you see the spirit of the people that remain in the area and are fighting for their homes and lives. I am so proud of them all!
I have seen the miles of destroyed neighborhoods (rich, poor and middleclass), I have stayed in Pass Christian, Ms and have seen the people living in tents amid the rubble months post Katrina, I have seen the hard working people of St. Bernard Parish that have NOTHING and are still able to laugh because if you couldn't laugh you would be crying all the time. You will never know what these people have been through and the strength they have shown. But don't worry. You are not helping any of them. Shame on America. The world is watching and believing we are a paper tiger. It can be you next. Get ready.
Truthfully, we are receiving some help. We are receiving help from churches and young people coming to the city to gut the houses of the elderly citizens. It is slow going because there are 200,000 homes to gut, but I thank them with all of my heart.
Dr. Jolie Harris
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