Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mom's report from New Orleans

Mom & Dad returned from their anniversary trip to New Orleans this week & Mom sent out this update on what impact their trip had on them. My friend Nick (student pastor in Houston) just got back from a mission trip in New Orleans & I know he would echo many of these comments from my discussion with him. Here are Mom's thoughts...

After visiting New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast line last week with Bob, I feel compelled to write and tell you about it. We had no idea what to expect, but Bob and I wanted to see if things were improving after Katrina. I can't think of enough adjectives to describe the devastation, but heartbreaking and sad are among the first that come to my mind. We stayed the the Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter, and the French Quarter looks fine. We stayed at this hotel on our honeymoon 30 years ago, and it is still lovely. The French Quarter and the area along the river only received minimum wind damage and did not flood. However, there were very few people there, and that was the case throughout most of the French Quarter. Everyone we encountered was very appreciative that we were there and were very gracious to us. Tourism is the #2 industry in New Orleans after the port, and it is very depressed. Many of the businesses in the French Quarter were not open, or were operating with a reduced staff. The D-Day Museum was open again, and it was wonderful.. The museum did not flood, but it did sustain considerable damage from vandalism.
Although it sounds tasteless, we took a Katrina Tour with Grey Lines. We would not have understood the immensity of the situation without this tour. About 85% of New Orleans was under water for three weeks, and only about 50% of the city now has electricity and water restored. Downtown skyscrappers, neighborhoods, shopping malls, hospitals, colleges, schools, etc. were destoryed and are either boarded up, or no one has touched them since August 30. The harbor on Lake Pontchatrain has boats on top of each other, in pieces everywhere, and only the roads around the area have been cleared.
Hopefully, the storms stay away from this area this summer, and the levees and flood gates that they are working on will help the situation. Our tour guide stayed during Katrina, but he admitted that he will be among the first to leave if it happens again. He did remind us numerous times that it was a "mandatory evacuation" , and that people made the choice to stay. The 300,000 + cars were evidence that people could have left, but decided not to go. The cars have been removed from the downtown area of the city, but we saw many ruined cars still in the neighborhoods.

When we left New Orleans we drove across Mississippi to Biloxi and could not believe the damage done by Katrina to that area. The roads are clear, but we still saw ruined boats beside the road, houses in shambles, and mounds of trash and rubble. At least in this area, they did not have the flooding, and most areas look like they are at least working on things. A couple of the big casinos in Biloxi are up and running, and some of the others are set to open.We felt much more hopeful about this area, but they still have a long way to go, too.

In closing, please remember this area and its people in your thoughts and prayers. I know that the government and many charitable agencies are helping, but it is such a massive job, that they will need our help for a long time. Please visit the area if possible and encourage others to go, too. They need us!!!

Thanks Mom for the reminder.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this on your corner. Hopefully many others will read it, too. We definitely need to keep remembering the area and its people and keep them in our prayers!
Love, Mom

Franki said...

Thanks for making people remember, it seems we forget to quickly.

San said...

It's so easy for this to be "out of sight, out of mind." Thanks for keeping this in our focus. A good word.