In another New Orleans neighborhood, Althea Washington was getting used to the new circumstances of her life. She and her husband, Bertrand, had raised three children in Pontchartrain Park , with its neat brick houses and tree-lined streets. Bertrand, a retired assistant principal, loved Mardi Gras. Althea shuttled him from one caregiver to another until finally she had to admit him to a suburban nursing home. Some 60 miles away, outside the rural town of Empire, Louisiana , Neang Pum spent her days harvesting shrimp.
They would take their blue-and-white boat into the Gulf of Mexico for days at a time.
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He would steer by moonlight. She would haul in the nets, then sort the shrimp by weight. When the sun came up, the couple, both in their 60s, covered themselves with mosquito netting and slept away the heat of the day. I tried to work hard so I could have money to be comfortable. None of these Louisianans could have ever imagined how quickly and thoroughly their lives would be changed by Katrina, that apocalyptic force of wind, water, and fire that killed 1, people and ravaged 90, square miles of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
While the Mississippi coast experienced a modest exodus of its population, New Orleans and nearby St. Bernard Parish went from , people before the hurricane to a population of only , today, according to state and federal estimates. After Katrina, Shirley Thomas rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
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For them, the nightmare caused by Katrina is still very much in the present. Housing, particularly senior housing, is in short supply. Rents are sky-high. Many supermarkets and pharmacies remain closed, and public transportation is unreliable. Reconstruction funds are slow in coming. As of June the program had disbursed funds to only 29, homeowners of the , who applied. Even before Katrina, New Orleans had a dysfunctional medical system that relied heavily on hospital emergency rooms for routine care. Geriatric care is especially scarce, says DeSalvo. Under these circumstances some community leaders have warned those with chronic medical conditions not to return.
Althea Washington, the retired teacher, discovered that firsthand. Just before Katrina hit land, she fretted over whether to evacuate. She planned to go right back and check on Bertrand as soon as the hurricane passed. The communications broke down. Things got more serious. Things got tragic. Several days later Althea ended up in Houston. It was there she heard about Sun East, a senior apartment complex in nearby Jacinto City that was taking in evacuees. Later she sent her son to check on the family home. The floodwaters had climbed nine feet, the roof had a hole, the interior was covered with mold.
Everything was gone. In New Orleans Althea sang in her church choir.
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Some of my choir members are gone. I will not see them again because they are in other parts of the country. Many still live with relatives or in cramped FEMA trailers in half-deserted neighborhoods. Their own houses are uninhabitable; their savings are gone; their friends and relatives have scattered. Depression and stress disorders are common. Ruth Haas looks at one of the few surviving objects from her Lakeview home.
After the storm passed, Anthony started walking the two miles back to their home to rescue their cat.
When he got near the house, he saw that the water was rising and he turned back. Then his cell phone gave out, he got stuck, and the former Marine was evacuated to Thibodaux, Louisiana. Finally, after ten days, he ended up with relatives in Abbeville, miles from New Orleans, where Ruth went to meet him. They never did find out what happened to the cat.
His blood pressure is up; he had to get a heart pacemaker.
He quit exercising and even abandoned his favorite hobby of sketching portraits. One hidden casualty of Katrina has been self-sufficiency. They suffered psychologically and physically, and after the storm they became more frail. This has caused an unprecedented migration to institutional care.
Article The untold story
In Louisiana alone, 1, people had to be moved into nursing homes after Katrina, according to a Department of Health and Hospitals survey. Maurice Frisella waited out the storm, and paid a huge price. Maurice Frisella, the retired altar boy, weathered the storm with his friend Buzz Burkhardt in their Victorian home. Their bathroom collapsed, but the house never flooded. For a few days they subsisted on peanut butter, crackers, and candy.
Finally, Maurice stepped outside, into water that rose to his knees. Tree limbs and furniture floated by; Maurice stopped to catch his breath in a floating wingchair. We have no one around here with us. Wading to an elevated median, the two men were picked up by a National Guard truck, given blue paper suits, and airlifted to a nursing home in Gonzales, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge. For a duo accustomed to sipping Port wine in a hundred-year-old home, it was a disorienting turn of events.
Buzz, once husky, pronounced the food unpalatable and stopped eating; he dropped to pounds. Maurice experienced medical problems of his own. It was all so strange. Though Hope in the Dark first came out in response to the Bush administration's invas 4. Though Hope in the Dark first came out in response to the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq, many of its lessons apply to how awful, racist, sexist, etc. Rebecca Solnit achieves depth by creating a cohesive, inspiring, and urgent argument about the importance of hope, and she achieves breadth by applying this argument to feminism, gay rights, climate justice, Native American activism, and more.
One of the passages that stood out to me the most and made my heart soar: "I say all this because hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say it because hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal.
Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope. To hope is to give yourself to the future,, and that commitment to the future makes the present inhabitable. On a side note, this book helped me process my grief about the cancellation of my favorite TV show, which I write about here. I look forward to carrying this book's lessons into my future, which I will fill with actions and thoughts and hope. View all 4 comments. Mar 10, Kristina Horner rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , audiobooks. I really needed this.
I've been listening to this book sporadically over the past month or two on my commute and it left me with a lot of new ideas that are really helping me get through a lot of the crap going on right now. It's a great book. Biggest takeaway was that we shouldn't be afraid to celebrate small wins, even if the fight isn't over. The fight is never over. We can always improve, there's always going to be more causes to fight for, but we have to celebrate progress - and then keep fi I really needed this.
We can always improve, there's always going to be more causes to fight for, but we have to celebrate progress - and then keep fighting.
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It's what will keep us from losing that hope we need to keep going. I also loved this: "Despair is a form of certainty, certainty that the future will be a lot like the present or decline from it. Optimism is similarly confident about what will happen. Both are grounds for not acting. Hope can be the knowledge that reality doesn't necessarily match our plans. Its hard for me to exaggerate how important I feel this book is and how personally relevant it was for me to read it right now.
Rebecca Solnit's prose, per usual, is a pleasure to read, but more than that, she hits home with her message for anyone who feels overwhelmed, terrified, discouraged and desperate about the current state of affairs in politics, the environment and social issues. Over and over again, her retelling of a story allowed me to reframe a story of my own, personal and public.
W Its hard for me to exaggerate how important I feel this book is and how personally relevant it was for me to read it right now. We live at a critical moment in history - at a time when its easy to look around and say, I can't do anything about this mess.
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That's the easy answer. The more complicated and hopeful answer is to do the thing that life is demanding of us anyway, with no guarantees, and to do it with faith that it will have some far reaching impact of which I may never be aware. This applies in private life as well as public. There is no certainty to be had. That which we work for today may never come to pass, but our job is to join with others and do the work anyway - with courage, creativity, passion and pleasure - and never stop believing no matter what the news says.
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