Today I had perhaps the most unique experience that I have ever had in my lifetime. I began walking the streets of New Orleans and speaking to people on a one on one basis. This may seem odd to you, and perhaps it is, but I canvassed New Orleans today not as a citizen but as a candidate for Mayor.
I am certain the last statement made you blink, but I have been to far too many meetings and witnessed far more rhetoric than I can stomach. Nothing is being accomplished.
And so I went looking for the few that are working to restore their lives. I discovered nothing but tragedy.
I walked New Orleans East; a predominantly black section of the City; the middle class African-Americans. The meetings that I have attended over the past month have highlighted one thing: New Orleans East has been forgotten. I have a difficult time understanding how elected officials can forget about a portion of their own city. But they have. New Orleans East deserves the attention that every other section of the City is getting.
My friends at FEMA has fallen off of the American radar screen and they should not have. FEMA is currently wasting more of your money than can be seen by the eye. I have complained about the sluggish trailer delivery rate, but there is much more egregious malfeasance under the surface. As the trailers trickle in one by one, they become utterly worthless when they do not have electricity. Understand that power has been restored to most of the neighborhoods; getting the wire from the utility pole to the trailer is another thing.
I wish that I could tell you that getting the electricity to the trailers was the worst of the trouble, but it is not. I met a man this afternoon who has had a trailer since mid-October. Up until this week he HAD electricity. When the trailer was delivered he had an electrician run conduit from the trailer to the pre-existing electrical service on his flooded out home. This Wednesday he came home to find a temporary pole installed by the trailer according to FEMA specifications and that the pre-existing service to his house had been disconnected. The problem is that there is no wire from the utility pole to the temporary pole and no-electrical meter installed. Now he is living in a hotel room at his own expense.
And this demonstrates the problem with FEMA. Everyone, from the guy supplying the tires to the guy erecting temporary electric services, has to have their cut of your Federal Tax dollars. All the while people are in desperate need of housing. How is it that, we, in America, can give someone a temporary place to live so that they can rebuild their lives and not provide them with readily available and accessible utilities? FEMA is only enriching contactors and not assisting people in their time of need.
Through out the flooded areas the situation is all the same. Most people have gutted their homes and now ponder the next step. No one knows what to do next. Thousands upon thousands of empty shells sit vacant because no plan has been put forward by any governmental agency to move things forward. Life has become a constant battle. The battle with the mold; the battle with the insurance company; the battle to get a trailer, the battle to get utilities; the battle to get building permits; and the battle with the uncertain future looming ahead.
I have been vigorously advocating a system of redundant levees. My theory is that if one levee fails the entire City does not flood. But progress is painstakingly protracted ad infinitum. And it should not be. People outside of New Orleans shudder at the cost of rebuilding. Nothing is more distasteful to me than to watch money being poured into New Orleans with minimal impact. If you believe that New Orleans is slowly coming back to life as a result of your hard working tax dollars, I warn you, be not deceived. It simply is not true.
The people of New Orleans are warehoused in hotel rooms, travel trailers and tents. With all of the money being wasted on pork projects for the cronies of politicians we could build everyone who has lost a house to flooding a new home. And that is the crime I witnessed on the streets this very day.
More information about Johnny Adriani’s campaign for Mayor of New Orleans is available at his website.