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Events mark the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

2nd September 2014   ·   0 Comments

Friday, August 29, marked the 9th Anniversary of the Katrina disaster and flood. The  African American Leadership Project held two events  to  offer  an  African-American  citizen  perspective  on the Quality of Life for Black New Orleans nine years after the hurricane.

On Friday August 29, AALP convened a press conference on the steps of City Hall and on Saturday August 30, the AALP held a follow-up Strategic Dialogue at the Free People of Color Museum. Both events were intended to challenge, and dispute the misperception  that all  citizens  (especially  Black  New  Orleanians)  are  equally benefitting/prospering  from  the  growth  of  the  city,  and  to  propose  concrete  alternatives  to   business as usual.   

According to the AALP, “Despite such rhetoric and public pronouncements of local leaders and institutions, the rosy recovery numbers do not tell the story of Black New Orleans. Disaggregation of the numbers as found in Bill  Quigley’s  Katrina Pain Index for 2013 (by neighborhood and race) reveals that there are in fact two cities, separate and unequal. One is doing well and thriving, and one falling further and further behind in virtually every category and indicator of well-being. In fact Black New Orleans appears to be even more separate and unequal than before Katrina.”

The  Katrina Pain Index for 2013 paints a picture of a Black community whose income and employment figures, education,  health,  transit,  and housing status and  incarceration  rates reflect substantial disparities and inequalities when compared with the white population of New Orleans. “We find no evidence that these numbers have substantially changed for the better in 2014. “It is these protracted disparities and inequalities that make New Orleans one of America’s most  UNSUSTAINABLE cities,” AALP said. Thus, the AALP is following up on this conclusion which was unanimously agreed to by the participants in Strategic Dialogue I.

A Community Voice encouraged residents and community leaders to remain focused on the challenges still faring many communities in New Orleans home years after Katrina. The grassroots organization hosted a protest Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at the intersection of Reynes Street and 5,900 St. Claude Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward.

“We still have a fight on our hands to get the funds spent in the Black neighborhoods that flooded,” A Community Voice said in a statement last week.  “Those funds were given to the city and state because of the damage in the neighborhoods, so spend them there.

“Another demand is to get the FEMA mitigation funds forgiven because residents spent them on our houses,” the statement continued. “Remember, the Road Home program discriminated as did the insurance companies, so folks didn’t have enough money to repair homes, Sen. Landrieu.

Return Armstrong School to use for and by the community.”

The group provided examples of funds that were used in unflooded areas of the city:

• $30 million — new park: Crescent Park in the Bywater/Marigny.

• $10+ million —  new park: Lafitte Greenway Park.

• $100 million —  Paving of streets and sidewalk repairs in the French Quarter, St. Charles, CBD and Magazine St.

• $100 million for parks and new buildings in Algiers.

Other events marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina included a memorial service in the CBD for the 1,600 residents who lost their lives in the devastating storm, a second line in the Lower Ninth Ward and the re-opening of Beacon Light Cathedral in Gentilly, one of the city’s largest congregations that had been forced to gather in other houses of worship until its own sanctuary could be restored. Beacon Light held a ribbon-cutting and worship service Friday.

This article originally published in the September 1, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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