A friend of mine sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal (PDF file) about the so-called ‘disaster tours’ that are now cranking up in New Orleans. My friend commented in his email about how ‘weird’ this was. Yeah, the disaster tours are controversial and definitely weird. Here’s my response to his email:
Yep, it is a weird world in New Orleans. And it’s a hard ‘weird’ to describe. It’s not like other weird things that you can analogize to; it’s got a lot of different things mixed in any one of which would be really strange all by themselves. I think the disaster tours are just another part of the weirdness. Some people instinctively recoil at the disaster tours because they look like an unnecessary weirdness, one that is perhaps a bit unseemly. But I think the tours are necessary. Overall, right now, New Orleans is enduring Category 4 weirdness but, unlike the last Category 4 thing that barreled through, we need to stay put and not flee. The post-Katrina weirdness (in all of its manifestations) can’t really destroy anything. It’s just part of the aftermath and we need to accept it. I think it’s great that people outside of the city want to see what happened and try to come to grips with it. You have to see the devastation to even begin to have a sense of how this tragedy is unfolding.
So that’s what I think about the disaster tours, but then maybe I was always a little weird, even before Katrina.
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I was just in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where they are still fixing up after Wilma blew through. To see the reaction of people to the still existing (minor in comparison) damage, I can’t imagine what it must be like in N.O. Maybe it is just something about people — we like to see the aftermath, whether it is a natural disaster or a car crash.
As creepy as it seems I have to agree with you in the sense that seeing is believing and understanding.
I was raised in BR, moved to south FL and have spent most of my life dodging hurricanes. I was on top of a mountain in Colorado when Katrina was breathing down your necks in Louisiana. Knowing the disinformation printed after Hurricane Andrew in Miami I have been very careful to try not to be in an area when the hurricanes take aim at an area. I could not stand on top of that peaceful mountain knowing what was about to happen to New Orleans. I came down from the mountain and notified our network-HEADS UP. We have a very large network (of investigators and researchers) that has been active for over 10 years. We know that in the very beginning of a catastrophe you can record newsclips etc and document truth which will later either disappear or somehow….alter or change to cover the truth. Knowing what disinformation the media is capable of and/or the untruths told by our federal government it was very important to pay close attention to the (live) TV, computer, relatives, friends, etc. and document or save files which could be used at a later date. I may have physically been in Colorado but my heart was in Louisiana with all of you and my family. More than once I wept as I saw the tragedy unfolding that DID NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN!!! You were living in the battle for your life but watching was absolutely horrible as well. I know it can not compare. I do understand more than most. Our area in SW FL was hit 3 times last year. Once the storm is gone there is a shell shock feeling and for some it lasted much longer than others. Once I knew the levees were blown I began searching for other times and dates with the same type of event. Sure enough I found them. The Great Flood of Missouri, the worst flood in the country until the day it happened unfolded the exact same way EXCEPT the fall guy was some man who remains in JAIL accused of blowing the levee. Videotape from a TV station was not admitted into the courtroom for his defense. I have a copy of the document I forwarded to others at that time if anyone is interested. MY POINT: I know it is no fun having others drive down your streets, slowly looking at the damage, HOWEVER you have to ALLOW them. In fact, if you have time-TELL THEM YOUR STORY! KATRINA must be kept alive!! If you guys don’t allow others in to see the damage and don’t continue to tell your story, your story will die!!! You cannot let it die, the bad guys who called the shots that caused the death and destruction should pay for what has happened. If we don’t hold them accountable, then it will happen again and again (as it has in the past). Everyday the news has another tragedy in this country or the world and everyone is overwhelmed but if you guys can SCREAM down there and keep KATRINA alive perhaps something will change for the better. God Bless You Guys!
This is a real catastrophe. A continuing one (oops I was almost digressing into the politcal arena there). I agree it is important for people to see it to understand it better, if they can tolerate it. Keep up the good work.
Things were like that after 9-11 in NYC too. People needed to see the building’s footprints. A lot of folks thought this was macabre. Then we came to realize that they needed to see it for themselves. For their own closure, for their own ability to deal with it. Like going to a wake.
We get tired of a lot of it sometimes. We walk around down there and try not to notice it. Those of us who need to get to work will never forget the day or those that came after or even before but we need to put it aside just to get through our day.
We sometimes lose patience when the visitors get in the way of our train or bus, but then we remember that they to have a need to honor our friends, and our nation. We are lucky to live here, and lucky to have a nation of people who care about us the way our countrymen do. We know that we will never forget. It is nice to know that niether will anyone else.
N.O. will return. It will be different. Better in some ways not as good in others, But when N.O. recovers, America will come back to her, Just as she has here in NYC. We will come to eat and party and celebrate Mardi Gras. We will come to visit all of you,listen to great jazz, and honor our friends who are no longer with us. I for one cannot wait to get there. Until that time, God Bless you all.
Well, maybe just a little.