My family and I just returned from a great trip back home for Christmas. My wife and I both grew up in Louisiana, and were a bit anxious about what we'd find back home after all the nasty stuff on TV about New Orleans and its post-Katrina, post-Rita craziness and despair.
The news is still bad down there...
Make no mistake about it - things are still bad back home. People in New Orleans are still without power and basic infrastructure in lots of areas. They are still living in campers and tents on their front lawns because they can't get into their mold-tainted, toxic houses. They're still finding bodies fairly regularly.
We visited my friend Paul last week while we were in Louisiana and got lots of first-hand reports. He knows families in his area that have an extra dozen or so people living with them because they have no place to go, no place to work, etc.
Paul maintains a blog -- check it out for some unvarnished, local perspective on what's happening in Louisiana.
And it's not just New Orleans - the bad news spreads across a huge portion of the Gulf Coast.
...but it's not all bad
But the news is not all bad. People are bouncing back and they are doing a lot to help each other. Christmas toy drives were going strong down there, people were giving like crazy to the local charities (and the national charities that help local people, like the Salvation Army), and churches and local service organizations are pitching in all over the place. In general, people are doing what they can to help each other regardless of race, religion, or whatever.
And it's not just New Orleans - the good news spreads across a huge portion of the Gulf Coast.
They sincerely appreciate the help they are getting
By the way - food, money, and other types of aid are still coming from all over the place. Up here in the greater Portland, Oregon area I've learned about (and participated in) all kinds of grass root projects to gather useful items and send them down south to people that need some help right now. And it's not going unnoticed down there, even though CNN seems to have moved on.
The people in Louisiana who are getting help from strangers around the world appreciate it very much. Really. So, even though the news coverage has died down a lot and is focusing on politics, the blame game, etc. -- there are a lot of people across the Gulf Coast who can use any extra prayers, charity, and good works we can spare.
If you're looking to drop in a last-minute donation while there is still time to take advantage of it on your 2005 taxes, check out my earlier post about how to make sure you're giving to a reputable, efficient charity and not a bunch of con artists.
By the way - for those of you who like data, I read an interesting article from Knight Ridder's news service today about the myths and realities of who was affected in New Orleans. It talks about how the death statistics just release are inconsistent with claims we've been hearing that Katrina's death toll was racially biased against minorities. Turns out, it was actually older people who died in disproportionately high numbers. Maybe Kanye West will start saying "George Bush hates old people," now.