What I remember most about Katrina

We’re coming up on the 5-year anniversary of Katrina. On Saturday I’ll be at Rising Tide, a conference of New Orleans bloggers and other social-media types.

Here’s what I remember most about Katrina. Thanks to the kindness of people I barely knew, my wife and I had comfortable shelter during and immediately after the storm. Nevertheless, I remember waking up every morning during those days, and a thought crashing in seconds after I awoke: This isn’t a nightmare. It’s really happening. I really can’t go home. My city is really drowning.

Rising Tide IV

RT4 Although I’m not much of an activist, I’ve signed up for this year’s Rising Tide conference, to be held Saturday, August 22, in New Orleans. The conference is a gathering of NOLA bloggers and other lovers of New Orleans “to expand their on-line advocacy for the rebirth of New Orleans into a public event.” As a bonus, participants get to meet face-to-face some of the people they’ve developed on-line friendships with.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Harry Shearer. I’m hoping to get his autograph on my copy of “Smell the Glove.” I’m also hoping to get Greg Peters’s autograph on my copy of the commemorative poster he created (see picture at left).

If you’re interested in the conference, click here to learn more about it, and click here to register.

A third-year checkup

I am blessed—or have the disadvantage of—living on what’s been called “the sliver by the river,” or “the isle of denial,” the part of town that didn’t flood in 2005. Where I live, it looks like New Orleans has recovered from Katrina. The same is true of the places in town where I spend 100% of my time. Every now and then, I’m reminded that thousands of my neighbors are still struggling. One of those reminders is New Orleans, 3 A.K., an essay posted at People Get Ready. Please read it. Thanks. (Hat tip to Greg Peters.)

The Kelo backlash and the recovery

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held, in Kelo v. City of New London, that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit a state from expropriating private land for “economic development,” e.g. a Wal-Mart. In reaction, Louisiana (like many other states) amended its state constitution to prohibit such an expropriation.

Louisiana’s amendments may have the unintended consequence of impeding New Orleans’ recovery from Katrina. For instance, they may prevent the state or the city from expropriating a blighted property burdened with tax liens, and turning the property over to, say, Habitat for Humanity. For an informative analysis of this potential problem, read this post on by Craig Williams on May It Please the Court.