Our last show was a reaction to the immediate aftermath of Katrina and the abandonment of the people of New Orleans. In this program we reflect on the horrific and heroic things that have happened since. We’ll talk about things that everyday people are doing to take care of each other, the variety of ways we can each take part in the recovery, and the competing visions that are out there for rebuilding and resettling the Gulf coast region.
And shouldn’t this parade of hurricanes be enough to motivate our leaders to do something serious about global warming? We’ll talk a bit about where they’re at with that.
Since the last show, we’ve continued to keep up to date with what has happened from the three major hurricanes that have struck our southern states. Not only has there been major damage to New Orleans, but most of the gulf coast – inland for 50 to 100 miles – has been ravaged by these storms. These massive hurricanes damaged our southern coast – from Texas through Florida – and alot of the Carribean, including Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. We now know that the excessive warming of the gulf coast waters is a symptom of global warming. This is caused by human activities not only here, but in many areas around the world. Later in this show we’ll talk about the “Stop Global Warming” movement.We’re well aware of some of the catastrophic events that have happened in the rest of the world, including last year’s tsunami and this year’s devastating earthquakes. Our empathy goes out to all those who’ve been affected by the many tragedies that have occured. On our website — www.purplearth.net — you can find links to some of the organizations that are helping.
Although this show is focused on one area of America, there are many people in other countries who are also wondering what’s happening in New Orleans and the gulf coast. One of the reasons people everywhere are interested in our South is because this is where the roots of our modern music began, including blues, boogie woogie and jazz; all of which have influenced rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and even hip hop. In today’s show you’ll hear a wide variety of music from most of these genres. And in our next installment I’ll focus more on the food, music and culture of New Orleans and the surrounding delta regions.
Today we’re going to recap some of the recent news regarding what’s happening now in New Orleans and other areas that have been affected by the storms. We’ve read alot of stories from both mainstream and independent media.
Here are some of the things we’ve learned, starting with New Orleans:
– Before Katrina, New Orleans had a population that was almost 70% African-American. Recent estimates made by the US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development are that only 35-40% of these citizens will return.
– 40% of the homes were flooded and up to 60,000 homes may have to be demolished.
– The city could lose up to 1/2 of its 115,000 small businesses.
– It could take up to ten years to rebuild New Orleans to Category 5 standards.
-There’s an estimated 3 million truckloads of downed trees, piles of mud, fiberglass insulation, abandoned cars and household contents littering the New Orleans area. And that’s not counting the stuff that’s still in peoples homes, which may end up on the streets after evictions.
– 41% of businesses in Louisiana have been adversely affected by the storms.
– Katrina destroyed more than 70,000 homes in Mississippi.
– According to MSNBC, 90% of buildings along the Biloxi-Gulfport Mississippi area were destroyed.
– Hurricane Rita has caused more damage to oil rigs than any other storm in history.
– All of the beaches in Cancun have virtually been destroyed because of Hurricane Wilma.
– Many African-American, latino and poor urban neighborhoods had to wait weeks to have power restored after Hurricane Wilma hit the Miami area, although the affluent and tourist areas had power back within 24 hours.
Millions of people have been affected, either by having their homes damaged or destroyed, or by having loved ones whose lives were changed because of the destruction from this series of violent hurricanes. Our hearts go out to them.
I just finished reading some recent first hand accounts of how people are still living in their mold infested homes in New Orleans; in pieces of houses, with tarps as ceilings and walls, in communities all along the coast; and in tents in yards everywhere along the gulf coast. When the winter rains set in, these places won’t be very habitable. And now people who went from flooded neighborhoods, to indoor stadiums, to hotel rooms; are now being told, as winter approaches, that they may only have a couple weeks more, and then what? Some estimates are that it may take several years for New Orleans and the gulf coast to recover. What about the diaspora of people, mostly African-Americans , who’ve been lost, separated and dispersed across our country. Not to mention the thousands who are still missing. Some people feel that the neglect became genocidal. It sure looked that way from here. What are we going to do about it? We must continue to help all of those in need to find their loved ones And those who were affected by these storms must be compensated for what they’ve lost.
During major disasters such as the aftermath of Katrina, Americans traditionally get help from the National Guard. Unfortunately, many of the local National Guard units had been deployed to Iraq. So not only were thousands of trained personell unavailable to help, but loads of generators, mobile kitchens, helicopters, high-water vehicles, and all kinds of other equipment that was badly needed at home was deployed to an insane war halfway around the world.
Despite the criminal negligence of our government to help those who’s lives have been affected by these hurricanes, there have been some everyday people who’ve gone down south to help lend a hand. Most of these efforts haven’t made it to the front pages of your local paper or on the nightly news reports. Alot of this information came from reading some of the various blogs that we scan daily. We learned about various kitchens set up by several alternative groups including Food Not Bombs and the Rainbow Family of Living Light. These groups have sometimes fed more than a 1,000 people per meal. Organic Valley, an organic farmers cooperative based here in Wisconsin, teamed up with the Family Farm Defenders to deliver several busloads of food, people, and equipment to some of these kitchens. In little towns in Louisiana and Mississippi, and also in New Orleans, these groups have helped when FEMA didn’t respond for days and sometimes even weeks. Even now, more than 2 months after Katrina and Rita, there’s a great need for money, supplies and people power. Just remember if you donate to the American Red Cross or the United Way that you’re helping to pay for their CEO’s 6 figure incomes. The best way to get the money to where you want it to go, is to try to find an organization that is actually getting the money and supplies to those in need. Once again check our website for more information. We’ll give the address again a little later.
There was a Road Trip for Relief that converged on New Orleans during this past Thanksgiving week. Hundreds of people from all over the country showed up. This event helped to kick off a plan to rebuild the communities affected, from the ground up. Organized by a group called Common Ground Collective, this community-run organization is offering assistance, mutual aid and support for areas in and around New Orleans that have been neglected and underserved. Volunteers from all over the country are helping them provide relief for hurricane victims throughout the gulf coast region. Together they are providing health care services, legal assistance, and moral support, among other skills. As most things organic happen, there has been a blossoming of interaction between many people, coming together to help. There is also a need for help in carpentry, renovating, scavenging, reclaiming, reusing and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. So if you have any of these skills, don’t mind sleeping on a floor, and want to help by being there, this group is for you. But make sure you contact the collective before going. If you plan to be there soon, there will be a Stop Global Warming party on Saturday, Dec. 3, at several locations around New Orleans. The following weekend will be very busy. On December 8 and 9, people will be meeting in Jackson, Mississippi for the National State of Emergency Conference. Representatives and leaders from over 50 African-American organizations, labor unions, and their allies will meet with hurricane survivors and their supporters to exercise their right to self-determination and initiate an action plan. On December 10, which is International Human Rights Day, there will be a march on New Orleans.
Today as I listened to this song I pictured an African woman;
naked, spread eagle, having been brutally beaten, then left for dead.
Nobody around who cared.
As the days passed, her body disappeared into the swamp.
After a while, everyone forgot about her.
Not even remembering who she was, or even her name.
Then one day, in the not too distant future, she showed up.
There she was, as though nothing had ever happened.
Laughing, crying, joyful, sad, mad and even glad.
Because we finally remembered her name.
Mother, our one and only mother earth.
She loves us, which is why she came back.
But she won’t stay unless we love her too.
There are many grassroots organizations that are helping those who have been disenfranchised the most –African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and even an organization out of Kansas that helps disabled children. There are organizations all over the country who are helping artists and musicians, including Project Heal, the Backbeat Fund, Afropop Worldwide, and the Jazz Foundation of America, just to name a few. Check out our website, to find out more about these various organizations, and for other ways to help. We’ve also included points for visiting activists to consider. You can get to New Orleans on Greyhound from Baton Rouuge and on Amtrak from Chicago or New York. The train that comes from Chicago is called the City of New Orleans; it’s the one we rode when we were there. It goes through Memphis, Tenn. and Jackson, Miss., into the heart of the delta, ending at New Orleans. If you are taking public transportation, make sure you have made arrangements in advance to be picked up, as there is still limited public transportation in New Orleans.
Right now in New Orleans there is an opportunity to renovate and rebuild the city and surrounding area. It can be a model community that inspires not only the people living there, including those currently displaced, but also those who come to visit. Unfortunately, there’s a group of developers who see an opportunity to remake New Orleans and the gulf coast into their Disneyesque version of the Old South. But there is also a strong Rebuild Green movement in the area that is comprised of not only local people, but many organizations and volunteers from all over the country. They envision a sustainable community that works with nature and technology. The idea is to lift the poor to safer economic and social ground, and to create an economy of creativity while becoming a clean green showcase. Go to our site for links to the various groups involved in these efforts.
As we noted earlier, there is a direct connection between the deadly hurricanes and global warming. From November 28th to December 9th, over 150 nations will be represented at the Climate Conference in Montreal. Most of those who will be present are signers of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. They’ll be discussing the latest developments concerning this deepening world crisis. The representatives of the United States government, however, will be trying to block any positive action. Because of this, a day of action has been called, around the world, for Saturday, December 3. Many cities and towns will be having events. Links to several sites regarding this day of action can be found on our website. As with Earth Day, we must try to do something about global warming everyday. We have to rethink every single thing we do that uses energy other than our own. The biggies are heating, cooling and driving. Turn down the heat. Turn off the air conditioner, use a fan and open the windows. Live closer to work, so that you can walk or bike to work. You’ll get exercise and save the air you breathe. Take a train or bus to commute or when traveling. Yeah, it might take a little planning ahead. But like I mentioned before, we each have to rethink and then act wisely.
We have listeners all over the world who are interested in what’s really happening here in the states. That’s why we’re here to share our perspective and the things we find that we think you’ll want to hear about. On our website you can read an interesting story from an Arab News source. The writer shares his own memories of visiting New Orleans and then wonders why more wasn’t done after the hurricane to help those in need. He then goes on to examine other times in history when cities have died and sometimes been reborn. You can also read Charmaine Neville’s terrifying first-hand account of leaving her flooded neighborhood in New Orleans. There are stories from other survivors and also some of the people who have helped lthem. This last week has been very busy newswise, with many stories regarding New Orleans and our gulf coast. Links to these stories and more can be found at www.purplearth.net.
In our next show, already in progress, we’ll take an audio tour of the delta areas of our south, home of the blues, jazz, and rock and roll. And we’ll see what’s cooking in New Orleans, including upcoming parades and festivals. Plus the latest news and views. Thanx for listening and for sending us feedback. Until next time, take care.