Monday, April 16, 2007

Renew Orleans

For me, one of the most powerful moments of our New Orleans trip was when we visited the lower 9th Ward (the neighborhood that received the most damage from Hurricane Katrina). I had visited the area during Oct 2005, during the World Race orientation, so I felt as if I had some idea what to expect.

This time, however, I was not surprised by the level of damage that I witnessed, but by the fact that for the most part, people are not returning to the area. Some debris has been cleaned up, some houses have been torn down and hauled away, but the only thing that is coming back is nature. Dead lawns are being replaced by growing weeds, houses stripped of their siding are now being covered in vines. I was reminded more than once of war-torn Bosnia: where buildings bombed out by the war now serve as oversized planters for trees, branches poking out of gaping windows.

So often, we feel that as Americans we are somehow sheltered from experiencing profound tragedy. One walk through the lower 9th Ward easily proves that is not the case. Let's not forget about our brothers and sisters in Louisiana; may their tragedy stir us to compassion and action, for as long as it takes to rebuild broken lives and Renew Orleans!

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