August 7, 2008

NOAH and the flood

This could end up being the story/controversy of the year. In terms of the effect on the national perception of the city, its government, and, sadly, its citizens, this is a bad one.

"'A group of kids took the stuff out," she said. "The only people who helped me was people from outside the city.'" -Doris Dupre, whose house was gutted by volunteers but was on a list billed to the city by NOAH, which took credit for the gutting.

The Times-Pic and WWL-TV deserve credit for chasing this story and keeping on it like it was mayor of Mandeville. The question is, when does the national press pick it up? And what will Nagin's next response be?

And what do these kids think when they get the news? That the something-in-the-corner-of-your-eye that hints of the depth of this city's plight, the brooding forces that don't care a thing for matching t-shirts, that have always lurked in corners of City Hall, that they have spit on your bus and made their own money off your spring break?
At this point, nothing the city says about the rebuilding can be taken for granted. Citizens knew that already, but once again, the world will be let in on the sick joke.
"'The idea of this program always seemed silly to us, because we have hundreds of volunteers each month. There's no reason to hire professional demolition crews to gut houses for old people...It was always kind of funny, though. We knew at the time that something weird was going on. They wouldn't e-mail the lists. You had to drive by City Hall and pick it up from somebody.'" -Amanda Davis, homeowner coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese disaster response office.
Again, all we can think is that the Administration, in the equivalent of a war crime against the recovery, is letting cronies make money off of both suffering and good will. Wow.