We don't care much for anniversaries on this program, solemn remembrances of stories long since past. But tonight we come to you from New Orleans to report on a story that is still very much unfolding. Two years ago tonight these streets were filling with water. Levees poorly build over decades on shifting sand failed. And two years ago tonight what was a national disaster became, very quickly, a man made one. Now, two years later, the recovery of this city, this region, is underway and it too is man made. Two years ago government failed, the people here have not. New Orleans is rising again. ~ Anderson Cooper What a great beginning Anderson's words were to an amazing special edition of AC360 from NOLA. We were reminded of the gentle spirit of Ms. Connie and the utter devastation of the woman in Waveland who knelt on the lawn where her home had stood, trying to uncover something of her lost life. And the wonderful attitude of Myrtle who "vacuumed her house to the moon so when they came back they'd have a pleasant environment". As Anderson noted, 2 years later, Myrtle and Bill's sense of humor is still intact but their optimism is gone". So many of the people Anderson has brought into our homes were revisited. I wish their progress would have been greater, but they must know they are blessed just to have survived Katrina's wrath."Two years ago we made a promise....a promise that we would not forget what we've seen in New Orleans and in Waveland and all along the Mississippi Gulf. That we would not let anyone forget what happened here. Since then we've broadcast from this city nearly 20 times and tonight, yet again we're here to report on progress or the lack of it."~Anderson Cooper It seems that it is much easier to find the lack of progress than the successes. AC360, actually Randi Kaye, came down hard on Dr. Blakely, the NOLA recovery czar that Nagin hired. If the report was all fact and no slant what a shame that the people of NOLA are not being served and represented as they should by Blakely. And I was totally shocked to hear such a negative report on Habit for Humanity, done again by Randi. This really was the first time I have ever heard anything but praise for Habit. AC also criticized the Road Home program for it's slow/no fund disbursements and the city of New Orleans for demolishing people's homes without cause. Mentioned also was the surge in crime and the lack of a fully functioning crime lab. In the plus column Anderson mentioned the French Quarter is back and better and cleaner than ever. The restaurants have some of the best food in the country, the bars are open and you can have a lot of fun in the city. AC did a great interview with Julia Reed, from Newsweek, who lives in NOLA. She had some great points as to why New Orleans will be better than ever, as a direct result of Katrina. The failing school system has been rebuilt from the bottom up. Citizen's have become involved in their community like never before, they are holding their politicians accountable and also people are no longer complacent about the high murder rate. Good things have come from bad.
ATA wasn't around when Katrina hit NOLA 2 years ago. But Katrina was really the catalyst for beginning our blog. I looked back tonight at some of our early posts marking the various anniversaries of Katrina, 6 months, 8 months, one year, etc. Most of what AC360 focused on then is still an issue today. In March of 2006 I wrote:"Tonight's show from New Orleans was indicative of what Anderson Cooper does best. He's great in the studio, excels in communicating via the written word, but always shines brightest when in the field. Personally, I feel his father's Gulf Coast roots fuel Anderson's passion for delving into the struggles and triumphs of Katrina victims. It's like his father has given Anderson another gift from the grave. A voice that is finally being heard by a significant portion of Americans. And with this newly empowered voice Anderson now holds an awesome responsibility to show us other injustices in our imperfect world. This new prominence, this louder voice carries with it a large responsibility. One that I know AC feels and I just as surely know he is up to fulfilling."
I guess nothing much has changed. NOLA still has far to go and Anderson is still doing a damn good job as their champion.