Thursday, August 30, 2007

Katrina Two Years Later

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.

One thing I do wish AC360 would have included in Wednesday's program was Mr. Herbert Gettridge. If you missed Oprah today there is good news. Herbert's 'old lady is back'! Here's the clip courtesy of Annie Kate.

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.


Unknown said...

The show was good tonight. It was so much better than the first anniversary show they did one year ago. They seem to cover a lot and we learned a few things about what is and isn't happening there.

I also appreciated that they talked about Mississippi. They are forgotten more than NOLA.

Great coverage for those people that were effected.

Thanks for a good post!

Jennifer said...

I think Anderson did an excellent job he brought all the things to people's attention that we all needed to know about New Orleans and Mississippi.

I think we should hold the politician responsible making sure seeing that New Orleans, Mississippi gets back on their feet.

I feel sorry for the people in New Orleans their crime rate has gone up their are not enought doctors and nurses their. They are trying to knock down alot of peoples homes that doesn't need to be knock down.
The lady that Anderson was talking to Julia Reed she was talking about politicians been crooked.

I feel sorry for the people in New Orleans and Mississippi. Thank you Anderson for bring us the story you did an excellent job.

swmpratt said...

I was surprised at the report on Habitat also - it is one of my regular charities and I donated to them for Katrina rebuilding, earmarking it for Mississippi.

I hate that things take so long to rebuild but Katrina was one of those 100 year storms I think they call them now. Andrew was years ago and they are still rebuilding in parts of Homestead. So perhaps the pace is not as slow as it seems. It would help if the insurance companies would pay claims as diligently as they collect premiums.

The juxtaposition of video from the time of the storm against current video was amazingly effective. And like you Phebes I was glad to hear of what happened to Myrtle and her family and Mr. G and his old lady. I wish AC had been able to tell us about Pauline who cried over the remains of her house and Miss Connie from NOLA.

I did see on another report that Nagin made sure to attend activities that President Bush did not attend. I guess even Nagin can only stomach so much!

Evelyn said...

I truly enjoyed tonight's show. Anderson, correspondents, and 360 did a wonderful job filing such varied reports on the issues of the area. It was a good mix of what was or was not going on.

I too was surprised they had that hard piece on Habitat for Humanity. I always thought that Habitat was one of the champions of the area...guess I'll have to take another look.

NOLA has such an amazing spirit. The residents are just incredible people, ones to look up to. I found myself crying throughout the program because of something that was said or an image that was shown. Never has there been such a moving story about the failures of our government. It might be the optimist in me, but I hope we have learned. But then again, as Anderson says, "Hope is not a plan."

When Anderson talks about Katrina, he is always so impassioned and eloquent. He definitely displayed that fervor today on Oprah and he did not disappoint tonight on 360. If only all media outlets and journalists would display the same kind of fervor...

Anderson's closing remarks sounded so very familiar...I went to the 360 blog and read the closing segment of the show right along with him haha!

Thanks for the magnificent post Phebe! You've just been working overtime with all the fantastic posts you've done in the last few days. Your excerpt from your March 2006 post was excellent, very well written. I agree that it all rings true to this very day.

ACAnderFan said...

Well It was betrer than last years show. My problem is that they did no do the two hours even though they could have. I mean there is more than enough stories to fill a two hour block. I cannot belive that they did not show Herbert Gettridge. It could have been a better show.

Randi Kaye's negative reoprt on Habitat for Humanity was interesting as you normally only hear poitive things about that organization. I hope that for the people of NOLA that Habit for Hunainty straightens it's self out.

It's sad that NOLA is the way it is. It shouldn't be like that. In some ways it seems like time has stood still in some parts od the city...that is so ssd. Those poor people down there.

FanGirl moment: Andy looked so good last ntie. I liked his fit his arms very nicely...LOL!!! And his hair looked so nice too!!!

cactuskid said...

Last night's program was Anderson at his best and his light shined. That was positively one of the best AC 360's that I have ever seen!!! He gave it his all from all the angles from the good and the bad that has happened to NOLA. I loved the fact that he focused, also, on Mississippi's people since they have been in the shadows of New Orleans. Noone should be forgotten down there! Thankyou, Anderson Cooper, for being who you are! You have meant so much to so many!!!! I, also, have to say that I haven't been so glad to see a Live New Orleans in that upper left hand side of the TV screen before! LOL!

As for the ? baffoon who hired Mr. Blakeley are we surprised that in the next sentence they said Mayor Nagin hired him?!!!! How do people like this get in these types of positions? It really amazes me!!

I'm very disappointed in Habit For Humanity and can't believe so few homes have been built with the monies donated. Sounds like the monies were just spread around in the organization and not specifically sent to the Gulf Coast.

Phebe, you wrote a really heartfelt post. I've been following your blog since that very beginning and this is one of your best. Thanks for all of your time and devotion. I, also, think that Anderson's father's memory inspires and empowers him to go the distance and tell the stories of the Gulf Coast. What a wonderful man he must have been and to have past on this gift to his son.

Delie said...

@ Phebe and AnnieKate: thanks for the Oprah screencaps and video!

I watched live the show yesterday and it was worth to stay awake at 4 a.m. for that. I appreciated to see the story of the Kearneys in Waveland.
As French, New Orleans means lots of thing for me. We like this town for cultural, historical reasons and the legendary hospitality of the people. There was a time, when you asked travel agencies for a trip to the States, NOLA came at the second rank of their suggestion (NYC is always first!); Now, Miami or Boston come before New Orleans. Sad statement...

But, of course, tourism is not the answer to the rising crime rate, to the lack of doctors and nurses, to the schools and education system and to the people who are still living in FEMA trailers...

We should never forget. My heart goes to all families who are still dealing with Katrina damages two years after.

Roonie said...

What a wonderful post :)

I actually starting watching 'AC360' a little after Katrina hit and started following the blog not long thereafter. Time surely flies.

Herbert's story is so moving, and thank you to Annie Kate for the clip!!

The show was great, and I loved all the volunteers in the background!! I will get down there someday.

Thanks ATA for keeping it strong for so long :)

Anonymous said...

What a grear coverage of 2 years annivesary of Katrina last night. The show was just great, and to have the volunteers live on the show was awesome! couldn't help it but to watch the repeat as well and thinking what a great reporter!..really enjoyed the show

Fan girl moment? Anderson looked great, nice, farm bicepts.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the 2 year anniversary coverage of Katrina on AC360°. He says that he doesn't really care much for anniversaries, but do you think he will do anything for the 6th anniversary of 9/11? Also, I noticed that the show was only 1 hour long, as well as shows from the past few weeks. I honestly think that AC360° should be shortened back to 1 hour long. I think it would be better for Anderson because he is such a busy guy, and I think its better for the show, this way they can have a jam packed hour full of news at a good crisp, speedy pace! Even if he was on for 2 LIVE hours, they still repeat all the same news from the first hour. I hope that CNN organizes its primetime lineup soon!

ACAnderFan said...

I think that 360 could have and should have been two hours last nite. I mean surely they could find enough stories to fill two hours. Sometimes I just don't understand 360. You would think that they'd want to do a two hour show on the 2nd anniversary of 360. I gues not.

It's not that 360 was bad per se, I just thought that there was so much more that they could have done. I was disspointed that they did not have Mr. Gettridge on. If you missed Oprah then you don't know what's going on with him.

Dixie Girl said...

I thought AC360 was great last night. It was so good to see NOLA being cast in a somewhat more positive light, even though we are still dealing with a lot of problems. A friend of my daughter has just left her "secure" job to become a worker with the volunteer groups in NOLA and was in the background last night during the show.

I really like Julia Reed. She is very outspoken with her beliefs and I enjoy her comical take on some serious issues. She really displays the spirit of the people of NOLA. It was a particularly humid night in New Orleans last night and the bugs are always out in force. When watching Soledad on AC360 Tuesday night, I couldn't help but notice the effect the humidity had on her hair!

Anonymous said...

When it comes to modern day journalism, Anderson
Copper is in a league all by himself.The Katrina
2 yr anniversary 360 special was amazing.I was
also hoping to see Herbert.

Anonymous said...

I too was surprised at the seriousness of the report on Habitat for Humanity. Am I correct in recalling that the charity spent $30 Million on Fundraising and Awareness??? Out of $140 Million raised, are you kidding me? I would certainly like to know what the return on that investment was and where is it accounted for in the allocation to the regions - a question not asked and not answered.

The whole oversight of the first disbusement of money along with the long term funding with no apparent accountability for where the money is, where it is going and how it gets disbursed is a huge question - where is the paper trail - the same place where the death records are? Relying on local, state, Senate and Congressional officials of those affected states didn't work when the disaster hit - it is curious that Congress in allocating funds have allowed the same officials to handle the recovery. Both parties in Congress are culpable for this continuing humanitarian and infrastructure mess.

I think the program did well in toplining the lingering issues. Granted, this hour was more than what was covered on the networks within their evening news broadcasts, but I'm not sure my take on the comprehensiveness was any different than what the nets did with their alloted time. They conveyed the same situation of the whole region - but what 360 brought was much, much more emphasis on the human side and toll. The stories of the people affected were longer on 360. That focus definitely set them apart and was a real standout. Using the "flashback" technique - humm, same as in "Dispatches," added to the strength of the message to viewers. In an hour newscast versus a half hour, one can make a big difference in context, perspective and depth as long as one makes sure to utilize strong reporting.
J in LA

ACAnderFan said...

OK I taped 360 as I was watching it last nite and I just watched it again. What I think they should have done is devote the first hour to NOLA and everything going on there. And then hour two should have been devoted to Mississippi. Sometimes I think Mississippi is forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Bless you acanderfan! I could not agree with you more. I live in Mississippi, and while I am thankful for the segment AC did on MS, there is enough going on in our state to completely fill the second hour. I can not, for the life of me, figure out why Mississippi is not news. There has been a saying going around the state for the past two years, "A hurricane hit New Orleans and Mississippi got a little rain." That's how people feel.

I know there are some differences in MS and LA. For one, our govt. seems to be able to operate better, not perfect but much better. Our govt. is really trying to help our Katrina victims and our progress has been somewhat faster. I believe there are more positive stories coming out of MS and the networks don't seem to want to report on anything positive.

I am just so glad not everyone has forgotten about Mississippi. So, acanderfan, thank you for your kind comment.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi was covered extensively by NBC Nightly News on Tuesday night before moving to NOLA Wednesday.
J in LA

Anonymous said...

@anon 4:14 I went to a program yesterday in New Orleans to thank the volunteers and they not only mentioned MS but told how the people there have been forgotten.

Several months ago I heard some say how some people in MS watched as the FEMA rescue trucks sped by them with supplies to other areas. It's too bad that places like Waveland, Biloxi and Bay St Louis cannot catch a break.