The past eight days seeking assistance for my special needs relative have been trying. I found myself questioning if I should return to my beloved city. I’m tired just as so many of my fellow New Orleanians.
Honestly, I believe the government views the residents of New Orleans as these long-suffering, back-breaking, bear it all resilient people. Now, mind you, New Orleans is made from generations of hardworking, loving, self-sacrificing souls. When we aren’t rolling out the red carpet to tourists, we are rolling up our sleeves to care for our loved ones. The moment we attempt to take a moment to ourselves, disaster strikes. Life’s hardship always seems to come when we are at the end of the road, end of the rope, or at the end of the month. Hurricanes seem to arrive at the worst time for the poor working class and those who receive government assistance.
Is it cruel that Mother Nature would unleash her fury on us at the most inopportune time or possibly right on time, I wonder??? I do not believe in this vengeful God who punishes us for our sins, but I find myself wondering why bad things happen. Hurricane Ida stormed through on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as if the ocean and wind remembered it had some unsettled business on that day.
I remember being in church days after Hurricane Katrina changed the lives of countless New Orleanians like it was yesterday. The pastor said, “Hurricane Katrina was God’s attempt to destroy the Sodom and Gomorrah that is New Orleans.” I haven’t been back to any church since. Fast forward sixteen years, I wonder why Hurricane Ida had to hit on the anniversary of Katrina. I suffer from Hurricane Katrina PTSD as well as hundreds of thousands of people.
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina had the world with their eyes tuned into the news; people were outraged at the government’s poor response, donations and volunteers poured into the city. I could sense the concern for not only New Orleans but the people everywhere I went.
2021 Hurricane Ida and social media have changed how people process things. People seem to be detached and judgemental. Instead of offering help, they give useless advice or shame the people who didn’t evacuate. Some are mad at the media for putting New Orleans in the spotlight when there’s catastrophic damage in neighboring parishes. The government and Entergy are downplaying the need for energy while those with special needs, medical conditions, and the elderly slowly die of heat exhaustion. They are the forgotten and powerless residents of New Orleans. They were told to wait it out, stay hydrated, go to the cooling stations and so on. These people will die in their homes turn hotbox coffin alone, hungry, thirsty and scared.
Sadly, when the power is restored, and the count is done, many will not respond.
There are countless people with special needs, medical conditions, and old age. I discovered that they are the last to be thought of and mistreated. The nursing home headlines are proof. Some people are waiting for their caretaker to help them out of bed, give them their meds and meals. An older person can’t get help because the medical alert is powerless. That candle or generator that was meant for good has caused the death of so many.
Just today, my son contacted me about an older man he befriended just this week who is now on his death bed. People are suffering and dying.
The government is overwhelmed, and this will take the love and compassion of people. New Orleans was once the village of residents that pulled together in a time of need, and I believe that spirit continues to live in our hearts.
Those of you who love New Orleans, please know that it’s the people, both native and those that relocated here, who make our food, music, culture, and traditions inquire. It’s the people that make the “Laissez Les bons temps rouler.” Right now, the residents in New Orleans and surrounding affected parishes need you to look into your heart and contribute your donations and time to ensure that no parish becomes “The City That Care Forgot.”
I encourage you to reach out directly to those whose story tugs at your heart. Now is the time to erase all the prejudice and judgment and help if you can. Let me add that there is NO SPECIAL NEEDS SHELTER, nor is everyone affected approved for FEMA PAID HOTELS.