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Stateside with Rosalea: When The Levee Breaks

Stateside with Rosalea Barker

When The Levee Breaks

When I moved to this poor part of Oakland last year, one of the things I noticed first about it was the amount of subsidence and number of potholes in the streets. A friend, used to living in the poorer quarters of cities in the US, told me that was par for the course. City councils, she said, spend money on infrastructure where the tax base is--around high-priced properties and businesses. So the well-heeled neighbourhoods are well-paved and well-lit, and poor folks get to stumble around in the dark.

So it didn't surprise me that one of the first blogging comments I read about the Hurricane Katrina situation in New Orleans was a *lack* of surprise that the pumping station that failed was in one of the poor neighborhoods, the Lower Ninth Ward. Whether you ascribe that failure to lack of maintenance or to design--a very dark thought indeed, because it would be tantamount to the City trying to flush people out so they can condemn the neighborhood and hand it over to developers--those pictures of the houses in water up to their roof are pretty horrific. Especially when you consider what's in the water.

Hurricane Katrina is going to be a very long drawn-out story, on a number of fronts. Wikipedia has a lot of background material, and the Community Data Center of Greater New Orleans has census data and maps that help to make the news pictures you're seeing more understandable.

Greater New Orleans: http://www.gnocdc.org/index.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

--PEACE--

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