Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Counting the Dead


I read in the paper this morning that they’re opening up part of the Lower Ninth Ward. Until today, they still had a “look and leave” policy in effect on the entire Lower Ninth. But with running water and sewage restored (at least to that one section), residents of that area can now begin to go back and rebuild their lives.

The Lower Ninth Ward, like Chalmette beyond it, was one of the hardest-hit sections of New Orleans. Katrina is still giving up her dead. Most people don’t realize that they’re still finding bodies here at the rate of one or two a week. It’s hard to begin to put the storm behind you when you still see funeral notices in the paper that begin, “Died on or about 29 August…”

The death count in Louisiana stands at almost 1,400; hundreds more died in Mississippi, and another 4-600 are still missing and will be declared dead in another year. Yet when I read articles in the national press about Katrina, the death toll is usually put at “over 1,000.” It’s as if the death toll stopped when the country quit paying attention. Or is it because admitting to a death toll of “over 2,000” would be twice the national disgrace?


What I’m reading…

GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL, by Jared Diamond. Fascinating stuff! A sobering antidote to our national tendency towards a fatal hubris.

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