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Messages from the Gulf Coast

Congress must force the president to keep his promises

Messages from MoveOn members from across the Gulf Coast


Don't give up on us.

–Rachel W., New Orleans, LA


One of my masterís level students said it best: "The Baptists give me food, the Methodists gave me a gift card to Home Depot and have arranged for workers to help me rebuild my house, the Catholics come by to see what I need - my government won't take my call." I think that sums it up.

–Nan A., Luling, LA


The message I want to share is we here in New Orleans don't have to stop to think about the anniversary of Katrina; we are still living it everyday. Yes you may be able to drive in isolated areas of the city and it looks o.k.; but the majority of the city still bears the scars of the flooding. So if President Bush lands at the airport and helicopters to the French Quarter for a photo op he can look around and say New Orleans is looking good; but he needs to go down to St. Bernard or to the Ninth Ward and look at reality. In Metairie which escaped the killer floods people are leaving in droves. Our doctors are leaving; they can see the writing on the wall. Who would choose to live here if they had children to raise? I'll probably stay; I was born here and will probably die here. And I'm one of the lucky ones.

–Joan G., Metairie, LA


Thank you America , as the people seem to care about us far more than the federal government. Of course, we have serious political problems here in New Orleans and Louisiana in general, but a strong federal effort would be able to overcome those challenges. We have seen very little real federal effort. Sure money has been appropriated and reports have been written. The Army Corps has probably generated more paperwork in the last two years than it is has in the last fifty. Whoo hoo! What an achievement. You can't protect our city with paperwork! So my message? Please don't forget us. Please don't treat us like a photo-op like Incurious George does (the nerve of him to even show up). Please don't lose heart when we indict another elected official. There a many, many hard-working New Orleanians that love this city with a passion that few can understand. Please don't forget us. If you can, please help. We need it. Still.

–Paul M., New Orleans, LA


What helped the people of the Gulf Coast was not the government, not insurance companies, but regular everyday Americans who gave and continue to give of their time, money, moral support, friendship and love to help us here. I am so grateful for that.

–Jessica J., New Orleans, LA†


Come here. Come see what it is like on the Gulf Coast. You can't grasp the depth and breadth of the challenges unless you are here to see people's faces, hear their stories and see the destruction that is still everywhere.

–Linda U., New Orleans, LA†


Time to Heal.

–Tivon L., Harvey, LA


I would like people throughout the country to understand what happened on August 29, 2005. It was not a natural disaster, it was an avoidable, manmade disaster caused by the engineering mistakes of the Corps of Engineers. Over that past 40 years oil industry activity destroyed the wetlands buffer south of New Orleans the lack of which, during Katrina, caused a stronger storm surge that overwhelmed the poorly constructed levees around the city. Yet two years after the flooding of New Orleans, thousands are still displaced, basic infrastructure and services have yet to be fully restored, and efforts to strengthen levees and restore Louisianaís disappearing coastline, that until recently protected New Orleans from hurricanes, have been inadequate.†

–Marie G., New Orleans, LA


Come and see. There is no substitute for being here. Please do not depend on the TV coverage. People here are great human beings. We ourselves are only discovering each other's depth and courage, day by day. The environment is helped by the fact that our region is largely populated by people that really choose to be here and go through the struggle together. There's a lot of love going around, a strong community.

–Dorothy D., New Orleans, LA


Please do not forget about New Orleans and the people that live there. It is one of the most unique and amazing cities on the planet. The people in New Orleans, the surrounding parishes, and the Gulf Coast need your help. They need the help of the government. How would you feel if someone suggested that you "just move" when a natural disaster affected your home town? This is HOME to the residents of these places. They don't want to move. They want the federal government to deliver on the promises made by the President. They DESERVE help.

–Nancy J., Metairie, LA


Recovery in New Orleans is a tale of two cities. Uptown, the French Quarter, and the CBD have rebounded at a respectable pace while the Ninth Ward, Gentilly, and Lakeview continue to struggle for even the most basic of improvements. One constant remains for the entire city, however: whatever help New Orleans gets comes from individual citizens and volunteers, charitable organizations, and civic minded businesses. Government--at all levels--continues to disappoint, languishing in its own inertia and incompetence. This government neglect is maddening. For every step that the citizens of New Orleans are able to take forward, it seems as if those in charge are there to take two steps backward for us. There is nowhere to look for leadership and guidance, and those with the least ability to help themselves are, in turn, helped the least. For better or worse, the sentiment here, two years after the flood, is that we have had to face recovery on our own, and that, with the help of private citizens from across the country, we will continue to face it alone.†

–Matthew A., New Orleans, LA


Please, please go to New Orleans and be a tourist. The French Quarter is very active and cleaned up. Stay in their hotels, listen to their music, and eat in their restaurants. New Orleans is still a fun place to go to, and everyone there will welcome you like no other place in the world. New Orleans needs you! Thank You from the bottom of my heart!

–P.R. K., Folsom, LA


My husband & I are among the lucky--our home came through ok, and we were only unemployed (with the City) for 4 months before we were called back to work. But the stress of living here has taken its toll, physically and mentally. As my husband says--although we're ok, living surrounded by sucky takes the soul out of you. To Congress and the nation, I say (I've been saying): We're not asking for a handOUT; we're begging for a hand UP!

–Jan B., New Orleans, LA


We need help! We are proud of our home and tired of excuses, making them or being the receivers of them. Why can Japan and Amsterdam get support in their areas but we are told to leave because there's no hope? This is one of the greatest American cities. Culture, architecture, cuisine... if it's lost it's a disservice to all. Not just its residents. I am well, luckily, my fellow New Orleanians are not all as lucky. They are working hard and keeping the faith, but we want and deserve the needed support. It is so hard to hear people say to just walk away. Its our home. It has been many peoples home for generations. Please, don't give up on us.

–Jill G., Hammond, LA


We do need help with the inflated Insurance prices. Even people who received minimal damage and no flooding now have to pay as much as 8 times the amount of the insurance premiums we paid before the storm. We still have a lot infrastructure problems and much of the promised Federal Funds were never received. Levees and flood walls are still not complete and despite President Bush's promises to bring our flood system up to Category 5 hurricane protection, the Army Corp of Engineers (the cause of all of our flooding problems because of their incompetence) is not complying. The Volunteers who come to our state to help have been wonderful. I don't know what this area would have done without them. I, along with everyone else here would like to thank them. We really appreciate all of the help we have received. Thank you all.

–Kennith L., Old Jefferson, LA


Please remember that it was not Hurricane Katrina that devastated our city...when the hurricane had passed over the city and we went outside to inspect the damage, there was very little in this neighborhood...it was not until the next afternoon that the floodwater from the breached levees began to trickle down the streets...by that evening there was 5 feet of water in our neighborhood...due to the inadequate construction of and maintenance of these levees by the Corps of Engineers. Their incompetence altered the lives of thousands of people in countless tragic ways.

–Isabel S., New Orleans, LA


Why aren't the levees fixed. Why are major interstate bridges falling and killing people. When are we going to spend our budget on our infrastructure, our education system, our health care instead of supporting outsourced contracting companies in Iraq .

–Michaele H., Covington, LA


ALL levels of government are BROKEN.

–Jeff H., New Orleans, LA


My area of Uptown had little or no flooding but the overall pall of my friends and neighbors is growing, the crime is creeping into areas not known for it, our daily cost of living is growing faster than our salaries and homeowners insurance is causing the homeowners to scramble to figure out how to pay for insurance that has double or tripled. I'm afraid people are just going to start giving up if costs do not get under control. I myself have thought of selling and moving on from a city I truly love.

–Elizabeth F., New Orleans, LA


As I mentioned above, FEMA has been de-activating trailers for a year now but they are still 17,000 FEMA trailers in use. There is virtually no residential construction happening on the Coast - only commercial and retail. Insurance companies haven't been honoring their claims and the HUD Grant money just became available through the State -TWO YEARS AFTER THE FACT!!! There must be a better way to handle a major disaster like Katrina. God Forbid if another disaster like Katrina hits this country. Now FEMA is saying that they will not use trailers if another disaster happens - so where will the victims be housed? There are thousands of FEMA trailers being stored in Purvis, MS and Cairns, MS. FEMA has stopped the sale of these used trailers so what will they do with them? The people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are to be commended for having the patience that they have demonstrated - Insurance companies not paying claims, living in cramped travel trailers and virtually no hope!! For the ones who have received insurance payments, the cost of property and insurance has skyrocketed so most of them can't re-build in their original location. Something has to be done for these folks.

–Ivy O., Philadelphia, MS


Please send the message to everyone to really think about what you could do to help these people. Some people are fine. Many are broken. Many are not home, if they are, they are struggling with rebuilding in an area that is mostly unoccupied. Just a small thing that maybe a lot of people could do would help. Help send a reliable contractor to our state to help these people, they have been hurt and left behind for too long now. I am sure they feel abandoned. These people have had their families around them all their life, which is not common for most towns and cities in our country. They all lived within blocks and their lives have been torn apart in a just the blink of an eye. They are lost in some instances. This city was one of differences that made it what is WAS. These are Americans! Why can't they be helped! I am sad and even outraged at times.

–Bettye C., Mandeville, LA


I've had a personal message on my front lawn since before Katrina: Impeach Bush. I took in my sign before the storm, put it back out when the water went down. I can't wait until January of '09. I really can't.

–Patricia F., New Orleans, LA


Do not forget that NOLA still has a long way to go!

–Sarah H., New Orleans, LA


I would like to let others know that we need volunteers to come and help us gut the thousands of home that have been left to deteriorate. Please go to http://www.volunteermatch.org/bymsa/m5560/c/opp1.html to see what you can do to help New Orleans. Also, please shop New Orleans businesses online for the Holidays. New Orleans businesses need outside customers more than ever. Tourism is down tremendously. When you support New Orleans online businesses, you support her people who are struggling everyday to rebuild this great city. Peace to all who love New Orleans and want to see her prosper.

–Heather W., New Orleans, LA


I hope nobody else is in a position to depend on our government. It is a very sad position to be in. From the President to all of our congressmen and congresswomen, all we get is lip-service. Many in Congress still have not even come to the Gulf coast area to see for themselves, even though the taxpayers are paying for the ticket. Thank God for all the church groups that have sent thousands of volunteers to New Orleans. Without them, nothing would have gotten done.

–Peter B., Jefferson, LA


I share the pain felt by every person who lived in Nw Orleans, and experienced Hurricane Katrina.

–Leslye H., New Orleans, LA


Don't forget about us along the MS Gulf Coast. We have been here for over 300 years and are resolute to remain here. A hurricane (not the Corps of Engineers) destroyed virtually every structure on our coastline for about 100 miles. It is still barren. Government corruption and good old boy paybacks have taken much recovery money. The people still need help.

–Mark L., Biloxi, MS


No community deserves to be left to rot, least of all New Orleans. We need more help in every way imaginable.

–Anna N., New Orleans, LA


New Orleans is open and ready for business. It's not the same but we're headed in the right direction! As many stories that you hear about the bad and ugly, just know that there are some inspiring, wonderful and beautiful stories that balance it out. Small businesses are back. Music, food and fun have returned. It may not be what it used to be, but there is a light at the end. Don't be afraid to return. Don't be afraid to see what has/hasn't happened in the last 2 years. TV doesn't do the damage justice. You HAVE to see it to believe it. It's a healing process and the tourist that come and share, help in return of this unique City.

–Brad S., New Orleans, LA


I contrast the federal response under the neoconservatives to Gulf Coast Devastation with federal response under the New Dealers to the Depression. It's true that FDR was hated by many for his 'socialist' programs, but they worked. He even created a source of credit and a program of employment that enabled people to recover from their losses. Even writers and sculptors worked for federal pay, a sort of welfare while working. This could have been done on the Gulf Coast and was not. It's time to impeach Cheney and Bush and give the government to progressives. The US the neocons want is not America .

–Robert S., New Orleans, LA


I have only returned to the area for jazz fest. the apartment where i took care of my mother was destroyed. Now she's 95 and thanks to the overwhelming response we had everywhere she is in a nursing home in California. Our odyssey began the first day of the storm when i evacuated her and headed north. We found hospitality and comfort and medical assistance for her. Especially in northern Mississippi, New Albany, the people were really angels. She needed ICU for her heart, and was in there for 2 weeks. Stayed in the comfort inn. The city hall picked up the tab without hesitation. The church folks brought food twice a day. Despite the horrors we left behind it was the most heartwarming experience of my life, to find people so kind. the destruction of her mind will never repair. She has no idea where she is or why and has no familiar objects to remind her. Nor does she know anyone. But the care is good. And i have work here. I know my friends back in NOLA have all lost houses and camp out in apartments because they were lucky to find them. A mainstay during that period was the Snug Harbor Jazz Club, which George Brumat kept going thru all of it, giving the musicians a venue. he died recently, but was a hero at the time. Going back to New Orleans is a gut-wrenching experience, knowing that what it is now is all anyone else will ever know. That the real New Orleans is gone except in our hearts.

–Sam B., Metairie LA


The recovery is still ongoing, and will be for many more years to come. We still need your prayers and support. Please don't forget about New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Region!

–Jennifer R., Slidell, LA


Please send workers to help with the recovery efforts, please pray for people's emotional and spiritual needs; help us ensure that insurance will be available and not out of the reach of our long-time residents. Our medical and mental health resources are limited as many of the people who are not coming back were professionals and support personnel. We need staff to commit to being here on even a temporary basis.

–Helen B., Bay St. Louis, MS


Mississippi feels overshadowed by New Orleans and New Orleans certainly needs our help. Their story is tragic, but Mississippi had to bear the brunt of the actual storm since we were east of the eye.† The damage was, and still is, unbelievable. Even people in Alabama lost their homes. Please don't forget about us.†

–Judy R., Ocean Springs, MS


First, please come to New Orleans for your vacation. The tourist spots are fine. We NEED the tourism in order to recover. Second, please realize that New Orleans is the tip of the iceberg. As we become more vulnerable to global warming, more and more cities around the world will experience this type of disaster. So, if you say "Forget New Orleans, and don't spend my tax money on a hopeless situation," understand that your city could be the next "hopeless situation." Third, read "Rising Tide" by Mike Tidwell to understand our situation as well as what the future holds if no changes are made, and to learn how to make changes before it is too late.

–Melody L., Kenner, LA


The recovery from Hurricane Katrina is about to enter its third year, but the reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is far from complete. Don't think that everything is back to normal. There are still far too many residents without access to affordable housing, and the healthcare system is extremely overburdened. We're working on all the problems and making great strides, but the scope of what's broken is vast. Don't give up on us.

–William R., Metairie, LA


All we hear about is how many billions of dollars the federal government has allocated/promised/intends to send down to the Gulf Coast. Well, after two years I'm wondering where the money is. It hasn't reached us! Yes, the city is slowly rebuilding, not from government (federal, state, local) help, but from the thousands of volunteers from across the country. One last point: The destruction of N.O. was not a natural disaster, it was a man-made disaster. N.O. was not destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, it was destroyed by the breaches of the levee system which occurred AFTER Katrina had passed and that was directly due to the faulty construction of the levees by the Corps of Engineers.

–Margaret F., New Orleans, LA


This Anniversary should be about the lives lost. Yes, the recovery is important and I don't want anymore people to suffer. But we must remember that families are torn apart. People lost everything, but most importantly they lost their loved ones. You can get a new residence, but you can't replace a life. I just want people to remember that!†

–Cynthia A., Jefferson, LA


Hello, how are we doing? Here are some thoughts on how New Orleanians might best answer that question or at least how I might. We need to look at the difference between facts and truth or better still wisdom. It is a lot of work pointing out over and over that half the city is at or greater than sea level and we are not directly on the coast. Pointing out that we have been working on plans for coastal restoration for years. Making it known that we have been lobbying for use of monies generated off of our coasts through the oil and gas industry for our own salvation for years. Pointing out that OUR salvation is that of the nation, of all of us, as regards current energy security and national security. When Don Powell points out how many billions we have received it isnít a Republican v. Democratic issue as regards proportionality or as pertains to the amount of damage relative to the sums of money spent by our, OUR ,federal government. It makes sense and we must tell the story of the incredible cost of cleaning up and how this does not go to the rebuilding of our state and city. When large sums are thrown out about how much money the insurance industry has paid out it doesnít mean much without also stating the numbers, to the best of our knowledge at any given time, that paying customers to these companies are being shorted from their covered losses.† When Louisiana is pointed out to have wasted money we must ask; where has the money been wasted? We must note that yes; time has been wasted due to incredible efforts to protect money from waste by our state leaders. We must remind those who may care that in the initial federal contracts there was a tremendous amount of waste Ė think of the blue tarps. It isnít a red or blue issue to make it known that the case of the man-made disaster, Federal Flood, in New Orleans is different in kind then the natural disaster along the Gulf Coast from Katrina and Rita. It isnít partisan to say that we would like to be made whole from the federal disaster while our neighbors out of a separate pot and through different philosophies are helped to recover from the natural disasters. The story is continuous and fluid. Our ongoing story cannot be told in blurbs and facts. This is encyclopedic and more like a novel by Faulkner. It is complicated as you know better than most of us. How are we doing? We could certainly be doing better. The great gifts of the American people strengthen us. The narrow-mindedness of the Federal government, the president and his minions weaken us. But Ė we will survive, we will thrive and come hell or high water we will build the New New Orleans. Thank you, Your Ignoble Working Boy. -Richard

–Richard H., New Orleans, LA


Recovery is happening. San Francisco was not rebuilt in 2 years, nor was Chicago. New Orleans /Slidell/ Gulf Coast are coming back, but anything worth doing is worth doing well and generally cannot be rushed. Once we can replace both our idiot governor and our idiot president, hopefully things will perk up.

–Jacqueline B., Slidell, LA


We continue to suffer from a lack of political leadership and planning vision. Seeing areas that have not changed in 2 years, we are constantly reminded of failures in leadership as well as the generosity and spirit of those who have come - and continue to come - to help. If NO recovers, it will be less from government intervention and elected officials and more from the hard work of individuals and grassroots-oriented groups dedicated to a unique American city with a culture unlike any other. Thanks again to all who remain interested!†††

–W.L. D., New Orleans, LA


As my middle-class neighborhood rebuilds, the poorer, primarily African American neighborhoods seem to be deteriorating. While the people that live in or used to live in these neighborhoods are resilient and have strong cultural bonds, the message they are getting from the government is a clear - "We don't want you here" and "We really don't care." Though many people have remarked that the governmental response has been slow or inefficient, the reality is that what is happening is a privatization of public services and an occupation of a city by "entrepreneurs." It is a large-scale privatization scheme/scam. The schools are being "chartered"; public housing has been given over to developers; the public hospital for the poorest in the city, known as " Charity Hospital", has never re-opened. Meanwhile, infrastructure, such as roads and sewerage systems are a mess. Developers are buying up properties and rents are far higher than they were before the flood. With the path we're on, New Orleans is to become a boutique city for the rich, a playground that those tens of thousands of people who were forced to evacuate their homes will never get to enjoy. As our tax dollars go into rebuilding Iraq , this once unique American city is in its death throes.

–Loretta P., New Orleans, LA


First, we are so grateful to everyone who has come and helped us. I don't know what would happen to us if it weren't for the total kindness of strangers. Americans need to understand that to lose New Orleans and its culture would be a tremendous loss. We are struggling to survive here and we need support from the federal level. If a small country like The Netherlands can build a superior levee system, why can't the United States ? Please make sure wherever you are that you check any project done by the Corps of Engineers and that you have a plan to help your poor in case a disaster strikes. Bless y'all!

–Bonnie W., New Orleans, LA


For a long time things in New Orleans seemed to be frozen in time and there is no way to communicate the helpless feeling that creates. Things have actually gotten both better and worse. I saw the Time magazine cover about how we have been doomed by the Corps of Engineers. However, it seems that the article was really just a rehash of all the stuff I quit reading long ago - you either live with this or you move away, is my attitude. The city itself is still in trouble - mostly because of government issues. We took a serious blow early this week when a well-respected long-time city council member, who was a great hope for our next mayor, pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe several years ago. There is no forgiving him, although at the time it was the culture of city hall and I suspect he just told himself that everyone did it. The public utilities and transportation folks are finally getting some of the federal funding we were promised so publicly 2 years ago, so there are repairs being made to the gas lines and replacements being ordered for the buses and streetcars that were damaged by the water. However, the water board folks are still shut out, so who knows what's going to happen to those damaged lines. They also lost their fluoride supplier after the storm and can't find another, so the kids' teeth are doomed. Some friends finally received their FEMA letter, which was dated in February, so who knows what desk it's been sitting on for 6 months, but nobody knows if there will be any money left by the time their turn comes to get it. The city has started tearing down abandoned damaged properties, although they are, unfortunately, making mistakes and tearing down non-abandoned ones as well. The Housing Authority is being urged to speed up the process of offering their properties to non-profits like Habitat who are trying to build affordable housing as quickly as possible to get folks back in town who desperately want to be here. There are fewer FEMA trailers and piles of debris and there seemed to be lots of tourists in the Quarter last Saturday evening. Kids are still shooting each other. Schools are back in session, and many more of them are open than at this time last year. Ups and downs; you learn to live with it. One thing lifting my spirits for sure - pick up recycling is available again. Not by the city; that would be asking too much. A private company is offering to take just about everything for $15 per month, with biweekly pickups. I've been finding places to take cardboard, paper, aluminum and glass, but the plastic has been making me crazy. So, every step toward normalcy is counted as a blessing and fall is on its way. We just have to get through this hurricane season...

–Margaret H., New Orleans, LA


Our government is not by the people, of the people, for the people any more. Politicians of all parties are bought by big business and special interest groups. Please vote for campaign finance reform at all levels. I think it's the only way to turn this country from Corporate Dictatorship back into a Democracy. LET'S TAKE OUR GEVERNMENT BACK! Please remember this, although the government of America is utterly corrupt and has done almost nothing to help New Orleans, the PEOPLE of this nation have come to our rescue and they continue to do so. Keep the faith, I am.

–Claire A., New Orleans, LA


No matter where you live, this could happen to you. It might not be a hurricane, but a flood, wildfire, earthquake, tornado, etc.† We need our government to be better prepared on all levels and people must take responsibility for their family members and pets.

–Rebecca C., Kenner, LA


The government needs to make New Orleans whole.

– Lorraine B., New Orleans, LA


Keep on keeping on. With God in the picture, the only way I can look is "up", to better things. And I get alot of faith and satisfaction from helping others who are in a worse position than myself, like those folks in the Lower Ninth Ward who lost homes they'd owned for generations. Don't forget about New Orleans, or any of the other areas affected by the 2005 hurricane season ... people still need HELP.

–Lynn M., Tavernier, FL


The flooding of New Orleans and the inattention and neglect from the rest of the country is a national disgrace. New Orleans has been an primary port in North America, played an important role in our nation's history, and is in many ways, an irreplaceable treasure. The increased exposure to storms we here in New Orleans face now is directly the result of fossil fuel extraction, refinement, and transport activity that has benefited the rest of the country enormously. Our protective wetlands are destroyed because shipping channels have been cut through them, allowing saltwater intrusion. Those channels helped get oil and gas to the rest of the country -- at the expense of protective natural barriers for New Orleans. It's time for the United States to compensate New Orleans and south Louisiana for all the damage the U.S. and oil companies have done to our state. The "billions" Congress has supposedly sent so far is a start, but it's not nearly enough compared to the benefit America has gotten out of New Orleans since the La. Purchase. We refuse to be treated like a 3rd world country that the U.S. can rape for its natural resources and then leave defenseless against the elements. The U.S. owes New Orleans -- big time. It's time to pay up. We want real offshore royalty sharing -- 35% is bs -- we got nothing for 50 years, unlike Texas & Florida -- we should get it all until we're caught up with other states that have been getting severance royalties for generations. Insurance companies that do business anywhere in the U.S. should be required to cover homeowners and businesses in New Orleans at reasonable rates. Decisions about whether to offer us insurance must not be left to the insurance companies! Incentives -- from the federal level -- need to be developed and offered to medical professionals to get our hospitals and clinics going again. Teachers need to be recruited from all over the country to staff our schools. These efforts need to be nationwide in scope. The devastation and flooding from the levee failure was due to federal incompetence; New Orleans has provided the country as a whole tremendous benefits; now it's time for the U.S. to stand up and take responsibility for the damage it did to us, recognize how valuable New Orleans has been and is to America, and spend whatever it takes to make us whole again.

–Ray L., New Orleans, LA


Before Katrina, people would sometimes joke that " New Orleans is the northernmost capital of the Third World." It's not a joke anymore. If this was an important political state (like Ohio), or a state with Fortune 500 companies (we had two before the storm, both of which are relocating), perhaps there would be a greater urgency.

–Grant C., New Orleans, LA


It is hard to try and not go on a rant about who is at fault when talking about a natural disaster. However there is fault to be found. Enough to go all around for everyone. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the levees. The City of New Orleans and the levees, and the people of the area and the levees. All have a equal share of neglect, a failure to demand and maintain a higher and constantly updated standard of preparedness. As far as the Federal Government goes, many wonder if a disaster happening in another city would be such a three ringed circus as it has seems to be here. I've loss count as to how many times the president has paid a visit since the hurricane, but the Ringmaster is visiting again tomorrow. It's pretty much a nonevent for many.

–Warren H., Lacombe, LA


First and foremost, the damage to New Orleans was NOT caused by a hurricane, but by the failed levee system that was inadequate and incorrectly built as was admitted by the US Army Corp of Engineers. Second, no matter what you see on TV, the city is no longer under water. Third, most of New Orleans is above sea level. Fourth, most people here are only looking for a hand up, not a hand out. Fifth, the vast majority of the money allocated by the US Government for Katrina relief has not yet been distributed, 2 years after the event. Yet we know that we will need even more than is allocated. Sixth, The French Quarter and the Garden District are fine. New Orleans is still a fun place to visit. Please do.

–Art Z., Metairie, LA


New Orleans is not dead; it is still a great place to visit and to live. But we still have a long way to go to become whole again. Contrary to public perception, over half of New Orleans is above sea level. There is no reason why our nation cannot provide this city with the protection that other countries afford their national treasures. And that is what New Orleans is. Without this city, the nation would be immeasurably poorer and blander. America also needs the port New Orleans provides and the city has been compromised by the exploration for oil in the Gulf that has destroyed miles and miles of marshland. In the past, this marshland provided a protective buffer for the city. But now we are exposed to more hurricanes. The rest of the country has a responsibility to this region that is rarely acknowledged.

–Anne R., New Orleans, LA


I'd like to remind people that New Orleans is a uniquely special place in America . It's not enough to think about New Orleans once a year when hurricane season comes. This place is a cultural phenomenon. New Orleans is a true hodgepodge and intermingling of people united in the idea of life and mutual love. I'd also like to make everyone aware of "8/29 A Day of Presence". Find out more at www.louisianajusticeinstitute.org or www.essence.com. To all of those who speak out against injustices and engage their leaders in conversation, make sure that the Gulf Region is on the tip of your tongues. And if you REALLY want to help New Orleans, then "MOVE ON" down here!

–Matt M., New Orleans, LA


DO NOT FORGET ABOUT NEW ORLEANS!!!

–Lauren L., New Orleans, LA


Chertoff screwed us 2 years ago, please don't let him be A. G.

–Angelo S., New Orleans, LA


Do not trust the Bush administration to keep its promises. Politics motivate its every action.

–Thomas J., New Orleans, LA


Please help us by spending some time in New Orleans to enjoy the entertainment and cuisine.† Revitalizing the tourism industry will help our economy without having to "burden the taxpayer".

–Michael B., Louisiana


The French Quarter, and uptown areas are almost back, but for those of us who lived here and love this city there is a question as to whether it will ever be that city again. The problems we learned to cover up so well were exposed for all to see. We all were to willing to put on a mask, some glitter and a costume and move on to the next party....now we were caught without out make up, the man behind the curtain was revealed and it was a harsh embarrassing reality for us to face...there is tremendous opportunity for the city, the question is how much of the place we loved so well will or should come back without loosing the that which was at the very core of what it was.

–Frank P., New Orleans, LA


Please support investment in restoring our wetland protection and our levees. We do not stand a chance at recovery or development in infrastructure without serious and total revamping of both of these areas. What else should we use the money for, a war that we got into based on false pretext, lies, and manipulation from our leaders, or another tax cut for the wealthiest of income brackets?

–Aaron Z., New Orleans, LA


MAKE LEVEES NOT WAR

–Jeremy M., New Orleans, LA


No surprise...living here in New Orleans is a health risk. No remediation has taken place in NOLA since this report has been released. A little basic science knowledge tells you that the problem worsens over time via bioaccumulation. It doesn't just go away because we don't want to think about it. Worse...you and I as individuals can't do anything about such a huge city-wide problem and it's not even on the funding radar screen..."come back, everyone...and poison yourself gradually".† And my struggle to stay here continues.

–Melissa R., New Orleans, LA


It's a tale of two cities. You haven't seen any pictures of my neighborhood which is uptown (up-river) on fairly high ground. I was very blessed with minimum damage that was all covered by insurance. The French Quarter, Central Business District and Warehouse District where tourists and conventioneers tend to be aggregated are cleaner than ever before and bustling. Even the hard hit middle and upper income areas of Lakeside and Mid-City are coming back strong.† On the other hand, if you go to hardest hit areas, in the Ninth Ward and New Orleans East, particularly those sections dominated by the poorest population, it still looks like a war zone. There are still large areas of blocks and blocks of flattened buildings, with a lone brave warrior here and there every third or fourth block rebuilding his or her home. In my neighborhood, everything is back to the delightful abnormality of New Orleans. There are other areas which will look like they will never recover, and in some cases perhaps should not be rebuilt, at least in the same way they were originally constructed.† The City, however, is endangered. New Orleans is most significant as a unique different place in nation -- an icon to diversity, individual expression and the earthy artistic expression salt-of-the-earth existence -- in stark contrast to the homogenized conformist culture of Americana. The City developed its unique culture in the milieu of the same economic misery that gave birth to jazz and blues on the backs of some of the poorest most exploited people in the world who nonetheless found ways to have more fun than anyone anywhere. The purveyors of that unique indigenous culture have been largely excluded from the recovery of the City. The news is filled daily with the many obstacles for homeowners to accessing assistance which is due to them, without mention of the fact that there is no such support for relocation for those who were not fortunate enough to own homes. For generations musicians who are such an important part of the culture of New Orleans have fought to stay in the City despite the limited opportunities of the local economy, and a new wave of them can simply no longer make that trip back home. The City will survive and continue to rebuild and grow, if for reason other than purely because there are too many who hold it in too great of a reverence to leave. Enough of those with the ability to carry-on the unique indigenous culture will persist, so the culture will survive, but at the expense of masses who carried it forth to the present, only to be deserted by the City that they made great.

–Scott R., New Orleans, LA


The message that must be declared over and over and over and over again is that expressions such as " New Orleans was hard hit by Katrina" are GROSSLY erroneous!!! Media reports locally and nationally are guilty of doing this all over the country on a daily basis. I am shocked when after two years the media cannot get it straight that it was NOT Katrina that caused thousands of drownings, and put hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes from a flood of toxic torrents, but the ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS. Please, I beg of all of the readers who see this, make it a point to correct someone when they say that New Orleans was devastated by Katrina. The expression that we use is the "Federal Flood." New Orleans was devastated by the breaches in the cheaply built levee system. The people of New Orleans were lied to and deceived for years, and were led to believe that they were safe.

–Susan, New Orleans, LA


I think Katrina forced me to look at what is really important is life. I have learned to to over look the small things. Always over insure not under insure. We need to continue to work towards bringing home our troops so that when we have national emergencies that we are prepared for them. And to keep yourself informed.

–Rayne B., Glacier, WA


CALL your senator, the president; your congressman ... let them know that the federal government is responsible for the destruction here. It was THEIR levees that failed. THEY need to help with this mess. †I may have Katrina Fatigue, but I'm still here working to rebuild this great city. They have NO excuse for Katrina fatigue. They all made a commitment to help and they must honor that commitment.

–Kathryn H., New Orleans, LA


I know that New Orleans is a place of great vacation memories for most of you in America , but please do not let this unique city fade away just like an old memory. A few of us have decided to continue making this our home and we can not wait to see more old friends and familiar faces continue to come back (to live or to visit). Laissez les bons temps rouler!

–Clint C., New Orleans, LA


Please do not forget about these people who were left there to die. Think of the families with children with disabilities the elderly. Laws need to be changed and more money needs to help displaced children with disabilities. The hurricane may have died out after reeking havoc in hundreds of peoples lives. But for most it is not 2 years gone by. For most I am sure it is still churning inside of them and for the last two years has not lost any strength. God Bless all of you who were able to rebuild. I envy you I admire you for your courage. Never did I want to leave the city I loved and the people I knew and cared for. I miss it everyday. So many mistakes were made that affect our families for the rest of our lives.†

–Jane P., Arabi, LA


†The good news is that the city is open for business as to the important industries, the port and tourism, although impeded somewhat by labor shortages, since many folks haven't returned. Restaurants and hotels are open. But many important services are far from being adequate - e.g., medical services. Many doctors have left the city and only a few hospitals are in operation; there is a dire shortage of nurses. Many homes are still in ruins, mostly from the flood. After two years most public housing is unoccupied while a bitter debate rages on whether to repair or to tear down and replace with mixed income dwellings that would accommodate fewer people; it's impossible to be sure from a drive-by observation, but these were initially (mid 20th century) well built units that appear repairable far more rapidly and economically than they can be replaced.† As to individual dwellings, insurance settlements in many cases are unsatisfactory and the process of distributing federal help seems screwed up, although it's hard to tell how much of that problem is local and how much is federal. Homeowners insurance is a big problem, as it is frequently not available at all, and when available premiums are exorbitant and coverage inadequate.† There are many obstacles yet, exacerbated by federal government red tape. Some of the stories are literally unbelievable. In an appearance here last night Hillary Clinton said, "You couldn't make this up," and John Edwards said that, if elected, he would institute "Brownie's Law," requiring that all appointees be competent in the their designated fields.

–Richard A., New Orleans, LA


Our present elected officials have let us down. Please, please keep us in mind when you go to the polls. Don't let the GOP and their big business lobbyist have control of Washington again. The gap between the wealthy and the poor has become huge. The middle class is dwindling and slipping into a lower class bracket. We need to return to the path our founding father's meant for us to be on. For the people and by the people. Not for Big Business and by the Lobbyists. President Bush is merely a puppet in this equation. He's a dummy. He has yet to realize the definition of Management. To surround yourself w/competent people and let them do their job. Instead, look what he has surrounded himself with! Bush's record speaks for itself. Two failed companies. He owned a cellar dweller MLB team in the Texas Rangers. Despite having three all stars in Nolan Ryan, Will Clark and Rafael Palmero. Steinbrenner would have brought the Rangers a World Championship w/that talent. How? He would have had different people in important positions. Competent People. This entire government is incompetent. The have been in dereliction of duty and should resign. Clinton did less to hurt it's people and Ken Star wanted his impeachment. How ironic. They have led us down one wrong path to another wrong turn and another wrong path. How long will this go on? Please change our course of government for the sake of its people. Thank You.

–Hubert M., Long Beach, MS


It could happen to you! It was a federal engineering failure, not an act of nature. Find out right now what Corps projects are in your area!

–Pamela R., New Orleans, LA


Everything loks back to normal in Ocean Springs, MS except for the bridge to Biloxi is still not finished being rebuilt. Biloxi is still struggling. The everyday people are running into all kinds of rebuilding and insurance problems. The insurance for most people has tripled and making it difficult stay and live affordably. The casinos and condos seem to be the only thing getting dealt with by anyone.

–John P., Ocean springs, MS


Understand that we in New Orleans suffer most of the same feelings and conditions that a nation defeated in war experience: we feel disoriented, displaced, disrespected, and abandoned by the political leadership. We feel a deep lack of understanding and often it feels as if we are being blamed for the storm and the effects of the man-made flood that engulfed us afterward. MoveOn members must understand that New Orleans is suffering as much of Europe suffered after World War II and it will take a Marshall Plan-like effort to rebuild the almost incomprehensible devastation that surrounds us. But, equally important, as our crumbling infrastructure makes more and more obvious, we are only the most visibly devastated area. Our whole nation suffers in a lesser way from the same lind of neglect, the same insane squandering of our precious human and financial resources in horrendous and outrageously expensive wars while our nation's infrastructure, its educational structure, its health system, falls apart.

–David S., New Orleans, LA


Pray to God that your future doesn't depend on the likes of Bush the Lesser and Brownie.

–Steve M., Ocean Springs, MS†††††††


They have given the most privileged, richest Americans a tax cut during war, yet I can not write off the cost of repairing my 4 acres of rotting trees, even over a 10 year period. I am outraged about this. Everyone should be outraged. Not only do they not care about us, it is as though they do all they can to show how little they do care. Its not good enough for them that they are the top 2 percent. They want everything.

–Linda C., Covington, LA†††


We are healing, but we aren't there yet. Please keep both the Mississippi Coast and New Orleans in your prayers.

–Maria W., Gulfport, MS†††


New Orleans still needs the government to fulfill it's promise to re build it and to provide the flood protection we deserved but did not have. Our area is no more corrupt than any where else. We are vital to the US energy supply and as a major seaport vital to the US economy. We deserve to have the same infrastructure that I see in other less vital cities. If the Government would have funded the levees back in 1965 to protect us against a class 5 hurricane it would have only cost 2 or 3 billion dollars instead of 150 billion to rebuild and even more to build the levees and escape routes we need.

–Joseph S., Metairie, LA†††††


It is a blessing to have the kind of people all over this entire nation that have contributed so much time and resources toward our welfare. Needless to say this is has been deeply appreciated and we are thankful in our prayers, now and in the future.

– Roy G., Laurel, MS


Come to New Orleans! Come help us recover! Come see us and "second line" dance with us. Help us teach our children! Contribute what you can in time and treasure to help educate the children of New Orleans who will finally have the chance to shine in the nation's eye!

–Ginny L., New Orleans, LA†


So many guests of the hotel that I work at still come in & say, "What happened here?" as if they've never heard of Hurricane Katrina! Or they will say, "I had no idea y'all were hit so badly here! We see the footage of New Orleans all the time, but we had no idea Mississippi was so badly devastated!" Or, "Why do people want to rebuild? It's just going to happen again!" When someone's house gets destroyed by a tornado, do people ask that question? The last major hurricane to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast was almost 40 years ago. When a person's house gets destroyed by a tornado, do their insurance rates rise to such outrageous proportions that they can't afford to rebuild? Someone needs to help us! These insurance companies have got to be put in check! It should not be that a person pay for insurance on their house for 40 years or more & be denied coverage! Insurance is insurance! If they're not going to pay, then we should not be forced to carry insurance& just let the government pick up the bill every time since they are the ones allowing the insurance companies to do this!† George Bush is coming here tomorrow. Why? He's been here twice already & all he managed to accomplish was traffic jams! Let him stay in Washington & send us the millions of dollars that it costs him every time he puts Air Force 1 in the air! How many homes could be built for those millions of dollars?

–Katherin W., Gautier, MS††


I am from sw New Hampshire I originally came down to help out for 18 days at a relief kitchen. I am enclosing a link to a blog I setup to chronicle the progress of a local grassroots community center I helped to found and am now running.

–Iray N., Arabi, LA†


New Orleans matters. Louisiana matters. Economically, culturally, and politically, we need your support to survive. Moreover, what happened hereóthe worst natural and man-made disaster in American history--should have given everyone else in the country a glimpse of the realities this country has not fully acknowledged since LBJ's War on Poverty, realities you can find right where you live. If you want true progressive change in this country, work aggressively to fight poverty and racism. If you want to see how hard, frustrating, and gratifying that work is, spend a week, month or year in New Orleans (or Lake Charles, or the Mississippi Gulf Coast) and teach, or rebuild a neighborhood, or provide medical and mental health care. We need you. And if you're true to your progressive values, you understand that you need us: whatever happens here is your future.

–James R., New Orleans, LA†


I do remember President Bush declaring our state and Mississippi a disaster area before the storm. This has never been done before. Truthfully the blame is with our Governor who would not relinquish power to the National Guard for whatever reason! FEMA failed, the governor failed, the mayor failed, other incorporated leaders failed, this was the first time a national disaster this size and proportion happened. There was no text book solutions to this disaster, but maybe now there will be. It will take years to recoup what was. We need help getting honest politicians that don't frequent bordellos, frozen money, paybacks, kickbacks, where do we find them? In your state??? Send them here.

–Debbie P., Metairie, LA††††


If Bush had kept his word, we would be able to go home. Two years later, we are still in exile.

–Brenda B., New Orleans, LA


Please come and visit us! This truly an amazing city with so much to offer! The food is the best in the country.

–Nathalie B., Terrytown, LA


Don't think that something like this can't happen in your community! We all live in a joint community, and what happens to me, should affect you! Keep up the good fight for what will be a better world!

–Sam D., New Orleans, LA


Most people are under the impression that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans because of the levee situation and the FEMA mess. I would like everyone to know that Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the devastation here is enormous and unfathomable. We need federal funding for wind coverage, and we need the all-inclusive coverage that Gene Taylor has proposed.

–Roberta V., Gulfport, MS††


The Small Bus. Adm. provided us with funding to get our lives back together. Although I was very unhappy with the truth and the time it took to get the money, compared to the State sponsored "Road Home Program", the SBA was like Donald trump on amphetamines. In the future, let all funding, loans, grants, or otherwise, go through the SBA. Having one agency distribute all the funds makes it far easier to track fraud and they already have the system set up for distribution. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give money to politicians to help people as they will most likely just help them selves and their friends.

–Michael C., Chalmette, LA


The volunteers, the people reaching out like yall have been great, but Bush is here today and it is a joke. Our city is in ruins. For blocks all around the city looks like Iraq . Meanwhile, our country spends more of our money destroying Iraq and not repairing one of America 's true cultural resources. And the war just keeps getting worse. This is not just a tragedy it is a failure. A complete and utter failure of our nation's infrastructure(levees) and a culture that values business (like military shipyard and Industrial canals that flood, or worse, access to cheap oil) over people. One reason New Orleans is struggling so mightily is the betrayal of the government. We cannot even get regular mail service, have large areas without street signs and traffic signals, and way too many people are still living in FEMA trailers that are dangerous and toxic. Did I mention the cost of homeowner's insurance and rent? I wont as it would be too upsetting for most to hear. The upshot is that this could be happening anywhere else in our country as well. Do we value corporations and business over the lives of people? Is a cultural resource like New Orleans important? What level of responsibility should the government take in situations like this? Is our fight in Iraq worth the money spent when we could spend that money here making our citizens stronger? What are we gonna do?

–Kerry F., Gretna, LA


Come visit New Orleans and you won't be sorry. Many have lost their homes but most everything that makes our city so unique withstood the flood. This is the one message that the media has missed, and our local economy is suffering enormously from it. If you want to help the citizens of this city rebuild a better New Orleans, then come hear our music and eat in our restaurants. You are welcome!

–Allison B., New Orleans, LA


The whole gulf coast still needs your help. Prices have skyrocketed but our pay checks have not. We can hardly make it thru the month and aren't paying rent yet. One is on SSI and the other works 40 hours.

–Cheryl E., Bay St Louis, MS†


We need to stand up and rid ourselves of these self-serving individuals that we continue to vote into all phases of government. It continues to amaze me that they become so comfortable that they refuse to listen to the ones of us that place them in these powerful positions. The longer they are in power the more brain drained they become. A price should be paid for ineffectiveness. We need to take our country back!!!

–Gloria M., Hammond, LA††


Call your congressperson and demand our tax dollars be spent at home! Repair our nation infrastructure bridges, levees, highways, and streets.

–Carole D., New Orleans, LA


New Orleans needed to change. Katrina changed it. We have seen the end of the economic slavery that propped up the economy. However, the nation needs NO's shipping, energy, they need the wetlands to be protected and everyone should realized that NO affects everyone in the country, not just those of us who live here. We need to find a way to get the African American population ( those who even want to come back) to come back, which means housing, jobs, schools that are not glorified holding pens, decent salaries for teachers and a police force that are not thugs with badges. We need the people of the world to take an interest in the rest of NO the way they've taken care of the musicians ! ( I'm a musician, and I wonder why there are not house buildings and villages and benefits for school teachers.)

–Mark B., New Orleans, LA†


Volunteer in the Gulf Coast region. It's now up to us, not our elected officials, to get this part of the country back on track.

–Christopher M., New Orleans, LA†


The outpouring of support that we all received after Katrina was phenomenal. The amount of help that our area has received after the storm is also adequate. People must stop relying on hand-outs and get out there and do for themselves - with the possible exception of shady insurance companies who have weaseled their way out of payments. Don't hold your breath waiting on government programs to bail you out. The institutionalized corruption that has rotted NOLA to it's core will not change, so no more money should be sent just to fatten the few greedy parasites' pockets more.

–Tim C., New Orleans, LA†


Louisiana is a great place to live, work and play. Our people have suffered enough with the negligence received from our federal government--it will take real actions to rebuild the Gulf Coast--perhaps a new Democratic White House and a good Democratic Governor of Louisiana.

–Vinny M., Kenner, LA


As we find ourselves confronted with rebuilding our lives,let us re-examine our true needs. Help us with the physical as well as mental task of starting our lives anew. And, reduce the burden by showing us how to share with our neighbors an well as teaching us how to gratefully receive.

–Jack† H., Waveland, MS††


My understanding is that our President will be sneaking in and out of town for some photo op's on the storm's anniversary. The secrecy surrounding his trip and schedule speak volumes to me. He is coming to exploit us in an attempt to show that this administration cares about our future, while hiding from the people they are claiming to care for. Everyone knows the truth. Should he actually stand in front of a real cross section of New Orleans, people would tell him how we really feel. It is cowardly to come here, use this anniversary for his own self-aggrandizement and yet hide from the citizens who he is claiming to have helped. Please don't let our government shed its responsibility to atone for its mistakes and help rebuild our beautiful, uniquely American city.

–Jeremy S., New Orleans, LA


BAD BAD AND WORSE.†

–Laura M., New Orleans, LA


Please know that your government and your insurance company will not protect you or help you in the event of a catastrophe. Solid tax-paying citizens who worked hard, purchased homes, bought insurance, contributed to charity and savings accounts, and endeavored to raise good citizens have been financially ruined by this event -- which was NOT caused by a hurricane but by the failure of Government-built levees which were improperly constructed and not tested or maintained. Only about half of your senators and congress people have visited New Orleans. Can you urge your representatives to do so? Know that this land is U.S. soil -- are you willing to give it up? Do the flooded people in the Midwest deserve the same fate?

–Cynthia S., New Orleans, LA


Recovery? We are like separate tribes scattered across the plain that is New Orleans. Each group is working to preserve its own special space. There is no overall plan and attempts at administrative coordination are disastrous. Example: the office of Development compiled lists of houses and buildings to be demolished, and subcontracted site notification to FEMA. FEMA's workers, apparently unfamiliar with local streets and numbers, incorrectly marked hundreds of buildings and homes for demolition -- and now the hundreds of owners are swamping City Hall for restitution. There is no low cost housing, and no transportation available except in the tourist areas --so the City's original work force cannot return.

–Lin E., New Orleans, LA†††


The scope of the damage is difficult to grasp. The lack of progress is difficult to grasp. We are trying to recover, but progress is in millimeters instead of miles. Our patience is absolutely necessary; the rest of our nation needs to be patient with us. It would be nice if we heard about support for our efforts, instead of derision.

–Jo P., Slidell , LA


Katrina reminded me that all things eventually pass. The grief and the sickness of heart still stings. New Orleans, my hometown, is grieving and it is palpable.

–Jan M., River Ridge, LA††††


Recovery? Slow, at best. We received our pittance from the (Rocky)Road Home, and took out an SBA loan for $50 grand so we could finish repairs. We are not back to normal, not even close.

–Michael J., Kenner, LA†††††


How am I doing two years later? Well, that depends on how you look at it. If you focus on material possessions and physical comfort - I can't complain. I am back working at Hope Haven Children's Shelter in Waveland, MS, which was gutted by 6 feet of water. Many people died just down the street from the shelter, but all of our children were fine - having been evacuated days in advance. I was unemployed for seven months after the storm, while the shelter was being fixed, so I feel lucky to have income coming in.† I have had to move from my beloved community of Bay St. Louis, MS - where I lived for fourteen years - because after Katrina I could not afford to buy or rent anything available there. The house I rented pre-K for $550 a month would have rented for $1000 after Katrina - had it survived. Working for a small, community based non-profit, I cannot afford that. I am now living in nearby Long Beach, where my boyfriend and I have bought a house, but we are struggling to pay the Windpool insurance premiums. Although we live in a modest brick house, well out of the flood zone, that received very little damage in Katrina, our windpool insurance alone adds almost $200 a month to our mortgage. I have friends who own small businesses who have received $10,000 bills for their Windpool insurance and cannot sleep at night for fear of having to shut their businesses down. Each day I feel a little bit more comfortable and settled in our new house, as we slowly go about replacing the things that we lost and rebuilding our life. However, one thing that no amount of time will replace is the trust I lost in being able to count on the federal government to do the right thing. I still have flashbacks to the scenes of the elderly and the children being left to rot on overpasses for days on end. I still feel guilty that while I sat in the relative comfort of a shelter, eating an MRE and drinking some bottled water, just 45 miles away in New Orleans, people were starving and dying while the people charged with protecting and representing us just sat and watched this train wreck on their big screen TV's without lifting a finger. It both saddens and enrages me that had these stranded, suffering people been white, there would almost certainly have been a rapid response. I will get all my "stuff" back eventually and be financially secure again, but I will not ever recover from this disgraceful broach of trust....

–Karen A., Bay St. Louis , MS


Progress is really, really slow, and it will take time, but we will come back. There are opportunities in New Orleans, and money can be made here. Please come on down, enjoy what we have to offer, drop some of your hard earned money, and see for yourself.

–Nahum L., New Orleans, LA


you must find out where the money appropriated by congress is going, because it is not reaching the ones that need it most.

–Renick T., Biloxi, MS


New Orleans still desperately needs help. We need both tourist dollars and federal aid to get back on our feet. Take a long weekend in the fall and visit New Orleans to enjoy the restaurants and history. Then call your member of Congress when you return. New Orleans is a cultural treasure that must be saved.

–Mary R New Orleans, LA


New Orleans has suffered from inept leadership and inadequate plans; the leaders have largely lacked courage, foresight, and creativity. At a time when people needed leadership, they did not receive it. The federal government and many of the local leaders have continued to fail New Orleans, and the city has not moved ahead as it should. It will take time to rebuild and I fear that the rebuilding will not cure the ills that preceded Katrina and will fall short of what is needed.

–Ellen† K., New Orleans, LA†


As many of you know, new orleans is a national treasure. there is no other city like it on the face of the planet, in a country comprised of strip malls, new orleans offers a unique cultural experience. we should all work to preserve this, as well as to encourage our fellow americans who have endured such great personal tragedy. this is your chance to be not just good americans, but good samaritans, taking a moment from whatever it is that you are doing in your life to lend a hand to someone in need, someone lying broken and bloody on the side of the road, waiting for someone to care.

–Asia W., New Orleans, LA


Please, if you have the opportunity, come visit Mississippi and Louisiana.† You will never understand what this area has been through for the last two years until you see it for yourselves. Volunteers are still desperately needed. There are still elderly, poor people in New Orleans whose homes sit untouched since the storm. They need help. Mental health is a widespread problem and getting worse everyday. This area needs the whole country to stand up for it now, just as it did two years ago when Katrina came.

–Debra L., Carriere, MS††††††


Don't forget New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. People have such a great need. The federal aid is not reaching most of the people. Keep the focus on the people who still don't have decent homes, schools, infrastructure, etc.

–Carol R., Abita Springs, LA†


Don't give up on New Orleans. Don't forget her. New Orleans is still, in many ways, the crowning beauty of the south. Come here and see how alive it is. See New Orleans and perhaps it will give you a better understanding about why it's worth fighting for. Just don't go around asking every local you see how they were personally effected by the storm. Ask them where the best po boy or red beans are. Ask them where the best place to see live music is. Go see the damaged area, but try to focus more on the incredible people and the life we are living. Also, thank you so much for helping and caring about the people of New Orleans. You will never know the gratitude we feel for all the support you have given. We have learned that although we cannot rely on the government for support, the same does not go for the greater part of the American people who stood up to the task of helping out in a time of need.

–Katie C., New Orleans, LA†


I would like moveon members to know that things ARE NOT back to normal in New Orleans. I've talked to so many people this first week of college that are shocked to hear this. I guess they figured that since they stopped hearing about it the problem was solved. New Orleans has lost the attention of the United States and is being left to fend for itself. The crime is out of control and bills are high. I want members to urge the government to do more for the city. It is ridiculous that we are spending billions of dollars to rebuild iraq and yet the government can't seem to help a city in its own country. The New Orleans situation is a disgrace to what this country stands for. . .unity.

–Hanna l., New Orleans, LA


On Sunday afternoon 8/26/07, we went into one of the once flooded areas in what was once a middle class neighborhood between the I-10 and Lake Pontchartrain. Someone threw a party at an empty corner house but the party could have been at 3 out of 4 empty houses in that neighborhood. I noticed a few FEMA trailers around but not much else, maybe a few families were back in their homes. Sady, I mostly witnessed vacant buildings wearing their "Katrina markings." Yes, folks, this is happening in the United States ; our leadership at all levels of government is failing this unique, once vibrant city.

–Tom† B., New Orleans, LA†


I also believe that the coast is very vulnerable to more hurricanes. I am not so sure rebuilding down there is the best idea. I believe it is better to be on higher ground and people who were in very low areas may need to move to higher altitudes. As far as the government taking care of everyone, that is not going to happen. Right now our country is deep in debt with the war, and with continual earth changes and floods and devastation in many areas there soon will not be any money for rebuilding. The intention is also not there to do it. Our leaders are more interested in making money for themselves and have little concern for the needs of citizens. Insurance Companies need to be made accountable to their insurees. The rest will have to be taken care of by people. The thing that has worked best on the Gulf Coast is the volunteers who have opened their hearts and come down over and over again to help rebuild. We will need to gather in communities to solve our problems and take responsibility for what we need. We can no longer count on the government or big business. We can count on each other if we keep our hearts open and become creative. There are many ways we can build community, helping each other. It is time we see our connection to each other and not our separation. We are no longer a nation of independent people. We are becoming interdependent whether we like it or not. This is what we are all about anyway. Dog eat dog and greed never solved anything. There is a evolution of our species taking place and with that many people are becoming more aware and waking up to a greater consciousness. This is having creating much change. This is much more than thinking out of the box. This is feeling and being who we really are. Blessings and Peace to you All.

–Ann S., Pass Christian, MS


New Orleans needs top priority from the united states government! we need a few billion for levee upgrades and for overall infrastructure, instead of iraq getting a gross amount of billions and billions of dollars.

–Tom R., New Orleans, LA


Stop the politicians from spewing this crap about there not being enough money to do things that need to be done in America . It's not that there isn't enough of anything in America , except for good decision-making. ††††

–Jon T., New Orleans, LA


The Bush Administration has reneged on it's promise to rebuild this area. The healthcare system is a shadow of it's former self.†

–Garry V., Kenner, LA


The devastation in the New Orleans area is still so widespread it's hard to believe. Thousands of houses and apartments sitting unrepaired. Where have all the people gone? The devastation behind the levies is very apparent where people were told they were safe (thanks to the US Corps of Engineers) and because of this, many didn't have flood insurance hence no money to rebuild. Road Home money (money from the Federal Government) has in a lot of cases been inadequate because the costs to repair or new construction, has "gone through the roof" so to speak especially with the required new building codes. ††††††††††††††††††††

–Anonymous, Slidell , LA


People need to know that the church and religious orders suffered much due to the hurricane or rather due to the break in the levees. They to, have to rebuild also. We have not given up hope and we believe that our city will rebound but it will take time. Thank you.

–Mary M., New Orleans, LA


Dear MoveOn members, Can you help? The federal government has shown no leadership whatsoever on rebuilding this devastated city despite grandiose promises which were apparently made for the cameras. One of the biggest problems in the rebuilding effort is the cost of insurance. Investors cannot and will not do anything until insurance premiums become affordable. There should be a national program for hurricane coverage similar to the national program for flood insurance to spread the risk and the costs. Insurance companies were simply allowed to pull completely out of the state and some offer insurance at unreasonable rates and some offer homeowners without coverage for wind damage. And, despite the fact that insurance companies showed a windfall profit that year, insurance premiums rose to the point that people were driven from their homes. The insurance industry must be regulated and national programs must be made available to everyone for hurricane and wind damage. Otherwise, insurance companies have unchecked power to completely cripple an entire region of the country. The homeowners who have remained here are also being taxed to death with the escalation in property taxes. So many FEMA programs went unfunded that local taxpayers are being forced to pick up the tabs. Add to that the fact that energy companies have increased their prices to make up for their Katrina losses. Again, the burden falls on the common citizen who chose to remain. There was so much aid that was promised that never came through. Please urge the administration and/or Congress to finally show some leadership on the recovery efforts and to send the aid that was originally promised.††

–Janine W., Mandeville, LA


Remember, it was the failure of the levees and the government that brought ruin to New Orleans. It sickens me to hear about nation building elsewhere when we can't take care of things at home. Americans' short attention span is also to blame for not forcing the government to do the right thing.††

–Judith K., New Orleans, LA


A concerted effort from our government is needed, as well as an investigation into the insurance practices and bank practices currently being used to hamper minority and poor residents who wish to return to their homes. And the BIGGEST message of all is that the levees need major work so that this does not happen again.†††

–Kim S., New York, NY


Many people have heard that State Farm and other insurance companies fraudulently reworked independent appraisals to deny insurance coverage to a huge percentage of the customers who depended on them. People have heard that FEMA trailers arrived six months late, created unsafe "FEMA ghettos" where one key unlocked every 50th trailer door, and then sickened occupants with formaldehyde. People have also heard that the vast majority of federal money poured into the Gulf coast went straight into the hands of those with Republican political and family connections (e.g. Haley Barbour's niece), big business (e.g. "renting" the Carnival fleet when other ships had been offered free of charge), and ruthless developers (who had been trying to get their hands on protected Historic sites along the Gulf coast for years). What they may not have heard is the result of this unparalleled corporate greet and utter lack of foresight: There is no affordable living space available anywhere on the coast. The charming length of turn-of-the-century homes is becoming a federally- and state-subsidized Atlantic City. People who left are, for the most part, not returning. And the government has no plan whatsoever to move the thousands subsisting in FEMA ghettos to permanent housing. To give you an idea of how long and how sustained recovery efforts must be, The University of Southern Mississippi, my employer and one of the more responsible entities on the coast (In contrast with Tulane, USM did not "let go" ANY faculty or staff after Katrina) just this month reopened its Long Beach campus in a limited capacity. However, faculty and staff whose homes were destroyed cannot afford to live in the community in which they teach; many still commute.††

–Leah F., Hattiesburg, MS


I have an idea...why don't CNN and the New York Times just leave us alone? The negativism and sensationalism that infects the reports from Anderson Cooper and Adam Nossiter do nothing to assist our recovery. These 'media stars' continue to weave fame from the threads of our suffering while defaming the reputation of our city. Their unbalanced and half-truthful yarns continue to drive potential residents, businesses, tourists, and students away from the city. †

– Gary D., New Orleans, LA


First, thank you all so much for all you have done, all you continue to do in way of support of our fair city and its residents. We are humbled by the generosity shown us. New Orleans was flooded by the failure of the federal levees, not by a natural disaster. There was nothing natural about the neglect of Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers of their responsibility in this area.† Without the outrage of American taxpayers, there is nothing to prevent Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers ignoring their duties in the future. A similar fate may befall your city.

–Judy M., New Orleans, LA


That I would like to thank all of the people who volunteered there time and anything else they were able to do. Also I thank God every day that all of my family made it alright. Material things can be replaced but a life can't.†††††

–Mary M., Lacombe, LA


We recognize that many people feel "Katrina fatigue", they're tired of hearing about the crybabies in the Gulf who still can't get their acts together. There are two very important messages that America needs to hear: 1 The message being delivered, that New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf has plenty of money and it's their own fault that recovery is going so slowly, is coming from the same governmental sources who claim that American prosperity is at an all-time peak and that we are winning in Iraq. It is important to actually look at the funding that has been provided, and where it is designated to go. Much of the funds the government is claiming as part of the hurricane relief, were actually already slated for various safety and waterway improvements in the region. The majority of the funds went for immediate relief, not for infrastructure, residential reconstruction, etc. †When administration officials talk about how well things are going, they always mention, tourism, casinos, business growth, etc. Virtually no one in that realm discusses individuals and how families are doing; whether day care centers have reopened and where those are, how residents in areas like Lakeview and Mid-City are doing with rebuilding their homes and reopening their businesses. That's where the government's failures truly come to light.† 2 Many Americans believe that New Orleans is a special case; that the city is built in a stupid place, and residents are kind of asking for trouble. Many Americans believe that something similar couldn't happen to them. They're mistaken. New Orleans is a harbinger of the future for other American cities and towns unless people recognize what is happening here. Every state in the country has levees built by the Corps of Engineers. Many states live in danger of similarly devastating natural disasters - wildfires, flash floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. Will the government help your community rebuild if such a disaster strikes your area? The devastated Gulf Coast is blaring evidence that you can't count on them. It is imperative that we demand that the government live up to the promises they made two years ago, and that were made by previous presidents.†

–Cynthia S., New Orleans, LA


Don't believe anything bush says. His take on N. O. is that it's a great photo-op: "You've done a heckuva job, Brownie," and "We'll do what it takes" are nothing but baloney. †If N. O. had been a resmuglcian town, things would be up and running long since. And Mississippi repigs and their media will never, ever see bush and/or barbour as anything but heroes. Watch what our leader says today as the cameras roll, and if you discern one damn word of truth in any of it, I have several blocks of promising real estate in the Ninth Ward to sell you.

–R.E.S., Hattiesburg, MS


America has failed New Orleans. The chance to get things right has passed. From here on in, unless there is a massive and unprecedented change of direction, all that can be done will be patchwork repairs to a wrecked city. Katrina presented an opportunity as well as a disaster; that opportunity has been frittered away.††††

–Rose V., New Orleans, LA


Little known fact is that there are over 500 federally controlled dams and levees across the United States . The army corps of engineers is the "care taker" and there is little faith that the people in the gulf coast have in them. For those who blame the levee failures on the people of Louisiana, remember that the levees in New Orleans are a FEDERAL project. For those who say that New Orleans should not be rebuilt, I ask this question. What if it was a dam or levee in your town that broke due to improper design and care? Would you say that your town should not be rebuilt? I think not. This is America and we are ALL Americans and should help each other as fellow Americans. If we would take the money spent in Iraq for just one month, ALL the coast of Louisiana could be restored and levees properly built along with helping the energy needs of America . Without Louisiana's recovery we can only look forward to higher and higher energy costs throughout the US .† Katrina was the worst man made disaster to ever hit a major city and the worst natural disaster to hit the Mississippi coast. Finally, hurricane Rita was the second worse storm to ever hit America and has been overshadowed by Katrina and deserves attention as well. †††

–Joseph T., Abita Springs, LA


The people of New Orleans deserve to rebuild their city without the endless red tape and bureaucracy, politicking and in-fighting. News headlines often highlight the fraud that FEMA encountered, but they do not focus on the people who have lived, worked and contributed to New Orleans for their entire lives and received absolutely nothing because of the ineptitude in which funds have been utilized.

–Rachel W., West Hollywood, CA††


Don't let the Katrina recovery issue die. Insist that these people get the help needed to put their lives back on track. Politics has paid too big a role in the entire situation. Accountability is desperately needed and people still living in this area need safe housing and help with putting their lives back together. We need leaders with vision who are concerned for the victims, not leaders with personal agendas.

–A.F.B., Seminary, MS†††††††


I am with Hillary Clinton who said that we need an individual in the federal government to take charge of this enormous project (I think the NPR commentator this morning called it a tsar.) If we do not take care of those most in need, our nation is in BIG trouble.

–Phyllis N. Mandeville, LA††


The most important thing I want to say is that I read from Greg Palast that the federal government (the Corps, FEMA, and the Whitehouse) knew as of midnight on the day of Katrina- that the levees and canals had cracked and were going to fail. They kept this from the state!!!! hoping that Katrina would be blamed for the flooding, because in the past, when federal infrastructure has failed, the Federal gov must pay for the damages. Because they tried to do this they actually murdered people as the state stopped their evacuation procedures. They thought New Orleans was safe. Why is no one yelling about this?

–Jack O., New Orleans, LA


A catastrophe can happen in any city. Pray that it doesn't happen in yours. Your life will be turned upside down. Moving from a city that you have come to know and love is devastating because ,you loose your support system, your friends live somewhere else and all the people that you love and have concern for are miles away. You have to be a strong person to survive.Being displaced is a hard pill to swallow.

–Jeannie C., Louisiana


The situation in the New Orleans area has turned out to be far more complex and frustrating than anyone could have imagined. The recovery dollars from congress have essentially taken the heat off of the big insurance companies. Recovery grants were based on "what your insurance failed to pay". At two years post-Katrina, storm victims chose to trust the government, as they had been given incredibly harsh treatment from their insurers. I had 17 feet of water over my house and I haven't seen a penny of any sort of recovery grant. This is typical. The hours of run-around from the "Road Home" recovery program have been a source of gross frustration for families who clawed their way back to the storm region only to find their rents and contractor fees doubled. The dosing of hope and frustration by Road Home or "Home Alone" program has driven marriages to the brink, challenged families stuffed in a travel trailer, and has simply driven others to change States and careers, regardless of thier age. The poor and the elderly have taken the brunt of the pain and loss. Many elderly, unable to negotiate the life in a FEMA trailer, have been forced into nursing homes where they will have great difficulty ever returning to independent living as they have diminishing resources with which to deal with the Gulf Coast's new FEMA bureaucracy or the predation of out of state contractors. The poor often work two jobs to care for their children in the face of boon town rental costs. They have no reserve of time and money with which to stay on the phone hours with Road Home or FEMA or to contest illegal rent increases from their landlords. As for me personally, I have lost all trust in our government. Americans are now in the hands of the big business lobby and I believe the American people lack the will for the big fight. I have bought a boat big enough to sail ahead of the next Katrina or to join others who have left the U.S. Time will tell but today, I want to leave.

–Rick B., Slidell, LA


Please continue to remind the Senate, and Congress that we are still in need of emotional and economic assistance. I love this Nation, I love New Orleans, and I know that people are basically good at heart.† †

–Ronalda F., New Orleans, LA


Please make a phone call or drop a postcard to your U.S. senators and member of congress that New Orleans needs Category 5 levees. The federal government through the Army Corps of Engineers built and maintained the levees that failed in New Orleans and is in charge of building the new levees. Yet they are only building to withstand a Category 3 such as Katrina was when it hit New Orleans, and not the strongest kind of hurricane, a Category 5, such as just hit Mexico. It is not just a possibility but a certainty that at some point a Category 4 or 5 storm will hit New Orleans. We can't stand to go through another flood but Bush refuses to take action on this. Many top New Orleans Democrats and Republicans have pressed Bush on this, but he fails to even address it. Please make congress aware that what happened before can happen again and there is really something we can do about it.

–Buddy B., Metairie, LA


What I thought before Katrina was that no matter what party was in power, in times of crisis, our government would always be there to help us pick up the pieces, to rescue those who must be rescued, to help us become whole again. What I learned after Katrina was that the foundation of that belief was completely wrong. Our government does not care about its citizens, and either cannot or will not come to our aid in times of disaster. What I also learned, or perhaps just had reaffirmed, was that the bond of family, friends, and a sense of community grows stronger. I had water because a neighbor fixed the pressure switch on my water well, I had gas because my nephew and I traveled 50 miles away to fill up gas cans. My generator and gas cans were quickly passed along to others in need as I was one of the lucky ones who got power back within a week. We survived because we came together and shared whatever we had. Those trapped in New Orleans had nothing to share with each other, but many in my community traveled south across the lake in boats to bring and rescue what they could - the day after the storm. A country is only as great as the citizens of that country. While our government is a sorry excuse for a republic, our citizens, all of our citizens from the New York power companies employees' to the churches and organizations throughout the United States are truly the greatest people anywhere.† My faith in my government is now completely nonexistent, but my faith in the finer nature of man has only grown stronger.†††

– Alice H., Ponchatoula, LA


The message that I would like to share is that New Orleans has not returned. There are those of us who are still trying to get help for problems that were caused by our government. The ironic part of the whole thing is that if I had caused billions of dollars with of problems, I would have been immediately dismissed. It's plain and simple, it the government was responsible for destroying my life, then the government should repair it to the same standard of living before the storm. ††††

–Verna R., New Orleans, LA


Federal and local governments are not prepared for large scale disasters. Two years later and this place still is a mess. Only the facade touristy neighborhoods like the French Quarter are repaired. The neighborhoods rarely frequented by tourist are still in a considerable state of disarray. Individual citizens can not repair everything alone. Government is needed. And in many of these areas, it is sorely lacking. †††††††

–George D., New Orleans, LA


Nothing short of a federal takeover will root out the kleptocrats who drove it into the ground well before Katrina blew into town.

– Elizabeth E., New Orleans, LA


I live in Slidell, LA, which is 25 miles from New Orleans. Progress has been good here, but definitely not in the city. I am tired of people here abusing what has freely been given to them. Some people have the mentality of "why work, when I can get it for free". Also, the violence is terrible!!!!! New Orleans is in great need of a new mayor.†

–Tina B., Slidell, LA


A lot of money was pledged towards recovery, and it was a big mistake to trust that politicians would use it appropriately. A majority of that money hasn't even been used on recovery projects, and it's two years later. Progress has been at a slow crawl outside of the tourist-y areas, and a lot of New Orleans resembles the third-world countries on those tv commercials asking for your "only thirty cents a day." We feel short-changed and robbed. Our city is a warzone, and we are angry that it has been allowed to happen this way.

–Matthew B., New Orlean, LA


Two years later, I'm still living in a gutted house and watching Nagin and Blanco play the blame game. Individuals and non-profit organizations are making miracles happen here while the government is doing nothing but laying down red tape. It still sucks.

–Seth M., Slidell, LA


New Orleans is recovering. What you see on TV and in the newspaper is not necessarily the case. There was a poll recently that showed a percentage of Americans believe there is still water in houses and that people are still dying because of this. The media finds the worst houses and buildings that no one has touched and does its reports in front of it. Meanwhile, the rest of the street looks fine. Don't get me wrong, there are neighborhoods where it is almost empty, but the media only shows these neighborhoods. There are areas in Lakeview, Gentilly, and New Orleans East that did not receive any water but the media does not mention these areas because it doesn't make good news. The media only covers how many people are leaving New Orleans because of Crime and Frustration, but no one talks about all the people moving in to New Orleans to help rebuild. Please do what you can to make your voice heard about FEMA trailers. They are extremely dangerous. Don't be surprised to hear about people dying from living in these trailers. My personal experience living in one for a year has me scared for my family's future. Finally Katrina has caused horrible mental health issues in this area. The suicide rate is not necessarily up, but PTSD is extremely high. Marriages that were strong before Katrina, are ending because of Katrina. Children are acting out or are experiencing PTSD. There are not enough mental health professionals in the area to deal with all this.

–Adriana S., Metairie, LA


Rebuilding is hard, but it isn't impossible. Mississippi never got the national attention that New Orleans received, even though our area took the brunt of the storm. We're still down here, and we're still working to regain what we've lost.

–Margaret C., Gulfport, MS


Please send representatives of your organizations, or even individuals, down here to see what it is really like. Notify your congressmen to do something to help these desperate people. Do what you can to help find out WHERE THE MONEY HAS GONE that was appropriated, donated and allotted for recovery. And come on down and volunteer to help us rebuild houses. What would we have done without the volunteers from faith based groups and individuals so far!

–Sue H., Diamondhead, MS


You cannot depend on your local, state or national governments ability to handle a crisis. when it comes down to it, you're on your own.

–Court, New Orleans, LA


Make sure you have a good insurance company that doesn't try to rip you off at the first sight of a hurricane and then triple your payment for a house you don't have anymore. And then I wonder....why is this allowed? These people have paid for 20 and 30 years but when there's a claim because of a natural disaster the Insurance Co. refuses to pay...it sounds like highway robbery to me!

–Doris M., Bay Saint Louis, MS


Thank you for your support, prayers, concern, volunteerism, good vibes and generosity. Thanks for caring about us still. The spirit of New Orleans lives on...†

–Jennifer M., New Orleans, LA


About 10 months ago I purchased a house that was flooded by Katrina in a neighborhood uptown called Broadmoor. The house had not been touched since the storm and still contained all of the previous owner's belongings including their well-stocked refrigerator and pantry. With the help (hard-labor) of my family and friends and about a million trips to the Home Depot I moved in about two weeks ago. Tonight with a glass of champagne in one hand and a sage bunch in the other I plan to smudge out the last of Katrina from my house and ring in another New Year after the storm. I am very lucky and proud to be in a neighborhood and a city where people are working this hard to bring back my home, the best city in the WORLD, New Orleans. Happy New Year!†††

–Miriam D., New Orleans, LA


New Orleans isn't dead. Neither is it thriving. It's like someone who's been run over by a freight-train and who is now healing him- or herself with scant access to medicines or bandages. The outpouring of support and help from the American PEOPLE has been extraordinary, but we've been hit by a perfect storm of a careless President (and somewhat careless Congress), an incompetent Governor, and a Mayor more interested in running for any OTHER office than that to which he was re-elected. Please don't give way to "Katrina Fatigue". We're Americans, and we still need your help. Our city is unique in its beauty and cultural richness, but it's not unique in its vulnerability. You could ALL fall prey to a man-made or natural disaster...therefore we all need to look out for one another. Isn't that what the concept of a "United" States is all about?

–Adrienne P., New Orleans, LA


Despite the fact that many of us have recovered, it's still not the same. The city itself is crippled by violence and a lack of public services. There is no backup health care system for the uninsured or underinsured. A solid third of students are living with people other than their parents, and the education system is still beaten to the ground. Our public colleges are facing enormous budget shortfalls, yet get the same aid as the private ones. And most importantly: WE STILL ARE NOT SAFE. This disaster was as much government created as it was natural, yet I still get questions about whether or not we should rebuild. We shifted rivers to make it easier to get goods to the heartland, raped our wetlands to give Americans oil, and destroyed our wildlife areas to open refineries to give you gas. Despite centuries of building to deal with flooding, we trusted when we were told the levees built by the Army Corps of Engineers would protect us from the storm, and built homes and raised families where we never would have before. And you ask if it's worth it to rebuild? Why would that even be a question? No one asked if it was worth it to rebuild California after major earthquakes, or repopulate the Midwest when they flood constantly from nothing more than a hard rain, or if we should REALLY give Florida yet another chance when they are pummeled almost annually from Hurricanes, or even if it's such a great idea to allow people to live in tornado country.† Yet here we are, two years later, and everything we have we've earned with blood, sweat and tears. All those mysterious billions of donations and appropriations might as well be leprechaun gold, because we've never really seen any of it. If nothing else, I guess, we've learned that lesson from Hurricane Katrina: look to your own, because the cavalry ain't coming.

–Jennifer B., Metarie, LA


People have no idea the extent of damage here. Unless you see it, you can't comprehend it. People are fighting to save an unique , historical American city, yet many feel abandoned, left out to dry. President Bush is here today saying that better times are ahead, we're not forgotten- yet they're just words, possibly another empty promise; there's not the same passion you hear when he's talking about Iraq. Imagine the possible death of an American city being less of a priority than some distant quagmire on desert sands. All we want in New Orleans is fair treatment so that we can succeed and thrive as a jewel of a city- an American city, filled with people determined to have their lives back and have a piece of that seemingly receding American Dream.

– Burton C., New Orleans, LA


People in Mississippi are still living in poisoned FEMA trailers. Where has the EPA been for the last two years? Ask your congress why they let Bush slash the EPA budget and allow him to fill it with leaders that are helping big business get away with pollution while making the working man live (and eventually die)because of it.††††

–Lene† R., Mississippi


The crime is horrendous and the cost of living is skyrocketing. Our leaders ( Nagin, Jordan , Dollar Bill, Vitter, etc) are a joke. Our criminal justice system, incompetent before the storm, still continues to fail. Our educational system is deplorable. Most people self medicate and enjoy bar therapy (since we have pitiful mental health services). I cannot stress how bad the crime is, no where is safe.††††

–Courtney S.,† New Orleans, LA


My message? Though we have received a great deal of volunteer help, without which I don't think the City could even have had a chance to recover, more help is needed. In addition, again, there have been very generous financial donations for which we are grateful and we hope that doesn't dry up as there are still many more needs. Finally, we ask that citizens across the country not forget us as a natural case of "fatigue" with a situation. Our situation is too dire. Please contact your federal legislators to let them know New Orleans still needs a great deal of help. I thank you for your time and interest.

–Rick† C., Metairie, LA


God help the next part of this country if we don't replace the current party in power. Katrina simply points out where we are the weakest. There is money, but where is it being appropriated??? Not in our own country, where it is needed. Thank God for individuals like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and the many charities and giving organizations that have tried to help people rebuild lives and homes. Our Federal govt. has failed. I wonder why I pay taxes.†††††††

–Diane L., Mandeville , LA


I know it probably gets old hearing about Katrina, but it is still a major problem that people here have to live with every day. Rebuilding has been slow, but even once houses are completed and streets are fixed and so on, the work will have just begun. New Orleans cannot survive with our current system of levees and disappearing wetlands, and it seems to me very little has been done to truly remedy that problem long term. Just remember that New Orleans is not only an American city that is worth preserving for its residents, but it also provides important services to the rest of the country above and beyond a fun tourist destination.

–Jordan W., Metairie, LA


The recovery in New Orleans is finally taking hold, thanks to the help of the most effective department in government....the Division of Compassion and Action. This department is represented at the local, state and national levels by thousands of deeply committed and level headed American citizens who have proven once again that democracy works mostly when it is of the People, for the People and BY the People.

–Steven B., New Orleans, LA


I want to thank all of you who contributed either monetarily or in person through volunteering to help us clean up and start the rebuilding process. It is mostly through courageous groups who have come and are still coming to New Orleans to assist the elderly, the disabled, the poor working families to gut their homes, clean them out, put up dry-wall, new flooring, paint inside and outside, and overall bring families back. I applaud MoveOn's efforts to prick the conscience of our government's representatives. There is still so much to do. Thank you, fellow and sister members.

–Shirley B., New Orleans, LA


Your city could be next. This government is incompetent. If a disaster strikes and there's no terrorists to blame, they don't care. †

– Eugene P., Slidell, LA


Louisiana is hard hit not because of a storm or failed levees, but is failed by intractable corruption at every level. The corruption, secrecy and self serving executives in Washington just encourage and embolden the corruption at every level. So donít think that Katrina was isolated to the gulf coast - it will happen one way or another to your hometown someday - will local, state and federal corruption leave you high and dry in your time of need or leave you swimming for your life?††††

–Robert M., Salt Lake City, UT


It's not over. Just because it has been two years does not mean things have gotten better and we can stop worrying about the people who have been kit hardest by Katrina. We need to stop closing our eyes and sign the Dodd Bill. Thanks.

– Tracy H., Cortland, NY


It is important to remember several things. First of all, Katrina missed New Orleans. It was NOT a direct hit. The city was flooded when the federal levee system was compromised. It is the largest man made disaster in American history. Secondly, New Orleans is not alone in geographically unstable places to live. San Francisco comes to mind. There are tornadoes in the Midwest, dust storms on the plains. Blizzards in the north. Wildfires. Faulty bridges in Minnesota. Anywhere on earth natural disasters occur. Right now we are all contributing to Global Warming. When I was a child, we NEVER evacuated when a hurricane headed our way because there were miles and miles of wetlands to slow down the storm. Now, we're practically coastal. The situation in New Orleans is NOT AN ISOLATED INCIDENT. We are the canary in the coal mine. If we don't stop our insatiable consumer appetite and our reliance on fossil fuels, our children wont have a place to live.† One of the most important things to realize is that New Orleans is a medium to small American city. Right now we have about 260,000 people living here. If the American government can not handle fixing a moderate sized American city, how can it ever hope to instill democracy in one of the most volatile places on earth: the Middle East? I may not agree with the policies and actions of the American government, but every day I re-affirm my love and respect for American citizens.††††

–Susan G., New Orleans, LA


We need help -- at any and all levels -- Support online businesses if you can't come down here.

–Allen V., New Orleans, LA


Not everyone in or from New Orleans was looking for, or got, a handout. Many of us work hard, pay taxes, and have never accepted a dime from government. We lost everything we owned, and went back to try to rebuild (yes, on higher ground). Yet, crime, corruption, ignorance, stupidity, and the snail's pace of "rebuilding" drove us away. We left in fear for our lives, our health, our safety, and our sanity, but we lost the only place where we had ever felt at home. Please be aware that the next hurricane could hit YOUR city, with global warming advancing so quickly. And when the next big American city gets devastated by a natural disaster, watch what the city, state, and federal government does. If that city is largely populated by poor people, the answer will be "nothing". If you are not wealthy and do not have connections, you can pretty much forget about being able to rebuild your life to any semblance of normalcy for many years after such a disaster. I won't even talk about the fight with my insurance company, which declared my house a total loss and then paid just enough to pay off my mortgage and start over again with $2000 in my pocket. Insurance companies won't care about you. The government won't do anything for you if you were not already on welfare or getting some sort of subsidy (we made too much money to qualify for any assistance at all, save a $2000 FEMA check). Friends and family will quickly tire of your sad story and will not understand when you become emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted from trying to start your entire life over with nothing (we lost our house, our possessions, and I lost my job in Katrina). At the end of the day, you will see that living in the richest country in the world will not help you one damn bit when you lose everything and have to start over. Your intelligence and hard work will mean nothing when you have to rebuild in a city where criminals have taken over and corruption is rampant. And if your city was not like that before a disaster, it may become so after, if a quick and thorough response is not immediately mounted by city, state, and federal officials.†

–Kasandra L., Brattleboro, VT


I don't think people understand the utter devastation to the City of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. In New Orleans and Chalmette the water came, stayed for a while, then drained - but it left not only homes that were destroyed but families and friends separated and flung to all parts of the country. †In addition it devastated the economic viability of the City - and has impacted every aspect of our lives. On the Gulf Cost in Mississippi things were washed or blown away - but both areas have suffered tremendous economic losses. We have 70 - 80 miles of wasteland that used to be homes, schools, businesses, etc. - and they are gone. Unless you see it for yourself you will not be able to understand the magnitude of loss. Even two years after the storm there are pockets of life in the City - my area is almost 100% back to normal. Another problem for people is the huge increase in the cost of insurance - if you can get it. The real estate market is in trouble - many homes are up for sale - but people can't get insurance coverage so they sit unsold. I could go on with many other areas - crime, the school system, courts, health care, etc. and none of it would be good. The Road Home Program that was set up is slow and virtually nonresponsive. I applied in Aug of 2006, had my interview in Dec 06, my inspection within a week or two after that and then nothing. I have called and called -- but no award letter - consequently no money. Our insurance money and savings have been spent to get us to the point where we are now. We still have things to do but must wait on the Road Home Money to finish or go out and borrow the money. I don't want to leave the New Orleans area or the State of Louisiana - this is home - but WE need help - the need is great - don't forget us - come see how we are living - hear our stories - and demand that the federal government not forget us. We are citizens of the greatest country in the world yet we still† stumble and labor to recover from the massive devastation that occurred on Aug 29 2005.† ††

–Leonna C., Metairie, LA


THAT I AM A WORKING SINGLE MOTHER WHO NOW CANNOT MAKE ENDS MEET AND CANNOT AFFORD TO GET MENTAL HEALTH FOR PANIC ATTACKS AND DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO TURN AND WHAT TO DO...DUE TO HURRICANE KATRINA, EVERYTHING IS TOO EXPENSIVE AND THE PUBLIC SERVICES ARE SERIOUSLY LACKING.†

–Margaret F., New Orleans, LA


I live in Ocean Springs, MS which is just over bridge (destroyed by Katrina) from Biloxi. The first span of the new bridge will finally open in Nov. (26 months after Katrina) and the second span should be open by next Mar. The first 400 yards or so of the Gulf shore line from Pascagoula, MS west to beyond Waveland, MS (about 50 miles) was essentially destroyed, with only concrete slabs remaining. The devastation resembled the aftermath of a nuclear war. Very little has been rebuilt in this stretch (except for numerous high rise condos). The many large and beautiful antebellum homes that used to grace the beach road are gone. The Jefferson Davis home was destroyed and is now thankfully being rebuilt. Without the many casinos and the infrastructure and jobs they provide we would indeed be in dire conditions. Home owners insurance for new home owners is virtually impossible to obtain and extremely expensive. By the way, my home came thru Katrina with only minor damage (my home is thankfully about .8 mile from the shore) and, since I was already insured, my insurance has 'only' increased about 50%. A bitter pill for residents here is the vast amount of media coverage received by New Orleans and the paucity of coverage for the utter destruction of the MS Gulf Coast. Imagine returning after Katrina to find your home, all belongings, autos, etc. not only destroyed but, in many instances, nothing to look at but pieces of wood and brick -- and now (2 years after the storm) still nothing in the way of real assistance. And yet the politicians still make their trips to New Orleans for their photo ops. The majority of Americans know about the failed levees and flooding in New Orleans. Very few Americans truly know about the devastation of the MS Gulf Coast. There are still many thousands of FEMA (and other) trailers still in use as a residence. However, to us that live here, this is still a marvelous place to live. We shall recover and to state it in a southern parlance --- 'we ain't goin nowhere'. This is home.†

–David E., Ocean Springs, MS


Things are moving along in New Orleans, but not in every neighborhood. Some are making a lot of progress, like mine, while others are stuck in the bureaucracy of the Road Home Program and other government assistance. Crime is constantly a worry - not only looting from construction sites, but violent crime as well. Every couple of months, I stop walking my dog after dark because of crime in areas a few blocks away from my apartment. I stay because the city needs people to support its efforts. I am the Health Initiatives Director for the American Cancer Society in Louisiana and I know that what I do helps the people of our area by addressing health care needs such as access to care issues as well as helping to improve the Quality of Life of cancer patients in New Orleans. We have a long way to go, but don't give up on us!†

–Rebecca M., New Orleans, LA


People are still living in FEMA trailers, some of which are making people sick. We have no public health system in place, no clinics, no hospitals for the uninsured, no metal health system in place. Some who haven't died in the storm have taken their lives because of the depression they feel. Even those whom have re-bult, live on desolute streets without protection and in the middle of destruction. The money is going into the corporations' hands instead those who need it. It should have been local companies who were hired to rebuild, not Chaney's guys.

–Angelle C., Jefferson, LA


Katrina traumatized the residents of this city. No matter what neighborhood or income level, you left town during the hurricane and wondered for weeks or months if you had a home anymore. Those who did not evacuate are even more deeply marked, having witnessed murder, mayhem and guerrilla survival on US soil. The disorganized nature of the recovery is symptomatic of this trauma. Maliciousness, ineptitude and mal-intent are not the culprits here. Like a widow, New Orleans needs care and attention. She needs the patient understanding of her nation. †

– Dallas R., New Orleans, LA


It's worse than you think.†††††

–Stephen L., New Orleans, LA


Sincere heartfelt thanks for all the generous people who have given their time and energy by volunteering to help those who need assistance the most. Without the help of strangers, we would be in a much worse situation. An analogy that I've used repeatedly to explain the at times paralyzing effect of Hurricane Katrina is that if your house burned down, while that's a terrible thing, you still have your job, children's schools, churches, grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacy, doctor, parks, sports events, etc. With Katrina, we lost almost all of those basic components of a community. It is a very traumatic event to recover from. †††††

–Mary-Catherine L., New Orleans, LA


This crisis is not anywhere near over. I live in hope that a Democratic administration and Congress will kick-start a true recovery. There is a window of opportunity for the people down here that is steadily closing.

–Lisa F., New Orleans, LA


Please don't forget us. We are still suffering. I hear about Katrina fatigue. Please don't go there. We are hard working people who are trying to re tool ourselves. †††

–Patrice W., New Orleans, LA


Most of the country does not realize that 70,000 homes were destroyed in Mississippi. The small businesses were never counted. The response has been good. The thousands of volunteers from across the country and world have kept spirits up - and have helped so much with cleanup and rebuilding! There remains a tremendous problem with insurance and rebuilding. The devastation is so huge that many are not easily helped. Rental units are mostly gone. The remaining units are priced out of reach of the regular worker/family or retired person. Some of the saddest stories are of elderly persons without sufficient resources (emotional/ family/ financial or otherwise) to start over. So many people lost everything. From day 1 - if you don't see this with your own eyes, you cannot understand the magnitude of this disaster. The country focuses more on New Orleans, but there were essentially two disasters - the hurricane that hit Mississippi and the levees that failed in New Orleans. Remember Mississippi!

–Gerda L., Mississippi


There are areas in New Orleans that remain mostly the same after two years. The insurance companies were allowed to slip out of paying for services they collected for for many years. This should never have been allowed by the Federal government. Thousands of homeowners paid for insurance most of their lives that wasn't there when it was needed. Their life's sweat was literally destroyed and they didn't receive a penny from their insurer. The old worn out line "it wasn't the wind, it was the water" was an easy out for these companies and they got by with it. Shame on them and shame on the Federal government for allowing it. We can go to 3rd world countries and Iraq and pump in billions of dollars of taxpayers monies but we can't rebuild our beautiful city destroyed by the worst natural disaster in history. That's too bad.

–Linda H., Covington, LA


Don't think something like this can't happen in your city. 2. The best way for you to understand what has happened to the Gulf Coast is to come and see it for yourself.

–Daniele F., New Orleans, LA


Life in New Orleans will always bear the scars of Katrina, but we as Americans need to demand something be done. New Orleans is a city like no other in the world and to see it now, still in ruins, is one of the tragedies our generation will always bear. Lets make sure when we look back on Hurricane Katrina, the story that began with tragedy, ends in triumph.

–Yanna G., Metairie, LA


While life is "better," there is so much still needed to be accomplished. I run a children's theater and the stress that the local children and their families are dealing with is quite extreme. The damage still quite visible all over the New Orleans area is a constant reminder that the levees failed and that the officials at all government levels have failed the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The question "how has the recovery affected you personally" would be better phrased as "what affects does the Katrina disaster still have for you." If you were affected by Katrina then you are STILL affected by Katrina. The recovery is a painfully slow process which is about moving in time away from the disaster. The rebuilding of these areas will take one if not two generations. What folks who are not here do not understand is that we are still living the disaster at every turn of our life - reminders of the storm are everywhere. For everyone who lives in the devastated areas, their lives have changed forever. For anyone who moves here, their lives will be defined by the disaster through the eyes of those who have been here. Change has occurred in every facet of your life - personal and professional. Everyone you know and love has been affected in some way. Everything you do is in some way affected by the disaster. You hear it in your friend's voice and see it in their eyes. Life here will never be the same.† While recovery should be our way of life at this time, it will not be until the areas have fully recovered. Until all of that is changed, truly recovery for the people of the Gulf Coast is not possible.

–Julie C., Metairie, LA


Please push the Red Cross for Accounting. Thousands of dollars were donated for the hurricane effort- yet one million people are scattered around your country. It is sad enough to have people ignore the situation - as items such as are brad and angelina happy- But it is even sadder that people who need help are not identified...and funds collected on their behalf are 'dried up' without ever being dispersed. Please remember us.

–Andrea M., Ithaca, NY


I hope everyone who reads this, and was a Katrina victim, or know someone who is, take comfort in the fact that there are people down here still in the trenches doing the work that needs to be done. Hope all is well for all of the MoveOn members and God bless us all!

–Devon P., Marrero, LA


I am a life long liberal Democrat. I have never voted for a Republican. I voted for Nader in the two of the last three elections. The problems of New Orleans and surrounding affected areas are almost beyond the scope of government. Some of the things being done now, such as continuing rent assistance and rebuilding neighborhoods that will flood in any significant hurricane are actually detrimental to recovery. The city and the area cannot be propped up forever. We must find our own economic level. Government should provide secure, real flood protection, where possible. Government should provide incentives for business to locate here. This will be difficult given the conditions. Providing airlines with incentives to schedule flights here would be an example. Currently conventions are not being booked because they cannot get the flights and flights are not being booked because there are no conventions. Government should assist in re-building, or in some cases building the infrastructure----schools, hospitals, mass transit, public services. Government should locate government offices here, which will provide real jobs and help create a real economy. Having said all this, I will repeat that this economy will fall and the current attempts to keep it propped up will only make it fall farther and later. And then the rest of the nation will be even more sick of spending money on New Orleans. "What did they do with all that money we sent them before!" will be the cry.

–Michael M., Metairie, LA


Of the money that has been appropriated to New Orleans, very little of it has reached the city, and even less has made any discernible impact on those actually affected by Katrina. Even if all of the money, were actually here, it would not be enough. The scope of the problem is almost unimaginable. New Orleans desperately needs more help. Perhaps even more important though is that some sort of national insurance regulation is passed. The insurance companies paid as little as they possibly could to homeowners who had policies with them for years--policies which were apparently worth little or nothing once actual damage took place. And now, claiming that the risk is too high, many companies refuse to offer insurance to New Orleanians or offer insurance at exorbitant rates--while the companies still posted record profits the year Katrina hit. While crime here is bad, it is not as bad as it is made out to be but is merely a continuation of New Orleans's preexisting crime problem which I fear could only realistically be solved by addressing the larger problem of poverty here. These problems of insurance and urban poverty are problems that affect the entire nation--not just New Orleans. Please urge your Congress-members to do what they can to address these problems here in New Orleans as well as throughout the nation.

–Joseph B., New Orleans, LA


Help never arrived. The money you gave to charity never made it. FEMA took the rental assistance back as soon as we received a portion of our insurance. No trailers were available. I sold my home for $20,000 (it was worth at least $200,000 prior to the storm). Then SBA took the $20,000. I urge everyone to make emergency plans in case Mother Nature hits your area because your government will not be there for you.

–Linda S., Chalmette, LA


THE SAME THING COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!!!!! DON'T LET IT!!!!!!!!

–Robert T., Metairie, LA


At least if our politicians would understand this and help the people to come back. Is not it a joke, after 2 years they are trying to help. How long it will continue?

–Moni, New Orleans, LA


When a government cannot - will not - recognize the needs of its own citizens, will not rebuild its own infrastructure, will not take steps to ensure, as best as possible, the safety and well-being of men, women, and children, that government is useless, is defunct, is acting heinously. We've a government today that does not know the meaning of public service. We've an administration today that believes in torture, in lies, in bullying, and in destruction. Our country is plagued by deceit and lack of care or concern for the general public. Cronyism, bribery in the guise of lobbying, lies, and warmongering; self-aggrandizing and profit-seeking individuals who would kill to cover up their own motives, their own crimes. They don't even talk about Katrina anymore, though. Past history. Waging war on other countries is more important, and profitable. A government who refuses to care for its own is no government at all. Impeach the administration. Impeach them all and make them live in those empty FEMA trailers for the next 20 years or so. Better yet, hang them all for high crimes and treason. They've betrayed the nation, and continue to do so.

–Don M., Hattiesburg, MS


New Orleans is a great city of unique qualities and cultural experiences. We need leaders that our committed to our recovery-b/c if folks let New Orleans die, any city in the US is a target for our political ineptitude if it had an emergency/crisis. The entire economy is dependent on our oil and shipping industry that contributes to our nation's overall functioning. What happened to democracy and helping out our citizens and middle class?

–Kerrie, New Orleans, LA


HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

–Hank W., New Orleans, LA


DOROTHY WAS SO RIGHT......THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

–Bettye A., Mandeville, LA


I am still waiting for the Calvary to show up. Thankfully, many have volunteered their time and/or money to help. The lies about what is going on in N.O. and why we are to blame are hurtful. We have more flood insurance per capita /house than anywhere, but Dade County. Man created this disaster by negligence..CORPS.. The lack of leadership from the Mayor didn't help things, remember he supported Jindal for governor the last time, he isn't really a Dem, he ran as a business candidate and received the uptown vote (republican). Think about thisÖ our congressman has $100k in cash in his freezer, our DA can't prosecute, our honest,/role model councilman pleaded guilty to kickbacks, our US senator has call girls on speed dial and our Gov can't find the road home. Now, maybe you understand our problem. In spite of it all, we want normalcy.

–Wayne L., Metairie, LA


New Orleans is still an extremely vulnerable city. And I'm not just referring to the quality of the repaired levee system. We are at our wit's end right now. There's no resources, no leadership, no plan and most of all no support from the federal government. This city feels on the brink of collapse sometimes.† And to think before August 29th 2005 I thought Bush was just a mere war criminal! I never thought he'd be guilty of high treason and negligent genocide too! To recycle some 9/11 rhetoric, NEVER AGAIN.

–John L., New Orleans, LA


It is so important to save New Orleans both for national economical reasons (think the irreplaceable Mississippi port and the oil refining), and its unique cultural significance. Both will be lost if the wetlands aren't restored. That is the most important issue. Without the wetlands we are vulnerable to severe hurricanes. Please beg Congress, the President, and the oil companies that had a major hand in destroying the wetlands to allocate the resources necessary to bring them back.

–Georgette I., New Orleans, LA


Please do whatever you can to help us down here. The thought of another storm and evacuation is just too frightening to imagine. There is still so much more that needs to be done. New Orleans is so unique. If you haven't visited us, put it down on your list of things to do before you die. Despite what the President might think, we ARE worth saving. Please do whatever you can!

–Mary G., Metairie, LA


Take your local governments' warnings seriously -- don't take chances. BE THOROUGHLY PREPARED!! Know this: preparation takes LOTS of time. (Not all of this applies to everyone -- e.g., people in earthquake areas where there are no warnings.) Get a sturdy box to put your essential medical, legal, insurance, and other basic papers in. Put them or copies of them in there NOW! Put medications in the same box, with an extra bottle of necessary prescriptions if possible. You won't have a doctor where you're going and you could be gone for weeks. You don't have to do this in one day, but put a box out to start your collection.† Decide ahead where you'll evacuate to. Arrange for one person who does not live in harm's way to be your information clearing-house -- someone who agrees to be the one you and your loved ones will contact. Communication will be your biggest priority. A cell phone is probably the single most useful thing you can take. If you can afford it, also get a laptop.††††† Make a copy of your computer address book!! If you don't already have your MDs, lawyers, insurance agents, etc., in your address book, put them in now. Or make copies of their business cards to take with you. URGENT: collect your most prized and irreplaceable small things NOW (e.g., snapshots, letters) and put them in a small box in your closet so they'll be ready for you to grab when you're grabbing some clothes. Of all the sad tales of loss I've heard, loss of photos and letters have been the saddest by far. Not houses -- snapshots. (Catastrophes do make you realize just what is most important.) Check out emergency advice on the internet, e.g., the Red Cross site. Different areas pose different threats. Have a check-list divided into: 1) DO NOW, 2) DO WHEN A WARNING SEEMS POSSIBLE 3) DO A DAY OR TO BEFORE LEAVING, 4) DO JUST BEFORE HEADING FOR YOUR CAR. In areas where you'll have time to get out, keep your car in excellent working condition, and keep your gas tank well filled. Study any required evacuation routes ahead of time. They can get tricky.† Plan your whole evacuation route in detail.†

–Ann O., New Orleans, LA


The people in the region are working hard to rebuild New Orleans. As with any natural disaster, children and the sick were, and continue to be, the citizens most affected by the upheaval. Our education and health care infrastructure, which wasn't the greatest before, has been put on the back burner to housing and property issues, and we've got a long way to go to get those areas up to adequate standards. The people of the entire region are grateful for all of the government and volunteer assistance that everyone across the country has provided. PLEASE ENCOURAGE all of your representatives to support legislature for coastal restoration funding, because the research and time spent in that area is going to benefit all Americans living in coastal communities in the future. We've got a long way to go down here, but progress (however slowly) is being made. It's a very rewarding and exciting time to be down here right now. If anyone is really interested in making a difference in American society, this is the place to be! Thanks for your ear!

–Mark L., New Orleans, LA


It isn't just New Orleans suffering from Katrina: make it known to your congressmen that many on the MS Gulf Coast will be living in FEMA trailers for many years. These are middle and lower middle class, hard working folk who haven't gotten a great deal of assistance, have no flood insurance, and may still be paying mortgages on no home as ALL has been lost.

–Joan H., Ocean Springs, MS


I would like to urge people to regularly read the Gulf Coast News, http://www.gulfcoastnews.com/ , if they want to read what's genuinely going on here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We have been abandoned, by the Government, by our politicians, by the press. Trent Lott was taken care of, and that's all that matters. People are getting the wrong idea about what's going on here - not is all well - it's still a mess - especially in Hancock County.

–Kathleen E., Bay Saint Louis, MS


You are watching this on television but you do not have the full impact until you have actually lived this life we are forced to live in New Orleans. This is where I have lived my entire life, I could move to another city (I evacuated to Houston, Tx after Katrina and even though I was treated very well, I missed my home, my environment, my knowledge of the layout of the city) but I did not feel comfortable. I am home now and even though the city has lost some of it charm and a lot of the people, I feel safe and secure. I love New Orleans, my family is now scattered and I miss them but life goes on...

–Robin H., New Orleans, LA


Some damage can't be seen. Persons who seem fine because they still have a roof over their heads have lost financial security, peace of mind, and a splintering of their social lives. My best friends have moved to Florida and Oregon, one lost her home and one lost her livelihood. My Church was destroyed, my fraternal organization is in disarray after being totally destroyed. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is never going to be the same and my hope is that it will come back better than ever. However, it is going to take a LONG time, 5 to 10 years is my best guess.

–Lynne H., Gulfport, MS


In addition to individuals rebuilding their homes and lives, there are a lot of infrastructure problems here (specifically, crime, the criminal justice system, health care delivery, schools, etc) that still need a lot of attention. Go Saints!

–Stephen D., New Orleans, LA


The recovery process in the area of town I lived in is going real slow. There are still a lot of vacant houses and the grass is not cut in many of the areas. There are hardly any businesses to shop for groceries. We still have to travel far away for necessities. We definitely need more help in the recovery process.

–Linda H., Metairie, LA


Congressman Gene Taylor has introduced a bill to help with wind insurance. I personally think this should be a all perils policy to cover other types of natural disasters that occur all over the country. We need this help desperately. Major insurance carriers call the "Wind Pool" the insurance of last resort. Three years before Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast my insurance with a major carrier was dropped. I was then put into the insurance of last resort. We pay a very much higher premium for this insurance, that the insurance companies purchase and keep all the remaining funds and divided it amongst themselves. My insurance was 1100.00 before storm, 2,500.00 after the storm and one year later is now 3350. Wonder where it will be next year. There was a governor's meeting here last week with the insurance companies saying rates will come down once there is more competition here. There will never be any more wind polices written on the gulf coast, insurance companies only want profit and no loss. These same companies put as much as they could on flood to minimize their exposure. My home was depreicated 20 percent to get my claim payment lowered. Insurance companies have shown us by their deeds what they are willing to do, do we really believe them when they speak? Our whole country needs help when it concerns insurance carriers. We need a policy in place that will protect tax payers money from the greed of the insurance companies. If they will not write policies in certain areas of the state, then they can't write policies in any part of it.

–James O., Biloxi, MS


Without a federal commitment to restoring Louisiana's coastal wetlands, New Orleans and S. Louisiana communities will never be safe. President Bush has threatened to veto the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) which includes critical authorization for Louisiana's coastal wetlands restoration plans. Please take action to remind the President of the pledge he made on Sept. 15, 2005 to restore the Gulf coast, and ask your local member of congress and your senators to support Louisiana's coastal restoration projects.

–Aaron V., New Orleans, LA


It's not what happens, it's how we react and handle it. It's not a productive idea to think the government is going to handle everything (I know this lesson has been amply illustrated by the storm). We need above all to get some individuals who are practical, organized, highly motivated by the real needs of the people in times of emergency at the top echelons of our great country's leadership.

–Karin B., Ocean Springs, MS


The destruction caused by Katrina was largely the result of faulty levees constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The state of Mississippi had much less damage than Louisiana but got much more federal aid - Mississippi's governor is a former RNC chairman; Louisiana's governor is a Democrat. The Republicans politicized Katrina aid every bit as much as they politicized the justice department.

–Della P., Covington, LA


Watch out for your area of the Country. If you live on a Coast and get hit, if you live near ANY levies near rivers or lakes and you think they will protect you, DON'T. Buy Flood insurance even if they tell you you don't need it. Donít worry about us. We've survived and we will rebuild our great city. Be warned about your elderly, your poor, your property because the Government is too busy filling their own pockets.

–John A., New Orleans, LA


Our city is dry, other than the occasional summer thunderstorm. We, however, are tired of having incompetent city leaders, like our mayor, who seem to have no idea what they should do, in helping our city recover. The mayor's "recovery czar", Ed Blakely, has great ideas for the city's recovery, but little say in how the federal recovery money will be spent. The Road Home program makes its applicants feel like criminals, with digital photos and fingerprints, a sluggish process, too many errors on the grant letters, and an assumption that these hard-working homeowners are too greedy, when they ask for a reevaluation. We want our Congressional delegation to fight a lot harder for us.(We appreciate their work getting the WRDA legislation passed, and need more Congressional leaders to sign on, and give this legislation a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress, when it comes up for a final vote after the August recess.). I want to see a lot more action from Sen. Mary Landrieu in support of Rep. Maxine Waters' bill protecting New Orleans' public housing from being demolished.

–Wendy K., New Orleans, LA


Volunteers on the ground have been incredible! Because of the poor response from all levels of government, the city would not have the progress we see without people of all ages and backgrounds donating their time to help rebuild New Orleans.† The best news, is when we meet people who's love for our city has motivated them to move here permanently. Come on down!

–Sean G., New Orleans, LA


Now our city is in a state of a crime wave that no other city has had to experience in the US . There are many neighborhoods that were destroyed or partially destroyed. In these neighborhoods few is any of the previous occupants are able to live. Hence the criminal element has moved in and is killing one another fighting over turf. Of course innocent people are killed also in the cross fire. We have fewer police officers now, but the National Guard, the State police and federal law enforcement have been deployed to help stem the crime. The infrastructure, such as police and fire stations, the jail, the court buildings are still not functioning because the federal money allocated has not been spent to repair these buildings. The water and drainage system is in terrible shape. Millions of gallons of purified water are wasted daily due to leaks. The biggest problem is health care. Forget about mental health care for this is non existent for the most part. Physical health care is minimal. Sometimes patients have to wait in ambulances for 6 to 8 hours before being admitted to a waiting area in the hospital. It is shameful that the only super power cannot provide care and services to fix at least 50% of these problems two years after the event. The federal government is a failure. The state and city governments try, but are tangled in federal tape around every twist and convoluted maze. We feel that the federal authorities hate us because they think we did not vote for them. And a lot of us didn't, but most of us did vote for their party. Check the election records. We have a Democratic governor who is treated like a second class citizen by the Republican administration.

–Herbert S., New Orleans, LA


I would like to emphasize the lack of attention to the damaged infrastructure in New Orleans and other hard-hit communities along the Gulf Coast. The media and our politicians have focused on, and rightfully so, the stories of individuals and families who are struggling to rebuild and restore their lives. I see very little national media or political focus on the trials and tribulations of communities as they try to put their infrastructures back together - police and fire stations, sewer and water treatment plants, roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, etc. And in New Orleans, of course, the levee system that unnecessarily failed us so miserably. There are hundreds of thousands of people here, picking up the pieces and starting over. We're just asking for a helping hand to get back on our feet and an infrastructure we can count on. Is this such an unreasonable request for an American citizen?

–Sue M., New Orleans, LA


New Orleans is truly a unique city. There is only one like it and if we lose it we lose a part of our country that sustains our identtfy as Americans.

–Francesca C., New Orleans, LA


Many, many people in New Orleans are having a great deal of difficulty getting back into their homes. These are people who did not have the resources to fix their homes and hope to get some insurance and government help later. Many have been stiffed by their insurance company, and everyone has been stiffed by the Federal Government the failure of whose levees caused the great majority of the damage. Our new roof held up without losing a shingle and not a window broke in our house. The damage was the flood which followed the hurricane with water depths of up to over 20 feet. A friend in Lakeview had 9 inches of water on the second floor of his home! As we move about the city now we go from "island" to "island" where the damage was limited (largely due to the "ridges" that are above sea level. In between these "islands" there are vast areas of utter destruction. In parts of the lower ninth ward the land has been completely cleared of homes giving it a more rural than urban appearance. The entire population which has returned to the city is in post traumatic shock and depression to a greater or lesser degree. Many in the diaspora around the country long to return to the city, but cannot. Affordable housing virtually doesn't exist, so whether you owned or rented it's very difficult to find another place. If you have friends in the city or friends from the city now living elsewhere, give them a call and tell them you have not forgotten. Don't ask us why we want to stay here. Would you pose that question to the victims of the recent floods in the Midwest? Hurricanes happen. We know that. In this case the city could have been back up in a few days if the levees had held. Even with the reduced wetlands and other problems making us more vulnerable, Katrina's damage would have been minimal if the levees had held. Even a heavy thunderstorm anywhere in the country can create wind damage. Nature is responsible for that. Flood control, however, has to be the responsibility of government at the Federal level.

–Bill M., New Orleans, LA


I worked during the storm at a local hospital. I will never forget the hero's that I worked with trying to care for the patients at our facility. It really bothers me when you hear people say the things they do regarding the care of their family members. Where we they when their loved ones were in the hospital. It was so sad to see people drop off their elderly relatives at the hospital and leave them.

–Diane S., New Orleans, LA


I just want to tell people that they really, for the most part, have no idea what it is like in my city. I'm sure people assume, that because they really don't hear about how the rebuilding effort is going, that it must be coming along well. This is simply not true. The media, in most cases, has forgotten my city, only to remember it when the anniversary comes around, or some political official from the area makes a big mistake. I want to implore all Americans to write to their representatives and Senators and remind them about our plight, and to tell them that help is not only wanted, but desperately needed. The President promised my city aid and help, but we have received almost none. He needs to be told that he was elected as the leader of the American people, and that THEY should be his first priority. Please, please, please continue to write and call your political representatives, as well as the national media, and tell them that it is unforgivable for them to continue to neglect and forget not only my once amazing city, but the entire Gulf Coast region affected. That being said, I have to thank the people of America in general, because many of them still remember us, and many have come and are still coming themselves to help. This is a necessary and much appreciated action. However, there is only so much private citizens can do. It is the government, and most especially the federal government that has the ability and the duty to help us, which they seem to have forgotten.

–Molly L., New Orleans, LA


It is most important for everyone to remember that the destruction of New Orleans was wrought by the federal government's complete failure to construct and maintain the levee system. Thanks to the incompetence of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the "hurricane protection system" here was inadequately designed and built with so many flaws that it could not withstand even a severely weakened Katrina. The Corps is responsible for thousands of bridges,dams, and other water control structures all over this country. No one should imagine themselves to be immune to the horror that occurred here: If it can happen to US, it can happen to YOU. We MUST demand an independent investigation into the levee failures. The only hope for this is an independent 8/29 commission that is not controlled in any way by the Corps of Engineers. Every citizen of our nation will remain vulnerable to the same devastation that we experienced here, unless those responsible are held accountable.

–Claudia D., New Orleans, LA


Recovery here is very slow. I abhor the attention given to Iraq and the billions of dollars it takes from us and our recovery all along the Gulf Coast. On this anniversary we don't want Bush to come here spouting out more lies and empty promises. Grass root organizations are responsible for helping us recover and we celebrate with them. Paula Fletcher

–Pierce, New Roads, LA


We lost 80% of our city, that means that if you venture out of the areas nearest the Mississippi River, you will see block upon block of nothing but destruction. There are no drug stores, supermarkets, MD's, Dentists, dry cleaners, gas stations or anything else that you all take for granted, for miles. People have taken control of some things and have been trying desperately to get back to semi normal. Don't judge us as a bunch of lazy, crooked, inept people with our hands out looking for the easy way out. Come here and see it for yourself, take the bus tours, remember what you see, it's not going away anytime soon.

–Kathryn W., New Orleans, LA


I have been a resident of New Orleans for 30 years. New Orleans has had more than it's share of political problems over the years and things were bad before Katrina. To witness the total civil disorder of my city was almost too much too bear. Although the complete breakdown of leadership on every level, from the police chief to the president, did not surprise me, it was a big disappointment. Now, 2 years later, little has been accomplished towards a reasonably recovery. Things are still very dismal and there is still no leadership. Sure you can come to the French Quarter or walk around downtown where life seems normal. If you take a ride through our neighborhoods it's a different story. Those who have the means are slowly coming back and rebuilding homes. But mostly vast sections of our city are still the same as they were the days after Katrina, less flood waters. City services are limited and strained, streets are in dis-repair. Many schools are still closed. Only half of our hospitals have re-opened. It's very hard to live here right now. Any quality of life that existed was drained. The spirit of the people remains strong in some cases. While others find that life here is somber and depressing. At the rate things are going it will take decades, not years, to see a full recovery and see the spirit return to the Crescent City.

–Laura C., New Orleans, LA


The message I'd like to leave is this- we are an American city worth saving and we are determined to make our city a jewel again.† We are important to the US economy. We offer far more than just Bourbon street. For instance, our state supplies more than 20% of the oil our country uses without receiving royalties. That must change. Just give us our royalties and we'd be as wealthy as Saudi Arabia . We wouldn't have to beg for support. We're not looking for hand-outs and its not all about the poor (although it is unthinkable how we treat the poor throughout our country). The middle class here has taken on a huge burden and has received very little financial support. Still, we persevere, despite the uncertainties of our cities future.† We know about the deep compassion that much of the country feels for us and want everyone to know that our city is worth saving- just like your city or town is worth saving.† The difficulties we are having could easily be the problem your city or town will face in the near future. How do you wish to be treated when your world is turned upside down and you are struggling for financial and social survival? Global warming will effect everyone eventually. How will your city be treated when disaster hits?† New Orleans could be a shining example to the rest of the country of how to rise above environmental tragedies. We are doing our best to make that so, against tremendous adversities- the least of which seems to be the environment.† Our city and the way we New Orleanians have come together has been inspirational to me. I would simply ask all Americans to find-out for themselves the reality of our city before they ask that unbearable question, "Should New Orleans be rebuilt?" Don't believe the media! They are sensationalists who don't won't to hear about all of the good things that are happening here. They are fixated on a narrow band of issues that skews the reality of our city as a whole. We are alive and kicking and just hoping for the support and respect that our citizens have earned. Thanks

–Kelly N., New Orleans, LA


The roads are in terrible condition and the lack of nurses and doctors is critical. The federal government is worse than I can ever remember. We feel very abandoned. I have a disabled sister who cannot get Medicaid because the federal government won't approve the relaxed guidelines that Louisiana wants to implement. Disabled people have to wait two years from date of disability to qualify for Medicare. My husband waited in agony for four hours in and E.R. at the local hospital until I raised a ruckus at the front desk. I was worried that I would be arrested. But I did get results. For most of the people here, their lives have been far more stressful than mine as I had wind damage but no flooding in my home. I know thousands of people are still living in F.E.M.A trailers. Janet

–Janet M., Gretna, LA


Our spirit is STRONG; we can LAUGH at ourselves; we are GRATEFUL & PRAY for all the WONDERFUL FOLKS WHO CAME & HELPED US!

–Roma G., New Orleans, LA


Before Katrina, most of the world considered America to be the greatest country in the world, and lots of people considered New Orleans to be the coolest place in America . Now, New Orleans is in ruins, along with the reputation of America . How could we let this happen?

–John K., New Orleans, LA


No one realizes just how bad it is down here. The media, largely, has let this story die. Even when pictures are shown on TV, it's not the same as seeing it in person, mile after mile of crumpled, abandoned houses, debris still piled high after 730 days. Families cramped into tin boxes they call trailers for 2 years, feeling hopeless, frustrated, many suicidal. It's a crying shame. All that money sent to Iraq , much of it unaccounted for, for what? When right here in Washington's backyard, our own people suffer as bad or worse than the foreign country we deliberately destroyed. How is that justified? Charity begins at home.

–Mary J., Metairie, LA


All of us who remain are strong people who are proud of our community this is true of LA as well as MS. The media has attempted to split the two states when reality LA being a Democratic state rather than Republican was treated with less respect by the people in charge. Most of us have done 90% of the work ourselves. We are glad that we got the help that we did but do not be mis led a storm of this magnitude is beyond comprehension usnless you have lived with it and in it. We all need to pool our efforts to try to do whatever we can to slow global warming. It is real and the effects are devastating.

–Patty C., Laurel, MS


Please urge those in power to fully fund our recovery and coastal restoration initiatives. Those who can, come and be a voluntourist. Enjoy what we can offer and help those in need any way you can. Support the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

–Timothy E., New Orleans, LA


Because rebuilding New Orleans does not appear to be justifiable to the administration, or even necessarily to Congress, on humanistic, cultural and architectural grounds, the economic contributions to the nation of metro New Orleans and southeast Louisiana must be stressed again and again. In the aggregate, southeast Louisiana's ports rank number one in the world in size, as measured by volume of cargo handled. Number one. Further, the state refines/processes approximately one-third of the gasoline and one-third of the natural gas consumed annually in the nation. Much of the oil processed here arrives onshore via an enormous system of pipelines crossing the Gulf of Mexico and penetrating our fragile wetlands, wetlands which comprise around 40% of the total wetland acreage in the continental United States . (Our marshes and swamps truly deserve the title " America 's Wetland.") The nation got a taste of what the disruption of this infrastructure can do to oil prices in the wake of Katrina. Unless serious wetland restoration is undertaken, teamed with ongoing levee construction where appropriate, the enormous economic cost of abandoning southeast Louisiana's port and energy infrastructure will be felt by every citizen of this country, especially - as is always the case - by those who can least afford it. From a policy standpoint, the Army Corps of Engineers must be reformed, so that Corps projects are independently prioritized and reviewed. At present, the Corps simply follows lawmakers' instructions, as delivered by congressional earmarks. National insurance reform must also occur, so that businesses and primary residences - but not vacation condos - have access to fairly priced protection. Know too that the $114 billion that the Bush administration repeatedly cites as evidence of its commitment to the region's rebuilding was almost entirely spent on disaster cleanup. Only 10-15% was allotted to reconstruction, and we've had to pry every cent from the hands of FEMA bureaucrats seemingly more interested in hamstringing our recovery than in expediting it. Also know that we who remain here love New Orleans dearly, and our love is made clear by our rate of return: 87% of the metro area's pre-Katrina population of 1.29 million has returned. The city of New Orleans, where I live, has suffered proportionally far graver population losses, but the metro area lives on. Finally, thank you to all my fellow Americans for your sympathy, attention and assistance. Our gratitude is tremendous. We are frustrated by our governments, local, state and federal, but not by you.

–Frank R., New Orleans, LA


Hi my name is Linda and I am here in New Orleans, LA. and a major part of the area is still full of garbage and wreckage and alot of the business still are not back. thousands of people are still in trailers and what is sad is people love this place so much they would be wiling to come back home even if they had to lie in those trailers. No buildings being rebuilt no places to live no excuse. I mean look at New York.

–Linda S., Luling, LA