You Are Wrong About New Orleans, Mr. Galveston

Facebook is a funny place.  People say things there that I don’t believe they would ever say to someone’s face, forgetting that they have friends reading that may take offense to some of their comments.  It might be the ones who let fly with a racist comment or joke.  It might be the ones who continually push their politics on everyone.  It might even be that old high school friend who hasn’t left the 70s behind and appears to be stoned on a daily basis.  I’ve seen all of this and more there, but still believe in live and let live.

Got that?  Live and let live.

I’m not in the position to tell anyone how to live their life, raise their kids, vote in an election or find their soulmate.  I am, however, in a position to quickly turn my back on someone who, in praising the recovery efforts of Galveston from Hurricane Ike, takes the time to poke at the good people of my city with a stick.

“Galveston and New Orleans both got wiped out by storms. Galveston got to work, like Texans, do. New Orleans, well, the Big Easy took it easy.”

Can you see me giving this person the virtual finger?

I don’t believe that the people who were cooking for everyone that showed up after the storm were taking it easy.

I don’t believe that the first responders, with no communications and few police or fire stations to go to, were taking it easy.

I don’t believe that the folks who volunteered to help friends and family gut their homes were taking it easy.

I don’t believe that the people who have put together grass roots groups to make New Orleans better than ever are just kicked back, taking it easy.

In a stream filled with comments like:

“Galveston never got: a 3 star general and martial law after the city government totally collapsed, billions of FEMA bucks, charity conventions, to wit: back to back NAR conventions, race cards flying so thick you couldn’t see the sky…. and Ike happened in 2008 just 3 years ago. We Texans are proud that our little Texas seaport is recovering without drama. Brad Pitt hasn’t even been here, although we would certainly welcome him and his family”


“…NOLA can’t won’t take care of itself without money from elsewhere? The GalvestonSeawall which mitigated Ike’s damage was built a century ago with Galvestonian money. “not my job” is a pretty lame excuse for a great city. If the city is worth protecting, you just git er done. The Corpse of Engineers knew their levees were substandard for decades and NOLA sat by and built tourist attractions on a hope and a prayer.”

I realized that there are still too many Americans that don’t understand the cause of flooding in our city during Katrina, don’t understand how the levee system works AND begrudge us every single bit of progress we have made to recover.  They look down on us as a charity case that wouldn’t be where we are without government bailouts and intervention.

Believe me, I know that we wrote the book on how NOT to handle a major disaster, with failures at the local, state and federal level.  The city went to hell in a handbasket overnight, with the world watching.

But it wasn’t everyone.

We, those of us who love this city, all cringed at the videos on television of looters, knowing that the image being projected by a select group of people was going to taint our reputation with too many.  I remember sitting there, watching the aftermath, crying.  All I could say was “My city….look at my city”.

We, who love this city, have stayed instead of taking the easy way out and moving to some vanilla suburbia with a Starbucks on every corner and the same stores, in the same malls that you’ll find anywhere more than 100,000 people live.

We, because of our love affair with New Orleans, CHOOSE to continue to make this home, to continue to fight for improvements, to continue to invite anyone and everyone to visit and experience the joie de vivre that we live every single day with.

We, because we almost lost it, have more pride in our city than any other place could ever dream of.

We, because we’ve been there, done that, will be the first to offer a hand to another instead of a criticism of how they are doing it.

We, the people of New Orleans, will not give up or give in or sit by while someone praises a recovery effort and uses us as the “dont'”.  Unless you know all of the facts, I wouldn’t advise picking on New Orleans with someone who lives here.

If you haven’t been here, if you haven’t experienced this city, if you haven’t been captivated with our culture, our music, our food, our love of life…if you haven’t done any of those things, then I don’t want to hear you complain about what we do or don’t do.

You are welcome to sit in your little slice of Americana and pontificate about your own city to your heart’s content.

But, to have the gall to paint every New Orleanian as someone who sat on their ass and waited for a FEMA check to arrive is unfair, untrue and disingenuous at best.

I guess that’s why Facebook created the “unfriend” button.


7 Responses to “You Are Wrong About New Orleans, Mr. Galveston”

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  1. Jody Keating says:

    Lisa, you said it all. You captured the heart of all the people I met while I was there. Don’t talk the talk unless you have walked the walk. There were so many unsung heros during that time and even more dedicated citizens of your amazing city, that will never be known.

    Your so right, what was portrayed to the world was not the day to day truth of what was happening. Keep it up, New Orleans should be so proud to have you as one of their own.

  2. Paul Slaybaugh says:

    Haters gonna hate. So tell me who needs some hatin’, Lis. You know Suburban boy is down. 😉

  3. Susan Walpole says:

    I’m from NOLA, but lived in Houston during and after Katrina. I am finally back home in the great city of New Orleans 🙂 I helped rebuild both from Katrina AND from Ike via volunteering. Both areas had people in need that had difficulties doing it on their own … elderly, etc. Both areas had people that were grateful for the help. However, I heard so much ugly talk (at times) while living in Houston about New Orleans, it saddened me. Same as was said previously by others. If you haven’t experienced NOLA, you can’t imagine her beauty, and how sad for those people, but to tear down people they don’t know is just so ignorant. I’d defend NOLA and myself endlessly and get so frustrated living there in Houston. I guess some people just can’t feel good about themselves unless they feel superior. NOLA residents are just happy living our own lives on our own terms. Awesome article, Lisa!

  4. D L Broadway says:

    Hey Lisa, thank you for taking the time out of your busy writing schedule to shed some light on–what really matters, how we all as a city came together as ONE and did what we had to do as a STRONG COMMUNITY and started building our city, our lives, our relationships, our emotions, but most importantly, our PRIDE, etc. Speaking of pride and representing the GAY community, I am very proud to say that we are finally taking one step at a time to build back a strong gay community that we once had. Now commenting on the matter in question, I just made 49 years old and I have never experiencd the worst Bayou Classic and unwelcomed experience as I did when NOLA had to move it to Texas after Katrina devastated our BIG EASY. Mr. Galveston and any unhappy Texans, please keep in mind that we have a city that will always welcome ANYONE who call this city THEIR HOME.

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