The people of New Orleans and the surrounding region must surely be the most resilient in all America. In the least, they display the strength Americans are capable of.
Tuesday’s tornado is just the latest in a string of tragedies for people who by-and-large do not have much to begin with. And though, thankfully, no one died this time, still the photographs and the stories that accompany them have been heartbreaking.
When I was last in New Orleans, wide swaths of the city were still feeling the effects of Hurricane Katrina, with empty lots, condemned buildings, and overgrown properties dotting Chalmette and some of the other neighborhoods in the city. The shrimping industry had been devastated by corruption that artificially dropped the price of the shellfish in 2009. And soon after that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crushed it once more. Later I would meet a shrimper from the southern parishes who had lived in a half-destroyed house for a year (with a bathroom that was literally outside) before insurance got around to giving him any compensation, then seen his livelihood crushed by subsequent events. He had decided that the area was cursed, and had ultimately abandoned it. I fear more will do so in the wake of this latest hardship.
I hope the number who do so will not be too large. New Orleans is one of America’s great cities, and the area that surrounds it hosts a culture unique to the rest of the country. Therein live Americans of great courage and admirable soul– people who have endured more than most, and certainly more than any should be forced to. Long may their kingdom reign, and they the masters of it.