"My heart is in New Orleans and I must go get it back"

In the days immediately following the disaster many still refer to as “Hurricane Katrina,” I made contact with several other New Orleanians who, like myself, were far from home and could not really envisage going back, at least not immediately. In the hours and days just after the storm, we found ourselves, via the Yahoo newsgroup we had set up, serving as a relay for information about what had happened and was happening, about people on the ground we had been able to make contact with or get news of, about people who had left and were unable to return home.

Once that initial task began to become less compelling, we turned to discussing the future of our city. This was at a time when certain people were saying that the city would not and should not be rebuilt. No one who is from New Orleans could ever imagine that she could simply cease to exist. A flood of ideas began pouring from us as we tried to keep up with the news coming out of the city. We found ourselves imagining a new city that would preserve and restore only what was good about New Orleans, and build what needed to be built on the principles of equality and solidarity among the people, of respect for the natural environment, of sustainability.

The task soon became so large that it was difficult for me to continue maintaining this site as I did during the early months. Meanwhile, members of the group began the Rebuilding Louisiana Coalition site. Its members have continued the work. I tried to continue using my writing and research skills to do what I could.

But I have realized that my own role in the aftermath of the flood lies elsewhere. The reconstruction of New Orleans, for me, has become a literary task, one that can take up all the time I can find to devote to it.

The original Reconstruct New Orleans page, which I kept up to date as long as intensive discussion was continuing on the Yahoo group, is still available. It should be seen for what it is: A Web log kept by a citizen living far away who was trying to keep his eyes on the city he loves, on his home, in those first months after the Flood. I will try to update the page you are now reading with links and comments intended to give you a picture of what has gone on in the time since the Flood and to what extent New Orleans has returned to the site of a city that has been burned, suffered epidemics, and then drowned, and is now facing an environmental catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, and yet whose voice has never been silenced.