Tuesday, January 15, 2008

About AF: The Third Return, Part I (continued)

Photo Credits: DSM, www.bonkersinstitute.org Flood, www.katrina.noaa.gov

As lucky as I would again like to emphasize that I was in returning to New Orleans, I would also like to point out lingering symptoms associated with all described in the last post. I'm doing that in the spirit of understanding that if these symptoms existed for me, I can scarcely guess how severe they must have been, or how many more there must have been, for others:

  • a newfound sense of tremendous vulnerability, wrought not only, as one may expect, by experiencing a disaster (notice I didn't say "natural disaster") but at the hands of those who attempted to exploit or otherwise profit from those most affected and, in the situation as it was, could get away with doing so.

  • insomnia, inability to concentrate, fatigue, and nagging physical symptoms never experienced before.

  • a certain cognitive dissonance associated with the realization that what was being reported nationally was not what was actually happening. Everyone realizes this on an abstract level, but living it, often to the extreme, means experiencing that sense of betrayal in a visceral way.

  • a sense of living in survival mode, at the bottom of Maslov's hierachy, whatever you want to call it, for well over a year after. Just because there's food and safety, a place to live, a job and some cash in the account, etc, doesn't mean that a person's whole psyche accepts any of that right away, if those basic elements are there, which for a lot of people here, they still aren't.

Having left the city for a year, I can attest to the fact that a change in locale does not alleviate these symptoms. Most of those I know who have started lives elsewhere report them, too, to varying degrees.

My hat really goes off to those who did not contibute to Post-Katrina-Stress-Disorder for those who remained here: reporters and bloggers and documentary makers who told/exposed the truth; a few politicians who really want(ed) to help; landlords who did not hike their rent to levels far out of step with increases in insurance coverage and property tax just because the market would temporarily allow; contractors who made good on their promises; all the people and organizations who have fought and fought and fought to do the right thing. Please feel free to help me list them here.

No comments: