August 24, 2006

Houston: The View From Mid City

Houston: The View From Mid City

Want to upset some folks from New Orleans, the LA coast, and the Mississippi gulf coast? Focus on Houston this close to the anniversary.

Mark Casemore, in a comment to Open Source, August 22, 2006.

It was pretty disheartening to find this as the first comment on the comment thread for tonight’s show about New Orleanians in Houston. Mark Casemore lives in New Orleans himself, in Mid City. His family was renting on the second floor of a house when Katrina hit; they were able to make it out of the city on Saturday before the storm. They moved back to New Orleans in December, when the gas was finally turned back on.

We followed up with Mark via email to ask about his objection to our premise:

I sort of regret posting the comment after some thought…. The emotion behind [that comment] comes from a few things, mainly knowing that discussions about the diaspora in Houston don’t stay focused on the levee failure victims needs, but quickly switch to the new orleans “crime element” issue. It seems like daily we have to hear so much speculation from under-investigated news reports, annoying family members and neighbors about how folks from new orleans are tainting Houston’s stellar crime stats. The comments section seem to be working that issue through.

Also, we had to watch as Houston and other surrounding towns praised themselves for actually knowing how to handle a hurricane when Rita came through, although their attempt at an evacuation was actually tragic. Constantly hearing things like “see, Texans don’t need handouts, we take care of ourselves”.

There is also some latent animosity about big oil companies (pre levee failure) pulling out of New Orleans for Houston and other towns, but still reaping the benefits of the offshore drilling while their infrastructure wastes our wetlands away, making us vulnerable to hurricanes.

We see so many contractors with Texas plates around town, often in trucks that are too big for the road and driving at dangerous speeds, which fuels the anger at how a majority of the rebuilding/cleanup/blue roof aid goes to huge contractors with no bid contracts, while underpaid, non-union labor does the actual work, so often in unsafe conditions. Many people are getting rich off of this disaster while New Orleanians are told to stop asking for handouts.

Personally, a thought about Houston immediately leads me through these types of issues, and ultimately upsets me.

Mark Casemore, in an email to Open Source, August 24, 2006.

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