Katrina Plus One Year, Part 4 - A Brief Conversation With a Garden District Resident:
The upper middle class, nearly wealthy, family the Rude Pundit stayed with in New Orleans lived in an apartment in Baton Rouge for a couple of months after Katrina before moving back to their huge, virtually untouched Garden District home. They know they were extraordinarily lucky. They feel, as many in New Orleans do, that too much emphasis has been put on the Lower Ninth Ward and the city's black residents. They don't want to diminish the suffering of others. They just want to make sure that the suffering of all of New Orleans isn't washed away in the images of the battered black bodies after the storm. Surviving Katrina is a long-term proposition, and it affects everyone, they say. Even them.

Sure, the wife said to the Rude Pundit, they can easily live in a bubble where she and her husband can go from the Garden District to the Central Business District without seeing nary a bit of destruction. But vary a bit from that path, and it's just ubiquitous. She described the day-to-day life of those for whom Katrina didn't mean the ultimate sacrifices of homes, jobs, and lives. For instance, her kids' pediatrician moved his office to Metairie, and that which took only a half-hour or so to do now is a half-day excursion, with the neverending traffic on I-10. They're lucky. The pediatrician's group broke up with one doctor, the head of the group, committing suicide in depression over the storm, and the rest moving far and wide. New Orleans is bereft of medical care. There's other things. Sixty percent of the dry cleaners are gone, she said. And when she brought clothes to be dry cleaned, she was told by several that they had more clothes than they could handle and couldn't take hers.

And then there's the friends and family that have simply left. Every week, she said, someone in her office receives a job offer. "And if someone's asking you to move to San Diego or Atlanta, you think, 'You mean I can go to the supermarket or go out to eat without it being an ordeal?'" she said. And they move on.

Our conversation was cut short by her kids demanding her attention. It is a lovely home. They are kind and generous people. Yes, they have money and are luckier than so, so many others. They're not looking for pity. But to have faith in the city means pasting a collage life together from the pieces that are left, no matter who you are.

Later today: Beyond New Orleans - FEMAville.