Five years ago this weekend, New Orleans nearly drowned. It didn't look that way at first -- the eye of Hurricane Katrina hit to the east, but the levee breaks that followed took out entire neighborhoods.
The water didn't kill New Orleans. But the private solution approach to public problems almost did. People for whom no rising economic tides had ever lifted their boat, were left to fend for themselves. We saw them on roofs and streets, for days.
The city has been struggling back. There's been some progress -- organizing saved a public housing project recently -- and we've talked on GRITtv about the charges just now being brought against police and vigilantes for race-based killings under cover of the storm.
But along with the rest of the Gulf Coast, people, hit hard by Katrina and all that followed, are facing another challenge. After the hurricane came the drift away of public attention and dollars. After the BP disaster, the same is happening. In recent news, companies that were asked to make containment-booms say BP suddenly stopped accepting deliveries weeks ago, leaving them in debt, with millions of dollars in unused product, and workers and vendors they can't pay.
We're in another hurricane season and some worry big storms could drench the coast in oil as well as water this time. But the lessons not learnt are as deadly the storm winds.
The people flooding back to New Orleans, five years on, not all of them rich, say they miss the place. It's something about the people. All of them. While profit-makers go where profits are, people say it's community they crave. As the distance continues to grow between the haves and don't haves in US society, and the trouble-waters keep on rising, it's worth looking around any community you care about. Will there be boats for all next time?