03 May 2013

As I wrote yesterday, I’m in New Orleans and as has been my wont this year, when I’m traveling, I like to try to donate to a local charity.

 It’s fun for me to research what’s going on where I’m visiting and I leave a little bit more of my money in a town beyond what I spend on food, hotels and other touristy or business travel stuff. 

As much as I raved about New Orleans in yesterday’s post, there’s no getting around the poverty that exists here that seems impossible to escape. Rural poverty has its own feel that is very different from urban poverty and New Orleans is one of those places that is laden with both. 

Today, I was talking to my taxi driver when we went to the Treme to eat at Willie Mae’s, a famous fried chicken joint. As we drove down Canal, I commented on the tremendous number of empty storefronts, some of them have been empty for decades, like the Woolworths; others, like the Radisson, simply never reopened after Katrina.

New Orleans is one of those places where a lot of the taxi drivers are natives, so I wasn’t surprised that my driver had grown up here. He said he felt that New Orleans was about 65% back to its pre-Katrina levels, but that the 9th Ward, where so much of Katrina’s destruction occurred, was only about 20% recovered. 

The locals revere Brad Pitt for all he’s done in the reconstruction effort. He’s a local hero and for good reason. 

The New Orleans Faith Health Alliance is a non-profit organization that provides affordable health care for uninsured workers in New Orleans. Members pre-enroll and pay baed on a sliding fee. 

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