Sep 072017
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

The New Orleans City Council’s budget hearing today focuses on capital improvements, public works and other drainage improvements that were paid for this year with emergency funds. When also factoring in yesterday’s fire at the Sewerage & Water Board’s Claiborne Avenue main pumping station, it’s easy to see why citizens are becoming more skeptical about the ability of our mayor and his S&WB team to protect us against flooding.

Today’s conversations are especially important in light of the recent catastrophic devastation in Texas and Southwest Louisiana caused by Hurricane Harvey and the terrible toll Hurricane Irma is already having in the Caribbean. Let’s not forget that storms Jose and Katia are not far behind.

At least most New Orleanians already understand what they must do to prepare for a weather emergency — load up on plywood, sand bags, a three day supply of bottled water and canned goods for people and companion animals, extra cash, and a good flashlight with new batteries. Add in an updated family evacuation plan, a full tank of gas, extra medicines, and copies of relevant insurance documents and we are ready — more or less — for the inevitable.

As unexpected disasters become more common around the country, other cities are waking up to the new reality that their citizens might face such an emergency one day – whether from fire, flood, earthquake, tornado or other weather-related calamity. Officials who were only marginally interested in the Katrina recovery process are paying much more attention to how impacted citizens and government officials in Texas and Florida are handling the emergency.

Although the U.S. House of Representatives approved billions yesterday to fund the aftermath of Harvey and replenish FEMA coffers, billions more will undoubtedly be needed to help communities recover from the giant walls of water that Irma will bring to Florida, coastal Georgia and the Carolinas. Any storm the size of Texas is worth respecting.

We visited Puerto Rico one Halloween weekend years ago. We were surprised — but should not have been — to see all the children trick or treating in their Halloween costumes. The weather was warm and balmy. The architecture in the Old City reminded us of the French Quarter. Unfortunately, we won’t be visiting Puerto Rico again any time soon.

Individuals and business from across America generously donated to help New Orleans recovery after Katrina. Pay it forward by helping the victims of Harvey and Irma. Donate to the American Red Cross or another appropriate agency. The Morial Convention Center is also accepting donations.

MoVE MAYORAL FORUM TARGETS MILLENNIALS

Tulane student Bobby Mannis is well on his way to becoming a political operative. Already playing an active role in several campaigns this season, Mannis and his friends Bailee Steward and Clarke Perkins are coordinating a mayoral forum which will focus on topics important to millennials including public safety/gun violence, economic growth and jobs, health care, livable wages, and K-12 education.

A candidate who captures this constituency will do well in any election. Many consultants believe that millennials are the largest voting block in New Orleans. The forum will be held September 15, beginning at 7 p.m. at Cafe Istanbul.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Her current clients include District B City Council candidate Seth Bloom and At-Large City Council candidate Helena Moreno.

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