At the grocery store tonight, I overheard the checker and bagger talking about the upcoming trip that the Starbuck's employees are making to help in New Orleans. They are accepting donations to take to the people in need, too.
"Why are they doing that? They have enough stuff down there."
"I dunno, for the rebuilding I guess. Everything's pretty much cleaned up, so I don't know what else they'd be doing."
(This is the point where, in typical geek girl fashion, I couldn't keep my mouth shut.)
"You're kidding, right?" I butted in. "More than half of the mess hasn't even been cleared out yet." I wanted to add that they are still finding bodies, and that some people haven't even gotten to go near the wreakage of their homes, let alone been allowed to start clearing it away.
"Really?" They asked, stunned, and with shocked looks on their faces.
"Really. You should look it up online. It's an eye-opener. Thank you," I said on my way out.
It was an eye-opener for me, too.
You see, I thought everyone knew that the city, while some parts are nearing normality, is still hurting, still wrecked in areas. Still missing most of its population, flung to the far corners of America. That lovely jewel of a city that sits, virtually unprotected despite the valiant efforts of the Army Corp of Engineers to get flood walls and gates, and levees repaired to protect those who have returned, and who are bearing up under difficulties that most of us can't even imagine would exist in America.
And it's been nine months.
So, I felt a little bad for ripping the blinders from the innocent high school boys who believed that the only thing left to work on is the rebuilding, and proud of the employees who recognize that help is still needed in the south, not just New Orleans.
People are trying to rebuild, but it's hard when you can't get home, aren't allowed into your neighborhood, or are dealing with a mound of rotting building materials, garbage, and the wreckage of your home and neighborhood under the baking southern sun and tropical humidity. I can only admire the strength of those who are not willing to give up their home and city.
We love you, New Orleans!!! Please don't become Disneyland... Hang in there! We haven't forgotten!