Renowned journalist Soledad O’Brien joined Roland Martin Monday on NewsOne Now to discuss the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and what has changed since the storm flooded New Orleans in 2005.
Ten years after Katrina, “New Orleans is a tale of two cities,” O’Brien said.
“If you were to wander around the downtown, the French Quarter, you’d say, ‘Oh my God this city is amazing, it’s beautiful.’ Some places are back better than ever before and then you go into places like New Orleans East where the recovery has been very spotty.”
“It’s been non-existent in some places and they have these big open swath of land where there’s actually absolutely no work done — no building, no rebuilding — some homes truly and it sounds like such a cliche, some homes literally look like they did the day after the hurricane.”
O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group continued:
“I think it’s truly a mixed bag kind of depending on where you are sitting and of course where you’re sitting is always correlated to how much money you have.”
“So the areas that are poor often have clearly struggled more with getting financial help, getting road home funds. Areas that were better off and well-off have bounced back very nicely.”
On Friday, August 28 TV One will air a special at 9 a.m. EST analyzing the charter school experiment in New Orleans.
In talking with Mayor Mitch Landrieu for the special on the charter school expansion in NOLA, Martin questioned the decision to fire 7000 teachers to which Landrieu said, “We fired everybody because there was no school.”
O’Brien responded to the quote saying, “That’s only kind of true.”
“Yes, that is true, but also, I think, if you remember the Chicago Tribune writer the other day who made the massive gaff … what they were saying was ‘it was an opportunity to clean house and they took it.’”
She added, “What the mayor said is true, but it’s also they took that opportunity — they could’ve brought the teachers back and they opted not to.”
As a caveat, O’Brien did make mention of the high marks that New Orleans schools are now receiving.
Martin highlighted the “crucial fundamental flaws” Hurricane Katrina exposed which in turn also highlighted these same flaws in other areas of the country because “it’s not like Katrina caused poverty, it’s not like Katrina caused renters verse owners.”
“You all of a sudden saw the reality of an American city, largely African-American and the reality of when a catastrophe happens.”
These realities lead to America learning some harsh truths about poverty because in asking why those who stayed in New Orleans during Katrina did not leave, we as a nation found out that many could “not afford to leave.”
O’Brien revealed what many of us know too well is that some individuals within impoverished communities do not have a car, could not afford to stay in a hotel because they “did not have those resources.”
Watch Roland Martin and Journalist Soledad O’Brien discuss the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in the video clip above.
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