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Posted: 12/25/2005 4:34:30 AM EDT
New Orleans Worries About Its Reputation



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New Orleans Worries About Its Reputation

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 24, 2005
(AP) Karen Conway looks up from the muscular cup of coffee she is nursing at the French Quarter landmark Cafe du Monde and raises both eyebrows, her green eyes going wide.

This, she says, is the look she got from friends back home in Florissant, Mo., when she told them she planned to visit New Orleans with her husband _ her small contribution to the epic rebuilding of the city.

"They said, Why would you ever want to go back to that place?" she says. "They just think it's a wasteland. They just kept bringing up everything they saw on TV that week _ all the shooting and the killings and those people looting the stores."

"That week" was the days after Hurricane Katrina plowed into New Orleans and overwhelmed its levees, and the nation believed it had devolved into a maelstrom of rapes and murders _ a city out of control, a city of savages.

Some of it was true: New Orleans was indeed a lawless city that week. People looted, sometimes for bread and water, sometimes for televisions and DVDs. There was shooting. There was death.

But law enforcement officials now say the most apocalyptic reports from that week _ tales of bodies stacked in freezers, of babies being raped _ amounted to nothing more than rumors, fanned by fear, spread sometimes by the city's own leadership.

Those are the images that were branded on the national consciousness after Katrina. And they have left some New Orleans residents _ people who deeply love this place _ worrying about whether their city has been scarred, unfairly and forever.

This question is not exactly a top priority for the few New Orleanians who are returning to the city to empty out their flood-ravaged homes and begin mapping out what happens next, or to find out whether home even exists any more.

But some of them, after relating their personal stories of flight from the storm and the loss they found in its wake, confess to fretting about the damage that may have been done to their city's image.

They wonder whether New Orleans, always and still symbolized by jazz and beignets and bontemps, now also stands for chaos, for a place whose people turned on one another barbarically at a time of great desperation.

"They were searing images to the rest of the country," says an orange-gloved, black booted Rich Lenz, 46, emptying his home in the heavily flooded Vista Park neighborhood of waterlogged belongings. "They were seeing the worst."

He says it would be a shame if the reputation stuck to New Orleans.

"It is a unique American city," he says, "and it should not be allowed to die."

The horror stories that came out of New Orleans during the late-summer week after Katrina were almost impossible to believe _ but then what was really impossible after an American city had been placed almost entirely under water?

On Sept. 1, New Orleans police chief Eddie Compass reported of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center: "We have individuals who are getting raped; we have individuals who are getting beaten."

Also Sept. 1, Acadian Ambulance, charged with removing the sick and injured from the Superdome, suspended flights after a report (circulated in the media, including The Associated Press) that a rescue helicopter had been fired on.

On Sept. 6, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans quoted an Arkansas National Guardsman as saying the convention center's freezer was stacked with 30 to 40 bodies, including "a 7-year-old with her throat cut."

That same week, Mayor Ray Nagin told Oprah Winfrey: "We have people standing out there, that have been in that ... Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

Later examinations by reporters and government officials have found the reports of widespread violence in New Orleans in the week after the storm to be highly exaggerated and, in many cases, flatly false.

Capt. Juan Quinton, a New Orleans police spokesman, said his department had no official reports of rape.

He said police had three reports of homicide _ a body with a gunshot wound that was dumped near Interstate 10, a 22-year-old man killed by a gunshot on Leboeuf Street and a woman stabbed to death on Marigny Street.

The district attorney is investigating two others, a homicide at the Superdome and another at the convention center, said spokeswoman Leatrice Dupre.

Four people were fatally shot by police in the storm's aftermath, including two who police say were among gunmen who opened fire on contractors traveling across the Danzinger Bridge on their way to make repairs.

The National Guard was never able to substantiate reports that military helicopters were fired on, said Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Sanchez, a spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard.

"Basically it was just that people heard shots," he says. "They didn't know at who and what. And then a lot of it ended up coming from second-hand communications _ somebody else told them. There was a lot of disinformation."

He said some of the gunfire was likely from people trapped on their rooftops, firing shots into the air in hopes of attracting the attention of rescuers. Still, stories of people firing on rescue helicopters have persisted.

"Even now, in Washington, you still see senators and congressmen referring back to the stories," he says.

Tonia Lewis, 36, whose home in the Lower Ninth Ward was destroyed by Katrina's floods, is particularly bothered by the lingering image of New Orleans as a city of greedy looters _ and of her own neighborhood as a collection of improverished savages.

"They were saying it's all a poor area, different things about how bad the crime was," she says. "Let me tell you: Crime is bad in Arlington, Texas." That is the city where she has lived since the hurricane.

To counter what it says is a lack of a well-crafted message from elected officials in Louisiana, the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau is rolling out a new image campaign highlighting the city's recovery.

"We have focused only on the negatives, and not enough on incredible stories of the human spirit and of rebirth and rebuilding," says Steve Perry, head of the bureau. "That's equally important as the tragedy."

One of the campaign's goals is to paint a visit to New Orleans as patriotic _ not unlike New York City's approach after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"What we're focusing on is the images that were in people's minds being replaced by fresh images, to make way for the rebirth of New Orleans," Perry says. "We're showing the other side."

Of course, alongside its coffee and chicory, this city has long had a reputation as a haven for corruption in government and the police force, and as a somewhat violent place.

But people who live here stress that the violence that actually did occur after Katrina struck could have taken place anywhere. They say it has much more to do with government neglect after the storm than anything innate in the population.

For example, "If you get a bunch who are on drugs, and all of a sudden they don't have them, and there are Black Hawks in the sky, water in the street, they're going to go a little crazy," says Shannon Sharpe, a New Orleans real estate agent.

She concludes: "Not everybody here is bad. You get a few bad apples and everything gets turned around."

Compass, the police chief who spoke of babies being raped, resigned from the force Sept. 27, saying he was "going on in another direction that God has for me." A spokeswoman for Nagin has said the mayor relied on other officials for information about conditions at the convention center and Superdome.

Journalists learned a hard lesson from Katrina: Ask hard questions, even when the information is coming from high places. "When its the police chief telling you that there are rapes going on of cildren, you don't tend to say 'How do you know that?' " said Scott Libin of the Poynter Institute, a news media think tank. "We tended to assume that these, after all, were credible sources. It wasn't just coming from one place. ...

"I did see conscientious efforts by journalists to go back and investigate and set the record straight. I saw them examining how it had happened."

In fact, many national news organizations, including The Associated Press, have published new accounts of the reported violence in attempts to set the record straight. But some in New Orleans say they worry those corrected reports are being ignored.

One of them is Ron Lemoine, 52, who has lived in New Orleans for nine years and was strolling through Jackson Square, past the famed St. Louis Cathedral, on a sparkling recent late-autumn afternoon.

Asked about the images of New Orleans as a cauldron of violence, Lemoine seemed sadly resigned, then downright insulted. He says he blames the media for circulating reports that were overblown.

"We're trying to rebuild this city, and that's what's stuck in people's heads _ that we acted almost subhuman, cannibals or something," he says. "We got through it. We did the best we could. We were left behind."

Link Posted: 12/25/2005 4:39:27 AM EDT
my vote goes for shithole... especially after reading the story a while back about the man who drove a 2 1/2 ton truck into NO to help the people, and begin taking fire when he tried to deliver food to needy people. that kind of bullshit only happens in third world hellholes.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:33:00 AM EDT
Do you guys remember when Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans, and it looked like we were about to see an American city destroyed, The_Macallan basically said "Good riddance"?
People said, "Hold on, you cant be serious", but he just re-asserted himself, and afterwards everyone was like "ohhhh, now we see what you meant."
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:34:59 AM EDT
shithole

I'm sure there are a couple of very nice people there.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:35:09 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:41:31 AM EDT
A clean toiletbowl is still a toiletbowl.

I would never want to live there. Not knowing what has floated around for awhile and settled into the ground, plants, wood surfaces, sidewalks, any surface you touch. It will be impossible to clean everything, every square inch.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:41:48 AM EDT
after living in the NYC area for 40 years, one big city is the same as another..
all metro areas suck
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:41:49 AM EDT
Never been there before, and have no intention of ever visiting that shithole.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:42:14 AM EDT

Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:
200+ years of being known as a cesspool and they are just NOW worried about it?



That's pretty much what I thought when I read the title.

I went to N.O. twice back in the 70's and it was a hellhole. There were burned out cars on the shoulders of the interstates. Looked like Somalia...or a liberal utopia.

Scott
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:46:22 AM EDT
I spent my whole life a stones throw from NOLA and I say "While the bowl was full someone should have hit the flush handle."
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:47:03 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:00:42 AM EDT


Since When!?
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:05:27 AM EDT
It's a 3rd world SHITHOLE.........and it BELOW SEA LEVEL!!!

Give it back to the sea!
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:10:02 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Inatree:
I spent my whole life a stones throw from NOLA and I say "While the bowl was full someone should have hit the flush handle."

They did, problem is they have just flushed the turds toi other cities now!
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:14:39 AM EDT
some of the New Orleans neighborhoods are more beautiful than any you've ever seen...
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:16:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By NoVaGator:
some of the New Orleans neighborhoods are more beautiful than any you've ever seen...



+1.... fuck all the rest of you. no seriously..
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:17:39 AM EDT
The crap has to go somewhere.
A lot of American cities are now finding out what their hospitality has gotten them.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:29:26 AM EDT
On a sat night you can stand on a quiet place on the levee and hear gunfire at least every 8-10 min. In a city the size of NOLA thats pretty bad.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:36:38 AM EDT
It is what it is ,and a few pretty buildings can't change what it really is and now eveyone knows
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:37:24 AM EDT
If the city could be purged selectivley of the criminal element, it would be a fantastic place. The low level street thug, grifter, dope dealer, welfare leeches, and gang assholes are what's driven the city into the ground. There are many thousands of great people that live in N.O. but the human garbage keeps it from being a true flower of city. I think most of them are gone and wont return untill the living is easy again. Decades of the entitlement lifestyle, perpetuated by Democrats in office is the ruination of any city. Look at Memphis. The only difference in Memphrica and New Orleans is geographic.

IMHO
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:39:05 AM EDT


I'll not spend one hard earned cent that shithole.

Ever.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:43:50 AM EDT
New Orleans Govt will never profit from my money..
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:48:17 AM EDT
Third world shit hole.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:50:20 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DocBrooks:

+1.... fuck all the rest of you. no seriously..


and the Tigers suck too. no seriously..
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:51:57 AM EDT
It was nasty before the hurricane.

Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:58:15 AM EDT

Originally Posted By osprey21:

Originally Posted By DocBrooks:

+1.... fuck all the rest of you. no seriously..


and the Tigers suck too. no seriously..



OHH.. Now youve gone and done it.
You can poop on NOLA but keep your dirty talons off the Tigers
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 8:31:48 AM EDT
New Orleans Worries About Its Reputation


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah­aha!!!!

The "City that care forgot"???


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah­ah!!!!
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 8:35:32 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2005 8:36:10 AM EDT by Spooge5150]

Originally Posted By osprey21:

Originally Posted By DocBrooks:

+1.... fuck all the rest of you. no seriously..


and the Tigers suck too. no seriously..







No Seriously..

Link Posted: 12/25/2005 3:45:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DocBrooks:

Originally Posted By NoVaGator:
some of the New Orleans neighborhoods are more beautiful than any you've ever seen...



+1.... fuck all the rest of you. no seriously..



+1... a whole lot of idiocy in this thread. NO was not appreciable different from many large US cities as far as crime and corruption went for example DC, Detroit, Newark, ect…

The difference now is a lot of the bad element in NO is gone where as it is still in the other places.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 3:48:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:

Originally Posted By DocBrooks:

Originally Posted By NoVaGator:
some of the New Orleans neighborhoods are more beautiful than any you've ever seen...



+1.... fuck all the rest of you. no seriously..



+1... a whole lot of idiocy in this thread. NO was not appreciable different from many large US cities as far as crime and corruption went for example DC, Detroit, Newark, ect…

The difference now is a lot of the bad element in NO is gone where as it is still in the other places.




...like the rest of us would give a flying fuck if Detroit or Newark got flooded as well.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 3:49:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2005 3:50:01 PM EDT by The_Beer_Slayer]
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 4:00:04 PM EDT
Meh, never wanted to go there before katrina, not intrested in going there in the future.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 4:04:20 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2005 4:06:29 PM EDT by Max_Mike]

Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:
i disagree with this somewhat.

NO had a cultural difference from other cities that pushed city corruption and dependance on "entitlements" to a whole new level. NO residents , even the well off, have a definant fuck you attitude about a lot of things. When i lived on the gulf NO tourists were dreaded more than snowbirds for being cheap rude assholes.



A worse attitude than people from Boston… no way.

There is no US city anymore corrupt than DC… you people really need to take at the level of corruption in many major US cities, unfortunately in that NO is not really that special. NO just got the press and the light shined on it the other places have not had the same treatment.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 4:07:41 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 4:14:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:

Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:
i disagree with this somewhat.

NO had a cultural difference from other cities that pushed city corruption and dependance on "entitlements" to a whole new level. NO residents , even the well off, have a definant fuck you attitude about a lot of things. When i lived on the gulf NO tourists were dreaded more than snowbirds for being cheap rude assholes.



A worse attitude than people from Boston… no way.

There is no US city anymore corrupt than DC… you people really need to take at the level of corruption in many major US cities, unfortunately in that NO is not really that special.



the problem is that in NO it's considered back door or a bad thing. it's just politics down there. I have spent a LOT of time in DC and a good bit of time in NO.

Like i said before, It's a cultural thing for that area.



Yea but what you are talking about is not particular to NO… that is the state of mind of the whole State of Louisiana… the legacy of Huey Long.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 5:28:07 PM EDT
Turd world country.
I work for a large international corp. that has several properties affected by the storms. When they came around looking for volunteers for a task force, I told them I never wanted to go there before so there's no way I'm going now.


Nagin was the one that was squealing about "this is our tsunami", now they're worried that people believed it.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 5:29:36 PM EDT
I took a road trip to NO in the mid 90's during college. A reall cool city what I remember the most was the neighborhood with the little kids clad only in a diaper playing with crack vials and shell casings in a burned out car in a yard with no grass.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 6:52:18 PM EDT
It will be a better place when all the Mexicans move in and fix the place up.
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