If You Build It

Yellow stripes, ice and art.

It’s come to this. I photographed a parking lot. Ice had partially covered the yellow strip that divides parking places. I added some magical dust and bingo-bango, it turned into art. Or, a kind of art.

But that’s what this post isn’t about.

It’s about three freezing days and our quality of life. It’s a counterpoint to those tourist magazines and blogs who say we live in the best tourist destination in the world. I suppose if you come here for a few days or a week, it might be. Especially if you mostly stay in The French Quarter.

But, if you live here…

We are truly one of those places that the man who runs the country described a few days ago. You know the ones. They begin with “S” and end with holes.

If we forget for a minute the things I’ve written about in the past and just focus on the past couple of days, you’ll get the idea.

For the first day or so, we were virtually cut off from the world. Every bridge, interstate and road out of town was closed due to ice. Public buildings — like schools — were closed due to ice. Many businesses were closed due to ice. The public transportation systems — including the streetcars — were closed.


They told us to run a trickle of water to keep the pipes from freezing. Until they didn’t. And, they told us we were using too much water and the water pressure was too low. If the pressure falls below a certain PSI the entire water system is compromised. So the entire Eastbank is under a boil advisory. For those of you who don’t know, that means you must boil your tap water if you plan on ingesting it. It means that certain people can’t take showers or wash their faces in it. It means that if you wash your hands in it, you must use a liquid cleaner.

They blamed this on us. We used too much water. They said.  This, in a place that loses 40 million gallons of drinkable water every week due to underground pipe leaks.

It turns out that they lied. It wasn’t our fault at all. City and parish water mains had broken in key locations. Apparently, they weren’t strong enough to function after three days of cold. The mayor said the system is ancient and failing. It wasn’t the leadership’s fault. It wasn’t our fault even though they tried to blame us.

It was the pipes fault.

I realize we live in an age of deferred maintenance, but really? We have two sets of underground water pipes. One that brings us fresh water. One the drains out waste water. Without them we would sink into the gulf. Somehow, you’d think those pipes would be a priority. But, nooooooo.

So, we still don’t have potable water. We have the water pressure back. But, they have to run tests which takes 24-36 hours to make sure microbes from upriver haven’t polluted the water. You people in Minnesota. First, you beat our football team. Now, you pollute our water. You know, my snark is coming out. I’m kidding about both.

Then, there’s electrical power. Don’t get me started. I’ll just add this. Because it was cold we were using a lot of power to run our heaters. This created power failures in some neighborhoods. This, too, is our fault. We wanted to stay warm. Imagine that.

Add the usual. High crime. Broken streets. Bad education systems. Not enough Cops. Or, fireman. Abandoned buildings everywhere. A city built on tourism in which the people who cook your food and make your beds can’t afford to live.

And, you wonder why I grumble. A lot.

At least I’m not alone. Read any social media. It’s nasty out there. This one may have been the straw. The one the broke the camel’s back.

I’ll let you know when we can drink the water.


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