Has New Orleans Deserted Its Locals? One Woman Says, Maybe.

Day seven started out just as the past few days had, with me drenched in sweat and miserable. It was the first day my job was re-opening so I welcomed the cool respite of my office. My mom called with news that a repair truck had finally appeared on our block, but it was small comfort considering she followed up with news that she was bringing my diabetic and wheelchair-bound father to the emergency room because he seemed disoriented and heat exhausted. When the repair men began working on a transformer only one house away from mine, it seemed improbable that the source of the problem had been right there all along. As one of the few remaining blocks still without power, I had convinced myself that the repairs needed must have been extensive. According to my mom, the repair man scaled the pole and within five minutes, power was restored. Talk about an anticlimactic ending.

Seven days without power culminated in the few short minutes it took for the repairman to climb a damn pole. We didn’t know if we should’ve been grateful or even more annoyed that it took so long to correct what appeared to be a simple issue. Did this mean that we could’ve had power sooner, saving my father a night in the hospital? Relieved and assured that he’d be OK, we returned home and did that one sexy, luxurious thing we’d been dreaming about doing for a week一turning on the air conditioning. And as for that neighborly bond we had formed with those on our block? That fell by the wayside faster than the sweat drying on our brows. It’s amazing how quickly things returned to normal. At the time, it seemed as if this ordeal was never ending; now it just seems like a hazy memory that’s gotten blurry around the edges. And perhaps that’s for the best.

The one thing that hasn’t gone hazy yet is the sense of disappointment that descended upon during those literal days of darkness. For the first time in my life, I feel a sense of disenchantment with the city of New Orleans. Always a magical place to me, this is the first time I haven’t felt enraptured with its spell. The city whose pull was so hard that it prompted me to pack up and move back after being away for 13 years suddenly doesn’t seem to love its residents the same. At a time when I felt that the top priority should have been the well-being of its residents, emphasis instead was placed on making sure that the surface seemed nice and shiny for its visitors. I’m not ready to give up my love affair with New Orleans, just as I hope that she hasn’t given up on me. But for those seven days, it definitely felt like she had.

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