Katrina has largely faded into the news background, but New Orleans and the surrounding areas are still a disaster zone. Jer wrote eloquently about his own experiences volunteering on the clean-up efforts there, but for another take on the environmental challenges of the clean-up and rebuilding process, David Helvarg's The Storm This Time is well worth the read:
"I drive into Lakeview, one of the large sections of the city that sat underwater for two weeks and will likely have to be bulldozed. It reminds me of war zones Ive been in after heavy street fighting. There are trees and power poles down, electric lines hanging, metal sheets and street signs on mud-caked pavement, smashed cars, boats on sidewalks and torn-open houses, all colored in sepia tones of gray and brown. Unable to drive far in the debris-choked streets, I get out of my car, half expecting the sweet, rotting smell of death. Instead, Im confronted with an equally noxious odor. Its what Ill come to think of as the smell of a dead city, like dried cow pies and mold with a stinging chemical aftertaste."