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January 07, 2007

New Orleans on the Brink - the Death of Helen Hill

The tragedies in New Orleans are piling up. This week the city saw six killings in 24 hours, and residents are starting to talk openly of a mass exodus. Hurricane Katrina exposed the decades-long neglect of wetlands and levees, and a nonchalant acceptance of widespread poverty. But the city is also facing a new crime wave, and despite the "spin" being put on it by the mayor and the police chief, people have simply had enough.

Helen Hill was an energetic, generous friend, wife and mom, and a talented filmaker dedicated to making her home of New Orleans a real community. She and her husband, Paul Gailuinas, had lost practically everything in Katrina and relocated to South Carolina. But Helen was homesick and so they returned this past August. She continued her filmwork and her project to introduce the whole city to art by convincing people to periodically open up their homes as galleries. Paul, a doctor, dedicated himself to serving the community by running the Little Doctors Neighborhood Clinic, which operated on a sliding-scale.

Earlier this week, an intruder broke into their home and everything changed. Helen was killed and Paul was found bleeding on the doorstep with their two-year old child in his arms. Five other people, including a cabbie, were killed that same day. New Orleans is so far away from being back to pre-Katrina "normal", it's no wonder people haven't seen Mayor Nagin in public. He must have one of those undisclosed, secured locations like Dick Cheney's to hide away in. It's common knowledge that after the hurricane hit he moved his own wife and children to a house in Dallas.

I've been reading a great New Orleans blog called b.rox for awhile now. Bart, the blogger, gives an up close and personal view of what he and his wife and his city are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. His grief over the loss of his friend Helen Hill, and his consternation about the slow pace of progress in New Orleans further fuels my interest in going down there in February. I'm not sure I can justify sitting on my butt in Seattle while a great American city suffers another loss, and another, and another.

Posted by shoephone on January 7, 2007 at 12:42 AM in Miscellany | Permalink


It is so very heartening when I run across someone from across the border (i.e. inside the US) taking notice of us in the abandoned Isle D'Orleans. No matter what happens, please pay attention. Read the various NOLABloggers, stay in touch so that we can be remembered and hopefully one day those responsible can be brought to some form of justice.

Posted by: Loki | Jan 7, 2007 7:56:34 PM

Loki - If you check back here, I left a comment for you on your blog earlier. Believe me, though many others may choose to forget NOLA, I will not. Maybe we can connect down there next month.

Posted by: shoephone | Jan 8, 2007 1:01:08 AM

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