STORIES I'VE MISSED
I left New Orleans last week for an out-of-town trip. Each night I sat glued to the TV watching the situation in the Mideast unfold on Nightly News. But back home I was missing news as well. You see, on a normal day living here, it's impossible to pick up a paper, turn on the radio or just listen to folks gossip without hearing something that makes you shake your head in wonder or nod in understanding. Here are just a few of the stories that I missed and that you might be interested in hearing about as well:
New Orleans on guard
New Orleans made front-page and network news a month ago when the National Guard was called in following a spike in murders that was capped by the shooting of five young men on June 17. Folks called it good for the battered city, but bad for its already tattered image. So what's happened?
Last week, the pulitizer-prize winning Times Picayune reported that arrests are up and murders down. But it might take more than the guard to solve the city's crime problems long term. Here's a great article.
No place like dome
Everyone remembers the disturbing pictures of evacuees crammed into what was supposed to be a "shelter of last resort." And we all remember Brian's cell phone reports from inside the Superdome when the roof began peeling away during the height of the storm. In yet another hopeful sign of this city's recovery, last Wednesday, workers put the finishing touches on the roof of the 30-year-old stadium. It sustained more than $30 million in damage. The dome debuts Sept. 25 when the Saints host the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.
This latest picture is courtesy of a fellow blogger in New Orleans.
Awaiting judgment day
This next story serves as a reminder that New Orleans is not the sole focus of our attention. I returned this week to learn that in Mississippi, a decision could come at any time in what is the first lawsuit filed by a homeowner against an insurance company. NBC's Mark Potter first reported on the case July 10. As the Mississippi Sun Herald reports, it's a "groundbreaking case that challenges one of the nation's largest insurers for refusing to cover damage from Hurricane Katrina..."
The federal judge hearing the case has promised a ruling soon. It's a case that we here in the bureau will be following for you.
New Orleans is in the midst of a baby boom. I picked up the phone before I left to confirm a story we'd read a few week ago. By the time I got back, the stork had delivered hospital press releases to my e-mail inbox. "Big Easy Baby Boom," one trumpets. No one knows why, but several hospitals report they are tracking more deliveries this summer than last year. You can do the math. The "Re-Birth of New Orleans" as one hospital calls it, began in late May, nine months after Katrina.
Some folks I spoke to chuckle and blame the 'stuck in a hotel room with not much to do' syndrome. Others believe it's reflective of the commitment some young couples have made to their futures. Visit this site if you'd like to see some of the newest arrivals (and some truly beautiful babies).
The headline from the Sunday Times Picayune says it best: "A bare-bones operation before Hurricane Katrina, the city's cemetery division is down to a skeleton crew with no workers to bury the dead." It's a grim story that details how even the city's dead have become victims of Katrina. For anyone who believes this city's woes are overblown, I implore you to read this article.
It's not exactly news, but I couldn't help sharing this story from the sports page here last week. I won't give it away here, but let's just say it's an inspiring story of a New Orleans woman who is living proof that with a dream and determination, you can climb any mountain.
Read more from NBC's Gulf Coast recovery files, Steve Majors
Rice arrives in Rome
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