I’ve been meaning to update for quite a while now. I had intended to write at the 1-year anniversary, but it was just too depressing; I hadn’t expected it to bother me, but the news went on about it so much for that whole week that it did stir up a lot of unpleasant memories. (We didn’t even turn the TV on the day of the anniversary — we had all we could stand and then some the rest of the week.)

The big news story here is that, just a few days ago, a judge ruled that the Corps of Engineers can be sued for its role in the levee failures. The ruling was made in reference to a lawsuit brought by about 6 families who claim that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a shipping channel dredged by the Corps, was directly responsible for the flooding in certain hard-hit areas — primarily New Orleans East and Chalmette. (A lot of experts agree that this is true, although the key will be proving whether the corps knew of the dangers and ignored them. Up until now, the corps has refused to make public any of its documentation.) As a result of this ruling, the lawyers who handled the suit are planning to bring another class-action suit related to the Lakeview area, where the 17th St canal levees failed. My mom is extremely excited, since she and my dad lived in New Orleans East; she’s hopeful that some day they will receive some money to compensate them for the lost value of their home and land. They are still waiting to be contacted by the state’s buyout program. It started processing applications in late August and, of the 79,000 applicants, the number they have actually met with and issued settlements to is sadly, shockingly low. It’s another example of government inefficiency at its best (or should that be worst?).

Interestingly enough, the Corps recently (within the last month or so) announced a preliminary recommendation to close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet on the grounds that it isn’t economically viable — the revenues it generates are less than the cost of dredging every year. Apparently the fact that it wiped out the homes of at least 100,000 people isn’t an issue with them.

The city itself is still limping along. The hard-hit areas are still a mess, and even in the good areas of town there are still for-sale signs, closed businesses, tarp-covered roofs, and other reminders that all is not as it used to be. We ignore these things as much as we can.

Anyway… the big news with me is that, at year end, we released both our office space and my apartment and moved into a rented house. This was mostly an economic decision, since rent had gone up for each, plus we had more space than we needed at the office and not enough at home. This way, we’re saving some money on rent and also on gasoline — not to mention wear & tear on the car. I was a little concerned about being in a home office again, but it’s been working very well. I love not having the commute; driving past abandoned houses every day was pretty depressing, and I feel like I have a lot more time now. Admittedly, I’ve been spending my extra time working more often than not, but I hope to spend that time writing once I’ve caught up some. (The move took a lot of time and I got behind — and there’s always more work at this time of year.) I have actually looked at my novel in the past few weeks, and did a little editing and even wrote a new sentence or two. So maybe this will be the year that I finally finish the darned thing. Let’s hope so.

The move also took a few pounds off me, for which I’m delighted and very grateful. I hope they stay away and invite a few more of their friends to join them wherever they’ve settled.

The house is just a few minutes away from where the apartment was. It’s a very nice area and we have a huge lot and a backyard full of trees and squirrels. The house itself still needs more cleaning, and while it’s not perfect, it’s still pretty nice and we like it. We’ll like it even more when we get the last of the pictures hung, the remaining boxes unpacked, and find permanent places for everything.

I think that’s all my news for now. I hope all are well.

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