By Lolis Eric Elie
NOAH. Such a helpful sounding name. The Biblical Noah used his ark to save all the animals. Thanks to Bill Cosby, that Noah's still famous. Now Noah's landed in New Orleans, paddling in on a pirogue, to save the survivors of a drowned city. If only...Any connections between a certain Biblical rescuer and NOAH, the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership agency are purely coincidental.
When NOAH was first tapped to provide post-Katrina remediation service, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said it would help low-income and elderly citizens gut their houses. Dozens of contractors were hired to do the work. In most cases, it amounted to only a few thousand dollars per house, though in some cases contractors were paid as much as $8,000. This wouldn't have been such a bad thing if the work actually took place. But in too many cases, little or no work was done. In some cases, NOAH contractors put up their signs and took credit for work that other folks had done.
Karen Gadbois, a citizen-cum-journalist was curious about NOAH’s doings. While investigating the city's suspicious list of houses to be demolished, she came across those NOAH signs and started to look closer at the remediation program. She published what she found and what she didn't find on a blog she founded called Squandered Heritage.
For all the bad things that NOAH did and all the good things if failed to do, in the world of 'Treme' it must be credited with at least one good deed: it brought together two of our characters, Nelson Hidalgo (Jon Seda) and Desiree (Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc). In our story, Nelson is working for NOAH and Desiree, shall we say, is not.