Ever since Katrina passed through, tourists have been coming here by the carload and busload to see the devastation. On the whole, I've been a supporter of this idea of "disaster tours" or "disaster pilgrimages." As much as you might read or see of Katrina, I assert that words and pictures simply cannot convey the total experience. In order to fully understand Katrina, you must experience its aftermath first-hand: the 360-degree immersion, the assault on all your senses, the mind-numbing sight of block after block of debris and destruction. Even at this late date, 18 months after the storm, most outsiders would be shocked at the extent of what has not been done, and the further publicity of such can only help.
Besides, this event has become part of history, and it's only natural that people will want to come and bear witness, to tell their friends and family, just as crowds flocked to Ground Zero in New York City in the months after 9/11.
All the same, this is not a sterile museum exhibit, or an isolated preserve. People live here. People work here.
About once a week I'll be driving home, and a car ahead of me will stop. In the middle of the street. And people will step out and gape and start taking pictures.
Other times cars will creep along Beach Boulevard at less than 10 miles per hour.
Please, people! I wouldn't drive like that if I came to visit your town!
Yes, by all means, come and see the devastation for yourself. Contribute your dollars to the local economy while you're at it. But is it too much to ask that you obey basic driving rules? We've been through enough already. If you're going to come and visit, at least show some respect for the people trying to live semi-normal lives here. Not stopping in the middle of the street would be a great start.