It's hard to believe affected residents will warm to this idea. The Gray Line bus company will begin sightseeing bus tours through Katrina ravaged sections of New Orleans next month.
Greg Hoffman, Gray Line Vice President and General Manager, addressed issues of sensitivity in touring the storm ravaged area, saying he lost his Lakeview home, too.
“I understand those questions…It is a very sensitive subject, believe me,” Hoffman said. “The turning point for this tour was when we decided the only way we're going to educate the rest of the country on what happened down here is when we bring people down to see it first hand."
Hoffman said tours will be on 25 passenger mini-buses but no one will be allowed to roam. Tickets will be $35 and $3 of each ticket will be donated to four different non-profit groups.
Sensitive oh yes. From their online "brochure" ....
Starting January 4, 2006, Gray Line will offer a blockbuster tour -"Hurricane Katrina - America's Worst Catastrophe!" This tour was created in an attempt to accurately inform visitors from around the world as to the factors contributing to this cataclysmic event. Participants will see and believe, not only the devastation, but also the rebirth and rebuilding needed to save America's Most Interesting City! Although Katrina destroyed homes and buildings, it did not destroy the Southern hospitality for which we are famous.While their stated aim of bringing attention to the plight of NOLA is certainly needed (as I said put ALL of Congress on the first tour) this idea seems wrong on so many fronts.
Just a $3 donation? Maybe the residents could get in on this and charge a toll every few blocks. Or they could set up souvenir stands......"Get your mold encrusted chunk of my living room wall" here.
They can package this as educational and sensitive but it doesn't change the fact they are making a buck off of tragedy and the venture IS insensitive. Imagine you live there. You exit your FEMA trailer (if you're lucky) to clean up the debris of your home all the while figuring out how you'll make the mortgage payments on said debris when you don't have a job and what comes rolling down the street but the 1:00 Catastophe Tour bus? I think my wave to the gawkers would be one fingered but I'm a Northern Yankee what do I know of Southern Hospitality.
It is just so unseemly and craven and morbid and well you get what I think.
So please don't give $35 to Gray Line. Give it to a Katrina Charity.
Instead of spending an hour on a bus, spend an hour calling or writing your Congressional rep to tell them to make rebuilding the Gulf coast a priority.