Chicago Tribune Writer: I’m ‘Praying’ For A Storm Like Katrina In Chicago

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board wrote Thursday that she is praying for a storm that will transform Chicago — similar to the way Hurricane Katrina forced change upon New Orleans.

It has been almost 10 years since Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast in August 2005, devastating parts of New Orleans, displacing, and killing many of its residents.

Kristen McQueary, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board started her column by writing that “envy” might be an unexpected response to Hurricane Katrina.

But with Aug. 29 fast approaching and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu making media rounds, including at the Tribune Editorial Board, I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak.

Residents overthrew a corrupt government. A new mayor slashed the city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, detonated labor contracts. New Orleans’ City Hall got leaner and more efficient. Dilapidated buildings were torn down. Public housing got rebuilt. Governments were consolidated.

An underperforming public school system saw a complete makeover. A new schools chief, Paul Vallas, designed a school system with the flexibility of an entrepreneur. No restrictive mandates from the city or the state. No demands from teacher unions to abide. Instead, he created the nation’s first free-market education system.

Hurricane Katrina, McQueary wrote, “gave a great American city a rebirth.”

She closed the column by writing that the storm she hoped for was “a figurative storm.”

I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help and waving their arms and lurching toward rescue helicopters.

The column’s original headline — “In Chicago, wishing for a Hurricane Katrina” — and some passages were reportedly revised and replaced, according to nola.com.

McQueary was met by outrage from readers on Twitter.

McQueary also responded to the criticism online.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Jerde is a newswriter based in New York. Her bylines have appeared in The Star-Ledger, The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Columbus Dispatch. She graduated from Ohio University. Send emails to sara@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow her @SaraJerde.
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