If I don't write about it, I might implode.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina and levee breaches destroyed my home and my birthplace, but not my hope and my sense of humor.
This journal is a place for my thoughts and opinions as I cope with surviving Katrina and as New Orleans recovers.
"The List" - A list of U.S. levees in possible danger of failing.
"Thank You!" - I owe so many thanks.
Post Katrina - Items related to the storm and its aftermath.
http://www.levees.org - A source for information about levees and flood protection in New Orleans and nationwide.
Shelter from the Storm Awards - For poetry and prose related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and New Orleans.
http://www.amillionthanks.org - To show the U.S. Military Men and Women, past and present, appreciation for their sacrifices, dedication, and service through letters, emails, cards, prayers, and thoughts.
http://www.neworleansonline.com - The City of New Orleans' Official Tourism Website.
Writers: How Prepared are You for Disasters? - On saving your writing in case of disaster.
http://www.womenofthestorm.net/index.php- "Women of the Storm" is a non-partisan non-political alliance of Louisiana women whose families, businesses and lives were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita. Members are culturally, socially and economically diverse.
http://www.saveourcemeteries.org - The official site.
http://tinyurl.com/ColeenPerillouxLandryGallery - Coleen Perilloux Landry's Photo Galleries. See Louisiana and New Orleans as you might not have ever seen the state and city. Yes, some devastation remains, but even Katrina and the levee breaches could not destroy all of the beauty that surrounds New Orleans and Louisiana.
Laissez le bon temps rouler!
(Let the good times roll!)
|Hurricane Gustva was coming. My family and I left New Orleans. We entered McComb, Mississippi, early. Late afternoon through night time, August 31, 2008, Hurricane Gustva was here. We watched Hurricane Gustva in New Orleans on the television. I was worried. Hurricane Katrina all over again. Exhaled, we went to bed. I woke up in the morning, September 1, 2008. I was hungry. Yesterday, I drank Coke and some water. But before breakfast, I went to the bathroom. Halfway down on the toilet, I blackout. Second later, I woke up on the floor.
I suffered a Stroke.
I blackout, again, in the Ambulance.
I woke up, again. I had a hospital gown on and IV in my right hand.
The power went out. It was hot! I can't speak, so I mouth it, 'Open the window.' I mouth it three more times. Betty, my sister, and the nurse could not understand me.
The nurse disappeared. She came back, again, bored a needle. She put something in my IV line.
I was out.
I woke up in Forrest Hospital two weeks later.
My time line:
2008: McComb, MS
2008: Hattisburg, MS - Forrest Hospital
2009: Vicksburg, MS - Coverty Nursing Home & Rehab.
2010: Picayune, MS - Coverty Nursing Home & Rehab.
2010 - 2013: Clinton, MS - Trinity Mission Health & Rehab.
Betty had some difficulty getting me home.
Now, I'm back, June 10, 2013!
My right body is weak. Now, my speech...I had to learn it all over again. I says 85%, my writing is okay. I has some difficult words. I write in my left hand and I am in wheelchair. I can't walk, yet.
But stay tune...
|As of 9 p.m., Central Standard Time, New Orleans is under mandatory evacuation. Friends, other family members, and neighbors have already evacuated. I had already planned on evacuating and will finally be leaving the city around 6 a.m. tomorrow morning with my oldest sister, one of my nephews, and our dog, Missy. We'll be heading to Jackson, Mississippi.
After making this post, I'll be offline for a little while--hopefully no where near as long as I was after Katrina and the levee breaches. So, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger when he played "The Terminator" and was not a politician making snide remarks: "I'll be back."
If you care, then please keep everyone in areas affected by or being threatened by Hurricane Gustav in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you!
I'm praying we avoid going through this again:
|Today marks the third year since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and the levees failed in New Orleans. There were several gatherings throughout New Orleans and the greater areas including one where the last seven unclaimed bodies of Katrina victimes were laid to rest at the Charity Hospital Cemetery. During the gatherings, we pause to ring what are called "Memory Bells" for a minute or two to honor first responders and volunteers, and to remember all who lost their lives. The bells are sold at Fire Stations for $3. The funds are donated to a first responder's fund. This year, all of the available 15,000 "Memory Bells" were sold.
Unfortunately, there is a storm threatening to hit Louisiana sometime early next week. I'm already mentally exhausted from the media coverage and all the second-guessing weather forecasts. And the last thing I feel like doing is having to evacuate. But it's highly likely that my family and I will evacuate voluntarily without waiting for a mandatory evacuation to be declared. We'll either head east or west, but given that there is a chance that Hurricane Gustav will make landfall to our west, we'll probably head east or north.
Yet, once we're done with Gustav, we might have to deal with Hanna, too.
More about the anniversary and the storm can be read at http://tinyurl.com/58ylfs.
Hurricane Katrina struck at 9:38 a.m., three years ago. Around sometime later that morning, I sat in my bedroom listening to the rain and wind, and debris blowing around outside. Until a particularly loud, menacing sound sent me rushing out into the hallway where I sat on my desk chair surrounded only by walls, feeling a little safer. Then, perhaps, a couple hours afterwards, the storm surge began to flood our home with enough water to cover our toes. We began stacking what we could stack in hopes of saving some of our stuff, and then we retreated to the second floor where we rode out the rest of the hurricane. By the morning, the flooding caused by the storm surge was receding and soon all gone. However, we began to suspect that something was wrong when flooding began to occur again, hours later.
So to all those who question why we were/are so angry with the Corps of Engineers, it was/is because we know that New Orleans really did survive Hurricane Katrina and was truly devastated by the levee breaches, which occured, at least in part, due to faulty building and maintenance of the levees. I know this because I survived Katrina and I waded in Katrina's storm surge a day before I fled the flooding caused by the breaches via a boat and a truck.
|I was expecting to come across such comparison, sooner or later: http://tinyurl.com/iowacomparison
Why do some people choose to hate and then to spread their hate? A disaster is a disaster. There should not be any comparisons between one disaster and any others. Yet, there are those who I'm sure could not wait to begin comparing the flooding disaster in Iowa to the disaster in New Orleans. And of course, we of the deep south were lazy idiots just sitting and waiting to be rescued. Yes, it was idiotic of New Orleanians to grow complacent about hurricane protection and the threats that hurricanes posed to the city, but once the levees broke how were thousands of people who were stuck in New Orleans mostly because they lacked transportation to evacuate in the first place going to get out of the city then? Where were they supposed to go? Certainly not into the city of Gretna where Gretna police stood with guns and fired at those attempting to escape the flooding on foot by crossing the Gretna bridge. And let's not forget that there were babies, the elderly, families, the working poor, and black and white people who used the Superdome and the Convention Center as shelters of last resort. Why does the predominate image of New Orleans always seems to be one of a government-check-collecting, lazy, unwilling-to-work black person when it comes to discussing the people who remained in New Orleans as Katrina struck and the levees broke, and especially when someone takes it upon himself or herself to compare what happened in New Orleans to what happened in Iowa or New York? There is no comparison. We have all suffered.
Even Governor Schwarzenegger felt the need to take a dig at New Orleans and Louisiana when he held a press conference during the recent wild fires in California, boasting about how well prepared California was to deal with disasters with a wry smile as a man stood behind his shoulder with a smirk on his face. I thought it was rather sad. Why choose to "poke your tongue" and "wag your finger" at us and make snide remarks that essentially translate into "Na-Na-Na-Na-Na...we're better than you!" Why not choose to say because of our disaster, you want to assure now more than ever that the people of your state are well-prepared and will be well-treated by government agencies they might have to call on for aid? But guess what--if what I went through during the levee breaks caused other American cities and states to wake up and be sure they were prepared as much as possible for a disaster, then I would go through it all again.
|At approximately 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 23, '08, a barge crashed into a tanker causing over 419,000 gallons of fuel oil to ooze into the Mississippi River. It's now suspected that the tug that was towing the barge did not have a licensed pilot. By this morning, the oil clinging to the river's surface could be seen for about 97 miles from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico. The river is currently closed to ships and vessels that are not involved in the massive clean up effort. Ship traffic is backed up, it could be days before the river is opened again, and none of the experts are certain about whether or not there might be any long time environmental effects from the spill.
It was not pleasant waking to the overwhelming smell of oil in the air, Wednesday morning, and the sight of the oil in the river makes me want to weep.
Photographs can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/oilspillphotos
More on the spill can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/oilspillarticle
Update: Two websites are gone.
|A recent Associated Press article posed the question. My answer: No, the memorial's delay is not a sign of Katrina fatigue among New Orleans residents. Many of us are most definitely fatigued, but it isn't "Katrina fatigue." We're so tired because federal, state, and local government officials and agencies still behave as if our attempts to rebuild our lives are some sort of game. We are still being lied to and led around in circles, particularly by FEMA. We are still dealing with plenty of crap here in New Orleans. If it were not for many of us helping each other out and the city being visited by hordes of volunteers, the city areas beyond the French Quarter would be in worse shape. I suppose Mother Theresa said it best, "Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." The memorial's delay is also a sort of frightening realization that we're still presuming that our elected officials are staying on top of some projects and events, just as we presumed they were on top of keeping the city safer by assuring that the U. S. Corp of Engineers were properly building the levees.
We haven't forgotten those who lost their lives in the storm. It's just that we're still struggling to recover in some ways.
What also bothered me about the article is how the reporter makes a point of mentioning that a million dollars in taxpayer money was given to the project as if every taxpayer in America except those who live in New Orleans is having his/her tax funds going to waste. I have no problem with being transparent about what's going on with taxpayer's funds, but I just know that some people will ask yet again why the federal government is even bothering to help rebuild New Orleans. But I can't worry about what those people might believe or say because I know the truth. I am a part of the truth.
The memorial will be built. It won't be built as soon as we and many others would like, but it will stand someday.
The article can be read at http://tinyurl.com/katrinamemorial.
The website for the memorial can be visited at http://www.neworleanskatrinamemorial.org/.
Update: One article is gone.
|On January 28, 2008, 24-year-old N. O. P. D. Officer Nicola Cotton was killed in the line of duty. She was gunned down while trying to assist a man she found wandering the street. The man proceeded to struggle with her, grabbed the officer's gun, and ended up shooting her to death. The man has only been identified as a 44-year-old mental patient, so far.
Nicola is being laid to rest, today, February 1. Hundreds of police officers from all over the region are expected to attend her funeral. After hearing so many who knew and loved her speak of her, I'm convinced that Officer Cotton lived like many WDC members--she genuinely cared about others and gave from her heart. She was known to keep small bills in her pocket so she could share the money with the homeless when possible.
Officer Cotton's death unfortunately highlights the struggle New Orleans currently faces in regards to the homeless and the mentally ill. Particularly, mental patients who wish to remain homeless rather than having to live in shelters. I can certainly identify with that wish--spending just two weeks in a makeshift shelter nearly drove me insane. But how else do we try to care for all of our people in New Orleans? I'm sure there are no easy answers. If there were, then I doubt we would still be grappling so much with the aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches.
August 2008 will mark the third anniversary of the catastrophic flooding, and the city continues to struggle with a shortage of care for the mentally ill.
|One of the newstories reported in our local news earlier this week was about the results of a recent poll conducted by the UNO (University of New Orleans) Survey Research Center. The poll asked takers for their opinions on federal aid, crime, and corruption, mostly, but about 25% of the takers also believed that parts of New Orleans still sat underwater. There were 775 residents living outside of New Orleans who participated in the poll, so perhaps a larger number of Americans and other world citizens are better informed. Perhaps. Still, New Orleans is years away from what could be a full recovery, especially where housing is concerned. The article about the poll can be read at http://tinyurl.com/ysze881.
Here is a list I created of what I view as some of the positives and the negatives, two years later:
Some rebuilding has occurred.
There has been a crackdown on crime and corruption.
More charter schools have been created and opened; colleges and universities have reopened.
"Hollywood South" re-emerges as New Orleans becomes third in the nation for film production; K-Ville, a primetime crime drama that's not only about New Orleans but is also filmed in New Orleans, premiered on the Fox network.
3 new festivals were created: The New Orleans Seafood Festival (unbelievably, we didn't have our own such festival before Katrina and the levee breaks), The Cajun/Zydeco Festival, and The Tomato Festival - it's always good to try to bring people together, especially through great food and music.
The French Quarter Festival occured this year.
The Hornets came home (thank you Oklahoma for giving our b-ball team a home while they couldn't be home in New Orleans); The Saints became a new type of team--one that wins for a change .
Mardi Gras occured with about 800,000 visitors attending. Some might see this as a negative given the "flashing for beads" that happens in the French Quarter, but outside The Quarter, Mardi Gras is mostly a family celebration. The truck parades that roll on Mardi Gras are truly family celebrations as two organizations, Elks Orleanians and Crescent City, invite families to form krewes that decorate flatbeds that are then paraded throughout the city. My family formed a krewe in 1990 and we paraded our decorated flatbed during the Crescent City Truck Parade in 1991. It was a lot of fun.
The Essence Festival, "the party with a purpose," returned to New Orleans.
The new high cost of living, especially where housing is concerned.
Crime; despite the recent crackdown.
The red tape still slowing some rebuilding efforts.
Charity Hospital remains closed.
It remains a bit difficult for The Corps and FEMA to be honest.
Despite my or anyone else's opinion, I suppose the best way to see what's going on in New Orleans is to come and visit. The water is safe to drink and to bathe in, we promise! Here's proof:
My niece, Akyra, and my nephew, Marcus, bathing "Missy" .
Please, see "Doggie Bath II" . Thank you.
|Visit http://tinyurl.com/2c5mwd to view a Yahoo! News slideshow of before and after photographs of several areas that were flooded during the levee breaches.
I haven't seen all of the photos, but would like to warn that I have seen one picture that included a dead victim of the flooding.
Update: Slideshow of before and after photographs of several areas that were flooded during the levee breaches is gone.
|It has been months since I've written in this journal, and I suppose it's because there has been so much going on regarding New Orleans and the rebuilding effort that I just didn't know where to begin whenever I tried to write something about how we're doing, lately. So for now, I'm depending upon the words of others who also know the truth about what's happening with the recovery efforts:
"Pay Heed to New Orleans' Plight: Next Time, It Could Be Your Town"
"New Orleans v. Iraq"
Despite the pain and frustration many of us in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast are still dealing with, we realize we are not the center of the universe. We know there is suffering and misery throughout the world. Our hearts go out to Minnesota and the victims of the bridge collapse, to the families of the Utah miners, to victims of the fire in Greece, to everyone dealing with the flooding in the Midwest, and to everyone affected by Hurricane Dean.
Update: Two websites are gone.
|After the violence Las Vegas experienced when the city hosted the NBA's 2007 All-Star Game, Billy Hunter, the executive director of the NBA Players Union, apparently grew concerned about whether or not New Orleans could handle hosting the 2008 All-Star Game. Hunter even threatened that he would go to court and sue to keep New Orleans from hosting the 2008 event. And so there New Orleans went again--into a spotlight of negativity.
Given the power of his position, I wished Mr. Hunter would have used his voice to help urge the federal government to better assist the city with some of its rebuilding efforts, particularly where law enforcement is concerned. Since he seemed so concerned about crime, perhaps Mr. Hunter could have visited New Orleans before he made his comments and then added his voice to the many voices already wondering why the federal government hasn't done more to help rebuild court rooms and police stations. Just last night, one of New Orleans' local news shows aired a story about how the building that once served as the New Orleans Police Department's Headquarters still sits gutted and unrepaired 18 months after the storm and levee breaches. But, Mr. Hunter doesn't get paid to be concerned about New Orleans and its residents. If the city wasn't slated to host the 2008 event, then Mr. Hunter probably wouldn't give a damn about New Orleans. I'm pretty sure he doesn't anyway, and hey, that's his right. We can't make anyone care about us if they don't want to. All we ask for is a little compassion and understanding. All we ask for is that people realize that the levee breaches wiped out about a decade of economic growth that won't be rebuilt within a year, and that red tape still plays a role in slowing the recovery process. Red tape like the federal government expecting New Orleans to match federal funds by 10% despite the devastation and economic losses. However, after 9/11, New York was exempted from such red tape. Yet, New Orleans has to fight to be exempt from it. We're not looking for a hand out, but simply a hand in helping us recover as much as possible.
How I wish Mr. Hunter could have used his voice in a more positive way. When he finally did visit New Orleans, he became convinced that the city could handle hosting the '08 event. But when approached by the media, he pretty much said that New Orleans should be thankful for his negative comments because the comments thrust the city back into the news, perhaps reminding people that the city hasn't fully recovered yet. So, he essentially said that even negative publicity is better than no publicity.
In my eyes, Mr. Hunter is just another "critic" who took the opportunity to kick New Orleans in the one weakened knee that the city currently stands on, and I say no thank you to Mr. Hunter and his negative publicity. No, New Orleans isn't crime-free--it wasn't before the storm and levee breaches--but why not at least give the city a shot at hosting the event, a shot at reaping some of the financial gains that come along with hosting the all-star games, before trying to shut the city out completely.
The article, "Union Doubts Big Easy Ready for NBA All-Star Game," can be read at http://tinyurl.com/2rra6g. After reading the article, I also became dismayed by Shaquille O'Neal's comments. Another problem that New Orleans faces is having some people still believing that the city is flooded. This is a problem mostly created by some of the media that keeps using old footage of the city rather than newer footage.
The article, "N. O. Slam has NBA Union Head on Defensive," can be read at http://tinyurl.com/2v8nl3.
Update: One article is gone.
|On the Feb. 28 episode of the crime drama "Criminal Minds," where a modern day Jack the Ripper was loose in New Orleans, there was a scene where three characters entered a home that still stood as trashed as Hurricane Katrina left the house 18 months ago. It gave me a giggle to see the characters enter the place without wearing any type of protective gear like nose masks and gloves. I wouldn't dare to even try to venture into one of the houses still standing as destroyed as Katrina left it, but it seems to me that the house would be overrun by mold after sitting ungutted for 18 months. On the episode, even the tree that had fallen into the house remained in the exact spot where it'd fallen 18 months ago! lol And to top that, "Derek Morgan," Shemar Moore's character, picked up a book with his bare hands--a book that sat in the mold and murk for 18 months!
Although I realize the scene used such props and was filmed in such a way for maximum dramatic effects, it was technically wrong and proved, yet again, that you can't believe everything you see on TV. Having a couple of these vermine, however, skulking around outside that house might've made the scene a little more believable.
|Earlier this month, a list of U.S. levees in possible danger of failing was released by the Corps of Engineers. A news article on the issue can be read at http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=2841809 while the list can be read at http://tinyurl.com/2hamqr.
The news site has pop ups, and the list is a .pdf file that requires Adobe Reader to open it.
Update: No longer the article about the Corps of Engineers about the list of U.S. levees in possible danger of failing.
|On Tuesday, February 13, '07, tornadoes tore through Westwego and four areas of New Orleans including the Carrollton, Uptown, Gentilly, and Pontchartrain Park neighborhoods. An elderly woman died from the tornado that touched down in Pontchartrain Park. Hundreds of trees were downed, and over 100 homes were damaged including homes already rebuilt and homes in the process of being rebuilt. Overall, about 20,000 homes lost power due to the severe weather that occurred overnight on Tuesday. My neighborhood, which is a part of the Carrollton area, spent about 13 hours and 15 minutes without power from about 3:15 a.m., Tuesday, until about 4:30 p.m., Tuesday afternoon. I actually heard the transformers exploding as lightning lit the sky. I'm thankful the tornadoes didn't do more damage, and my heart and prayers go out to those who suffered damaged.
Honestly, Mother Nature, New Orleans does not need a reminder of how powerful your wrath can be.
Contrary to the completely negative image that some people hold of New Orleans, neighbors came together to help clean up debris and to help aid others whose homes or trailers were left damaged by the storm. Thank you to the firefighters and Red Cross, also, for their aid. FEMA representatives visited damaged homes and trailers, but could not do much else because they didn't have the permission of the federal government to go ahead and offer any kind of assistance to those affected by the tornadoes. So, not much has changed when it comes to how little the U. S. government seems to care about Louisiana.
Sometimes, I think I'm bitching too much about the levee breaches, and then I think so what if I am. And anyone who thinks I should shut up bitching, tell it to me when you've lost about 10 years of economic growth, your home, and just about everything you owned (not only material things you worked hard to get but also priceless items like collections of family photo albums that held emotional value) mostly because of shabby work done by an agency of the federal government.
I'm grateful for being a survivor, but I'm still angry. I just refuse to let my anger ruin my life. To borrow some lyrics from The Dixie Chicks:
Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I'm still waiting
I'm not ready to make nice,
I'm not ready to back down,
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time
To go round and round and round...
I'm not ready to make nice, yet, with the Army Corps of Engineers.
|The Good: The Saints lost, but they remain winners in our eyes. They're still the NFC South Champions despite losing to The Bears, and we're still proud of them.
The Bad: The Saints lost!
The Ugly: A Chicago Bears fan was seen holding a sign that read "Finish Off What Katrina Started!"
That breaks my heart, but doesn't really surprise me. Some people never gave a damn about the devastation that occurred in New Orleans. Yes, I have a sense of humor, but after surviving the hurricane and the levee breaches, I just don't see the humor in such a sign... Even if I hadn't experienced Katrina and the breaches first hand, I still wouldn't find the sign funny.
Thank you, however, to all Chicagoans who did treat Saints fans with hospitality and good sportmanship.
But since I can't cheer on The Saints until the next football season starts, I'll do the second best thing and cheer on the team that has a native New Orleanian as its quarterback. So...
|On the road to trying to rebuild your life, it's nice to be distracted by some good news for a change. At a time when New Orleans is under tight scrutiny, the slightest going-ons being reported internationally, nowadays, The Saints and the team's winning season are helping to improve the city's image and reinforcing some of us with a sense of hope. Of course I want them to beat The Bears , but even if The Saints lose, they're still winners in our eyes, especially after the great year of football they've given us.
Another nice distraction to know about: Horror Movie Based on King Story to be made in Shreveport. Read the brief details at http://tinyurl.com/yrsqzc, if interested.
Plus, we've learned that Brad and Angelina have bought a house in The French Quarter and plan to move to New Orleans, soon. Nicholas Cage, who used to have a home, here, too, has also bought another place in or near The Quarter, while his uncle (I think), Francis Ford Coppola, still has his home, here, as well.
I wish Anne Rice (http://www.annerice.com/) would move back to New Orleans. Hmmm... Thinking of her still brings the vamps to mind, although she doesn't write about them anymore. A hurricane...levee failures...devastating flooding...some of the dead literally being swept from their graves...vampires in the midst of it all...
There might be a horror story, or at least a dark fiction tale, waiting to be born from those details. Maybe I'll write one, someday.
|January 9, 2007 marked the one year anniversary of my family's return to New Orleans. We managed to make it back home five months after the city flooded, and realize how lucky we are because many who want to be home aren't able to return yet.
I can imagine how some people who weren't born in New Orleans, or haven't visited New Orleans, might wonder why so many of the city's residents long to return home given the rebuilding that remains to be done and the recent spike in crime. And while I wish I could explain why we look so forward to returning to New Orleans in an eloquent way, all I can truly say is that some of us discovered that there really is no place like home.
New Orleans 'a courtesan whose hold is strong upon the mature, to whose charm the young must respond. And all who leave her' return to her when she smiles across her languid fan. ~ William Faulkner
Some of us evacuated, or were evacuated, to other cities and states that truly embraced us while some of us ended up in places that pretended to care. Evacuees who found better jobs, better pay, and greater happiness in the other cities decided to stay; evacuees who found themselves mostly unhappy in other cities decided to return. I imagine there were some of us who planned to return anyway, no matter what. But I suspect that the driving force behind some of us wanting to return is the stereotyping that we faced. Why stay in a town that has already decided that you're a criminal and a "sinner" because you're from the inner city, and more specifically because you're from New Orleans?
One of the things my mom and dad taught me when they were alive was that sometimes we have to try to place ourselves in the shoes of others to better understand their situations. When we fail to do this, then I believe that's when we start losing our humanity.
Okay, it's time to party, now. Today is my birthday--I'm turning 29 for the 8th time since I turned 29. Since it's usually also the carnival season, here in New Orleans, when my birthday arrives, I celebrate with King Cake instead of a regular birthday cake. There will also be beignets, dirty rice, shrimp etouffee, boiled crawfish and shrimp, crawfish pasta, gumbo, muffalettas, and more dishes to feast on.
New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin. ~ Mark Twain
King Cake! Yum!
“We are not a city of mint-julep swilling Southern belles.” ~ Bunny Matthews, Artist, 2005
To help work off the calories from the food, there's going to be zydeco filling the air, and a second line led by a brass band.
New Orleans, that was a place where the music was as natural as the air. The people were ready for it like it was sun and rain. ~ Sidney Bechet
“In New Orleans...You can’t separate nothing from nothing. Everything mingles each into the other…until nothing is purely itself but becomes part of one funky gumbo.” ~ Mac Rebennack A.K.A. Dr. John, Musician
Everyone is invited to the party, but instead of bringing gifts please make a small donation to any of these causes: http://www.justgive.org/index.html, http://www.one.org/, http://www.stjude.tv, http://www.bravenet.com/global/tsunami.php, http://www.BushClintonKatrinaFund.org/, and http://www.rainn.org/. Thanks!
Don't you just love these long, rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn't an hour - but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands - and who knows what to do with it? ~ Tennessee Williams, 'A Streetcar Named Desire'
|The Boston Legal episode set in New Orleans airs tonight. In the commercial for the episode, William Shatner's character, Denny Crane, said that New Orleans is "a place that laughs in the face of death."
The episode is titled "Angel of Death" and has a storyline modeled after the real-life story of the doctors who were accused of euthanizing several patients at one of the city's hospitals during the chaos of Katrina and the levee breaches.
Read a little more about the episode at http://abc.go.com/primetime/bostonlegal/preview.html, if interested.
|I found the January 3, 2007 episode of Oprah quite interesting. I don't watch the show too often, but couldn't resist this episode because of its topic. Of particular interest to me was where a Mr. Karl Muth, an investment banking heir, discussed how some of the public housing was being converted into condominiums. It was a snippet of a documentary being made by one of the heirs of the Johnson and Johnson company. Mr. Muth's comments snagged my attention because the housing changes he spoke of are threatening to happen here in New Orleans. What might stop the trend from occuring here is that several of our public housing buildings might actually be historical landmarks. Other than that, there are also plans to tear down some of the public housing in stages and rebuild homes that will hopefully create mixed income neighborhoods. Residents who lived in the demolished public housing have first dibbs at securing the newly built homes and apartments. The city has already successfully achieved this goal when it tore down the St. Thomas housing project and built neighborhoods that are called the "River Gardens." Those particular neighborhoods even managed to mostly escape the flooding as they lay near the Mississippi River bank that curves through the city.
I think tearing down as many of the old projects and rebuilding them in the fashion of "River Gardens" is a good thing. I think that the new housing plays a part in improving class. People seem to feel better about the new homes and work harder to keep the neighborhoods clean, and where crime once plagued the area, it has become a rarity since the new housing was erected. I remember one shooting happening in the area before Katrina struck, and was glad to see on the local news how upset and vocal the neighbors were about wanting to continue to fight crime. The improved housing isn't a magical pill, but it does seem to at least get people of differing classes to live closer together, creating a stronger sense of community.
I think that another revelation that Katrina and the levee breaches forced us (Americans) to face is the fact that class does matter in this country, and that there are more of the working poor than we might want to admit. It's as if the homeless and those who are deemed "low income" and "working poor" are reminders of how some of us are "one paycheck or one major illness," as Oprah said, away from having our class reduced. "We" could be "them." And it scares us. Some of us would rather not see this, and so the homeless and working poor become invisible.
Many people cared about the devastation that struck New Orleans, but there were also people who thought (and probably still think) that New Orleans got what the city deserved. And I can't help thinking that those who believe the latter do so because they think New Orleans is, or was, comprised of mostly poor people.
I'll always be perplexed by the barriers we place between ourselves, and will never forget how Hurricane Katrina roared across the Gulf Coast and into New Orleans, exploding those barriers just as the storm crumbled the walls of the levees.
|"There are too many obstacles in the way for New Orleanians and others across the nation who want to live the American Dream. The federal government has not been there for these people."
Said by former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards as he stood in front of a flooded out home that had not been touched since Katrina. It doesn't take the smartest person to realize that Edwards' trip to New Orleans to announce that he plans to run for President in 2008 is part of the political game. But as a Katrina survivor, I believe that he spoke the painful truth. To suddenly lose your home, to lose the job you held for years, to lose the way of life you were used to living, a way of life that kept you from having to depend on the government to help you live it... I wouldn't wish being a Katrina survivor on my worse enemy if I had one.
I keep hearing all the news reports about FEMA being defrauded of millions and even possibly a billion dollars, but few stories about how ugly many of their employees are during calls to the agency. There are few stories about all the obstacles the federal government places on Katrina survivors (note that I'm speaking for the honest lot of us that truly exist) so that we either end up being denied of housing assistance or receive asistance that helps very little. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful; I appreciate all that the government and the world has done for Katrina survivors and New Orleans. But we are still struggling, and while I can't speak too personally on the struggles of all survivors, I can tell you that almost all of the times my sister has applied for housing assistance she has ended up denied because of some mistake on the FEMA employee's part. So it becomes a nerve-wrecking game where just as it seems we've gotten one foot forward, FEMA has helped to shove us two feet backward.
Today, after having to wait for a decision for almost two months, my sister was denied housing assistance because a FEMA employee claimed that my sister works part-time. My sister not only works full-time as a preschool teacher, but has managed to continue working to earn her Bachelor's in Education. So because of the FEMA employee's mistake she has to appeal the decision. We're forced to wait, but bill collectors and landlords are not obligated to wait. And now, my family and I are playing the wait-and-see game, yet again, with FEMA. We're back in the "scraping to get by" mode of living. (And just to clarify a bit, I spoke of a debit card and a bank account in my last entry, "Beware of Identity Theft!" , but there is not a lot of money in the account. Which made it even sadder that someone actually tried to steal what little money that was there.)
There was another earlier entry where I stated that it would probably take my family and I about a couple of years to completely recover from the financial devastation caused by Katrina and the levee breaks, but sometimes I'm not so sure we'll recover that soon. There's just a lot of bureaucracy and too many obstacles more often than not. For example, one requirement of FEMA's housing assistance program is that an applicant has to submit what is called "a housing search" each time an applicant applies for assistance. The purpose of such a search is to find cheaper housing so that the federal government has to pay less money to help Katrina survivors maintain roofs over their heads after the federal government has played a part in destroying thousands of homes in the first place (i.e., the levee breaches). Given what has happened in New Orleans, someone would be lucky, still, to find an available house or apartment, and then to find a low-rent home or apartment! Low-rent places are pretty much non-existant, right now, in New Orleans. But rather than understand that applicants won't find a house or apartment for less than about $795 a month, FEMA keeps the idiotic "housing search" requirement intact. It saddens me and leaves me disheartened by the U. S. government because it seems that FEMA is out to do in the honest people while failing to stop the fraud that is supposedly plaguing the agency. I realize the need for guidelines, but when those guidelines fail the people who are trying to do the right things, the people who are honestly trying to piece their lives back together, then something has to change. A lot has been done to help New Orleans and Katrina survivors, but I also want the world to know that there are many walls we continue to face when it comes to the federal government.
While my family is back in our "struggling to pay the rent and the utilities" mode, I also realize that we're blessed to at least be able to get by. We're back home, we have a roof over our heads, and we're able to be online. We'll be okay, in the end, and we're looking ahead to continuing to move forward in 2007.