Thursday, June 29, 2006

New Pet law! :)


Again from WDSU:

" A new law will require all cities and parishes to create an evacuation plan for pets"

Whatever happened to the looters?

The days following Katrina were awful no matter where you were. They were filled with frustration, anger, despair, and a feeling of complete helplessness.

Like millions of others, I was angered not only at the awful response, the dead people, the dead animals, the chaos. But also at the looting. I can understand taking food but TVs, alcohol, and other luxuries crossed the line. And of course the violence that led to more deaths, slowed the already slow relief efforts even further, and scared volunteers away away from New Orleans.

Take a minute to remember how bad it was.

Well at least some of the looters are being forced to pay now.

From WDSU:
"Three people convicted of hauling away liquor, wine and beer from a grocery store after Hurricane Katrina were sentenced today to 15 years in prison."
Which in isolation seems a bit excessive (15 years), but somehow, someway, the message must be sent that the next time a storm hits (or terrorist attack, or earthquake, or???) we will not allow looting and violence to worsen an already horrible situatuion.

What are the odds? Ten Million to one?

Wow, 10 months after Katrina, (well closer to 9 since she found it June 4th--which coincidentally was her anniversary, a Bay St. Louis woman found her wedding dress.

From the Sun Herald:
"...On her June 4 anniversary, she was poking around the only house still standing on her street when she made the priceless find. She glimpsed what turned out to be a fabric flower through a section of pulled-up flooring."
and later:
"After soaking and washing, the wedding dress came out in good shape.

"I don't know if it fits now after all the Vienna sausages and MREs. Those were the staples for a little while," she said.

No matter the fit, she is thrilled to have the dress back in her possession.

"It's treasure," she said. "Everything you find is treasure.""

Which goes to prove the truth is strnager than fiction.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dispatches from the Edge

I am ristening to Anderson Cooper's Dispatches from the Edge: A memoir of war, disaster, and survival. It is much better than I expected. Indeed it is very good, but very short. It has many interesting, and often sad, stories (from family deaths, to stories from war torn nations).

Probably more than anyone else, Anderson Cooper told the world the Katrina Story. I have wanted to thank him for it, but never did. Maybe buying the book was my way.

In the book he again reminds everyone of the awful response to Katrina. I got mad all over again.

The book may not be one of the best ever, but the chapter on Katrina alone makes the purchase worthwhile.

Definitely recommended!

Minnesota Help

Not only is Dr. Bob from MN, but also the state has sent thousands of volunteers.

From the Laurel Leader-Call
"Part of Minnesota Katrina Relief, the group is made up of teens and adults from United Baptist Church and Elim Mission Church of Cokato and St. John’s Catholic of Darwin.

“We’ve sent down one team a month since December,” said Steve Stahl, youth pastor of United Baptist Church. “We’ve been helping primarily in Waveland, Bay St. Louis and Gulfport,"

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

3 in 10 volunteer

From NPR: (you can listen to the story there)

"Nearly 30 percent of Americans volunteer in social programs. The number went up again last year, and has been on the rise since the Sept. 11 attacks. Utah, Nebraska and Minnesota lead the way in terms of volunteerism. Women who have children volunteer more than anyone."

also cross-listed on BonaServes but since this has a larger readership, I figured I would cross list it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Before, during, and after pictures to music

Cool "video" of pictured before, during and after Katrina all from Biloxi/Gulfport area put to music of Three Doors down.

Thanks SW

Fingers crossed for less severe storms

"As the 2006 hurricane season gets underway, a NASA satellite map shows water is again warmer than normal in hurricane spawning grounds that extend off the Africa coast west to the Caribbean.

But this year's water temperatures are not as extreme as those spotted last year at this time"
The last sentence is the key, I hope!

Longest road begins with a single step

Need some good news? Here you go:

From WDSU via Yahoo:
"There are signs of a city coming back.

In the Bywater, the first public library reopened in New Orleans. In the Lower Ninth Ward, another church welcomed back its congregation. In the French Quarter, a high school graduation that almost wasn't took place."

YEAH! Remember, the longest journey begins with a single step.

Maybe some lessons were learned

Trying to find a silver lining, maybe some areas will be better prepared next time. This is about Ocean City Maryland.

Imagine a giant hurricane cutting OC off from the mainland.

From the Daily Times and DelmarvaNow:
"Ocean City is cut off and left to fend for itself. While not the most likely scenario, it is still the mission of the emergency services department to plan for and develop strategies to compensate if the course of events were to turn this corner.
The article goes on to describe a communications vehicle (OC-1) weighing 29,000 pounds that can operate for 8-10 hours without refueling (uh, there are 2 problems that still need to be addressed, but at least they are thinking about what could go wrong and focusing on communications.)
"As for receiving, OC1 has hookups into satellite, cellular, DirectTV and cable communication services. It has contracts with three separate cellular service providers for one very good reason.

"We didn't want to put all of our eggs in one basket," Dimaio said. "During Katrina, everything went out, so that's why we also have the satellite hookup."

Externally, OC1 is equipped with five cameras and a thermal scanner. Images captured can be printed, faxed or transmitted virtually anywhere through its own wireless Internet connection.""

Follow up to the article on post-Katrina Suicides

An update on last week's NY Times article on the three-fold increase on suicides in the New Orleans area:

From WDSU in New Orleans:

"Dr. Elmore Rigamer, medical director of the Associated Catholic Charities, said he believes the report is accurate. His organization has established free depression and suicide prevention assistance for people affected by the storm.

Anyone needing help managing post-Katrina stress or depression should call 866-891-2210"

Friday, June 23, 2006

Signs of Life Book

I got this through my Flickr account. Money is going to good casues (Handson and CommonGround) so if you have any pictures, I would definitely ask you to help out!

Read the email (and post) in its entirety here.

Hello! Eric & Lori here. We are currently assembling a book of photographs taken after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, tentatively titled: SIGNS OF LIFE.

The book will feature photos of the words and signs that were hand-written, spray-painted, and etched upon the houses, buildings and other objects in areas affected by these hurricanes.

As visitors and volunteers to the Gulf Coast region after the Hurricanes, we found ourselves drawn to these words. They were some of the first signs of life that began to appear once the flood waters started to recede. And, they reveal the powerful story of the people who wrote them.

If you have any photos that fit this theme, we'd love to see them! The photos can be taken ANYTIME after the hurricanes. If you know anyone else who's shot similar images, we’d love to have them submit photos as well. (Please send us the URL if the images are already on the internet, or see below how to send them to us. If your images are on Flickr, please tag them with "Signs of Life Book", so we can see them. Don't forget to keep the quotes!!)
We've set up a Flickr account, where we’ve posted our own photos, so you can see what kind of images we are searching for. It's H E R E.

Please note that ALL the proceeds from the sales of "Signs of Life" will be donated to two organizations still providing active volunteer work in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: Common Grounds Collective & Hands On Gulf Coast.

Because all the proceeds are going to non-profits, we regret that we can't offer you any payment for your photograph. You will, however, receive photo credit and possibly discount pricing on the book.

We hope you’ll agree to participate. The deadline for all submissions is July 15th. We will have the book ready for online purchase at the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Please see below for submission requirements and more detailed information.

Enthusiastically yours,

Eric Brown:
Lori Baker:

Come on, do it!!

Winter Wonderland in Biloxi?

Yeah, it is the beginning of summer, but I was sent this video and it is well done and is about Biloxi and even Handson, so it gets included regardless of the calendar.

See, I told you it was well done!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

HandsonNetwork's Blog

Not sure how I missed this before, but I had...just found it...

Hands On Blog is a weblog dedicated to everything related to volunteerism, healthy communities and citizen action.

You can also sort it to have only Gulf Coast activities listed. For instance both Usher and President Bush have been "recent" visitors.

Dark Water Rising

Dark Water Rising is a film on the animal rescuers (i.e. heros) who saved thousands of animals in and around New Orleans. A one hour DVD is now on sale. From the FilmBaby website:
"Over 50,000 dogs and cats were left behind in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The pets (mostly dogs) that survived the flood were locked in houses and chained to fences without food and water for up to six weeks.

A small group of brave rescuers from around the world risked their lives to sledgehammer down doors, brave toxic floodwaters and dodge corrupt cops in a race against time to rescue up to 10,000 trapped and starving animals.

They discovered widespread scenes of horrific torture, death, disease, neglect, and thoughtless abandonment of dogs. They broke the case to the FBI of sadistic police officers who needlessly tortured and shot over 20 innocent dogs at three schools in the St. Bernard Parish area.

Some rescuers worked with the official rescue organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), while others joined a more aggressive rescue outfit, code named Winn Dixie.

This film also tells uplifting stories of hope and survival as pets are reunited with their owners while other lucky pets find loving new homes.

These hard earned lessons will help our nation understand the need for animal evacuation plans in natural disasters.

Join award winning filmmaker, Mike Shiley, for a behind-the-scenes look at the grim reality of the life and death struggles on the toxic streets of New Orleans."

There is also a DarkWaterRising website (although parts are still under contruction) that includes a trailer for the film.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A note on post Katrina Suicides from Dr. Bob

From the NY Times:
June 21, 2006
A Legacy of the Storm: Depression and Suicide
Officials say the suicide rate in New Orleans is close to triple what it was before Hurricane Katrina struck.

From Dr. Bob:
"This message itself is depressing, even if it were only happening in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the same phenomenon--a Katrina induced crisis in a mental health care "system" that was already defective before the storm uncovered its shortcomings--exists all along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi as well. It hits "the least, the lost, and the left out" of society the hardest.

The aftermath(s) of Katrina are not over. Keep hoping and praying for these people, for the continued strength to rise up and above this.

The journey is yet a long one, and (to quote Robert Frost): "There are miles to go before [we] sleep" -- BOB

Mississippi, but not completely Katrina, related

I debated including this. At first when I heard the story I did not know where Belzoni was (mid state towards the MS river) but the abject poverty there is much like that we found closer to the coast and in the end I figured it was more important for people to hear the story than to not include it since Katrina did not cause it. It is not an indictment of just MS or just the South, since there is no doubt that the same report could be made in thousands and thousands of locations around the country or the world. Sure things are getting better, but the effort is FAR from done.

From NPR:
"Our story starts with those historic hearings -- and ends in Belzoni, Miss. It's the seat of Humphreys County, still one of the poorest counties in one of the poorest states in the United States. The median household income is around $20,000, and about one-third of the residents receive food stamps.

It's also one of the places where, nearly 40 years ago, Clayton and his guide, Kenneth Dean -- then a young civil rights activist -- went to chronicle the people who were "still hungry in America."

We return to Belzoni, with Kenneth Dean as our guide as well. Not surprisingly, the Mississippi Delta town continues to struggle with poverty."

Also highly recommended is the "Teacher's tale". It is an "essay" by a Belzoni HS teacher. It not only tells of the academic struggles but also the racial divide that still exists.
"No one in Belzoni, white or black, would claim to be a racist, but there are essentially two different societies in Belzoni. There is the white society, the society of the Varsity restaurant and Guaranty Bank and the annual World Catfish Festival, and there is the black society, the society of the Humphreys County School District and Little Wimps Barbecue and Fisk Street. Individuals pass between these worlds, and yet they remain divided."
And later:
"Ultimately, my students are cheated: They work hard, and their teachers work hard, but there is no compensation for an upbringing in an environment that is, to put it politely, starving for literacy. There is not a single bookstore in Humphreys County.

Poverty breeds illiteracy. Belzoni is poor, and so it is illiterate. This is not meant as a pejorative: What my students lack in academic ability is, at least in my eyes, compensated by a spark and a creativity that I have never seen before in my life."

Definitely worth a read!

It is a sad reminder that poverty, whether racially based or not, is still well entrenched in many parts of the US and that this poverty has a much greater burden on minorities. (and to think this is still true 47 years after Black Like Me was written. We have a long ways to go to have equal opportunities for all.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

An interesting consequence of Katrina

Along with the destruction and suffering, Katrina brought more diversity.

From the Austin (TX) Statesman:
"In a state where the U.S. Census Bureau said only 1.7 percent of the populace was Hispanic in 2004, the new store with shelves full of Spanish-labeled foods is another sign of how the worst storm in Mississippi history has changed the coastal culture, perhaps forever."
And later:

"Hispanic workers are doing most of the work in recovery and cleanup," said Bill Chandler, president of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance. "I think a majority of the residents of the coast really appreciate the work that they are doing."

Most? mmm...hard to believe. Maybe the most on the big jobs, but if you count all the work people are doing on their own homes, I find that claim to be hard to believe.

"Until the recent influx, Mississippi was among the least Hispanic states in the country.

The Census Bureau estimated that the state had 49,000 Hispanic residents in 2004, or 1.7 percent of the population, ranking it 46th of the 50 states...."

Bridge to be done by 2008

From the Sun Herald:

"MDOT and GC Constructors signed the notice to proceed on the U.S. 90 bridge over Biloxi Bay on Friday. Those contract documents start the clock ticking on the $338.6 million project. The contractor promises to open two lanes of traffic by Nov. 13, 2007, and complete the bridge by April 16, 2008."
And the good news: it will have a bike/pedestrian lane!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Pictures from Hands-on Indonesia

AAI Marc + Marc
AAI Marc + Marc,
originally uploaded by HandsOnYogya.
Marc and TC have uploaded some pictures of getting settled in Indonesia. They are of course looking for volunteers, so check out

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bay St. Louis says thank-you!

From the Seattle Times:
"After the disaster hit, taking the lives of his in-laws, Hines took several months off work to devote himself to volunteer efforts. Floodwaters washed away homes in a six- to eight-block swath along the Gulf, leaving only concrete slabs. He began by collecting housewares for families moving into temporary FEMA trailers, then turned to rebuilding homes, including the McCullums'.

At Friday's concert, he spoke of the vast sense of suffering in the Gulf region — "the endlessness of it all" — as well as of hope and the gratifying sense of connection the tragedy has created between people.

The McCullums thanked the Edmonds and Port Townsend communities.

"Without you, we don't know where we'd be," said Rayceille McCullum"

A sad story with a happy ending

Barbaro is not the only horse on the mend:

From the NY Times:

"When Kaye Harris, the owner of a pony farm in St. Rose, La., turned into her driveway one afternoon last December, she saw something that delivered a jolt of terror. A pit bull terrier, adopted after Hurricane Katrina, was lunging at one of her ponies, an appaloosa named Molly. The dog was ripping Molly's jaw off."

"Harris went to the veterinary hospital at Louisiana State University, where she persuaded doctors to try to save Molly. Last week, veterinarians at L.S.U. announced they had successfully fitted a prosthesis just below the knee of Molly's right foreleg."

"After the operation, Molly was taken to the prosthesis center. Children with medical conditions like spina bifida who were being fitted with orthotics flocked to her, amazed at the horse who was getting a metal leg.

"She's changed my mind looking at any animal from here on out," Mr. Mara said. "I'll tell you that.""

Note this was first published May 15, 2006

Life in a FEMA trailer and much more from the NY Times

From the NY Times
"If you were to fly over rural Hancock County here, you would see more than 9,000 of them, white rectangles clumped in sun-bleached parks and scattered in piney woods like pieces of a trashed picket fence. Pick any one, and contained within that FEMA trailer are lives in claustrophobic suspension."
The story, which is part of a series on the rebuilding of the region, centers on the Shiyous from Laleshore MS but could be about any of the thousands still living in trailers (mind you the numbers way understate the true damage as many are living with other family members and friends and others have just moved on).

"Ms. Shiyou hurries through her family's FEMA trailer back story, which is extraordinary, but here, mundane: Returning to a home that was miles from shore but destroyed, then moving like nomads, from a gymnasium to a warehouse to a tent to a FEMA trailer encampment for five months. Then, finally, back to their property, into this FEMA trailer on their former front lawn, where they have lived since March."
"...they plan to start building next month, and with luck will be out of the trailer by Christmas..."

Reread that--"with luck"---wow. Sad but true.

For the previous articles of this series

June 7 about the difficulty in recovering boats (or anything else) that were blown inland.
June 11- A brightspot in MS--A fair in Biloxi!
Pictures of RT 90--with audio-

The series is by Dan Berry (who I am 99% sure is a SBU grad).

Thanks to Dr. Bob for pointing this one out to me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Statue was found!

The Fisherman statue was found, although it was in pieces.

"Sometime between Sunday and Tuesday, the golden fisherman had been taken from Point Cadet and sliced into five pieces. Thanks to a tip called in to the Mobile County Sheriff's Office, authorities found the statue, and grand larceny suspect Herman Alan Hicks.

They also found the apparent reason the golden statue was in Alabama.

"Indirectly we understand that he's been coming over to this area and collecting scrap metals and taking them on back and selling them....""

An article and pictures are available on the City of Biloxi website.

Something we don't want to think about,

originally uploaded by Spirits Mom.
While we may not want to think about it, there are still thousands of dogs and cats awaiting adoption in the aftermath of Katrina. People were not the only victims.

If you can help (even if it is just by donating time or money) please do so.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Who would steal this? How awful

At the "point"
Statue at the "point",
originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
If stealing a statue was not bad enough, it is a statue that has become a landmark for the Biloxi area. Indeed here is a picture that I took of it when I was in Biloxi.

From the City of Biloxi's website:

"Biloxi’s Golden Fisherman, a 16-foot statue that once stood on Point Cadet in tribute to the seafood industry, has apparently been stolen from the former site of the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum.

The city-owned statue, which weighed more than a ton, was last seen mid-afternoon Saturday near the museum site, where city workers had moved it a week ago. The statue, which was insured, was damaged and knocked off its pedestal by Hurricane Katrina.
“How someone could have the gall to do something like this on the weekend of the Blessing of the Fleet just appalls me,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said this afternoon"

Better Hurricane Forecasting?

From the WashingtonPost:
"Meteorologists have made steady improvements in predicting the path of a hurricane, cutting errors roughly in half over the past 15 years or so. But they have long struggled to predict a storm's strength, a critical element because it determines who should and who will evacuate.

This hurricane season, forecasters have hopes of improving their record in predicting storm intensity.

A new computer model, developed by the Environmental Modeling Center... will be at the disposal of forecasters at the National Hurricane Center here.

Built with $3 million in federal funds, according to Surgi, the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast Model is expected to improve forecasts of hurricane intensity, size and rainfall."

Better information will lead to better planning and fewer deaths, so let's hope this works!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

From HODR--Indonesia!

From HandsOnDisaster Response (Scuba's report)
"This is a very preliminary report. TC and I will continue to seek information and provide facts over the upcoming days.

Our hotel (Ishiro) is in an unaffected area of Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogjakarta - or Joeg ja for short). We found this college town to be virtually fully functioning with only random pockets of damage. All services needed can be found here. Supplies, accommodations, food water, shopping, internet, transportation are all offered. We have been told that it might be difficult to find hotel accommodations, but haven't found that to be the case....TC and I have been touring the area with the help of a knowledgeable, fluent English speaking, taxi driver cum guide named Suparman. We have driven through Bantul and Klaten extensively, stopping dozens of times to speak with health care providers, church officials, and villagers, as well as visiting several hospitals and one large distribution center....

When viewed from a distance the number of 60,000 homes destroyed does seem to pale in comparison to the mega-disasters we have seen in the past year and a half. It is an altogether different matter however upon driving through village after leveled village. Regardless of the total number of deaths, destroyed homes, etc., these people have still lost their homes, their businesses, their villages, and their loved ones. It is our opinion that just as every disaster differs from every other in some way, a "smaller" disaster would not seem to warrant no response as much as it would an appropriately scaled deployment, applied in an equally fitting manner.

(out of order)This need not be a "massive" deployment. If we had a consistent number of 10-15 volunteers (depending on the number of sites we decide to set up) for 2, maybe 3 months, we would be through the debris removal phase and possibly be into the rebuilding phase. The work would be hard and hot but well within the reach of "non-skilled' vols who simply want to help."

MUCH more available here.

From an email from Dave Campbell:
" We are excited at the opportunity to help and look forward to seeing
some of you here, SOON! We anticipate this will be a 2-3 month event
for our volunteers.


OK GUYS, THIS IS INDONESIA. You will be in the middle of a village
in the middle of a disaster zone in the middle of a developing
country. Please allow your expectations to be realistic. To say the
least, it is hot and dirty, the work is hard, the traffic is
chaotic, and living conditions can be uncomfortable at times. You
will be living and working in a rural hamlet which sustained
extensive damage, in a country in which the majority of the
residents follow a relaxed form of Islam. Bearing all this in mind,
the recovery effort is being driven by a spirit of solidarity within
and between the villages, based on a model of communal action. We
believe this will be very much a "hands on" experience, and judging
by the response that TC and I have had from our neighbors so far,
the experiences gained will far exceed the hardships endured.

WHERE ARE YOU WORKING? We are living and working in a village called
Sawit, situated halfway between the cities of Yogyakarta and Bantul
in Central Java, Indonesia"

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Poor, Young, and Minorities hardest hit

The poor and young were the most likely to leave New Orleans (of course economocially that is what one would suspect. From the Census Dept. via USA Today:

"Hurricane Katrina drained the New Orleans metropolitan area of almost 40% of its residents and left the region with a whiter, wealthier and older population, according to the first Census Bureau estimates since the devastating flooding.

The special survey released today shows the New Orleans area, made up of seven parishes, became 73% white in the months after the hurricane Aug. 29, up from about 59% before the storm....The median age increased by about four years, and the median annual income rose from $39,793 to $43,447.

"This confirms what some people thought: There was a selective out-migration of poorer minorities," says William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution.

The survey provides only estimates and is not official."


Hammering out new housing
Mississippi apartment owners confront labor shortages, rising wages, slow insurance payments in push to get damaged units livable again

“The rest of my family, their houses were completely underwater,” said Edelen, who grew up on the Gulf Coast. Only one of her extended family members had a house that was still livable after the hurricane, and about half a dozen relatives moved in there, said Edelen.

Affordable housing is critical to the economic revitalization of the storm-struck areas. Thousands of apartments were damaged or demolished by the hurricane, shrinking the coast’s housing supply so much that rents have soared by 25% or more in many areas. And that’s when residents can find permanent housing. As many as 10,000 people on the Gulf Coast were still living in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers as of March, officials have said.

10,000? Seems VERY low.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Quote of the week

"In the framework of nothing, slices of Milk Way become a great gift."
I am ristening to Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. I had read it years ago, but bought it as an audio book last week. It is so so good! I really wish every person on earth would read it as a reminder of how bad things were (and still are to a degree).

Much of it takes place in New Orleans and Biloxi. Of course it was in 1959, but it does remind us that the playing field can still be far from level and gives a better perspective of what many of those still there have lived through.

It is hard to believe but it has now been 9+ months

Over nine months and look at the destruction that remains. The pictures were taken last week in and around New Orleans. Mind-boggling.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Drowning of Volunteer in BSL

Sad news from St Rose de Lima Church in Bay St. Louis:
"Dan was a wonderful human being," Father Sebastian Myladiyil said. "This is a great loss, not only for his family and Americorps, but for all of us too."
"It is really sad and unbelievable," Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre said. "We cannot express how grateful we are for all of the volunteers in our city. This is a sad day for all of us. The city would like to pass on our condolences to all of Dan Kivel's family and friends."
A website devoted to him is