"'I could never imagine in my wildest dreams I would be homeless, clothesless and jobless all at the same time,' Ariana said. 'During all of this time, my baby was 8 months old and learning to walk and talk in this little FEMA trailer.'
Before Hurricane Katrina, Ariana was paying the mortgage on her mother's house, as well as renting a house for her and her two sons."
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
In the article it says 46,000 families are still living in FEMA trailers. Which is down substantially but still too high.
FEMA trailers will undergo testing- NOLA.com:
"A federal health agency will begin testing the air quality of FEMA trailers next week in a sampling of the tens of thousands of units provided to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, officials said Thursday.
The testing, scheduled to start Dec. 21 and to take five weeks, will check the level of formaldehyde, a commonly used chemical that many trailer residents have blamed for health problems."
Saturday, December 08, 2007
"Kevin Everett is walking on his own at a Houston rehab center, the latest significant progress by the Buffalo Bills tight end in his remarkable recovery from a serious spinal cord injury. 'He doesn't have a full natural stride but, yeah, he's walking,' a person close to the family told The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of Everett's status."
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Hands On Disaster Response:
"After 60 days in Pisco Playa, Hands On Disaster Response (HODR) continues to thrive! Our projects have grown and changed and volunteers continue to pour in, working urgently to assist this community with its continued recovery. Here’s a look at what we’ve accomplished in the past thirty days."
"Right now, Pitt's primary goal is to help rebuild New Orleans. On Monday, the actor announced plans to build 150 eco-friendly homes in the Louisiana city's Lower 9th Ward, an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In the storm's aftermath, the community's housing stock was largely demolished, leaving many of its residents living in trailers.
Video Watch King tour the 9th Ward »"
Monday, December 03, 2007
"Young chimps outperformed university students in memory tests devised by Japanese scientists. The tasks involved remembering the location of numbers on a screen, and correctly recalling the sequence. The findings, published in Current Biology, suggest we may have under-estimated the intelligence of our closest living relatives."I have long thought that...indeed, I often wonder whether Bonnie (the family dog) is not smarter than me. She might not know finance as well as I do, but she can differentiate millions of smells better than I can, etc. I guess we (humans) sort of rigged the game when we devised the IQ tests.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
SunHerald.com : Gautier Elementary: Back from the storm:
"When schools reopen after the Thanksgiving holiday, second- through fifth-graders at Gautier Elementary School will return to a building they have not attended for two years. For kindergarten and first-grade students, this will be the first time they will have classes at the school"
"...in the wrecked and darkened working-class neighborhoods just blocks from the waterfront glitter, those lights cast their colorful glare over an apocalyptic vision of empty lots and scattered trailers that is as forlorn as anywhere in Katrina's strike zone. 'At night, you can see the casino lights up in the sky,' Shirley Salik, 72, a former housekeeper at one of the casinos, said this month while standing outside her FEMA camper with her two dogs. 'But that's another world.' More than two years after the storm, the highly touted recovery of the Mississippi coast remains a starkly divided phenomenon."
Biloxi is the hardest place to understand of anywhere I have ever been. On one hand I know the casinos halp economy, but it makes me sick to see the recovery in some areas while only a little distance away, it is awful. While this picture is really old now, it sums up my thoughts better than anything. It is the Imperial Palace in E. Biloxi.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"While authorities have vowed to contain geological aftershocks from the dam, poor farmers worry about being swallowed up by landslides. The resulting tensions threaten to rekindle the bitter clashes that long dogged the project. 'Sometimes the ground rumbles and shakes, dogs bark, babies cry. It frightens us too,' said Xiang's neighbor, Su Gongxiang, showing his front door that will no longer shut."
Sunday, November 11, 2007
"The Federal Emergency Management Agency is barring employees from entering thousands of stored travel trailers over concerns about hazardous fumes, while more than 48,000 other trailers continue to be used by hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi. FEMA is advising employees not to enter any of the roughly 70,000 trailers in storage areas across the country, but the directive does not apply to other trailers still in use, agency spokeswoman Mary Margaret Walker said Thursday. 'It's common knowledge that formaldehyde emission levels rise when they are closed in the heat and humidity without any ventilation,' Walker said. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., accused FEMA of using a double standard, and said it 'defies logic' that occupied trailers are safer than those in storage. 'I don't really buy that argument,' she said in an interview. 'It makes no sense, in that most of these (occupied) trailers are closed up and locked during the day"
San Diego's 2-1-1 system had to take on 1,200 volunteers to handle the calls that came in that week.' Now national social-services groups, including the United Way, are turning the heat up on a national campaign to make the service universal throughout the United States. They're supporting legislation before Congress that would create a single federal-funding source and uniform requirements for service, bringing an end to the current patchwork approach."
"Mark and Traci Jones couldn't believe someone would slice open the dining tent at Urban Life Mission on Howard Avenue and steal another television, but that's what happened Thursday. By Friday morning, however, they were overwhelmed by the generosity of the people on the Coast. 'We've had four people come in so far and drop off three DVD (players),'"
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Providing housing for Greensburg volunteers | KSN.com - News, Weather, Sports - NBC - Wichita - Great Bend - Garden City - McCook - Kansas | Local News
Providing housing for Greensburg volunteers | KSN.com - News, Weather, Sports - NBC - Wichita - Great Bend - Garden City - McCook - Kansas | Local News
Blogged with Flock
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Blogged with Flock
Friday, November 02, 2007
"Here are photographs from the daylong dedication cermeonies surrounding the Biloxi Bay Bridge, held at the base of the bridge on Point Cadet in Biloxi, as well as images from the ribbon-tying ceremony conducted at the center of the bridge. Also included are early morning pre-ceremony photos of the bridge and Point Cadet Marina."
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
"Players and coaches are scheduled to work today in Greensburg, the town that was destroyed by a tornado in May. Deighton, volunteer coordinator for the South Central Kansas Tornado Recovery Organization, said the Shockers might help with mowing, painting and building a playground. Greensburg is 109 miles west of Wichita. 'Coach (Gene Stephenson) said to work them hard,' Deighton said. 'They're going to be filling in a lot of places where people need assistance"
Friday, October 26, 2007
"Running is much more time-efficient because you can get a good workout in
35 minutes," .....I am convinced that if I didn't run or work out, I
would go nuts"
" (There are) very big synergies there," he said. "You just feel good
about yourself (when you exercise). Going back to the Romans - they tied in
physical fitness to scholarly work. You can't just be one or just be the other.
I don't think it works." "
FTR, Anthony has already pointed there is no dount that I am nuts, so ????
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
"Asked by CNN where she would go, she replied, 'I have to find someplace to accept two dogs, two cats and a turtle.' Video Watch people staying with pets at refuge » Animals are allowed in Qualcomm Stadium, a nearby field and Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack."We are learning :)
"...attention is shifting to the federal government's performance, with this question uppermost: What have US agencies learned since their botched response to hurricane Katrina in 2005? ....'They do seem to have learned a lot from Katrina and the 2003 fires here,' says Richard Carson, an economics professor at University of California, San Diego, who studies governmental agency response to emergencies. 'They saw the fire coming and plotted it out and moved people out"
Saturday, September 29, 2007
"Like many Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, those of the Diocese of Biloxi are changing direction, and in order to reorganize the Office of Long Term Recovery, the office will close at end of business today and reopen in a month with its focus on rebuilding homes."
"Lawmakers are considering whether to set up a volunteer State Guard that could be called to active duty during emergencies. State Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, said the measure would result in “being prepared for an emergency at all times with a ready and able defense force.”"Even without, or maybe especially without, the militia aspect, a state response team sounds like a good idea.
Monday, September 17, 2007
"Two years later, and thanks to a massive relief effort based in Wayland, Luciano, 37, and her 15-year-old daughter Shelby are planning to move into a home of their own in Waveland, Miss., a small city adjacent to Bay St. Louis that was almost demolished by Katrina. Luciano will have to buy the land and pay for flood insurance, but the house will come compliments of 408 workers and at least 175 volunteers from Wayland to Waveland, or W2W, an organization of volunteers and construction companies that formed soon after the August 2005 hurricane to help Waveland, which was hard-hit by Katrina. The storm's most violent component, the eye wall, covered the coastal city that was then home to about 10,000."
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
"The most recent official statistics from the National Civil Defense Institute put the number of dead at 503, with 1,042 people injured. The earthquake destroyed 34,410 homes, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless. The institute announced on Sunday that it no longer expected to find any more survivors...."
Monday, August 20, 2007
"Hands On Disaster Response is accepting new members. If you would like to join, please use the form below to request an invitation from the network creator."What a cool site! Sort of like Facebook or Myspace but for Handson.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
"Two years after the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina and Rita, the Gulf Coast is still hurting. Tens of thousands still live in temporary housing. Schools are closed. Businesses are struggling. Continued neglect threatens to leave people poor and more at risk. With politicians... suffering from 'Katrina amnesia,' the current presidential candidates have a renewed chance to bring the Gulf Coast the help it needs. Let's make sure the new leadership in the White House recognizes that, even though the issue isn't on the front pages anymore, the recovery is NOT over."
"HODR Operations Director, Marc Young will be making a trip to Peru early next week to see if and how HODR can help in the disaster recovery efforts. Long-term volunteer Stefanie Chang who assisted Marc in setting up the Philippines project will be accompanying him and supporting our assessment efforts."
Friday, August 17, 2007
"We had just driven into the car park. The lights just banged out. The car just started jumping all over the place. Walls started falling all around us. People just beside us were hanging on to an electricity pole,” he told The Times. “It lasted two and a half minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. “I knew we were at the centre of it when it was happening because I have felt earthquakes before. People were shouting in doorways for their loved ones, pulling back rubble looking for loved ones,” he said. “It was just devastating, horrible.”"
Saturday, August 11, 2007
"FEMA has taken back $4.5 million in funding left over from the expired Project Recovery crisis counseling program in spite of repeated requests from state officials and legislators that the remaining funds be used for the Coast's beleaguered public mental-health treatment facilities. FEMA spokesman Eugene Brezany said that government officials insist on interpreting a rule in the Stafford Act, which governs FEMA's response to disasters, as meaning that they will not provide or assist with mental health treatment in any way for disaster victims."Is anyone surprised?
Friday, August 10, 2007
While it is debatable whether this is strictly hurricane related or not, it is a definite problem and there are enough Katrina references to warrant its inclusion:
And some more on Katrina recovery:
"It may be too early to say whether the flooding dealt a mortal blow to this community. A few pre-Katrina neighborhood anchors have returned, and lightened people's hearts....But it's clear that a place that was hardscrabble before, is even harder now..LOBET: American refineries have been running full bore, even before the 2005 hurricanes that took several offline, including Chalmette. To meet growing demand, refinery owners around the country have expanded capacity at existing plants rather than build new ones, in part because getting a permit for a new refinery is so difficult. Howard Feldman is with the American Petroleum Institute.
FELDMAN: Everybody wants the fuels, and nobody wants the refinery nearby. There are tradeoffs obviously.
LOBET: With plants running at capacity, equipment failures and accidental releases of pollutants are more common. Two years ago a federal judge in New Orleans ruled Chalmette refinery had released illegal amounts of benzene into the air more than 1200 times in the two preceding years."
"Ford gestures at the FEMA trailers that still edge out of driveways here. Empty houses once worth 110 thousand dollars, now offer themselves up for 40 thousand as sellers pray for a buyer, a miracle. He shows a visitor past his gutted-out house to where a small frame building lists sideways."
Monday, August 06, 2007
"During the week of August 26th, we will commemorate the 2-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This will also be a week when we honor our Hands On Gulf Coast Alumni. We invite all individuals who have volunteered with us in the past to join us during the week of the 26th - 31st as we participate in special service projects and other activities"I wish school weren't going then :(
Saturday, August 04, 2007
"Jason Banks got his trash hauled away, obtained a building permit, gutted his Ninth Ward home and was ready to renovate.But then, the brick house vanished, reduced to a slab in an unwanted demolition.
'I was heartbroken. I was in tears. I was furious,' he said."
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Some of you no doubt remember Chris from Handson-Biloxi. He wrote a report on the recovery in the Gulf. Definitely recommend you read it! (in fact i will cross list it on RandomTopics2 and BonaResponds' blogs)
One look in:
"...this presentation, which is about keeping volunteers engaged in long-term recovery is an opportunity to raise the awareness at a national level about the needs of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, provides me an excuse to work late and spend a lot of time reading documents about the state of recovery.Read Chris' blog entry here.
One interesting report I found...provides a broad overview of recovery, now 18 months underway, across Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Some areas have experienced explosive growth, while others whither under poor management and staggering losses."
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
"The state and federal governments are buying land along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to prevent future development and create a buffer zone against storms.This is somewhat surprising. 15,000 acres is not much but it is a start.
The three-phase plan, first started in Jackson County, is to convert formerly or currently developed private land into state-held beaches, wetlands and parks."
"The Biloxi City Council voted 6-1 to ask the Planning Commission to hold a hearing about rezoning the Tivoli Hotel property for casinos.
The property is on the north side of U.S. 90, lying between Casino Row and downtown Biloxi."
Friday, June 08, 2007
A look-in: (here is is talking about escaping a wild fire)
Disaster Recovery: Personal and Up Close:
"The good news is that if my family and I make it out alive, food isn't a problem. We can buy some at a grocery store. Water will be available in the rest room of our new shelter, probably a high school gymnasium. What will be a problem is the information--financial information, personal information, business information, and medical information--that we will need to rebuild our century lives.GREAT IDEA!
That was the genesis of the 'Get And Go' bag--something we can grab on the way out the door. (Our bag is actually a small fire-proof box.) If we have the luxury of more time, then we can add stuff from the FEMA and Red Cross lists plus our computer backup hard disk. The contents of the 'Get and Go' bag is coordinated with the contents of our safety deposit box. One of the problems encountered by New Orleans residents was that in many cases they couldn't access critical documents located in safe-deposit boxes for several weeks or more."
Thursday, June 07, 2007
"The structure will replace the bridge that connected Biloxi and Ocean Springs that was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.
Two lanes of the new bridge are expected to open Nov. 13, said Kim Sloan, public information officer for Mississippi Department of Transportation.
All six lanes and a shared bike and pedestrian path are expected to be finished April 16. "
Monday, June 04, 2007
"Insurance rates are the talk of the Mississippi Coast "While bad, they can get insurance so it is better than the alternative.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
"...the residents of Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian breathed sighs of relief and celebrated recently when a new $267 million span was opened, closing a two-mile gap created by the storm's savage fury in August, 2005.
The bridge was constructed in only 10 months, half the expected schedule. In the meantime, commuters had to take a 45-minute detour north to Interstate 10 to get to the other side of St. Louis Bay. Businesses suffered from the isolation, as did the spirit of local residents.
The opening, which comes at the beginning of another hurricane season, is 'major, psychologically,' a restaurant owner told the New York Times. 'It just feels like we're moving, making progress, we're going forward.'"
Saturday, June 02, 2007
"The bodies are no longer being dragged from houses and buildings toppled by Hurricane Katrina, but nearly two years later many in the medical community think the storm is still killing....Storm survivors are dying from the effects of both psychological and physical stress, from the dust and mold still in dwellings to financial problems to fear of crime, health experts and officials say."Crosslisted on BonaRespondsBlog.
Friday, June 01, 2007
When hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans it also ravaged a series of small towns. Nearly two years later they have faded from the spotlight but are still struggling to rebuild.
Katrina left a trail of damage from Mobile, Alabama, through the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi with their casinos all the way along the coast to the Louisiana-Texas state line.
Recovery has been 'at best, uneven' according to a recent report by the Rockefeller Foundation. Many towns, including Pass Christian, Mississippi, face a particular challenge because of their small tax base."
Friday, May 25, 2007
The Buffalo News: Buffalo/Erie County:
"When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast almost two years ago, they were there to answer the call for help.and later:
When an earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Java on May 27, 2006, they arrived three days later to start the rebuilding process.
And the next time a disaster occurs, they will be there again to pick up the shattered pieces and weather the storm.
These people are the fabric of Hands On Worldwide, a U.S.- based nonprofit organization with Western New York leadership. Its chief executive officer and co-founder is Amherst native David Campbell."
"Hands On USA was launched less than a year later when the organization sent more than 1,500 volunteers to Biloxi, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina. This group included significant Western New York participation from student and faculty volunteers from St. Bonaventure University and Alfred State College."
Cross posted on BonaResponds blog as well
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Hands On Blog » Blog Archive » Dear Friends…:
"I am very excited about the work and trajectory of Hands On Gulf Coast and know that we are setting ourselves up to be a long term, sustained presence in this community. It has been a privilege to work with such an inspired and committed group of individuals. So many people have given this the best of themselves towards this effort, and I know will continue to do so. Our little experiment in the Gulf has shown me that it is possible for this many people to come together and work and love so hard to build and sustain something they believe in. A place whose message ministers to our souls in the deepest sense and keeps people coming back."Follow the link, there is much more!
Bye Carrie, you will be missed!
Saturday, May 19, 2007
"The neatly manicured affordable retirement home is on the eastern tip of Biloxi's $36 million Hope VI community. A ribbon cutting ceremony officially opened the Biloxi Housing Authority's 76 unit living center for area retirees."
Thursday, May 17, 2007
"About 38 percent of people who were evaluated in New Orleans emergency rooms have post-traumatic stress disorder, a study has found.
That's 10 times the prevalence of the disorder in the general population.
Researchers said that Hurricane Katrina was one of the most significant natural disasters in U.S. history."
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
"Harrah’s Entertainment and world-renowned singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett joined Mayor A.J. Holloway and Gov. Haley Barbour this morning to unveil plans for Margaritaville Casino & Resort, a $700-million-plus investment that will be on Casino Row in Biloxi and represents the single largest investment in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina. The company expects this to be the first phase of a development that may cost more than $1 billion.
Construction of Margaritaville is expected to begin this summer with a target completion date of Spring 2010."
"Bishop Thomas J. Rodi says he is deeply saddened by a lawsuit filed by more than 100 members of Holy Family Parish, formerly St. Paul Parish in Pass Christian. The suit, filed May 1, names Rodi, the Diocese of Biloxi and Holy Family pastor the Rev. Dennis Carver as defendants.
The bishop declined an interview Friday, but his official response, 900-plus words, was published in Friday's edition of the Gulf Pine Catholic, the diocese's official newspaper. We reprint it with permission today at the Sun Herald Web site.
The lawsuit asks the court to compel the diocese to rebuild the church on the beach and get an accounting of donations made to the church after Hurricane Katrina."
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
SUN HERALD South Mississippi's Newspaper
Posted on Tue, Apr. 24, 2007
PROJECT RECOVERY DESERVES A REPRIEVE
We wholeheartedly endorse the sentiments of Dr. Robert Titzler, medical director of Bethel Free Medical Clinic in Biloxi, as expressed in a letter published on Friday:
"April 27 will be a sad and disappointing day for hundreds of residents of South Mississippi. On that day FEMA will defund Project Recovery, and this valuable and effective program will be forced to shut down. Project Recovery has been helping people find ways to cope with the stress caused by Katrina. It has done so in an effective and efficient manner by providing free crisis counseling services... at sites other than the mental health clinics.
"For the past year, I have been working at the free medical clinic located in the Bethel Lutheran Church ... . Over 80 percent of the persons who seek help here are suffering the effects of profound personal losses, sleeplessness, homelessness, anxiety about what the future holds for them, and domestic strife. While these are common issues in all communities and families, they are not usually complicated and exacerbated by the worst natural disaster in American history and in the face of a serious deficiency of readily available help in coping. Our coastal communities are, in my view, facing an epidemic of post-traumatic stress syndrome, the dimensions of which are only now, 19 months after Katrina's visit, beginning to be appreciated. In no way is this aspect of the 'crisis' over. The federal government, through FEMA, appears to have decided that it is over, and that Project Recovery is no longer necessary or effective. I want to bear witness and testimony to the contrary."
Project Recovery should be granted a reprieve."
Saturday, March 31, 2007
"It is time to start thinking about the thousands of people still living in FEMA trailers as internally displaced persons and get them out of temporary housing now, according to a recent study by the International Medical Corps.
Their plight is not unlike the nearly 25 million internally displaced people worldwide and in many cases is worse, said Dr. Lynn Lawry, director of evidence-based research at IMC, which conducted the study last year."
"Some of the study's findings: --More than half of the respondents (almost 400 in both states) met the criteria for some sort of major depressive disorder, according to the study. --Domestic violence among internally displaced residents was nearly triple the national average."
"Some of the study's findings:
--More than half of the respondents (almost 400 in both states) met the criteria for some sort of major depressive disorder, according to the study.
--Domestic violence among internally displaced residents was nearly triple the national average."
Monday, March 26, 2007
"Wilson and Yolanda Jones, an assistant professor of chemistry at Alcorn State University, had teamed up to offer the class 'The Impact of Katrina on Technology and Infrastructure.' Wilson brought 12 students to the coast for a month of studies in the field. Jones' students were here for a week and completed the majority of their coursework back in the classroom.
What made the program even more innovative was the division of time and labor: Students went to class a couple of days a week. The other days they labored with volunteers working from First Presbyterian Church of Bay St. Louis - cleaning yards, clearing debris and repairing and painting the homes of hurricane victims."
Thursday, March 22, 2007
" This evening, Mimi and I saw the Imax film, "Hurricane on the Bayou" at the Omnitheater here in St. Paul. The filming began three months before Katrina and was intended to show the importance of protecting and restoring the wetlands and Bayous that were created by the natural flow of the Mississippi 'mud' into the Gulf. Man's attempt to 'improve', control, and develop the outlet to the great river by means of levees, canals, and the city and port of New Orleans, had lead to the brink of disaster. Completion of the production of this film was 'interrupted' by the arrival of Katrina, a storm just made to prove that disaster was not only possible, but already here. The film-makers decided to include naked and overt proof - graphic images of the destructive capacity of a hurricane on communities exposed to danger by society's "improvements". Most of what I saw in the film about New Orleans and the Louisiana bayous was not new to my eyes. I have seen it all , and more, in microcosm, in every square block of east Biloxi, Waveland-Bay St.Louis, Pass Christian and the bayous of the Jordan and Wolf rivers in Mississippi. What was revealing is how we all want our documentaries to be cinematic, beautiful, dramatic, and above all, simple and straight-forward. "Hurricane on the Bayou" is all of these; where it fails, is in not portraying recovery, true-to-life. A precarious interplay between INSPIRATION and EXASPERATION, has not been "simple and straight-forward" at all. Not for the survivors, not for the volunteers, and not for the nation.
Recovery, and the issues it has uncovered and laid bare, are so complex as to defy comprehension, especially for those who have not been able to witness the disaster scene firsthand. Processing the hundreds of stories leads to clarification - sometimes - and to confusion at other times. Listening to individual persons, and taking their journeys to heart, demands much more from volunteers than any description or discussion we may offer of the structural damage wrought by hurricane Katrina. The "education" we get is not based on the relative ability of "structures"- houses, buildings, bridges - to withstand the 'forces of nature', but on the ability (or inability) of human persons to rise above loss, pain, and isolation.
INSPIRATION AND EXASPERATION is, I am thinking, a fair phrase on which to attempt summarizing eighteen long and painful months of disaster relief effort. Everyday on the Gulf Coast is an odd mixture of both, the elevating and the disappointing. When I write these letters - actually a personal 'journal' which I share with you - I try to give a balanced viewpoint; the closest I can come to this is by retelling the stories of real individual persons, as I heard, or witnessed, them.
"Real individual persons"- persons like you and I - are, by nature, imperfect - we want our lives to inspire, but often they exasperate. Warts and all, here are some from my Annals of a Katrina Volunteer : 19th Month AK (after Katrina):
MARCH 5th: Twelve recruits and I arrived at Roy's place on a temperate, sunny, windless spring day. Yes, spring has already come to the Jordan River Bayou in Bay St. Louis, and there are flowers on some trees and shrubs. The recruits come on faith. I am trusted to bring them to a place where a needy and worthy survivor of Katrina will be helped by their willing hearts and willing hands. Youth, energy, maturity, compassion, and sheer muscle will all be necessary to reach our goal : brighten Ray's outlook for the future. That is not, of course, exactly what I told these recruits when I petitioned them to participate, but I believe they will understand after they have met and worked alongside Roy, and heard his story , from the "horse's mouth", straight.
Y'all might recall my telling of Roy's plight and physical disabilities in prior letters, I won't repeat the details. Suffice it to say that a series of health setbacks, forced early retirement, and 35 feet of Katrina's seawater surge have forever altered his, his wife's and his sister-in-law's future.
This Wednesday, the remnants of the many machines, equipment, motors, pumps, tanks, boats, dock and deck which Roy planned to rehabilitate, repair, clean up or overhaul, lie like so much flotsam and jetsome of the tide, scattered over and around the property. A hundred or more volunteers have come and gone in the past 18 months, and have cleaned, repaired and reconstructed his home on stilts, and made it liveable for this family of three - all of them disabled. Today, we 13 volunteers, have come to clean and straighten up the yard, and hopefully, to bring a little more clarity and joy back into Roy's life.
Those who have not "walked in his shoes" will give this place a once over glance and quickly judge the owner to be a "junk collector" and his property " a blight on the neighborhood". Even among the chosen 12, there are already murmurs of "what are we doing here, wasting our time ?". In six arduous hours of pulling, dragging, carrying, shifting, lifting, triaging, rearranging, and , yes, trashing somethings as well, the question posed gets answered. Not by the manual labor itself, but by taking individual breaks, standing or sitting next to Roy in his wheelchair/scooter as he admires the hard work going on around him, and listening. Roy is a great storyteller - speaking the truth behind the facts of his difficult, but bravely faced life - and engaging the listener(s). Reluctantly, he also hints at the wrenching feeling he must process as he watches, and tacitly agrees to, the rearranging and /or trashing of his dream projects in the yard. I am impressed by the determined, yet gentle way in which most of the 12 recruits convince Roy that what we are doing here today is in his, and his family's, best interests. This requires a giant leap of faith, and trust, and the ability to accept the losses, and move on. It has not been fun for Roy to look everyday for 18 months at the brokeness of his immediate environment, and still be willing to get up out of bed the next day and do what little he could endure, to "fix it up" and make things a little better. Without the help of hundreds of strangers with their willing hearts and hands, Roy would have succumbed to exasperation and despair. But what has happened, and is happening right now, is, in Roy's own words of gratitude "an inspiration and encouragment to go on".
At the end of the day, all of the chosen 12, even the skeptics who wanted to put "everything in the trash heap and not save a damn thing that will just have to be moved another time", in their tired and aching bodies, covered with grimy dirt, walking to their van in mud covered shoes, sipping the last bottle of water, each one turned aside to find Roy one more time, up in the house, sitting with his grandson. They entered, one by one, not to say, "Goodbye, we are leaving now" , but to thank Roy for the privilege of being here to help , and to wish him happiness in the months ahead. It is not the first time I have seen tears in Roy's eyes, and I am sure it will not be the last time I see tears in ours. Now they will go and tell others in their volunteer group just exactly "what we were doing here today, [not] wasting our time".
This is not an isolated or embellished narrative report of a one time event. These are real people and real events. More importantly they have happened thousands of times over, since August 29, 2005. Only the names and places are changed, but all testify to the heights to which the human spirit, in service to others, can ascend. Here is the INSPIRATION . Slowly but steadily permeating and overcoming the EXASPERATION , the waiting, the dead ends, the lack of attention, the immobilizing fear of further loss or failure. Nineteen months and counting. Read the attached editorial comment and insight from a newspaper editorialist. The struggle - to put all the pieces back together again, just as they were, and recreate the same vibrant, hospitable, and caring communities of people,living in the same houses, in the same neighborhood, on the same slab of earth - this needs to end . It is just not possible, not even if the entire treasury of the nation were at our disposal.
For 18 months, the one question which I have been repeatedly asked whenever I return from Mississippi is : " Are things getting any better down there ?" An accurate and straight-forward answer escapes me. About all I can honestly say is "Yes, and No ".
YES, with the continued inspiration from the labor and presence of volunteers, some residents are finding joy with their families in their rebuilt homes; schools and parks are reopening, and sports and cultural events are happening.
NO, with the homeless, the displaced, failure of insurance, impoverishment, health care, insufficent federal funding, land and resource takeover by casinos, resorts and condominium high rises.
It will never be the same, but it will be that persons will find a way to be grateful for life itself, changed forever, but still life.
Thank God for the Roys, the Lees, the Tonys, the Judys, the Mamies, the Teresas, the Joes, the Mary Frances' and all those other inspiring people who have risen out of the ruins.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
"The Army Corps of Engineers and others plan to begin demolishing abandoned houses in the city in about two weeks. Property on the verge of demolition is listed in the newspaper. Homeowners have 30 days from that notice to clean up the propert"
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
"The parish wants unused trailers moved out starting Thursday, but more than 2,200 families will get an extension until June 15."
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
"President Bush is scheduled to visit the Mississippi Coast and New Orleans this week, according to a report in The Sun Herald newspaper.
The newspaper quotes a news advisory issued by the White House. It says the President is set to arrive on Thursday."
"Yet, almost two years after Hurricane Katrina, many commercial buildings along U.S. 90 are still in a ramshackle state. Their owners are either unwilling or unable to remove hurricane debris or repair damage dealt to the buildings by the catastrophic storm.
For the better part of 18 months, local, state and federal agencies have offered assistance in removing hurricane debris and for repairing buildings damaged by Katrina. The owners of those properties, such as the car wash on U.S. 90 in Gautier, should have been able to at least remove the bricks and beams that Katrina toppled on Aug. 29, 2005.
And the onus of this task is not just on property owners. City and county officials also share the responsibility of ensuring that such properties are cleaned up. Local governments have several tools at their disposal to cite the owners of such nuisance properties and, if needed, to clean them up."
Monday, February 19, 2007
"The first major insurance settlement involving a group of hurricane-damaged homes in Louisiana is in its final stages and could be announced as soon as in a week or two, according to the attorney for the homeowners who sued.
The likely multimillion-dollar deal would cover about 165 homeowners insured by Louisiana Citizens — the state-created insurer of last resort — in Cameron Parish, where the 2005 hurricanes reduced homes to slabs, says Jennifer Jones, the homeowners' lawyer.
Jones cautioned that the settlement could still be scuttled. But if it succeeds, it could provide a model for resolving hundreds other such cases in the state. The deal would not affect thousands of homes damaged by the New Orleans levee breach after Hurricane Katrina.
Separately, State Farm, the largest insurer in Louisiana, has made two offers to settle 135 Cameron Parish cases involving homes reduced to rubble, "
Friday, February 16, 2007
"Mississippi’s largest homeowner insurer said Wednesday it has had enough of the “untenable’’ legal and political climate and is suspending writing new homeowners and commercial policies in a state still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
A spokesman for State Farm Insurance Cos. said the decision was due in part to the wave of litigation the company has encountered since the Aug. 29, 2005, storm. Mississippi is the latest state along the hurricane-vulnerable Gulf Coast to at least temporarily lose an insurer.
"A year ago, Ms. Larsen, 36, and Mr. Langlois, 37, were hopeful New Orleanians eager to rebuild and improve the city they adored. But now they have joined hundreds of the city’s best and brightest who, as if finally acknowledging a lover’s destructive impulses, have made the wrenching decision to leave at a time when the population is supposed to be rebounding.
Their reasons include high crime, high rents, soaring insurance premiums and what many call a lack of leadership, competence, money and progress. In other words: yes, it is still bad down here. But more damning is what many of them describe as a dissipating sense of possibility, a dwindling chance at redemption for a great city that, even before the storm, cried out for great improvement."
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
26 January 2007
Editor, Olean Times Herald
693 Norton Drive
Olean NY 14760
To the editor:
In regards to Tom Roof's article of 23 January, 2007 in which he stated “We won’t have to hear for the next two weeks about how needed this is for New Orleans. If you weren’t sick of the Saints and Katrina by now, you surely would have been by Feb 4.” The cruelty and insensitivity of this comment is unconscionable.
Yes, had the New Orleans Saints won the NFC championship we would have been subjected tocountless Katrina stories between now and the February 4th. I can understand why he might be glad that the Chicago Bears relieved him of the burden of hearing about this tragedy for a few weeks. Imagine then, how much happier the people of the Gulf Coast would be if they didn't have to LIVE with this tragedy day after day for the next decade. Mr. Roof could simply change the channel. They can not.
Mr. Roof could have used his position as a journalist to help the thousands who are living as "Prisoners of Katrina," but actively chose not to. Instead he his elevated discomfort, or even worse, his boredom, with the images of this tragedy above the suffering of those experiencing it."
Many in this community were sicked by the stories and images of Katrina. Unlike Mr. Roof, they treated the victims of this disaster as human beings, not as an inconvenience. They went to the Gulf Coast, listened to their stories, and helped them clean up and rebuild. They went back again and again.
I invite Mr. Roof to St. John's Church on Sunday February 11th where some of us that have recently returned from Mississippi will be sharing stories. If he can't wait that long, he can visit bonaresponds.org or ask any of us at St. Bonaventure.
Jerry T. Godbout
Department of Chemistry
St. Bonaventure University
St. Bonaventure, NY 14778
The following St. Bonaventure students also signed this letter
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Mississippi rebuilding expected to jump following agreement on Hurricane Katrina insurance claims - International Herald Tribune
Mississippi rebuilding expected to jump following agreement on Hurricane Katrina insurance claims - International Herald Tribune:
"In a move that is expected to jump- start rebuilding along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, State Farm Insurance says it has reached an agreement with state officials to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to owners of homes along the coast that were wrecked by Hurricane Katrina.
The agreement settles lawsuits filed by 640 homeowners and allows thousands of others to reopen damage claims that State Farm previously closed. Insurance executives said they expected the outlines of the deal to be adopted by other carriers.
The agreement, announced Tuesday, does not apply to New Orleans, where the failure of the levees left much of the city underwater for days. Lawyers and insurers say no similar settlement talks are in progress there"