Went to the grocery store today to do a bit of refugee shopping. We’re in Tallahassee FL, where I used to live, and for now still trying to get our arms around all that’s happened since Sunday. Yesterday we ran into a family from Gulfport who was loading up for the trip back home (they hoped) and stocking up as much as they could. I also talked tonight with friends from Waveland, who stated simply that they had nothing to go back to, except maybe to sign some papers. Basically, their physical reminders of a 60-year marriage are gone.

…and, just briefly before I talked to them, I was feeling sorry for myself. Not anymore.

It’s funny the things you see that remind you of how things were just a scant five days ago. When will I be able to buy some New Orleans Amber rum again? Or French Market coffee? When will they start producing Crystal sauce again?
I know it’ll all come back. But dammit — I miss it already.

IknowIknowIknow…..these are very, very small things compared to the larger picture. But we’re in a period in which the small becomes large and the large becomes everything.

I just can’t wait to go back and make it right again.

31 Comments so far

  1. a_retrogrouch (unregistered) on August 31st, 2005 @ 9:01 pm

    There are a number of us in Tally who “feel your pain,” brother. We’ve got family and/or friends in the Big Easy, and as a resident of the Gulf Coast since 1968, I know some of what these folks have gone through, and are going through. God bless y’all, and I hope Tally treats you OK.

  2. Rachid (unregistered) on August 31st, 2005 @ 9:15 pm

    I am a 38 year old college professor. I am from Morocco and I have lived in the US for the last 9 years. I visited New Orleans for the first time last March and spent one of the nicest weeks of my life there. I am absolutely devastated by the catastrophic consequences of this hurricane. The casualty figures that the mayor talked about today are just hard to accept. I hope it’s not true and that more and more people are found and rescued.
    My heart goes out to all the people of New Orleans and the other areas affected by this disaster. Hang in there my friends, you are not alone.



  3. holly (unregistered) on August 31st, 2005 @ 9:20 pm

    In times like these there are no small things, no small emotions. I live in NYC and I remember standing on my street watching the twin towers fall and feeling so horribly sad that the towering landmarks I loved so much were disappearing before my eyes. Along with that sadness I also felt immediate guilt for mourning something as superficial as two buildings of steel and glass and metal when thousands of lives were lost and the streets around me were filling up with debris and blood covered survivors. So I didn’t allow myself to feel sad for the loss of the actual buildings. Every time the thought entered my mind I replaced it by the faces of the missing, dead and injured.

    Now, looking back, I wish I had just allowed myself to feel awful right in that moment, no matter what else was going on simply because it was real and those buildings always meant a lot to me and I would never see them again. I miss them daily.

    Yes, the small becomes large. And nothing is insignificant.

  4. kim smith (unregistered) on August 31st, 2005 @ 9:59 pm

    Craig: I can’t say it any better than what everybody else has said, other than my prayers go out to you and others who are suffering from the hurricane.

    But there is rebirth and renewal and
    I can’t wait for NO to rise again. I know it will. Perhaps that should be where we need to place our thoughts. The alternative just hurts too much.

  5. Mark (unregistered) on August 31st, 2005 @ 10:04 pm

    I left Houston for China on Sunday, the day before the hurricane hit the Louisiana/Mississippi coasts. After living in New Orleans for 17 years my heart aches for the may families and friends I knew and still keep in touch with.

    What is amazing is the CNN reports I am watching from their Pacific affiliate here in China. These reporters are absurd. I watched aerial shots being shown and their comment was “we are the first to show these” WHO CARES! I am tired of the on-sight reporting as CNN interviewers in fresh pressed slacks and shirts talk with people who have not bathed in days! I watched one CNN studio reporter ask the on-sight reporter “What are we doing to help?” as people struggle in the backgroud, and the on-sight reported holds up a bag of dog food she found on the ground and says “We are picking up these and handing them out for the families pets” What about the people who are in need? CNN is heartless. It’s all about shock and awe! They have misrepresented the flooding and they get excited when they talk about death counts! Why does every disaster have to measured by the death count. The most stupendous of all was a CNN studio reporter who reported that this hurricane is so much more costly and devastating than the hurricane Camille. Do these ever stop to think before they read off of their monitor????? Camille was 40 years ago, the population has grown, the cities have expanded, more coastal construction, etc. OF COURSE ITS MORE COSTLY!

    Beware of CNN reporting!!!

    My prayers to all in Louisiana and Mississippi

  6. Kym (unregistered) on August 31st, 2005 @ 10:36 pm

    I just wanted to post and thank you for blogging your thoughts on this horrible tradegy. I just can’t even begin to grasp what you must be going through and how you are feeling.

    Don’t really think words can do it justice… but wanted you to know that a stranger on the other side of the country is praying for your city.

  7. Greg (unregistered) on August 31st, 2005 @ 11:13 pm

    This out of control, military has 12k people in the area and another 112k ready, we attacked Iraq in less then 3 weeks why is it we cannot seam to get troops there NOW! I have made a donation and wish I could due more, but watching this all unfold is disturbing in the lack of coverage from all media 9/11 was tragic but this is even more tragic of moment in america, and can say people in my area seam to not even care days after 9/11 people were off collecting money, and in my office of 126 not one mention except of the delays in business in this area, can’t say much more, just a little angry!

  8. Shannon (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 12:01 am

    For some reason, I keep thinking about the metal posts with the horse heads in the Quarter. They’re still there, I assume, but I really miss them for some reason. I don’t know why. Weird. I guess it’s easier sometimes to focus on stuff like that. Kind of a safety valve.

    I, for one, am really upset that I spent my last 6 hrs in NO behind the counter at work. What a waste of my damn time. I could have left and wandered around for a while, and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

  9. renegade (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 12:47 am

    Thanks, Craig – this sure puts everything into perspective.

  10. riondel (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 1:04 am

    i’m french, i live in Paris and I do not speak any more very quite English :) nevertheless I send this message of solidarity to you. Thoughts.

  11. Andrea (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 1:29 am

    Believe me, you have no reason to apologize for missing the coffee and the food. They are two things that made New Orleans distinctive. Like the poster above, I too am from New York, and I mourned the loss of the Twin Towers. You have to mourn the smaller things that make up a normal life, especially since it will take time to accept the new reality.

    I am so, so sorry. I don’t know what else to say.

  12. Dale R. Ridder (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 1:38 am

    Uh, I hate to break into all of this reminiscing about the New Orleans that was, but reallistically, it is the Federal Government that is going to be stuck with the bill for damages from Katrina. I support all of the relief efforts and rescue efforts without question, but I have no intention whatsoever of seeing my tax dollars go towards rebuilding a city BELOW sea level. You either move the city to higher ground above sea level, or you fill in the bowl until it is higher than sea level, but you do not rebuild below sea level. If that means that New Orleans becomes a different place, so be it. Besides, the hurricane season is really just hitting its stride. What happens if you get hit again in six weeks like Florida did last years? The levees are already severely weakened. Another hit, and they may go completely. Once is enough in my view. Move your city, or rebuild with no Federal money at all. Your choice.

  13. Jay (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 2:16 am

    Dale – No one wants to hear your ignorant statements of opinion right now, and particularly in the context of this thread. Your tax dollars – as well as everyone else’s – invariably go in part to things you don’t neccessarily support; it’s part of living in a democracy.

    Start your own damn blog if you want to get on a soapbox about where “your” money is going to be spent, and let the rest of us deal with the losses of our homes, businesses, family and friends in ways that matter to us. Your ultimatums (” Move your city, or rebuild with no Federal money at all. Your choice.”) are as pointless as they are uncalled for.

  14. Drury (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 2:47 am

    Dear Dale Ridder,

    You are the dumb ass that tipped me over the edge.

    I’m trying to imagine what natural American environment you live in that is immune from the potential harm of “natures way” and never ever requires public assistance during an emergency.

    Did you feel this way every time the east coast or Florida was hit with a hurricane or devestating flood?

    Should we abandon the midwest because of the potential tornadoes? Move away from the west coast because of potential earth quakes or fires? I can’t imagine that you live anywhere near a river.

    New Orleans has survived as a thriving city for over two hundred years. Even though it has faced calamities before (major epidemics, hurricanes,wars, fires) the nation has depended on it’s consistant ability to renew as a vital port town. It’s importance to this nation, as a cultural mecca and port center of commerce, may have gotten by your ignorant self…Right, fill it in with sand….

    Go home, make yourself a nice dinner and then re-think.

    Thank you

    Drury from Seattle

  15. Tip (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 2:54 am

    I just wanted to let you know that my thoughts are with you and your loved ones during this mind-numbing tragedy. Also, I hope you will continue to allow yourself to think what may appear to be insignifigant or selfish thoughts. Sometimes, that is how we maintain our sanity when in the middle of an insane situation. I have friends and friends of friends both in New Orleans & on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that I have not been able to get any word on since this all began, yet I catch myself worrying instead about how the condo on Bourbon Street that I would stay at during my visits has weathered the storm, or if the Quartermaster Deli down on the corner and all of it’s employees are all okay. That’s when I realize that there is no insignifigant concern, because everything and everybody matters!

    There is, and always will be, only one New Orleans, and those of us who escape there two or three times a year to revel in her “let the good times roll” attitude must now do what we can to help all of you and your cities get your lives back.

    From a neighbor and friend in Dallas…my prayers are with you.

  16. Sutatip Emery (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 3:00 am

    Dear all,

    I have been a volunteer in South of Thailand after the Tsunami hit last December. I feel your pain. You have to look for the best of the event. Most of you have your love ones with you. They are alive. You got time to evacuate. Physical memory of life 5 days ago is gone. But you are alive! You are the survivor. Tsunami victims or survivors had no warning! You are very lucky!

    Ask for EMDR chapter (mental health help) near you for people who are very depressed.

    America can rebuild. You are chosen to be alive so go thru each day with one purpose at a time. OK?

    Best regards,
    Sutatip, Bangkok, Thailand

  17. Jay (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 3:31 am

    Thank you for your post, Sutatip.
    We New Orleanians who have internet access right now and are able to read all these words of support (as well as the occassional crackpot ;) are indeed the lucky ones. Many, many others weren’t quite as fortunate.

  18. Linda (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 3:34 am

    Millions of people are homeless due to Hurricane Katrina. Some had insurance to cover loss many did not. Renters in the effected area have lost everything. We are offering a room in our home to help an individual or a small family. I urge others to do the same. Please help us to spread the word and to help others.

    I posted this on the internet at a few websites and people are responding back who want to help also. The Red Cross told us to contact churches in the effected area and in Houston because they are taking people to the Astro Dome. The Red Cross does not refer people to private resources. We want to help. There are people from Oregon to Kentucky who want to help. Please help us to reach out to the people and offer a place for them to stay while their community is being rebuilt. If for some reason you are not able to then pass this email on to others who can. Thank you and may you be blessed abundantly for your assistance.

  19. Alex (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 4:45 am

    Hello from Germany,

    people here are horrified about this disaster in your states and cities. Here in Saxony we’ve had a flood disaster in 2002 with dramatic damages as well, although its hardly comparable with the catastrophe you have to overcome now. Anyway, i wanted to wish you strength for the incoming time, to say that here we have build-on again the houses, the farms and so on…and i am deeply convinced you will manage to recover as well, doesn’t matter how long it takes. Best wishes from Leipzig, Germany.


  20. Tracie (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 4:50 am

    Did ya notice that Dale Ridder didn’t have the balls to include a link to his email address on the comment he left?


    NOLA, I feel for you. I’m in Orlando praying for you. I’ll give what I can to help. What we went through last year was NOTHING next to this.

  21. Dale R. Ridder (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 4:52 am

    Re Drury,

    Where I live we deal with floods on an annual basis, and tornadoes. After continually shelling out to replace homes and governmental structures that were regularly getting flooded out, the state government finally wised up and passed a law prohibiting any new construction in a flood plain. You could still live there, but if you got flooded, and your house was destroyed, no rebuilding in the same spot. Find a new lot not in a floodplain and rebuild there. This has significantly reduced the amount of money spent on rebuilding flooded areas.

    New Orleans is built BELOW sea level for the most part. From the reports now appearing, Lake Ponchatrain is going to be contaminated for years if not decades as a result of the current flooding. It is going to take a couple of months, minimum, to dewater the flooded area, and far longer to determine where it is safe to work. What you people in New Orleans are asking for is for the rest of the country to ignore what has happened, and allow you to make the same mistake again. You will have the chance to make your case, but so will the opposition. I suspect that you might have a bit of a hard time convincing the rest of the country to rebuild where you are at. You are also going to have to fight with Mississippi and Alabama for rebuilding funds as well. They were hammered as well.

    As for public assistance during an emergency, tornadoes hit with little warning, and no terribly consistent pattern. We do not have the option of building in tornado free areas in the Midwest. The Gulf Coast has been hit by hurricanes in the past and will be hit by hurricanes in the future, as will Florida and the Atlantic Coast. You are knowingly building in areas that are at high risk for catastrophic storms. Since you live in Seattle, Drury, would you build a home on the slopes of Mount Saint Helens? That is about what rebuilding New Orleans on the current site is comparable too. The next hurricane is not a matter of if, only when.

  22. Carrie (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 5:21 am

    It seems cold to me that all anyone is accepting at this time is money. I prefer to give snuggly blankets and warm cocoa…errr, coffee in this case :) Ah well, news has it governmental assistance has been offered and our local Red Cross has set up an account for private citizens to contribute.

    The rest of us are sending healing thoughts down your way. I am sincerily hoping you can find some comfort in knowing we care up here.

    I enjoy all your blogging and am smiling knowing your senses of humour are alive and well. All the hugs you guys need while dealing with your grief.

    Stay safe and in good health,

    Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

  23. Carina O'Reilly (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 5:53 am

    I live in Cambridge, UK, a place where natural disasters just don’t happen. I am feeling very lucky right now. Cambridge is also 800 years old and were it levelled I would want to rebuild it with every brick in the same place. The Netherlands is almost entirely below sea level – nobody suggests that the country should be moved. Good luck with the reconstruction, and I hope that every street lamp is replaced just where it was. All the best from the UK.

  24. Carrie (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 5:54 am

    P.S. Dale, how do you type when your head is up your pompous, know-it-all ass? Just curious.

    Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

  25. Denise (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 6:49 am

    Hey! I’m from germany and just wanted to say, that my thoughts are with ye all in new orleans!!!

  26. PoopMachine (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 7:51 am

    “It seems cold to me that all anyone is accepting at this time is money.”

    Money is liquid. It can be used in ways in which it needs to be best used, and it can be sent for free, electronically. I’m sure people mean well when they donate 75 lbs worth of canned goods and water and blankets, but now someone needs to transport that to N.O., and that costs $$$. Send money.

    FEMA’s list of charities:

  27. a_retrogrouch (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 8:54 am

    Let me give you a clue, Ridder, since you seem to have missed the clue train. NOLA exists for some very solid reasons, including the fact that its port and others nearby exchange immense amounts of oil, processed fuel and feedstocks, grain, cars, etc. ALL the stuff that goes up and down the Mississippi touches NOLA, and much of the oil pumped by the 4,000-odd derricks and rigs in the Gulf goes through there and out to places where clueless, heartless people like you live so that you can fill up your SUV, buy bread, and watch the TV any damn time you like. Notice gas prices lately? That’s another clue that NOLA is critical to the U.S. economy.

    I would suggest as well that you hold your kvetching for a while, or at least put that wasted energy into helping out a bit. The Red Cross needs money to help feed, clothe, and house people, including taxpayers and children, and they need it now. Quit being an ugly American for at least a few weeks. Please. Save your bile for another day.

  28. ZipperSeven (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 12:29 pm

    I’m a Tallahassee reader here, and I have family in Baton Rouge. We were lucky to hear from them through a text message to one of their friends, which was then emailed to us. Seems to be the only way messages are getting out of there these days.

    I got mad because the price of gas went up over night. I have to be honest, I was and I’m ashamed of it now. I sat there thinking about it, and by the time I got up this morning I realized it’s short work compared to the strain that the residents of the Gulf coast are going through.

    If you need any help getting around Tallahassee, let me know, I’m a halfway decent navigator.

  29. LaTonya Hicks (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 2:47 pm


  30. Joe (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2005 @ 8:01 am

    I have read were no one is leading the people that have been evacuated to the dome. Looks like Jesse or brother AL should pick this one up and run with it, Dr. King would have. Trying to lead his own brothers and sisters and keep order we could see what either of them are worth.

  31. Crayden (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2005 @ 5:04 pm

    Greetings from Norway. I offer my very best wishes and warmest thoughts to everyone impacted by this catastrophe, and my harshest criticism to your government for what can mildly be called a highly incompetent handling of the situation.

    They should not get away with the indirect murders they’ve comitted.

    I also agree; mourn the little things as the big. We all deal with grief and sadness differently, but I think it’s important not to try to rationalize it, and instead just allow yourself to feel what’s there, let it out, even if it’s over something nomrally ‘trivial’. Trivial it may be, but the emotions of and around it aren’t, and that makes all the difference in the world.

    As for Dale Ridder, and anyone of similar opinion:

    Life is worth more than money. Consider the ~1000 people dead and the thousands suffering at this moment, and compare that to your petty tax dollars. These people are in REAL pain and should be supported, not exposed to your personal vents.

    I hope for the best for all of you.

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