Archive for September, 2005

Hep meeeeeeeeeeeeeee……

When we went to FEMA, the Red Cross and so forth at the start of this adventure, we were told pretty clearly that, because we suffered no (or at least negligible) damage to our home, we basically didn’t qualify for the up to $2K in FEMA money. We were referred to the SBA, and I filled out the lengthy application for an SBA loan to get my business up and operating again (whenever that will be). We’ve been among the very lucky ones who actually have a home to go back to. We’ve also been extremely fortunate to have supportive family and friends, so I figured I’d just wait to hear from the SBA.

But now I’m hearing and reading from several forums ( among them) about others in our situation who ARE getting their $2K from FEMA. They have a place to stay, they have food and, basically, they’re okay except for not being able to return home for now. They (like us) have had to shell out some fairly substantial dollars while on the road, but have also found themselves in stable places until return is authorized.

I’m not begrudging anyone anything at this point. I don’t pretend to know each family’s individual circumstances. And I am not going to go back to try to alter anything I have reported to any agency. But I wonder if some of the hard-and-fast rules in place early (when we registered) have now been relaxed in the face of all the political backlash.

I’m not bringing this up to touch off (yet more) political argument, which strikes me as stupid and useless. But I’m wondering if the rules for getting aid are now as fluid as the ongoing changes in other rules governing what goes on along the Gulf Coast.

A strange, haunting thought

I know this is going to be an unpopular statement but I haven�t heard anyone say it and it�s been on my mind for days now: Wouldn�t it be less devastating and less significant if Rita followed the same path as Katrina? So many have already lost everything and everyone is already (more/less) evacuated from those areas. I�m not taking anything away from the Texas Gulf Coast and their ability to survive Hurricane Rita, but just from a practical standpoint of limiting the area of destruction and allowing for a more narrow focus of recovery efforts. Certainly, I would like to see the storm pitter out in the middle of the Gulf, but that�s na�ve so if it has to hit anywhere then I would hope it to hit where Katrina hit � keep in mind that by saying this I�m hoping for the storm to hit my own home.

Maybe I�m not thinking it through or overlooking something so convince me I�m wrong for thinking this.

Insurance issues

I was covering the news in Florida before, during and for years after Hurricane Andrew. One of the major changes in that state because of that storm was in the price and availability of homeowners insurance — with the state having to create its own insurance pool to cover many people who simply could no longer get coverage from the private market.

There are plenty of folks now honking and beeping about how they were misled by their insurance folks and the feds about their coverage in the wake of Katrina. I also saw a piece about some Maryland family whose home suffered major flood damage after Hurricane Isabel two years ago, but only got a “take it or leave it” offer of $44K from their FEMA flood insurance. They’re still living in a government trailer parked in front of their home, which needs like $140K in repair.

Will those who suffered no flood damage reap the benefits of remaining high and dry? Will entire areas of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast become uninhabitable simply because reasonably affordable insurance will no longer be available? I have not yet seen any studies on the current mess and what the future might hold.

Any insurance professionals have any ideas on this? I wonder how many folks who want to come back will find themselves unable to rebuild simply because they can no longer afford the premiums.

The Broussard Timeline…

Yeah, that St. Rita’s one. I found myself thinking about it this morning, and I can’t convince myself that Broussard’s mistake is very significant, not compared to possibility that the patients of St. Rita’s died through willful neglect.

This one time, at bandcamp….

I�ve begun to hear the big, heavy wheels of the rumor mill winding up. So let�s have it people! Share your stories and what you�ve heard � the more outlandish the better. It could be your own survival story or one you heard from somewhere else. I know there are several varieties of stories floating around, for example: Single moms murdering their children in the days following the storm to keep them from having to suffer the horror, some (uh, less trusted) pets, like Pit Bulls, being forsaken by rescue workers while other (uh, cuter) pets are rescued from the same house, survivors of the flood in Lakeview heard several loud explosions just moments before the 17th street levee broke, etc. Hell, Tuesday when I was still in the city someone came running up to me saying there was a ten foot wall of water moving across the city destroying everything and that the bridge is our only hope � the person was hysterical (not in a funny way; in a frightened way). I didn�t believe it because it just didn�t make any sense to me but the person telling me certainly believed it. You know what I mean. You�ve heard some stories yourself.

With the amount of confirmed weirdness and anarchy that went on, the stories the rumor mill is going to churn out are going to have to be outlandish. Don�t feel like a comment of some story you post here is like admitting you believe it � of course, if you do believe it, then explain why so everyone can understand � and if you don�t believe it, then explain why also.

I�ve noticed these new �urban myths� and variations of existing urban myths surfacing as comments in other posts as backdrops or other anecdotes so I thought it would be a lot of fun to start a collection of freaky stories from the storm. Some, I would imagine, will be confirmed and are actually true, while others are probably just misunderstandings and misinformation. Either way, here�s your chance to share!

I gotta say….

…thank you to the NFL and how it handled the fundraising telethon this evening. It was highly cool for such past and present stars to volunteer to answer the phones. Also thank you to the Giants fans for having class and, in a way, supporting both teams. Y’all had your own hell to deal with four years ago so, as much as anyone, y’all understand the situation. And, of course, thanks to all who contributed. Here’s hoping the money goes where it’s most needed. Gonna get me one of them “Be A Saint” t-shirts.

I apologize to those who have been blunt about stating their opinion that I have been ungrateful or self-centered in recent posts. I have said “thank you” beaucoup ways in this forum. I have also stated time and again how lucky we are, since we at least know we have a home to go back to. We have friends and family and unknown others who have helped tremendously and continue to do so without being asked (including many readers of this board). It’s incredibly humbling and, in its own way, wonderful at the same time.

Please understand this is the only forum I use to lay myself open. It has been very cathartic, but it’s also a very public place. Blogs should be that way — uncensored and open to individual interpretation, as incorrect as they sometimes are. Be it frustation, joy, pride, confusion or a combination of all and more, this is the method I choose to let it out. Not everyone is going to Get It, but that’s okay. Each response, positive or negative, provides a chance to review and think — and no one can ask for more than that.

Thank you Sean for the opportunity and the help and thank you fellow New Orleanians for keeping the faith.

But SIX turnovers in tonight’s game? C’mon y’all……

Ok, we get it: you’re finally worried.

Messieurs Bush and Allen:

We know you’re worried about New Orleans. It took you a while to get to that point, but whatever: you’re there now.

We know you’re particularly concerned about the possibility of another hurricane ravaging the city like an Ostrogoth on shore leave. You’re afraid New Orleanians are gonna bum rush the place and never evacuate again, no matter how many atmospheric disturbances head our way. Trust me, though: you’ve got nothing to worry about.

I mean, yeah, we all want to get back. Whether it’s to salvage belongings from the muck or to pack up and move to Des Moines or to turn on the a/c and start living a semi-normal life in America’s most amazing city, we want to go home. We’ve been away for three weeks now, which doesn’t sound too long, but remember: none of us were prepared for this. Three weeks would’ve been fine if we’d seen it coming; we could’ve packed and taken care of loose ends and brought necessary provisions. But that’s not the way it went. We left in a hurry, thinking that, like always, we’d be back in a couple of days. Twenty-one days is a long time to live in the same three t-shirts and two pairs of shorts.

That said, we’re not stupid. Lots of us–especially yours truly–are pretty nonchalant about hurricanes, but we know when to hit the road. We’ve done nothing but watch CNN since Katrina blew through, and we understand how bad things can get in our beautiful, fragile, resilient city.

What I’m trying to say is this: the New Orleanaise know all too well that our barely functional utilities would be dealt a serious setback by another hurricane. We know that the levee system is currently being held together with chewing gum and scotch tape. We know that if Al Copeland were to cruise the lakefront right now in one of his oh-god-my-penis-is-tiny speedboats, the wake would probably breach both sides of the 17th Street Canal. Believe me when I say that if we see something coming–even a measly category one storm–we’re hittin’ the road, bitch.

So, let us in for now. Don’t think we can find our way back out.

Gaily yours,


…how is everyone?

Are you coming back? When?

What about the mayor’s call to return? Too early? Are the feds being too cautious?

Enough already

It has been nearly three weeks since Hurricane Katrina moved ashore on the Gulf Coast, and I think we’re beginning to witness the usual situation with any catastrophe vis-a-vis the American Psyche.

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for hurricane victims from individuals, public and private organizations and from local, state and national government. Our friends and families have stepped to the plate in a wonderful manner — everything from kids contributing their change to families opening their homes and selflessly providing monetary and in-kind help that is seriously, deeply and forever appreciated. We can never repay (not that it’s expected), except by hoping to offer our own help should such a disaster befall them at some point. It’s wat we as Americans do.

We’ve seen telethons, benefits, clothing drives, and (tonight) we’ll even see the NFL sponsoring its own extravaganza by literally kicking off the Saints/Giants game. Go Saints.

But it’s getting old, at least in the current form. Like those who live next to a train track, we run the risk of no longer hearing the noise and the din after a while. Those who were at first welcomed and encouraged will be, like the cat who came back the very next day, soon be seen as a bother. “You again? Well, here. But don’t hang around. Shoo. Find some other doorstep to sleep on.”

Those forced from their homes are beginning to settle in a bit — either by finding new places to live or by finally working their way back into the new fabric that will be New Orleans. The federal government is coming up with new trade zones, redevelopment plans and other projects (at public expense) to help, but we are already seeing public griping about the cost. A certain segment of society also bitched about the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, and TVA, LBJ’s Great Society and other long-term public works projects — and that’s exactly what this recovery is going to be. Once the tragedy winds down and the TV cameras are packed up and Anderson Cooper goes the hell home, the public mind begins clucking about the Next Great Tragedy.

I am offering no solutions. But I’m saying it’s now going to be more up to New Orleanians, Mississippians and Alabamans to take on this task, along with an army of faceless government drones and paper shufflers. “Hep yew? Hep yew? Hep yew?”

We can do this. But the scut work will be largely on our own, and we’ll have to tune out the griping from those who think they’ve already contributed more than enough. We’re not at that point yet — but it’s coming quickly.

Real police don’t run

Officer Dumas Carter, NOPD, is an eight-year veteran who was one of just six NOPD officers at the Convention Center, on duty, for the storm and the hellish period following. This first-hand on-the-ground account covers a lot of ground, and Officer Carter pulls few punches. Great job, sir.

The day before, we all go in for roll call and we’re basically told that we’re reporting for work and we pretty much won’t be able to leave until this is over. Some of [the officers] were whining, but all week long we had been told, you’re a police officer, and once you go active we’re going to be on active duty for the remainder. Make sure that your families are out and your houses are taken care of, because we can’t have you worrying about your family, your house, your dog, and be a police officer. That made sense to me. But a lot of people were like, fuck this, I’ve got to go with my family. So they left. My district wasn’t like any other district. Ninety-eight percent of the people stayed. The Sixth District. The real district. Fort Apache. You’ve seen that on the news.

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