18 months and a Right Leg

There has been a homeless man sleeping/living basically on my doorstep in the quarter for the last 18 months. He’s not just homeless, he is also mental. Looney Tunes all the way. When I moved in to where I live now, he was there. It did not matter who I called, what I did, what higher power I asked to help me get this guy some help, it just wasn’t happening. And I’m not the only one who tried to get this guy help. 18 months of 10 people calling everyone with an Orleans Parish government phone number. 18 months of living on the street, no medication (which he clearly needed) no food unless he dug it out the trash. Which of course he did. This isn’t to make light of his situation, I didn’t want to just move him to another doorstep, and I wanted him to get the help he clearly needed. No matter the circumstances, he is a human being.

Well to us he’s a human being. I’m guessing to the government, he’s just a nuisance. Another New Orleanian with problems who needs help. All the calls, e-mails, meetings with the neighborhood group, none of them worked.

I walked out last Wednesday morning to go get some of my morning cafĂ© au’ lait. Me and the dog, Pepper. Pepper is a Pekingese, I don’t think they have any special skills but I do know he’s a special dog. He sits on his butt like a human for one thing. With his front paws in the air. Seriously. Back to the point. Pepper knows the homeless man. Smells the area around him every morning. Takes a sniff and keeps on walking normally. Wednesday was different. The guy was laid out on the sidewalk. He’s normally sitting on the steps. Pepper went berserk catching a whiff Wednesday morning. Got me a little concerned.

Heading to work, I decided to call 911. Told them I thought the guy was dead. He hadn’t moved in about 3 hours between the coffee trip and going to work. Gave the operator all the info I had. Where he was, what I thought, why I thought it. Got back home around 6pm and the guy is still there. He’s sitting up now but clearly things are bad. I ask him loudly if anyone came to help him today. He said no. I asked if he was okay. Said he’s struggling. Told him I understood and would try to get some help again. I didn’t call 911, figured they just didn’t show.

I do not feel that I should use the radio station to get things like this fixed. If that was the case, I’d have to do it for everyone. The radio station is here to inform/entertain our listeners. But I did have access to a cell phone number for certain people. I shared that with an interested party and told her to call.

The next morning this local politician had someone out to see what needed to be done. Clearly they needed to get this man in a hospital ASAP. Well, as they were attempting to lift him from the ground onto the gurney, his right leg fell off below the knee. Just fell off. His leg fell off.

At least he is in a hospital and hopefully his last days are at least somewhat comfortable. I mean what else can you say?

I’m not trying to make people sick or feel sorry for anyone or anything. I do think though that this story tells what it’s like to live in New Orleans right now better than anything else I know.

6 Comments so far

  1. Clay (unregistered) on April 10th, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

    I also live in the Quarter and that’s one of the hardest things to deal with. You can’t help but sympathize, especially when you see so many homeless every day.

    But then, what do you do? A lot of them are strung out on a regular basis or were kicked out of mental institutions years ago and have gone untreated since.

    There’s one guy I try to help out. His name is Keith and he’s an amputee. But, you can’t take on every burden in the world. It’ll drive you crazy.

    It just sucks.

  2. jack Ware (unregistered) on April 10th, 2007 @ 9:50 pm


  3. Dagazzi (unregistered) on April 10th, 2007 @ 11:54 pm

    At least there’s folks like you in the world who try. The system is screwed, that’s for sure–bottom line, in this country, no one should be abandoned. (Of course, we saw that this country does so regularly, and on a grand scale.) Still, you did something. And that’s something.

    And I don’t mean to be callous or stupid… But do you mean he was an amputee and his prosthetic leg fell off? Or do you mean that his leg was somehow so decayed that it fell off? Is that possible?

  4. Dan F (unregistered) on April 11th, 2007 @ 6:38 am

    I should have looked it up but I was lazy and didnt know how to spell GANGRENE. It was not a prosthetic leg. It was his shin below the knee.

    But everyone who’s not back- Come on back, we need ya. No health care, no help for anyone but come on back. Ya might get murdered or rot away on a street corner but come on back, we need your tax dollars

  5. mitraillette (unregistered) on April 11th, 2007 @ 8:43 am

    It amazes me that we still have career homeless people here after the storm. It means that they either didn’t leave during the storm, and stayed on the street – which is amazing, or they evacuated and CAME BACK – which is even more amazing.

  6. Rayna (unregistered) on April 11th, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

    some of the career homeless are new after the storm.
    I did not know that your leg could just fall off like that.

    You can save the world one person at a time. (at least that sounds good, doesn’t it?)

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