Thursday, September 15, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours XVII

Bush just spoke in Jackson Square -- or at least whatever poltergeist or alien bodysnatched the fellow formerly known as George W. In this speech, Bush's bodysnatcher promised just about everything a local would have wanted him to promise to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. If I understood it correctly, Bush's bodysnatcher also promised local lead on recovery efforts, support for worker's assistance, support for home ownership through initiatives like Habitat for Humanity, and a complete review of the federal emergency reaction. Outside of the standard pandering to religious interests, it was a great speech. I'm also not sure about the militarization of the problem which he proposed, but I'd rather have the military here saving people rather than over there killing and being killed. On the whole, I couldn't have asked for more, although I'm very curious to see how both the speech and the reality age in the coming months and years. For now, let's hope Bush's bodysnatcher means it. If this bankrupts DC, at least it will have gone to rebuilding a region of our own rather than destroying a region of another.

Before Bush's speech, Ted Koppel and Nightline did an amazing special on Katrina. If anyone recorded it (and Bush's speech), I'd love to have a copy -- or a video link to it. It's one for the archives:



1) New Orleans' emergency plan:

www.cityofno.com/portal.aspx?portal=46&tabid=26


2) A personal appeal / account:

THAT PERSON IN A WHEELCHAIR...Sunday, August 28, 2005:

We (Paul Newfield and family) evacuated Metairie in two vehicles on Sunday, August 28, 2005, heading EAST on I-10. At about 13:00, the I-10 traffic was creeping along in New Orleans East. Vehicle #1 was in the vicinity of Read Boulevard / Bullard Road or thereabouts, and Vehicle #2 was about a half hour behind. On our right the New Orleans East neighborhood seemed almost deserted, with very few cars about (Everyone was on the Interstate).

Then, on the service road to our right (the side away from the lake), we in Vehicle #1 saw an older black person (man? woman?) in a motorized wheelchair, riding on the service road back back in the direction of New Orleans. It was only a passing glimpse, but I remember thinking, "Gee, I hope he/she will be alright." From that brief glimpse, I had the sensethat the person was in full control of his/her destiny, that he/she knew where he/she was going. I suspect that this person might have been in aninstitution around the neighborhood.

A bit later, Vehicle #2 passed the same area, and they also saw the same person in the wheelchair, still heading back toward New Orleans.

Now, here it is, two weeks later. Hurricane Katrina has devastated New Orleans, especially in the East, and I am wondering if that unnamed person was able to get out, and if he/she has survived. If anyone knows, please let me know. If anyone in New Orleans East knows/knew that wheelchair person, I would like to know more.

Prayers continue. Feedback is welcomed.

Paul Newfieldskip@thebrasscannon.com



3) A letter to the Times-Picayune about rebuilding NO:

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE

Now is the opportunity for great changes to take place in the development of a better urban environment for our city. There is no doubt that New Orleans and the surrounding areas can and should be rebuilt.
But before any reconstruction begins, a comprehensive, sustainable strategy for reconstruction and developments needs to be in place that acknowledges the distinction of our neighborhoods while providing an alternative to the pockets of poverty that have hindered any real changes in our city for decades.
The numerous challenges that we are facing require a coalition of planners, policy-makers, architects, artists, former mayors of progressive cities (Stephen Goldsmith of Indianapolis and Vera Katz of Portland are two that come to mind), developers, environmentalists, engineers and landscape architects to study the social, cultural and physical terrain of one of the most unique cities in our country.

Current federal government initiatives are only set up to provide short-term solutions to housing and basic needs, but New Orleans needs a plan for our future.

First and foremost, the major areas of concern are the environmental controls to prevent a repeat of the type of natural disaster that has taken place from Katrina. These issues include the reconstruction of the surrounding levees to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, the installation of a new surge protection gate between the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Pontchartrain and the recreation of the barrier islands. Also, coastal erosion must be addressed.

Since we are facing the very real possibility that most of the houses between Claiborne Avenue and Lake Pontchartrain, in the Lower 9th Ward, eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish are beyond saving, how will these homes and businesses be replaced? Suburban models or blocks of multifamily housing complex are not the answer. The ideal of an energy-efficient city that encourages walking, provides housing and shoppingclose to work and an expansion of the successful streetcar system would be ideal.

We do not have to look far for an example; the Vieux Carre pattern of life offers a wonderful and successful alternative. This model allowsfor a more humane density that encompasses living and working areas in order to decrease the need for automobiles. The school system could be reorganized to create smaller schools within walking distance of students' homes. This would provide more effective educational models where truly no child is left behind.

Most of the city has years of planning and implementation before any reconstruction or new development can take place, but the rehabitation of the 20 percent of the city least affected by Katrina must begin as soon as possible. Those of us in those areas can help to clean up and put things back together, beginning the task of planning for an enhanced community for everyone to come back to.

This is either going to be an amazing opportunity to create a new model for a diverse, modern and socially conscious city - or New Orleans will cease to exist.

In order to start a dialogue on this, we are asking Mayor Nagin to create a series of town hall meetings to bring together our citizens and begin a series of discussions that will lead to the planning and the development of our future.

Wayne Troyer, architect, Tulane University
Teresa Cole, chairwoman, Newcomb College Art Department
New Orleans Now in Baton Rouge



4) A posting on New Orleans preservation efforts to come:

ksaunders@historiccharleston.org

> 09/15/05 10:51 AM

Everyone - Obviously the human tragedies surroundingHurricane Katrina should be and are the first priorities of giving. I just wanted to make apitch for donating $ to help save the historicbuildings and neighborhoods of New Orleans. They are imperiled not only because of the physical damageof the wind, the flooding, subsequent pollution in thewater..... but also because in our rush to get back to normal its many times easier to demolish that which could and should be saved. We've heardthat the French Quarter is OK.....well - there are lots more historic neighborhoods in the city thanjust the ones you may have visited as a tourist. There is information below. There is a website and also -- my work - Historic Charleston Foundation is taking donations by mail on behalf of Preservation Resource Center N. O. since we have an address and they don't right now. Please consider helping out. Katherine A. Saunders Associate Director of Preservation Historic Charleston Foundation 40 East Bay Street Charleston, SC 29401 843.723.3646 _____

From: Poston, Jonathan Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 2:05 PMTo: HCF ListSubject: FW: More News from New Orleans -----Original Message-----From: Heather MacIntosh

[mailto:HMacIntosh@preservationaction.org] Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 5:14 PMTo: Rhonda SincavageSubject:

More News from New Orleans

Dear Preservation Action Members -- The latest from Preservation Action Board member PattyGay, Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans... RE: Donating to the Preservation Resource Center ofNew Orleans, an organization that has been on the ground for 30 years revitalizing, rebuilding and restoring New Orleans historic neighborhoods. It is the mission of the Preservation Resource Center of NewOrleans to maintain and augment the city's unique character that is known and loved around the world. Our staff is hard at work in exile and we need your help.

How to help: visit: http://www.preserveneworleans.com to donate online or mail donations to the Historic Charleston Foundation, made out to the Preservation Resource Center, Preservation Disaster Relief Fund.
The address is 40 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401.

Contact: Patricia Gay - 337-784-9893, <mailto:prcnola@yahoo.com> and mfitznola@aol.com

Bulldozing might be expedient, but we're talking aboutpeople's homes and communities, corner stores, diners, and churches. We're talking in many cases about houses that have stood over 100 years andneighborhoods that have been home to five or six generations. And we're talking about what makes our city different from every place else and what makes visitors want to come here: in other words, our livelihood.

REPORT FROM NEW ORLEANS by Patricia Gay, Executive Director, PreservationResource Center _____ The tragedy of lost lives and displaced citizens ofNew Orleans will continue to be paramount in these horrific weeks, months, perhaps, years ahead of us. But New Orleans will come back and will once again bea wonderful community to live in, work in and visit. Cities and towns throughout history have survived severe flooding, ravishing fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes and have been rebuilt. We will, too. New Orleanians are irrepressibly in love with our city and won't rest until it is restored and rebuilt. Our organization, the Preservation Resource Center,has worked hand in hand with neighborhood groups since 1974 to revitalize and restore New Orleans.After Katrina, our charge is even stronger. We can report that many of the oldest areas of NewOrleans closest to the river -- from Bywater downriver of the French Quarter to St. Charles Avenuein Uptown and Carrollton -- are intact. Some historic areas north of the French Quarter are also on higher ground and have not incurred the severe and tragic flooding. Nonetheless, areas closer to the lake and downriver of the Industrial Canal, including Preservation Resource Center's target area in the historic Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of Holy Cross, have not fared well in this disaster. As the water recedes, much will be salvageable. Wherebuildings have been damaged, we will repair them. Where we have lost buildings, we will rebuild with structures that reflect the New Orleans that isknown and loved around the world. This is a time to learn from the buildings that have survived natural disasters. Over the Preservation Resource Center's history, we have renovated houses that have been deemed teardowns by everyone else. We have brought back neighborhoods where lenders were afraid to go. We are ready.

There are solutions. We are communicating with theNational Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Action, the Historic CharlestonFoundation and our state and local governments onideas to provide incentives for restoring homes and neighborhoods. These in turn will attract additional private investment and stimulate the ripple effect that we depend upon to bring the neighborhoods back. Our staff and board are developing plans to work with neighborhoods to assist their restoration and rebuilding efforts. Much remains of our city. Much can and must be done toutilize the wealth of human, material and cultural resources of our city to generate recovery and economic activity as soon as possible. It has alreadybegun.

We need your help.



5) A posting about New Orleans historical archives and public libraries:

http://herbie.ischool.utexas.edu/ssacares/repositoryinfo.php

SSA is Society of Southern Archivists

"Wayne Everard/Irene Wainwright News from New Orleans Public Library. Wayne Everard and Irene Wainwright, along with another NOPL staffer, were able to get to the building yesterday. We are very pleased (and utterly astonished) to report that the news is good. There was NO WATER in our basement archives, with the exception of a small puddle near the sump pumps that we believe may have been sewerage backup rather than flood water. The archives and the first basement above it, were DRY. The library building itself suffered minor damage to one area -- our first floor computer lab -- where two windows blew in. The damage, however, appears to have been confined to that one room. There were also a few other leaks in the building, but, again, extremely minor, considering.

We will send a fuller report (and we also have photographs of the area around the building, about 4 blocks from the Dome) soon. Thank everyone for their thoughts and concern. The NOPL system has taken a blow (about half of our branches are probably under water) but the fact that the Main Library has come through relatively unscathed is good fortune beyond our wildest dreams, given the earlier reports that we were receiving.

2005-09-09 09:19:42 "

2. from a blog quoting the Asst Archivist of NOPL: "In an email to a librarian's newsgroup, NOLA Public Library archivist Irene Wainwright says: New Orleans Public Library is delighted to be able to announce that the New Orleans City Archives, which we hold, is relatively safe. Although the majority of our records (as well as the 19th and early 20th century records of the Orleans Parish civil and criminal courts) are housed in the basement of the Main Library, some 18 feet below sea level, the basement remained essentially dry.

Wayne Everard , our archivist, and I were able to get access to the building yesterday, along with another NOPL staff member and a representative of Munters. We discovered that the basement sustained NO FLOODING, although there is a very small amount of water in one area, possibly caused by sewer backup. This water caused no direct damage to records themselves. The Main Library itself (across the plaza from city hall, about 4 blocks from the Dome) came through almost unscathed.

Several windows blew out in the area of our Technology Center causing quite a bit of damage there, but the damage is confined to that closed in room. There is also evidence of very minimal roof leakage on the first floor -- most of it missing the books.

On the whole, however, the Main Library is in excellent shape. Earlier reports that vandals had entered the building are incorrect. Our branch run van was looted and we believe another van was stolen from the parking lot, but it is clear that no one got into the building, either to vandalize or to shelter there.

The NOPL system itself has been hit hard -- probably about half of our 11 branch libraries are under water. But these we can (and will) rebuild. The fact that the archives have survived leaves us almost delerious with relief.

We are working now to arrange for Munters to stabilize the Main Library building until we can all return and begin the rebuilding process. We posted this news earlier to the ssacares site, where we will post additional information as it becomes available as well as photographs we took of the Library and the surrounding area.
Thank you all for your expressions of concern and offers of assistance. We are unbelievably lucky, and I think I now believe in miracles....

Irene Wainwright Assistant Archivist, Louisiana Division / City Archives,
New Orleans Public Library"

3. Photos on the SSA website:
http://herbie.ischool.utexas.edu/ssacares/photos.php



6) Hmm -- tax cuts for the poor? Who'da thunk?:

www.dailykos.com

Dems Propose Tax Refunds for Katrina Victims

by DavidNYC Wed Sep 14th, 2005 at 16:43:10 PDT

While the Republicans are busy trying to find a way topass their abhorrent bill to repeal the estate tax,Democrats on Capitol Hill are actually trying topropose some serious - and necessary - tax relief forthe victims of Hurricane Katrina. Congressman RahmEmanuel, the chair of the DCCC, and Sen. Barack Obama(both of Illinois), are sponsoring the "HurricaneKatrina Accelerated Tax Refund Act":

This bill would immediately accelerate the EarnedIncome Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, andapplicable education incentives. By taking thesesteps, we can deliver resources on a fast-track basisto families that have worked hard, paid taxes andearned these tax benefits, all the while stimulatinglocal economies. These Americans who have lost so muchshould receive their refunds now rather than later.There is precedent for fast-tracking tax refundsduring times of crisis. As you know, in the wake ofthe tragic events of September 11, 2001, Congresspassed legislation to fast-track Child Tax Creditrefunds.

Surely those displaced by Katrina deserve no less thanthose affected by the horrible tragedy of September11th. As Obama put it:

"For families living paycheck to paycheck, a taxrefund isn't just a welcome surprise at the end of theyear but is money they count on to make ends meet. Thefamilies displaced by Hurricane Katrina need theirrefunds now more than ever, and their government hasan obligation to do everything it can to help them getback on their feet."

After FEMA totally FEMA-ed everything, the least thefederal government can do is make sure another federalagency (the IRS) does right by the victims of Katrina.Of course, this is only one piece of a much largerproject that we need to undertake in order to providefor those affected by this tragedy, but at least it'sone good starting point.

(Hat tip to Jesse Lee.)

P.S. As Goldfish notes in the comments, if this getsto the floor, the Republicans might well wind upvoting against tax cuts. Maybe they have the stomachto vote against independent investigative commissions.But tax cuts? I'd like to see them try.



7) Meanwhile, another legislator shows his stripes:

www.dailykos.com

Sensenbrenner to Katrina Victims:

Drop Dead, Redux by DavidNYC
Wed Sep 14th, 2005 at 18:46:59 PDT
House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James

Sensenbrenner was one of just eleven heartless HouseRepublicans to vote against last week's $50 billionemergency aid package for Katrina relief. Today, heproves that the "F." really does stand for"Fuckstick":

The chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committeesaid on Tuesday he had no intention of reopening asweeping bankruptcy law passed by Congress earlierthis year, despite proposals to exempt HurricaneKatrina victims from some of its provisions.

The new, more stringent bankruptcy law will not harmpeople left "down and out" by the storm, WisconsinRepublican Rep. James Sensenbrenner said.

He said he would not hold a hearing in his committeeon a bill by the panel's ranking Democrat, MichiganRep. John Conyers, and 31 other Democrats who want toexempt Hurricane Katrina victims from parts of the newbankruptcy law. A chairman's decision not to hold ahearing usually prevents a House bill from advancing.
Obviously, Katrina victims need to take personalresponsibility for the fact that they chose to live inareas which might get flattened by a hurricane. (Thisis actually a genuine wingnut talking point, if youcan bear to believe it.)

Meanwhile, though, big companies - particularly theairlines - are using the corporate bankruptcy code(which wasn't amended unfavorably, unlike the consumerprovisions) to dump their responsibilities withoutconsequences. Of course, some of their biggestobligations include pension funds, which creates anespecially perverse situation: When a big companyfiles for bankruptcy and defaults on its pensionfunds, it makes it more likely that its employees willin turn one day have to file for bankruptcy. And atthat point, of course, they (the employees) are hosed.

That, of course, is the world that the GOP and F.James are happiest with.



8) More FEMA reporting, this time from the Village Voice:

Lifeless Body Removed from FEMA HQ

http://villagevoice.com/blogs/bushbeat/archive/001812.php

Brown's stench was detected long before Katrina, but it was ignored

The Bush regime has apparently knocked us senseless. Most of the country ignored a highly publicized scandal last year in Florida that should have cost Mike Brown his FEMA job before Hurricane Katrina hit.
Now, as the bloated corpses of more than 40 elderly people were finally being taken out of a New Orleans hospital that had been abandoned by authorities during the hapless initial federal response to the disaster, Brown has finally resigned.

Brown should have been evacuated from FEMA headquarters long before now. And it's not as though we didn't know what occurred after Hurricane Frances hit South Florida during last year's Labor Day weekend.
The Sun-Sentinel wound up doing a major exposé, "Cashing In on Disaster," revealing that FEMA needlessly poured money into the key battleground state during the presidential campaign. There were calls from major Florida newspapers months ago for Brown's immediate resignation.....



9) Grandmother, 73, held as sausage looter:

A 73-year-old church deaconess, never before in trouble with the law, now sleeps among hardened criminals. Her bail is a stiff $50,000. Her offense? Allegedly stealing $63.50 in goods from a looted deli the day after Katrina struck.

http://g.msn.com/0MN2ET7/2?http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9356608&&CM=EmailThis&CE=1



10) Another St. Bernard story:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5280366,00.html

Along Bayou Road, Family Survives Flood

Thursday September 15, 2005 3:01 PM
By DAVID CRARY
AP National Writer

CHALMETTE, La. (AP) - Sitting near a neighbor'soutdoor grill with his wife, in-laws and his dog,Jimmy Mims looked like a man at peace. Two weeksearlier, though, all five were tossing on floodwatersin a small fishing boat - not sure whether they wouldsurvive as the only folks along their stretch of BayouRoad who stayed through Hurricane Katrina.

Even now, after the waters have receded and the mudslowly dries, their mostly rural community about 20miles east of New Orleans remains deserted except forthem and a few stray, hungry pigs from a neighbor'sfarm who stop by to eat dog food.

``It's share and share alike,'' said Mims'mother-in-law, Irene Hutchinson.

The Mims used to live in a mobile home on a nearbylot, which they correctly feared would be destroyed bythe hurricane. They tried to ride out the storm in asmall, wood-frame house, but it was swept off itsfoundation and swirled around in surging water untilit lodged against a willow tree.

The family was able to climb aboard a 15-foot fishingboat that had been tied to the tree. They spent thenext nine frightening hours afloat before reaching aneighbor's two-story house and breaking through anupstairs window into the still-dry second floor.

With the permission of the neighbor - who hadevacuated to Tennessee - the family has been living inthe house ever since, cooking meals on a grill in thecarport.

For the first 10 days, Bayou Road was closed - theonly people they saw were search parties that sailedby in boats or hovered overhead in helicopters. Theyhad no other contact, by phone or otherwise, with theoutside world.

Only once, several days after Katrina, was the familypressured to leave - by a local fire official.

``They said we wouldn't see anyone else come out tohelp us for a year,'' Mims said. ``They were trying toscare us.''

Otherwise, infrequent visitors have been helpful - anemergency team from California drove by one day afterthe road reopened and asked what the family needed.They returned the next day with the exact wish list -bags of ice, cigarettes and huge jugs of water soMims' wife Roxanne could bathe for the first timesince the storm.

Why didn't they evacuate along with virtually all theothers in their community?

``No money,'' said Mims. ``And I knew they wouldn'tlet me take my dog. Besides, we never thought thewater would come in here. It looked like the tsunami.It looked like it would never stop.''

For Mims, the only serious concern now is replacinghis trailer - he hopes federal aid will be available.

The Hutchinsons lived nearby in a wooden home thatstayed intact despite extensive flood damage. Sittingin the neighbors' carport, Irene Hutchinson smiledwhen asked if she would remain on Bayou Road despitethe cleanup ahead.

``Oh yes,'' she said, gesturing to her grimy house.``That's my home. It stayed here for a reason.''



11) Good thing we've got those incorruptible Federalbureaucrats spending the money instead of usoh-so-corrupt locals:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5280345,00.html

Govt. Credit Cards for Katrina Draw Fire

Thursday September 15, 2005 3:01 PM
By HOPE YEN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawmakers and watchdog groups worrythat allowing federal employees to charge up to$250,000 on their government-issued credit cards forHurricane Katrina-related expenses will lead to arepeat of past abuses.

Some of the cards in the past were used to pay forprostitutes, gambling activity, even breast implants,government audits have shown.

``People are concerned this is a risk,'' said GregKutz, managing director of special investigations atthe General Accountability Office, which conductsaudits at the request of Congress.

About 250,000 federal employees have government creditcards, which typically have a purchase limit of$2,500. At the request of the Bush administration,Congress increased the credit line to $250,000 as partof a massive Katrina recovery bill approved last week.The aim is to make it easier to speed aid to victims.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley,R-Iowa, said the ``outrageous increase'' was``slipped'' into the bill. He is seeking to insertlanguage in a Katrina health bill that would reducethe limit in most cases to $50,000.

Responding to initial criticism, the White Houseissued new guidelines this week saying agencies mustdesignate in writing which of their staff will receivethe new spending privileges. Purchases of more than$50,000 must be preapproved by a senior manager.

``Substantial financial controls already exist but weare currently looking at what additional protectionsmight be useful. If in working with Congress,agencies, and state and local leaders it is determinedthat additional safeguards are required, then we'llput them in place,'' Alex Conant, spokesman for theOffice of Management and Budget, said Wednesday.

Critics say the additional oversight is needed becausethe cards offer special opportunities for abuse.
Purchases are billed directly to the government,making it difficult to recover losses from waywardfederal employees intent on fraud because of the timelag from the purchase date to subsequent billing.

Cronyism also is a danger, as officials have moreleeway under the higher limit to purchase moreexpensive supplies from politically connectedcompanies without the benefit of open bidding andcompetition. Even if they're detected, time-strappedagency directors often don't pursue disciplinaryaction, according to audit reports.

In recent years, several GAO audits found hundreds ofthousands of dollars of improper expenditures at thePentagon and other agencies, from purchases of remotecontrol helicopters and airline tickets to Palm Pilotsand $2,500 flat-panel computer monitors. Someone evenbought a dog.

Navy personnel also in 2002 used separate governmenttravel cards to hire prostitutes at brothels, gambleand attend New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakersgames. One civil employee ran up nearly $35,000 inpersonal expenses over two years, including breastenlargement surgery for his girlfriend.

The GAO has noted improvements in agency oversightsince then, including reducing the number ofgovernment cards from more than 500,000 to 250,000 tolimit the potential for fraud from lower-levelgovernment employees. The Pentagon also has said itinstalled software to help track when potentiallysuspect purchases are made.

But as recently as last year, the GAO cited continuingoversight problems at the Veterans HealthAdministration and said it had no way of knowing -without conducting specific audits - whetherimprovements at other agencies are actually in effectand working.

The concerns prompted Grassley, as well as SenateHomeland Security Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins,R-Maine, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the topDemocrat on that committee, last week to urgecongressional leaders to officially lower the cap to$50,000 to ensure full compliance.

Collins has also signaled separately she mightconsider creating a special inspector general tomonitor spending and no-bid contracts.

``Imagine the fraud we could see,'' said DanielleBrian, executive director of the watchdog groupProject on Government Oversight, noting that recentabuses involved cards with much smaller purchaselimits of $2,500.

``For bigger purchases involved in the rebuildingeffort, that should involve competition and seriousplanning. Instead we have far too many people with fartoo much access to money without any organization oreffective oversight,'' she




12) And now for something from the Neanderthal lobby:

Date: Sun, 4 Sep 2005 00:07:52 -0500

Finally got the power back. No damage, just mother nature fixin all those trees you nature lovers LUV TO LUV but don't like payin money to keep trimmed. (I've offered 3 times to remove two trees you could read a newspaper through, but "noooo," the owner said, "I LUVVV my trees.")

Soooo, how's that tree workin out for you now that it's in your HOUSE, you imbecile!

Watchin our Gov lookin like a deer in the headlights askin y'all ta praaaaaaaay was better than SNL reruns. Cretin needs to be in a home, and to leave governance to those who can.

PLEASE GUYS:

Before you start throwin ANY money our way...there isn't a stingy bone in my body, but understand this. LA's gov't has known this was going to be THE scenario for 20 years. They KNEW those levies would NEVER HOLD. They formulated an ACCEPTABLE casualty level of 25K so they're ahead of their estimates by a country mile.

When we got our HOMELAND SECURITY money from DC, much of it went into the pocket of the Saints owner, FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE MILLION, just to keep his sorry wad team in New Orleans....and they promised to build him a new dome in the next 5 years!

I promise you if Bush gives money to the state GOV'T it will go into their pockets, pet local projects, and PORK. I GUARRANTEE it.

So please think hard before emptyin your pockets. Give it a month to see which agencies are spendin what, where, and ask them what they have done, and plan to do with your hard earned money!

As for 'REBUILDIN' thuh great city of New Orleans?

Uhhhh...why ask American tax payers to rebuild New Orleans on the same sight, BELOW SEA LEVEL, SANDWICHED BETWEEN THE GULF OF MEXICO AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST RIVERS IN THE WORLD?

As for some of those "refugees"

Remember the images of 9/11? THOUSANDS WALKED ALL THE WAY FROM MANHATTAN TO JERSEY, INJURED, COVERED WITH SOOT, HELPIN EACH OTHER, NO WATER, NO FOOD, NO NOTHIN. THEY GOT OUT! THEY DIDN'T SIT ON THEIR ASSS AND DEMAND RESCUE. THEY DIDN'T LOOT GUN STORES, SET FIRES, AND SHOOT AT RESCUE WORKERS TRYIN TO HELP THEM!

And the BLACK CAUCUS?

Please note that while they're all over TV blaming everyone from Bush down, NOT ONE BLACK LEADER, NOT ONE BLACK ORGANIZATION, HAS DONE ONE DAMMMM THING FOR THEIR PEOPLE. NOT ONE BUS WAS SENT, NOT ONE TRUCK, NOT ONE CHOPPER. THEY AREN'T EVEN ON THE GROUND THERE! ALL THEY DO IS COME ON TV FROM THE AIR CONDITION COMFORT OF THEIR OFFICES, ODDLY ENOUGH, NOT IN NEW ORLEANS, AND WHINE THAT BUSH IS ONLY HELPING WHITE FOLKS!

HORSEHOCKEY! You know what? MANDATORY evac means LEAVE NOW OR DIE.

Those who chose to "ride it out" have NO right to expect America to move heaven and earth and empty the national treasury to save their butts when they refused to lift one finger to save themselves!

Anyone with a TV (and trust me the only thing in larger supply than guns in the projects is satellite dishes) could SEE that whether that 350 mile wide monster hit Florida or Texas, New Orleans was going down?

Why did they sit in their 50 year old houses waitin to get hammered by 135 mile an hour winds when they could have gone to one of dozens of emergency shelters opened the moment Bush declared a state of emergency, and get evac'ed out?

Look at all those flooded school buses! Why didn't they roll? Why weren't all the city buses filled with folks who had no other means to get out?

OOOOoooooooooo noooooo, Mr. Bill. Canal street's under water. Uh, just a wag here, but maybe that's WHY they named it CANAL STREET? What did they EXPECT it to do?

As for those who did get out?

Baton Rouge has now officially DOUBLED in population and it will be years, YEARS, before goods and services needed to supply them can be built. People here are already getting mugged at gas stations, yanked out of cars in parkin lots, houses broken into, and cars jacked!

I worked at one of the local shelters for a couple of days BUT NO MORE! I SERVED DINNER THE LAST NIGHT I WORKED TO A 21 YEAR OLD, ABLE BODIED MAN WHO'D BEEN IN THE SHELTER FOR TWO DAYS. That's 48 hours worth of sleep, showers, and 3 meals a day.

When I asked if he'd hand a plate of food to an elderly woman in a wheel chair behind him, he LOOKED AT ME AND said, "I AIN'T YO NIGGER!

3rd generation "entitlement" mentality is what you're seein in downtown New Orleans.

Wake up call #1

These folks ARE headed to YOUR towns. That's the next step. They aren't gonna be able to stay in shelters for longer than 30 days. And I would remind you Louisiana has the largest population of morbid obesity, heart disease, type II Diabetes, and HIV patients IN THE COUNTRY!

Big Charity was the ONLY TREATMENT CENTER FOR THESE FOLKS, AND 2 YEARS AGO THE FED GOV'T ISSUED AN UNFUNDED MANDATE FOR FREE MEDS FOR ALL OF THEM!

Good luck, with that one, guys. Big Charity's full of gators and snakes up to the 4th floor. And before it got hit it was falling down on its foundations. Say buh-bye Big Charity, and hello state income tax.

Before this is over we're going to HAVE to create a WPA style program to employ the majority of these folks, ideally rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

I see a great opportunity for unemployed workers all over this country.

Engineers especially. New Orleans simply cannot be allowed to be rebuilt the same way. Even if they GET the water out it's totally undermined all the building foundations.

Time for solution on the scale of Galveston.

Wake up call #2

The oil crunch...it's only started. Those of you who drive SUVs and HUMMERS might want to reconsider. I'm not kidding. The Gulf Coast produces, exports, and/or ships 15-25% of this nation's oil, and 75% of that industry, from rigs to refineries, is now residing in Atlantis south!

Wake up call #3

Time to face the fact that if you build a house in a disaster area, you can only expect so much sympathy before tax payers get SICK TO DEATH of shellin out money so you can rebuild in the same spot.

We need to designate 100 miles of Gulf coast as a restricted, strictly commercial zone with building codes equal to or greater than those in California.

In a one on one with mother nature, we don't have a chance in hellll of takin a punch, much less throwin one.
We simply cannot continue to ignore the danger of building in forests, along fault lines, perched on the sides of volcanoes, or at the water's edge. Not without some mighty INVENTIVE engineering and MANDATORY building codes.

If the pictures comin out of NO don't wake up this country, then it's DOA. It took such a catastrophe to snap Holland to it's senses. But then the Dutch HAVE SENSE. It remains to be seen whether we do.
PREDICTION

It's gonna be easier for all concerned to sit around pointing the finger of blame at each other rather than face the hard fact that our cities are rotting, our infrastructure is crumbling, oil dependence is a luxury we can't afford, and many or our citizens are 3rd generation entitlement junkies.

Time to git tough or die. I don't care which. I'M SICK OF PAYIN FOR STUPIDITY AND DENIAL.




13) And now from the Jesus lobby:

Max Lacado, on Hurricane Katrina

Who would have thought we would ever hear this phrase spoken on a radio news report in America: "Today, about 25,000 refugees were moved from the Superdome in New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston."

For days, we've watched the tragedy continue to unfold in Mississippi and Louisiana and, if you are like me, you've wrestled with feelings of shock and disbelief...feelings that, over the last five years, have become all too familiar. We were barely into the new millennium when we saw towers falling in New York City and planes crashing into the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania farmland. We saw bombs over Baghdad and witnessed the ancient land of Abraham become a war zone for his ancestors. You'd think we had seen enough, but then came the tsunami--a roaring wave that sucked life and innocence out to sea.

And now the fruits of Katrina. A city sitting in twenty feet of water. Citizens hacking their way onto roofs and helicopters hovering over neighborhoods. Optimistic rescuers, opportunistic looters, grateful people, resentful people--we have seen it all.

And many have seen it up close. Katrina came to San Antonio in the form of 12,500 evacuees [INCLUDING THE SAINTS...]. Many of you are meeting them, feeding them, writing checks, and manning shifts. And you, as much as any, have reason to wonder...What is going on here? 9/11, Iraq, tsunami, Katrina. And I didn't mention nor intend to minimize Hurricanes Dennis and Ivan and Emily.

Jesus criticized the leaders of his day for focusing on the weather and ignoring the signals: "You find it easy enough to forecast the weather--why can't you read the signs of the times?" Matthew 16:2-3 (MSG).

What are we to learn from all of this? Is God sending us a message? I think so. And, I think we'd be wise to pay attention. There are some spiritual lessons that I think God would want us to learn through this tragedy. The first lesson we see is...

I. The Nature of Possessions: Temporary

As you've listened to evacuees and survivors, have you noticed their words? No one laments a lost plasma television or submerged SUV. No one runs through the streets yelling, "My cordless drill is missing" or "My golf clubs have washed away." If they mourn, it is for people lost. If they rejoice, it is for people found. Could Jesus be reminding us that people matter more than possessions? In a land where we have more malls than high schools, more debt than credit, more clothes to wear than we can wear, could Christ be saying: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15)?

We see an entire riverboat casino washed up three blocks and placed on top of a house in a neighborhood.
You see demolished $40,000 cars that will never be driven again, hidden in debris. And in the background of our minds we hear the quiet echoes of Jesus saying, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

Raging hurricanes and broken levees have a way of prying our fingers off the stuff we love. What was once most precious now means little; what we once ignored is now of eternal significance. A friend and I attended a worship service at Antioch Baptist Church last Sunday night. Several African American Church leaders had organized an assembly to pray for the evacuees that have ended up in San Antonio. Many of them sat on the front rows...dressed in all the clothing they owned: t-shirts, jeans. Their faces were weary from the week. But when the music started and the worship began, they came to their feet and sang with tears in their eyes.

They were rich. Are you that rich? Were all your possession washed away, could you still worship? Would you still worship? If not, you are holding things too tightly: "Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage--to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19 MSG).

Through Katrina, Christ tells us: stuff doesn't matter; people do.

II. The Nature of People: Sinners and Saints

We see the most incredible servants and stories of selflessness and sacrifice. We see people of the projects rescuing their neighbors we see civil servants risking their lives for people they've never seen. My wife Denalyn and I toured a shelter supervised by one of our neighbors here in San Antonio. We met a family of some twenty cousins and siblings.

One six-year-old girl told Denalyn about the helicopter man who plucked her off a third story porch and lifted her to safety. That child will never know who that man is. He'll never seek any applause. He saved her life...all in a day's work. We saw humanity at its best. And we saw humanity at its worst. Looting. Fighting. We heard stories of rapes and robberies.

Someone said, "The heavens declare the glory of God but the streets declare the sinfulness of man." The video footage in New Orleans has confirmed the truthfulness of that quote. Can you imagine not being able to sleep in the Superdome for fear that someone might try to rape your daughter if she went to the restroom in the middle of the night?

We are people of both dignity and depravity. The hurricane blew back more than roofs; it blew the mask off the nature of mankind. The main problem in the world is not Mother Nature, but human nature. Strip away the police barricades, blow down the fences, and the real self is revealed. We are barbaric to the core.
We were born with a me-first mentality. You don't have to teach your kids to argue. They don't have to be trained to demand their way. You don't have to show them how to stomp their feet and pout, it is their nature...indeed it is all of our nature to do so. "All of us have strayed like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own" (Isaiah 53:6).

God's chosen word for our fallen condition has three letters- s-I-n. Sin celebrates the letter in the middle. "I". Left to our own devices, we lead a godless, out of control life of "...doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it" (Ephesians 2:3 MSG).

You don't have to go to New Orleans to see the chaos. Because of sin, the husband ignores his wife, grown men seduce the young. The young proposition the old. When you do what you want and I do what I want, humanity and civility implodes.

And when the Katrinas of life blow in, our true nature is revealed and our deepest need is unveiled: a need deeper than food, more permanent than firm levees. We need, not a new system, but a new nature. We need to be changed from the inside out.

Which takes us to the third message of Katrina...

III. The Nature of God's Grace: Inside Out

Much discussion revolves around the future of New Orleans. Will the city be restored? Repaired? How long will it take? Who will pay for it? One thing is for certain: someone has to clean her up. No one is suggesting otherwise. Everyone knows, someone has to go in and clean up the mess. That is what God offers to do with us. He comes into sin-flooded lives and washes away the old. Paul reflected on his conversion and he wrote: "He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). Our sins stand no chance against the fire hoses of God's grace.

But he does more than cleanse us; he rebuilds us. In the form of his Holy Spirit, God moves in and starts a complete renovation project. "God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." (Ephesians 3:20 MSG).

And what we can only dream of doing with New Orleans, God has done with soul after soul, and he will do so with you, if you let him.

The most disturbing stories from the last week are of those who refused to be rescued. Those who spent their final hours trapped in attics and rooms regretting the choice they'd made. They could have been saved. They could have gotten out... but they chose to stay. Many paid a permanent price.

You don't have to pay that price. What rescuers did for people on the Gulf Coast, God will do for you. He has entered your world. He has dropped a rope into your sin-swamped life. He will rescue, you simply need to do what that little girl did, let him lift you out.

I mentioned my visit to Antioch Baptist Church last Sunday night. A local minister, Pastor L. A. Williams gave a message on this one verse: "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord..." (Gen. 6:8). The minister helped us see all the things Noah could not find because of the flood. He could not find his neighborhood. He could not find his house. He could not find the comforts of home or the people down the street--there was much he could not find. But what he could find made all the difference. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah found grace in the eyes of God. If you have everything and no grace, you have nothing. If you have nothing but grace, you have everything.

Have you found grace? If not, I urge you to do what that little girl told us she did. When the rescuer appeared on her porch, she grabbed him, closed her eyes, and held on. That's all you need to do. And if you never have, and would like to, I urge you to reach for the hand of your rescuer, Jesus Christ.

Your Redeemer lives, too. This hurricane was his tool to get your attention.

Trust in Him while you still can.

Max Lucado, (c) 2005
Max Parker Attorney Webb, Stokes & Sparks
P.O. Box 1271
San Angelo, Texas 76902
325:653-6866



14) T-P op-ed, on body retrieval:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_15.html#079872

Katrina's dead deserve utmost respect

By Stephanie Grace

I'm trying to picture Alcede Jackson in my mind.

Until a couple of weeks ago, he lived on my street, just about three blocks down. I drove by his house every day on my way to work. I'm trying to remember which house. Did he used to sit on the front porch and watch people pass? Did he wave, and did I wave back? I hope so.

I never met Mr. Alcede, as I imagine he must have been called, but I know a few things about him. From public records, it looks like he had a wife named Violet; that he was at least 79; and that, before he moved to the 4700 block of Laurel Street, he lived around the corner on Bordeaux.

And I know for a fact that he had a front porch, because I've seen pictures of his body there, wrapped in a plastic bag and covered in a blue blanket, just as it was for nearly two weeks after Hurricane Katrina blew through town.

Without the benefit of a computer database, the person who laid him out - a Baptist chaplain who had stopped by to check in on the elderly couple, according to press reports - couldn't even say when Mr. Alcede's life had begun. But he knew exactly when it ended.

"Alcede Jackson," the hand-written sign in the window said. "B _____, D Aug. 31, 2005. Rest In Peace In The Loving Arms of Jesus."

Our street largely ducked Katrina's wrath. But the storm must have been too much for him. Or maybe it was just his time. We'll probably never know.

What we do know is that his horrible, long wait is a scar on our neighborhood, and our city.

Even though they lost a loved one, Mr. Alcede's relatives are luckier than some. Thanks to the efforts of that chaplain, and the happenstance of dying in a dry neighborhood heavily traveled by reporters, his relatives do not have to wonder about his fate, and they will be able to give him a proper burial at some point. Newspaper readers all over the world know at least a sliver of his story, and mourn him.

Of the many images from Katrina, perhaps the most haunting are signs like the one on Alcede Jackson's window, fighting against the chaos for dignity in death. They practically scream out their message: that this is a person, not a body. That the storm's victims matter - each and every one.

It's the same impulse that led neighbors to construct a makeshift grave for Vera Smith on Magazine and Jackson, with the spray-painted plea: "Here lies Vera. God Help Us." It's what prompted people stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to pin notes to relatives who didn't make it and who would be left behind in abandoned wheelchairs, telling anyone who bothered to look that this person had a name, and people who cared enough to write it down.

It's why I jotted down as much information as possible about my friend's father - where he worked, what his sons do for a living - after I went to check on him a week after the storm, and a kindly cop who showed up to help found him dead of an apparent heart attack.

Alcede Jackson, Vera Smith and my friend's father died on the city's highest ground along the Mississippi River, not in Lakeview, eastern New Orleans or St. Bernard. There were people around to bear witness. How many others died anonymously, their bodies so disfigured by floodwaters that even their loved ones wouldn't recognize them?

There's been some recent squabbling between the state and federal government over the slow pace of body retrieval, but nobody wants to see more finger-pointing. You just have to think about the signs, the hand-scribbled notes, to know what's at stake.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the painstaking task of identifying the victims was a top priority, and it was handled with the utmost respect.

Like them, the people who died in the New Orleans area had neighbors, friends and loved ones. They deserve more than bureaucracy. They deserve all the closure the government can muster.

Stephanie Grace is a Times-Picayune staff writer.


15) Late show humor, some of which touches upon Katrina:

http://www.newsmax.com/liners.shtml



16) New Orleanians on a "Family Vacation":

Greetings from Noccalula Falls, Gadsden AL! I have loaded Max and some cheap new camping gear into my stalwart forest green Accord, and we are blazing, well plodding really, the well-worn trails of white trash RVers through the vacation wonderlands of the mid-south (SEE CAVE CITY!) Yeah, that is one big, dark hole (in the ground, you filthy perverts. I'll have you know that Mammoth Cave National Park is a World Heritage site, so keep your nasty innuendoes to yourselves). It has been an adventure of many firsts for Max --first real S'mores (as opposed to s'mores flavored food products like gogurt stix or something), first visit to a cave, first stitches (3-to the right knee. Fun, fun.) If you are concerned, my darlings, for the sanity of a middle aged 9th ward Bon Vivant on a solo flight through hillbilly heaven juggling all her material goods, a six year old, and a dome tent--you are wise. Nah, I'm so competent it's scarey. Starved for conversation, but otherwise powering on. Back in St. Charles by Monday. Will send update and observations then.
Shelley



17) West End ravaged. Are you surprised? Parking meters started to kill West End years ago, then another storm finished it off when Fitzgerald's got hit:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_15.html#079872

West End still standing, but barely
Few restaurants and homes left untouched
By Michelle HunterStaff writer

The West End -- a New Orleans dining and drinking playground for decades --may now be the worst end.
Bruning's, a historic bar where generations of customers downed raw oysters, and the porch at Jaeger's, where crawfish and cold beer accompanied sunsets over Lake Pontchartrain, now exist as rotting wood piled 20 feet high on the opposite side of the 17th Street Canal near the site of Sid-Mar's of Bucktown, also laid to waste by Hurricane Katrina. Pilings that once supported restaurants and bars are nothing more than seagull perches.

"The old Bruning's house had been there for a hundred years, and now it's gone," said Louis Cochran, 72, who bicycled over to Bucktown with friend Mark Adolph, 49, to check on their boats in the nearby marinas.
The only way into West End for civilians these days is by foot or by bike, across the pedestrian bridge over the canal, and that can be precarious, for Katrina's wind and storm surge peeled away some of the bridge's hand railings.

Cochran and Adolph carefully navigated the dinner plates, flatware and broken wine glasses in the West End parking lot that was coated by cracking mud. At nearby Coconut Beach, the once-pristine white sand of the 17-net volleyball complex is now a muddy gray minefield of twisted metal siding, glass and roof material.

The Municipal Marina Yacht Harbor and the boathouses that line its waters fared better, but not by much. Boats and cars are lodged against oak trees along North Roadway. Cinderblocks and red bricks from the public bathroom near the fishing dock are sprinkled across the roadway along with crab traps that washed ashore from the lake, their prisoners still baking in the sun.

Mike and Gloria Branford, both 50, have visited the area several times since the middle of last week, checking on Boathouse No. 84, their home for almost two years.

None of the boathouses escaped damage, but some are worse off than others. Owners who made recent renovations will have less to repair, Mike Branford said.

Many of the structures have collapsed, or their walls are blown away. At the living room of a friend's home, Gloria Branford pointed out where the floor dropped away, creating a pool of insulation and broken boards.
"On the first day, I was emotionally destroyed," she said. "I couldn't talk without crying."

Remarkably the bars inside many of the boathouses seem intact, their liquor bottles unbroken, which could be seen in the houses missing their exterior walls.

"There's something about liquor that doesn't knock over that easy," Mike Branford said.

At the Branfords' boathouse on Breakwater Drive, water swept through the downstairs area, taking with it the wallboards and some personal belongings. But the damage seemed minimal compared to the houses on either side, each seemingly smashed by a wrecking ball.

Mike Branford, a former carpenter turned auto-body mechanic, said he designed his house with storms in mind. Still, the devastation around the marina, the West End and elsewhere in New Orleans is not lost on the couple. They remember the West End when New Orleans residents flocked to restaurants and clubs such as The Bounty, The Port Hole and Augie's Delago. The area stagnated for a while, but it seemed to begun a mini-renaissance in recent years with the arrival of The Dock, a restaurant and bar that used live music to attract a hipper crowd.

Just as the Branfords have gradually become more adamant in the past two weeks about rebuilding, they also have hope that life will return throughout West End. They envision an alternative to the French Quarter, with boardwalks, hotels and other attractions that play up the beauty of the lake.

"This could be a blessing. It has potential," Mike Branford said.

He stood on the front deck of his boathouse, gazing at the lake as if willing the destruction around him to fade away.

"You just can't look sideways or look back," he said.

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