Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours XXIII

Wow, that Mike Brown just keeps topping himself. I won't add to the ridicule heaped upon him by Jon Steward and company tonight.

1) Jordan Flaherty posting:

Fighting for New Orleans
by Jordan Flaherty

A month later, many of those dislocated and displaced from New Orleans are still trying to reunite with family members, still trying to find out information about their homes and belongings, still grieving over their losses. Parents are still trying to find a school district for their kids, and local schools are over full and some are not welcoming. One Louisiana school suspended all New Orleans students as punishment for the actions of one child.

For many who are still in the shelter system, abuse and revictimization is rampant. There have been widespread reports of racism and discrimination in Red Cross shelters, especially in Lafayette, Lake Charles and Baton Rouge. According to Jodie Escobedo, a doctor from California who was volunteering in the Baton Rouge shelters, “Local officials, including politicians, select Red Cross personnel and an especially well placed but small segment of the Louisiana medical community, have managed to get themselves into positions of power where their prejudices result in the hoarding of supplies, vilification of the needy and substandard treatment of volunteers and refugees alike.”
Escobedo paints a devastating portrait. “I witnessed Red Cross staff treated abusively by shelter administration who also expressed contempt for the sheltered population. Dental abscesses abounded and when several cases of small individual cases of Scope were donated, Red Cross staff was told not to distribute it because ‘they will drink it and get drunk.’

At the River Center the Red Cross hoarded hygiene supplies and basic necessities on a giant loading dock while kids could not go to school because they had no pants or shoes, babies drank from dirty baby bottles, people slept on the floor and donated clothes sat inaccessible. I tried for 4 days to get access to the Red Cross storehouse of hand sanitizer which was unfortunately off site.”

According to another volunteer in Baton Rouge, “The River Center had a special bathroom that was set up for elderly and handicapped residents. Those with special needs. The FEMA guys came in and made it a private bathroom for FEMA staff.”Not only have many New Orleanians been mistreated in the shelter system, their voices are not heard. The same people of New Orleans residents who the national media portrayed as murders and animals are still silenced. Even in the progressive media, white voices like mine have been over represented instead of Black voices, and Black female voices are doubly missing. Beyond race, there are also other issues of privilege. As one community organizer expressed to me the other day, “there’s a difference between New Orleans residents and New Orleans natives. The voices I’ve heard speaking for us have been people who moved to New Orleans Many of them are currently staying with family or friends from somewhere else. They’re in a different situation. I’m from New Orleans. I don’t have anywhere else.”

They way the media covered the first few days still stings. This headline from today’s New Orleans Times-Picayune says it all: “Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated - Widely reported attacks false or unsubstantiated.” The article goes on to state, “Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened.” The one national guard soldier who was shot turned out to have shot himself. Between the Convention Center and Superdome, there were ten bodies found. Despite the reports of mass killings, only one of the deaths appears to be a homicide. However, it was these rumors that were used to demonize the people of New Orleans, and since most of the media has offered no correction, the representation still stands.

Meanwhile, the bulldozer of the Disaster Industrial Complex continues to rush towards our city. For executives at Halliburton, there was no pause for grieving. For the white elites of New Orleans, the same unelected power structure that parades in all white Mardi Gras Krewes and lives in wealthy uptown mansions, there was no fear and insecurity. For all of those who are poised to gain from this horrible chain of events, there has been nothing but a rush to profit. The real criminals run free.

New Orleans’ progressive infrastructure is as weak and underfunded as the levees around the lower 9th ward. The grassroots organizations who are coming together to fight for the future of New Orleans are struggling to define their work and mission, while the diaspora of our city becomes ever more displaced.

There are so many difficulties that organizers face right now, from the stress and trauma of lost lives and livelihoods, to communications and housing issues. The cell phone network in Baton Rouge is so overloaded right now, its almost impossible to call from one local cell phone to another. Apartments are scarce, and some landlords are asking for six months rent in advance. New Orleans-based groups have no access to their office and files. It seems that every day I talk to another friend who has lost everything, or is trying to clean mold off of a few remaining possessions they’ve recovered. I still don’t know if all of my friends are alive, including one of my best friends and her family.

Still, the fight continues. The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Commission (PHRF), currently based in Jackson, Mississippi, is working to set up offices in other cities with evacuee populations. They have also formed committees and a structure for folks from New Orleans and for supporters from around the US to join, and they are convening a strategy retreat for this weekend, in South Carolina. “We’re buckling down for the long term,” organizer Curtis Muhammad told me. “This is a five year, a ten year struggle.”

PHRF has achieved an early prominence through its powerful and galvanizing first statement, issued just days after the world watched in horror as a city drowned under mismanagement and neglect. Since then, representatives from the group have been highlighted on independent media, and have met with Hugo Chavez and spoke at last weekend’s March on Washington.

However, there are other efforts as well, with various levels of cooperation and communication. In Baton Rouge, at least two other coalitions focused on reconstruction have come together. One of the groups was initiated by the NAACP and the Service Employees International Union, and is planning demonstrations, as well as media and political campaigns. Their first two meetings featured a diversity of organizations and individuals, from shelter residents to folks from ACLU, ACORN, Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. They are still grappling with everything from the group’s name and mission, to their demands.

Another group, the Rebuilding Louisiana Coalition, was initiated by progressive political campaigners from New Orleans, and appears to be focused more on political pressure. The conveners, Cheron Brylski and Russell Henderson, have worked with a wide array of progressive politicians from Louisiana.

Still, most New Orleans residents do not know about these groups, and those of us who are in touch have been following their progress with hope and apprehension. As one shelter resident whispered to me during a recent coalition meeting, “I’m just worried that they’ve won already. The Krewe’s have won, and we’ll never see our city again.”

====================================================

Jordan Flaherty is a union organizer and an editor of Left Turn Magazine. This is his seventh article from New Orleans. To see the other articles, go to www.leftturn.org. You can contact Jordan at NewOrleans@leftturn.org.



2) This is an appeal for assistance and advice from Mary Beth Black, a writer, activist, and wonderful person. If you have input, she can be reached at mblack13@hotmail.com :

Hey friends and family,

Of course a great remedy for heartbreak is hardwork and I hope to be returning to New Orleans sooner than later to get my hands dirty with relief work. However, I do not want to go empty handed. Specifically, for purposes of cultural, civil rights, and my own self-defense, I want to return to New Orleans with a cell-phone, digitial camera, and video recorder in hand, as well as the accompanying cables, tapes, etc...

I know that whether I am looking up friends I've found but that are dislocated, seeking the wellfare and whereabouts of the homeless (especially a few homeless friends in particular), or working in an evacuee center or clinic, I will be hearing stories that need telling. I think back, too, to this summer when I witnessed Melvin Green (whereabouts unknown) get arrested by private security, (which along with Blackwater, seem to be running quite a show down on the Gulf Coast). and I know that if I had a camera and a phone at the time, he might not be missing today. A friend and I were about to work on and apply for grants to produce a "BUSTED: Know Your Rights" sitcom/civil rights educational piece to counter all the false arrests and police abuses that were happening in New Orleans prior to the storm, but I am sorry to say that I have no idea where or how Joseph is now. Circumstances have changed dramatically. Additionally, I've always loved people, specifically the folks in New Orleans, and recording their tales and tears, needs and knowledge, would be an honor and a service.

That mentioned, I am applying for an Immediate Response Grant with the Media Justice Fund. I need 501C sponsorship, and so far I have asked the Highlander Center, the longtime social justice organizing center in New Market, TN to sponsor me. (This is not their policy, and are to get back to me tomorrow.) I have put you all as references since I don't really have my home or a base organization to work from and you are all friends, family and allies aware of my community activism and arts & media based work. If you can be of any help with this project, please let me know. (Donations, advice on the process of story collecting, contacts in relief work down that way or with 501C organizations who might sponsor me, grant sources - all opinions and advice are welcome.)

Really, I can not imagine "moving on" with my life until I've put some serious heart, soul, and elbow grease back into the home I loved so dearly. And I've always been fortunate to have wonderful friends who show their care and engagement with making the world a better place on a daily basis.

Lastly, in this last month I have certainly felt that my skills and resources are too little, too late when it came to the enormous crisis that Louisiana and all the Gulf Coast residnts are facing. All of you have an awareness of the diabolical history of the South and this country and how important it is to speak Truth to Power. If I do have one thing I can offer, it is my sincere love for all the people of New Orleans and for some reason, the gift of naturally engaging most people I come across - for this reason, I'd like to go to the people and simply see and hear what is happening - with camera in hand.

Thanx so much for your love. Just wanted to give you a head's up on the grant I am seeking and that I've named you as references to Highlander Center, from whom I'm seeking the non-profit umbrella. And please do connect me to any relief efforts that you have personal contact with. My heart will not rest until I have the opportunity to return.

All Love,
mary beth

p.s. Today I attended a hungerstrike in front of the U.N. on behalf of Burma and for the immediate and unconditional release from 16 years of house arrest of Nobel Laureate and overwhelmingly democratically elected democracy leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi. The hungerstrikers and supporters marched from D.C. to New York last month. You can find more about the "Voice of Hope" and the "Revolution of the Spirit" at www.progressiveburma.org/icfab and at www.worlddharma.com. Even these murky swamps of despair and political corruption, their are places of courage and endeavor on behalf of peace.



3) Watch those bulldozers, which will be hard to do from afar...:

http://www.nola.com/newsflash/weather/index.ssf?/base/news-20/112796154492741.xml&storylist=hurricane

Preservationists: Don't tear down New Orleans
9/28/2005, 9:34 p.m. CT
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI
The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — In the aftermath of a natural disaster, the first instinct of local and federal officials is to tear down devastated structures — an "instinct that is almost always wrong," said the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who urged officials at the group's annual symposium here to lobby for the preservation of New Orleans' historic buildings.

"There are new technologies, new building practices that can be brought to bear that were not available even 15 years ago," said Richard Moe, president of the trust, which spearheads preservation efforts in all 50 states. To thunderous applause from the packed auditorium in downtown Portland, he stressed that: "No historical building" in New Orleans "should be torn down without a survey."

The trust's president is attempting to place his organization at the forefront of the debate over whether the low-lying areas of the hurricane-ravaged city should be rebuilt.

The Washington-based trust, which was chartered by Congress in 1949, has published an annual list of endangered sites for 18 years. Once a site is placed on the list, groups wishing to tear down the structure down must go through a rigorous application process. That has placed the trust in many thorny fights to save endangered structures, often pitting them against developers in a battle between history and progress.
According to the trust, there are 20 neighborhoods within New Orleans designated on the National Register of Historic Places, containing 37,000 historic structures.

"There's a lot of talk about mold," Moe said. "But there are measures that can be taken" to mitigate its effect and save the historic core of New Orleans from demolition.

Moe unveiled a number of initiatives aimed at helping rebuild the Big Easy. They include offering a 30 percent tax credit for homeowners living in historic structures who decide to rebuild; a $60 million grant program to help repair hurricane damaged historic properties; and a proposal submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service which would make it easier for owners of historic commercial buildings to get tax credits.

The scars of the hurricane are "first and foremost a human tragedy," Moe said. "But it's also potentially one of the greatest cultural disasters."

A slideshow of New Orleans' destroyed heritage — including the blown-off steeple of an elegant Methodist church and the water marks scarring the tombs at the 138-year-old St. Roch Cemetery — drew palpable sighs from the several hundred preservationists in attendance.

"You can't save New Orleans without rebuilding what's there," Moe said. "It has this unique character.
"No other city in the country or in the world has these layers of cultures, traditions, histories...It's the Creole home, the corner shop, the shotgun structure that makes up the vernacular architecture."



4) On yesterday's Brownie testimony:

www.dailykos.com

The Blame Game: Brownie Sez "It Wasn't My Fault" by Armando Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 10:12:18 PDTAP:
Former FEMA director Michael Brown aggressivelydefended his role in responding to Hurricane Katrinaon Tuesday and put much of the blame for coordinationfailures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and NewOrleans Mayor Ray Nagin. "My biggest mistake was notrecognizing by Saturday that Louisiana wasdysfunctional," two days before the storm hit, Browntold a special congressional panel set up by HouseRepublican leaders to investigate the catastrophe.

. . . Brown's defense drew a scathing response fromRep. William Jefferson, D-La. "I find it absolutelystunning that this hearing would start out with you,Mr. Brown, laying the blame for FEMA's failings at thefeet of the governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of NewOrleans."

Brown, who for many became a symbol of governmentfailures in the natural disaster that claimed thelives of more than 1,000 people, rejected accusationsthat he was too inexperienced for the job. "I'veoverseen over 150 presidentially declared disasters. Iknow what I'm doing, and I think I do a pretty darngood job of it," Brown said.

You did a heck of a job Brownie. Que cojones. (Roughtranslation - chutzpah.)

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Katrina-Brown.html?ei=5094&en=51e66a3f71899c10&hp=&ex=1127880000&partner=homepage&pagewanted=print

September 27, 2005
Former FEMA Director Blames Local Officials forFailures
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 1:44 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former FEMA director Michael Brownblamed others for most government failures inresponding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday, especiallyLouisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans MayorRay Nagin. He aggressively defended his own role.

Brown also said that in the days before the storm, heexpressed his concerns that ''this is going to be abad one'' in phone conversations and e-mails withPresident Bush, White House chief of staff Andy Cardand deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin.

And he blamed the Department of Homeland Security, theparent agency for the Federal Emergency ManagementAgency, for not acquiring better equipment ahead ofthe storm.

His efforts to shift blame drew sharp criticism fromDemocratic and Republican lawmakers alike.

''I'm happy you left,'' said Rep. Christopher Shays,R-Conn. ''That kind of look in the lights like a deertells me you weren't capable of doing that job.''

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., told Brown: ''Thedisconnect was, people thought there was some federalexpertise out there. There wasn't. Not from you.''

Brown appeared before a special congressional panelset up by House Republican leaders to investigate thecatastrophe.

''My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturdaythat Louisiana was dysfunctional,'' two days beforethe storm hit, Brown told the panel.

Brown, who for many became a symbol of governmentfailures in the natural disaster that claimed thelives of more than 1,000 people, rejected accusationsthat he was too inexperienced for the job.

''I've overseen over 150 presidentially declareddisasters. I know what I'm doing, and I think I do apretty darn good job of it,'' he said.

Brown resigned as the head of FEMA earlier this monthafter being removed by Homeland Security SecretaryMichael Chertoff from responsibility in the strickenareas. Brown will remain on the FEMA payroll for twomore weeks, advising the agency, said Russ Knocke,spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

Brown, who joined FEMA in 2001 and ran it for morethan two years, was previously an attorney who heldseveral local government and private posts, includingleading the International Arabian Horse Association.

Brown's testimony drew a scathing response from Rep.William Jefferson, D-La.

''I find it absolutely stunning that this hearingwould start out with you, Mr. Brown, laying the blamefor FEMA's failings at the feet of the governor ofLouisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans.''

And in a testy exchange, Shays compared Brown'sperformance unfavorably with that of former New YorkMayor Rudolph Giuliani after the Sept. 11, 2001,terror attacks.

''So I guess you want me to be the superhero, to stepin there and take everyone out of New Orleans,'' Brownsaid.

''What I wanted you to do is do your job andcoordinate,'' Shays retorted.

''I'm happy to be called not a Rudy Giuliani...ascapegoat ... if it means that FEMA that I knew when Icame here is going to be able to be reborn,'' Brownsaid.

Criticized by Shays for not acquiring better equipmentin advance that would have let different emergencyagencies communicate with each other, Brown blamed theDepartment of Homeland Security.
''We put that money in our budget request and it wasremoved by the Department of Homeland Security''before the budget was finalized, he said.

Brown also said he was ''just tired and misspoke''when a television interviewer appeared to be the firstto tell him that there were desperate residents at theNew Orleans Convention Center.

Brown testified that he had already learned, one daybefore the interview, that people were flocking to thecenter.

Brown blamed ''a hysteric media'' for compounding thecrisis with what he said were unfounded reports ofrapes and murders. He characterized blunt-spoken ArmyLt. Gen. Russel Honore, the military coordinator forthe disaster, as ''a bull in the China closet, Godlove him.''

And he said Americans themselves must play a moreactive role in preparing for natural disasters and notexpect more from the government than it can deliver.

But Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas told Brown:''I don't know how you can sleep at night. You lostthe battle.''

Brown in his opening statement said he had madeseveral ''specific mistakes'' in dealing with thestorm, and listed two.

One, he said, was not having more media briefings.

As to the other, he said: ''I very strongly personallyregret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco andMayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences,and work together. I just couldn't pull that off.''
Both Blanco and Nagin are Democrats.

In Baton Rouge, La., Blanco's press secretary, DeniseBottcher, ridiculed Brown's line of attack. ''MikeBrown wasn't engaged then, and he surely isn't now. Heshould have been watching CNN instead of the DisneyChannel,'' Bottcher said.

''The people of FEMA are being tired of being beat up,and they don't deserve it,'' Brown said.

The hearing was largely boycotted by Democrats, whowant an independent investigation conducted intogovernment failures, not one run by congressionalRepublicans.

But several Democrats from the stricken region,including Jefferson and Taylor, attended.

Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., cautioned againsttoo narrowly assigning blame.

''At the end of the day, I suspect that we'll findthat government at all levels failed the people ofLouisiana and Mississippi and Alabama and the GulfCoast,'' said Davis.

He pushed Brown on what he and the agency he ledshould have done to evacuate New Orleans, restoreorder in the city and improve communication among lawenforcement agencies.

Brown said: ''Those are not FEMA roles. FEMA doesn'tevacuate communities. FEMA does not do lawenforcement. FEMA does not do communications.''

In part of his testimony, Brown pumped his hand up anddown for emphasis.

Brown said the lack of an effective evacuation of NewOrleans before the storm was ''the tipping point forall the other things that went wrong.'' He said he hadpersonally pushed Blanco to order such an evacuation.

He did not have the authority to order the cityevacuated on his own, Brown said. A ''mandatory''evacuation was ordered Sunday by Nagin, the mayor.However, buses were not provided and thousands ofresidents were stranded without transportation inlow-lying areas.

When asked by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky, whether thelack of an ordered evacuation was ''the proximatecause of most people's misery,'' Brown said, ''Yes.''




5) On mandatory evacuations I:

I know I haven't said a whole lot during the past fewweeks -- mostly I've been reading and absorbinginformation. This morning I watched C-Span for a while. Michael Brown was in the hot seat and a varietyof Representatives were taking turns raking him overthe coals. For as poor of a job as he did, Brownhimself was clearly frustrated by the lack of commandstructure, along with the bureaucratic and financialemasculation that had festered in FEMA under theDepartment of Homeland Security. According to Brown,even after the Hurricane Pam exercise, the Departmentof Homeland Security scaled back the FEMA budgetrequests before sending their budgets on to Congress.

FEMA didn't even have enough communications equipmentto dispense to each county or parish effected. Butdespite his insight on the shortcomings of the federal government, Brown spared no amount of contemptfor Louisiana's state and local leadership. Onerecurring theme was the failure of state and local officials to order a mandatory evacuation. Thisbrought to my mind the issues of unfunded mandates.All the suits on the panel, with a few notable exceptions [Gene Taylor of Mississippi], were carryingon about whether or not a mandatory evacuation shouldhave been ordered earlier, without ever addressing thelegal issues of what responsibility and liability theState and Cities take on when they order a mandatoryevacuation. Once the mandatory evacuation is ordered,do they have a legal and fiscal (not to mentionethical) responsibility to provide transportation,housing, and food to people who have no means ofotherwise complying? How can they take on that legalresponsibility if they themselves have no way ofimplementing the evacuation? And do they becomelegally liable for the lives of people who evadeofficials during the evacuation so as to not evacuate,or for those whose presence is simply unknown such as poor or shut-in elderly living alone, or for unprotected property left behind with no one tosecure and protect it? Deciding to force people from their homes, and send them off to parts unknown is a difficult decision that take alot of planning, a hell of a lot. It can't be done overnight and to accept the legal repercussions that go along with it must have been an administrative nightmare.

The term "Mandatory Evacuation Order" keeps poppingup, but what was needed was implementation. Withoutthe ability to implement the order, it's just anotherunfunded mandate, which in reality accomplishes verylittle, and certainly nothing of significance in theface of catestrophic natural devastation.

As a citizen I operate on a level of "do what you haveto do right now to get through this," while ourelected officials are required to operate "by thebook" even if there is no book. Although I am not alegal expert of any sort, I am interested in seeing anevaluation of the legalities involved in hurricanepreparation on every level.
Also, I found a Katrina Timeline (link below) thatdocuments its sources pretty well, and a humorousarticle about LSU's newest frat house.

--C

KATRINA TIMELINE

http://www.thinkprogress.org/katrina-timeline

FBI becomes newest occupants of LSU's fraternity row08:11 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 27, 2005

http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/wwl092705fratrowfbi.9adb9ca2.



6) On Mandatory evacuations II:

I just noticed a quote (article link below) from Aaron Broussard, on August 28th, that explained why Jefferson Parish had not ordered a mandatory evacuation -- lack of the ability to enforce it.

--C

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_27.html#083003

"I've just announced at a press conference that we're probably going to lose all services over night: sewage, drainage, water, etc.," President Aaron Broussard of Jefferson Parish said at noon the day before the storm. "I cannot issue a mandatory. I do not have the resources to enforce it. However, I've just made the strongest message possible, and we will have police vehicles and fire vehicles going throughout Jefferson Parish with broadcasting advising people to leave now."



7) Overheard in NYC, at www.overheardinny.com:

Old man: Do you even understand the Republican mind? Giving money to poor people is like a crime to them...Where's our Lee Harvey Oswald? Where's our John Wilkes Booth?

--Corner Bistro, W. 4th & Jane



8) Apropos Oswald and Booth, how 'bout that Brownie?:

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/09/27/brown-blames-horsesassorg/



9) Here is a quite relevant announcement by the NO Mayor's office, for those fixin to go back:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/breaking/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_localbreakingnews/archives/2005_09.html#083498
Wednesday, September 28, 2005 City expands re-entry ZIP codes

More ZIP codes will be opened for re-entry for business owners on Thursday, and to residents on Friday, the New Orleans mayor's office announced late Thursday.

Mayor Ray Nagin's office announced the expanded ZIP code openings in targeted areas of 70112, 70113, 70114, 70115, 70116, 70118, 70130 and 70131. Those areas include Algiers, the Central Business District, the French Quarter and Uptown.

Business owners will be allowed to re-enter Thursday . . . on Friday, residents will be allowed back. The mayor's office offered extended cautions about the lack of basic city services and health hazards, and said that anyone entering would do so at their own risk.

The official announcement is as follows:

(New Orleans, LA) Mayor C. Ray Nagin today announced that the City of New Orleans is streamlining access into targeted areas of Orleans Parish while continuing to safeguard previously flooded areas. The City will begin allowing re-entry in the targeted zip codes of 70112, 70113, 70114, 70115, 70116, 70118, 70130 and 70131. Those areas include Algiers, the Central Business District, the French Quarter and Uptown.

Business owners in these zip codes may re-enter beginning tomorrow, Thursday, September 29, 2005. On Friday, September 30, 2005, residents in those eight zip codes will be allowed back in New Orleans. On Wednesday, October 5, 2005, residents and business owners in the rest of New Orleans, with the exception of the Lower 9th Ward, can return.

Mayor Nagin warned that residences may be uninhabitable. Citizens should have a back-up plan in case they cannot live in their homes.

The City is offering the following information to anyone planning to return to New Orleans:

New Orleans Safety and Security Re-Entry Information

On behalf of Mayor C. Ray Nagin and the City of New Orleans, welcome home! We are working to bring New Orleans back and need your cooperation. Please be advised that although we are slowly returning our City to normal operations, there are some precautionary measures you need to follow. Please read the following carefully.

1. You are entering the City of New Orleans at your own risk, whether you are a business owner or resident. There are still many health and safety issues. Please take great caution before entering your business or residence since structural problems are not always visible.

2. THERE IS A CURFEW IN PLACE FROM 6 PM to 8 AM every night that will be strictly enforced until further notice. This means you may not be outside between 6 pm and 8 am, in a vehicle or on foot.

3. The 911 system is operable when dialing from a landline. *Call 911 for Police, Fire and other emergencies. * Alternate emergency number is 504-525-9261.

4. Traffic lights are out throughout the City. ALL INTERSECTIONS ARE FOUR-WAY STOPS and the speed limit is 30 mph, regardless of the posted speed limit. Proceed with extreme caution. Report any downed power lines to Entergy; downed power lines may be live.

5. You are not permitted to go beyond your designated zip code area. Travel in your zip code only when absolutely necessary. Keep personal identification with you at all times.

6. There are only a few health clinics open at this time. We can handle minor injuries and health care needs. We cannot handle critical care needs. For your safety, you should have a tetanus shot if you have not had one in the past 10 years.

7. YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS MAY NOT BE STRUCTURALLY SOUND; ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. Use extra care when navigating upper floors and attic space.

8. The sewage system is operational but not fully functioning. With the exception of Algiers, you are advised not to drink, bathe or wash your hands in water from your tap. WE RECOMMEND THE USE OF BOTTLED WATER UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. BRING A SUFFICIENT SUPPLY OF BOTTLED WATER FOR DRINKING, BATHING AND PERSONAL USE. You may flush toilets.

9. Important numbers for your use:
Police, Fire and Emergency 911
Red Cross 1-800-435-7669
Remains Management 1-225-763-5480, 1-225-763-5760
Entergy (Gas and Electric) 1-800-368-3749, 1-800-968-8243

10. Standing water and soil may be seriously contaminated; avoid contact. If you come in contact with dirt or water you should wash with antibacterial soap and bottled water as soon as possible.

11. Limit your exposure to airborne mold and wear rubber gloves, masks (N-95 mask), goggles/eye wear and other protective materials to protect yourself. You must supply your own protective equipment. Open windows for 30 minutes before entering your home or business.

12. Bring sufficient food and any medical supplies required to sustain you and your family for an extended period of time. FOOD AND WATER WILL NOT BE PROVIDED TO YOU.

13. Have sufficient fuel with you before you enter the city. Gas stations are not fully operational and fuel is limited.

14. AVOID CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide build-up. Do not connect electrical generators to the electrical panel or an outlet in your business or home.

15. To assist in the collection of trash and debris, we ask residents to separate debris into different piles at curbside for separate collections. This will speed the removal of your trash and debris. Items should be separated into the following categories:

* Household garbage (dispose as usual) except spoiled food MUST be bagged in black plastic trash bags.* Tree debris and clean wood * Carpet, sheetrock, insulation, flooring and furniture, etc. * Roofing materials *
Appliances such as refrigerators (emptied of contents), stoves, and air conditioners * Household hazardous wastes such as pesticides, paints, solvents, automotive fluids and cleaning products. We are working on developing a program to handle these items, which will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, please store them in a safe place.

16. Electric customers with property damage must have the electrici
ty at the main fuse box or circuit breaker TURNED OFF. Don't step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker. Call a licensed electrician for advice when necessary. A LICENSED ELECTRICIAN MAY NEED TO INSPECT YOUR PROPERTY'S ELECTRIC WIRING BEFORE ENTERGY CAN RESTORE POWER TO A HOME OR BUSINESS. TREAT ALL DOWNED WIRES AS LIVE.

17. Natural gas customers: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TURN GAS ON YOURSELF.

Please have repairs made by a licensed plumber and certified by a city inspector. Call Entergy at 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) when repairs are complete.

18. To dry out your home or business
• Do not turn on or plug in anything electric until it has been checked out.
• Do not turn on gas until checking with the gas company.
• Do not turn on switches when standing in water.
• Throw out any wet furniture, mattresses and pillows.
• Wash clothing, towels and bedding in hot, soapy water. Remove drywall and insulation that has been wet.
• Place a fan blowing outwards to dry the house without spreading the mold.

10) This writer notices something I've also wondered about -- is the federal government only capable of military responses nowadays? Is that all we are now?:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1580427,00.html

To keep its dream alive, America must end its military obsession

The US is dynamic and adaptable, but it needs to pay more attention to its fragile economy to save itself from future shocks

Timothy Garton Ash in Stanford
Thursday September 29, 2005
The Guardian

As dusk fell, they danced barefoot on the grass, small children and straw-hatted grannies, fat and slim, rich and poor, white, black, Hispanic-American, Indian-American, Chinese-American, while the irresistible beat of the zoot-suited Big Bad Voodoo Daddy band pounded from the stage. Some of the dancers looked great, others ridiculous, but they didn't give a damn. Then fireworks erupted into the spacious night sky, and a leather-faced man in a cowboy hat cried: "Red! White! Blue!"

The concert to mark Independence Day here at Stanford University in California, earlier this year, showed America at its best. It was an authentic, infectious celebration of freedom and national togetherness, but also of a very particular kind of equality. Not the European kind, which looks to a state-guaranteed social standard for all citizens, but the American kind, which claims that anyone, coming from anywhere, has an equal chance to make their own way to the top.Where else would you get men and women of such diverse origins dancing so exuberantly together, barefoot on the grass, to celebrate a national holiday? Perhaps in Australia, Canada, or London, which is a small multinational country in itself. But even there, would it have quite the same pizzazz and largeness of spirit?

This was the enactment of a dream, of course. The statistical reality of social mobility in today's United States is rather different. But a dream in which enough people believe is itself a kind of reality, and that has long been the case of the American dream. It's a remarkable fact that, in surveys, many poorer Americans oppose high taxes on the rich - presumably because they believe they might one day be rich themselves. There are just enough success stories of outstanding individuals from poor and immigrant backgrounds to keep the dream alive.

Two months later we saw America at its worst, as members of the black underclass in the ninth ward of New Orleans drowned, grew sick and were preyed upon by violent gangs, while government failed to help or protect them. There are even reports (unconfirmed, and perhaps apocryphal) of American women changing their name from Katrina, since Hurricane Katrina has become a synonym not just for natural disaster but for human and political failure. How could the richest and most powerful country in the world, capable of hitting a flea in Afghanistan with a precision laser-guided missile, fail its own poor so miserably?

And then there was Rita. I returned last week from Iran (where an ayatollah at Friday prayers used Katrina to illustrate the inhumanity of the Great Satan America) to an America engulfed in preparations for the onslaught of Hurricane Rita. Watching television, which reported virtually nothing else, 24 hours a day for several days at a time, this felt like a country facing up to a Martian invasion, as in H G Wells' The War of the Worlds. As the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds famously triggered a mass exodus from American cities, so now an estimated one million people fled north from Texas. "Galveston is virtually a ghost town now," reported one correspondent, "which is encouraging." While that multicoloured rotating swirl in the weather-map simulations attacked the Gulf coast again and again, like an alien spaceship, the governor of Louisiana warned people: "If you choose to stay, write your social security number on your arm in indelible ink." So they can identify the corpse, you see.

In the event, it was not so bad as they feared. Three things struck me about this week of Ritamania. First, how often people reached for the word "hero". "Hero docs ride out the storm," said a report on ABC. Of course our tabloids do the same, but this has a different quality and frequency to it. When a military man briefing President Bush said the response to Hurricane Katrina had been "a train wreck", meaning a complete mess, Bush responded: "Having said that about Katrina, there were still some amazingly heroic rescues ... "

It would be interesting to do a word count for mentions of the word "hero" in American public life, as compared with Britain, France or Germany. A hundred years ago, conservative nationalist Germans used to characterise the "true" Germans as heroes and the Jews as wheeler-dealers: Helden against Händler. Today, we have a different stereotype: true Americans as Helden and limp-wristed Europeans as Händler. Yet in practice, of course, you had the same mix of true bravery and, as one journalist on the spot noted, "real raw panic" in the response to Rita and Katrina as you would in most societies.

The second thing that struck me was the way the Bush administration fell back on to the military. After the breakdown of public order following Katrina, members of the 82nd Airborne swept the streets of New Orleans, guns at the ready, as if this was Somalia, Kosovo or Iraq. Not just once but twice in the past few days, Bush has been shown being briefed by military commanders. The president confided that he was thinking about the circumstances "in which the department of defence becomes the lead agency". In the run-up to Rita we were shown the deployment of an entire, fully transportable accident and emergency department, with all mod cons, entirely owned and run by the military. Spick and span, and eerily empty. I could not help reflecting that the poor inhabitants of the ninth ward in New Orleans could have done with one of those in everyday life. But that's not where the money has gone in the past few years.

The third thing that struck me very forcefully was the number of people left destitute, or shouldering mounting debt, by the damage to their homes. Why? Because they had no savings. Indeed, many of the poor evacuees from New Orleans did not even have a bank account. The possessions in the house, some of them purchased on the never-never, were all they had. That's why some poor African-Americans refused to leave their homes. This is not just about poverty; it's also about a consumer culture, a relentless commercial pressure to spend, spend, spend, which has given the United States its lowest average personal savings rate since 1959, and one of the lowest in the developed world.

There's very little padding there to absorb another shock, such as the soaring petrol prices which are America's other current obsession. On Monday President Bush even suggested that Americans might think of driving a bit less. If I had any shares in the manufacturers of gas-guzzling SUVs, I would sell at once.

Now I believe the United States will meet this challenge, precisely because of the spirit and diversity I saw in that Independence Day celebration. This is still a very dynamic society, full of enterprising people who want to be here and want to make it. It's also good at scientific and technological adaptation, which can go a long way to address the country's oil dependency. But as I leave Stanford to return to Europe, I do come away feeling that this country needs to spend the next few years concentrating more on its economy and less on its military. When the next recession comes along, it will be no use sending for the marines.

www.freeworldweb.net



11) Another eyewitness fragment, concerning nursing homes, evacuations, and aged relatives:

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Finally getting around to looking at my e-mail.

I finally located Aunt Gin and Uncle Frank at Grant High School in Grant Parish, Louisiana, about 20 miles north of Alexandria, Louisiana, where they had been evacuated from the Jennings Guest House nursing home in Jennings, Louisiana. The original evacuation plan for the Jennings Guest House was for them to evacuate to a Knights of Columbus hall in Alexandria. The K/C's were expecting 60 people, but 200 people showed up! [COMMENT: That should say something about Reality and "Contingency Plans". I am sure that the nursing home's original evacuation plan would have worked - given the original size of the population at the nursing home; but with the influx of new evacuee patients, the old plan was inadequate for the new situation.]
The trip to Grant Parish is Aunt Gin's fifth evacuation and Uncle Frank's fourth evacuation since Hurricane Katrina: First evacuation - Aunt Gin left her home in Arabi, Louisiana and went to the Chateau de Notre Dame to be with her two brothers, Frank Newfield and Msgr. John Lyle Newfield. Second evacuation - The Chateau population evacuated in advance of Hurricane Katrina to Baton Rouge, to St. George's Catholic Parish gymnasium. They were at St. George's for the duration of the hurricane. Don't forget, this was not a simple evacuation (an oxymoron, to be sure!), but rather a medical evacuation, with patients, nurses, medical professionals, medicines, files(?), etc. With New Orleans underwater as it was, and the Chateau also under water, it became evident that the stay at St. George's could only be temporary, and that there was a need of a more permanent medical solution for these evacuees (who were now refugees). The Chateau group was divided up, and the patients disbursed to three different nursing homes in southwest Louisiana, to Jennings and possibly to Erath and to Eunice. This was the third evacuation for Aunt Gin. She ended up at the Jennings Guest House in Jennings, Louisiana.

It took me several days to locate her in Jennings, and when I did, I arranged for my Aunt Dot to visit her. Aunt Dot (my mother's sister) was also an evacuee who was then staying with relatives nearby. My daughter Charlotte made a day trip from Baton Rouge to Jennings, ans also visited Aunt Gin; they went shopping together. The situation at the Jennings Guest house was crowded and chaotic. It was at maximum capacity with the influx of refugees, and I am sure that they were doing the best they could, given the circumstances. Aunt Gin did not like the place, and she was anxious to relocate to better surroundings. By that time I knew that she would never be able to return to Arabi. EVERYTHING in St. Bernard Parish had been flooded, and the amount of work and money that would necessary to rehab the house was not the kind of thing that a 80 year old, live-alone woman could undertake. We had to find a permanent solution for Uncle Lyle and Uncle Frank; wherever they would be, Aunt Gin would have to be nearby.

Enter John Breaux, an old friend of Uncle Lyle's in Houma, and an accountant for Aunt Gin and Uncle Frank. He was making arrangements for all three to be transferred to the Houma / Thibodaux area, and those arrangements were almost complete, when Uncle Lyle developed a urinary tract infection, along with other complications. He was taken to the American Legion Hospital in Jennings. The Newfield Family of refugees were split up for the first time. John Breaux's plans for the relocation were, none the less, moving right along.
Then came Hurricane Rita.

The plans to relocate Aunt Gin and Uncle Frank were put on hold. The Jennings Guest House was planning to evacuate to Alexandria, Louisiana -or so was the plan! Uncle Lyle would remain at the American Legion Hospital in Jennings, and ride the storm out there - or so was the plan. Hurricane Rita would strike the Texas coast near Galveston - or so we thought.

Rita struck Louisiana. Thank God it missed Houston! The hospital in Jennings lost electrical power, and Uncle Lyle was transferred to the Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana, where he is now. When Uncle is next moved, I pray it will be to the nursing home in Thibodaux - as per John Breaux's plan. Although Aunt Gin is still at the high school gym in Grant Parish, she has been talking to Aunt Marie on the phone. Virginia and Marie - two sisters giving each other the comfort that each needs at this time.
Meanwhile, Nancy and I are preparing to go to Thibodaux to get Aunt Gin's apartment set up. It is a small studio, but she will be near her brothers.

Keep the prayers a comin'.

Paul "Skip" Newfield <skip@thebrasscannon.com>



12) Yet another eyewitness moment, about Bywater:

My granola neighbors bugged out before Rita. Bywater was pretty much empty when I went in on Sunday. The levee breaks had people worried but we were still high and dry. The Oklahoma National Guard was patrolling Bywater and carded me to make sure I was a resident. Obviously that makes me feel much better. Very nice guys, when I asked them about the Granolas, they had nothing but goods things to say. Said the crunchies and the military kept feeding each other and showing the out of towners some good old Southern, crunchy hospitality. I ran out of film when trying to get a picture of the humvee parked next to two flower school busses with "make levees, not war" painted all over them. Definite Kodak moment.

I told the OK guard I was headed to the LSU game and they got very jealous. They were dying to have a few beers. Alas, they will be gone on Wednesday and replaced by the Guard from Kentucky. He also said, we may get power by the end of the week. We'll see.Also, I've been to Carrollton/Claiborne several times and it seems fine to me. Palmer Park looks like shit but Stuart Hall(formerly Carrollton Pres.), is in fine condition. Again, I haven't been able to get to Chalmette/Lower 9th, but Lakeview is absolutely destroyed. City Park as well. Yesterday I saw about thirty 18 wheelers parked outside of Tad Gormley being used for debris removal.
Also, Jesuit is opening next week at St. Martin's in Metairie. The majority of the students are at other jesuit schools(300 in Houston, 200 in Dallas). Rummel is taking girls for school from 4-10 pm.



13) Mike Brown's still a consultant with FEMA:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/09/26/katrina/main886323.shtml




14) On Rita's effects:

For those who have asked about Louisiana, top birding spot [i.e., CAMERON PARISH, LA]:

Reply-To: Bill Fontenot <bbboy@naturestation.org>

air video of cameron yesterday showed 65-75% anihilation in cameron, oak grove/creole, grand chenier (no video of [what was] holly beach & johnson's bayou communities available at this point in time).............mostly empty slabs at just about every (former) structure lining the north & south sides of LA 82......cameron motel & cam-mart, for example, are empty slabs.......the courthouse, the air log heliport terminal, and our lady of the sea catholic church still stand........many houses sitting north of LA 82 look to be standing, but inundated...............things get a little better north to hackberry/sweet lake, but most structures up there are under various depths of water as well.......in vermilion parish, everything south of LA 14 went under varying depths of gulf water; ditto for iberia & st. mary parishes south of US 90...........up along the I-10 corridor, all communities from crowley west to beaumont are serverely damaged; exits off of I-10 are mostly closed, and re-entry into those parishes/counties is cut off for now...........power/sewer/water expected to be restored in 2-4 weeks.........................

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