Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours XXI

1) Katrina Oral History Website:

2) More FEMA Follies:

FEMA Sends Trucks Full Of Ice For Katrina Victims To Maine
9/19/2005 8:31:47 PM

The trucks started arriving this weekend, and they're expected to keep coming through Sunday.

City officials say they have no idea why the trucks are here, only that the city has been asked to help out with traffic problems. But the truck drivers NEWSCENTER spoke to said they went all the way down to the gulf coast with the ice -- stayed for a few days -- and then were told by FEMA they needed to drive to Maine to store it.

The truck drivers, who are from all over the country, tell us they were subcontracted by FEMA.They started arriving over the weekend, and city spokesperson Peter Dewitt says as many as 200 trucks could come to the city by the end of the week.

The trucks are storing the ice at Americold, a company with a warehouse on Read Street in Portland. People who live nearby say all the traffic has been baffling them for days.

The trucks can only unload 4 at a time -- so the city is allowing some of them to sit at the International Marine Terminal and at the Jetport's satellite parking lot.

No one NEWSCENTER talked to has any idea when, or even if the ice will go back to the gulf coast.

3) Er, buy one and kill two birds with one stone?

Breast-flashing video proceeds donated to Katrina victims
Sat Sep 17, 3:30 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Video makers notorious for filming women flashing their breasts said they will donate revenues from "Girls Gone Wild" episodes tied to Mardi Gras to the Red Cross to help Hurricane Katrina victims. "Mardi Gras is synonymous with New Orleans and 'Girls Gone Wild' is synonymous with Mardi Gras," Bill Horn of Mantra Films, the southern California company behind "Girls Gone Wild," told AFP.
"We have a personal and profound connection to the city," Horn continued. "We had to do something."
"Girls Gone Wild" crews have roved Mardi Gras annually since the company was founded eight years ago, filming females flashing body parts in exchange for bead necklaces, attention, t-shirts or just for the exposure.
"Girls Gone Wild" will donate to the Red Cross the online purchase prices of each title or package set "that has anything to do with Mardi Gras," including "the very popular 'Girls Gone Wild Doggy Style'," with rapper Snoop Dogg, Horn said.

Nearly a third of the company's 19 titles are linked to Mardi Gras, Horn said.

"I think I'm going to stick to the high road here," HT Linke of the Red Cross in Los Angeles responded when told of the "Girls Gone Wild" donation plans.

"If people make a donation to the Red Cross, we will use it for the intended purpose. Right now, the emergency is the needs of a lot of people."

Mantra films did not notify the Red Cross of its decision.

"I think the Red Cross has more important things to do than hear from us," Horn said. "I'm sure they will appreciate the funds."

Horn said the video proceeds would be diverted to the Red Cross for at least three months, dating back to when Katrina struck Louisiana on August 29. He estimated the donation amount would total thousands of dollars.

Mantra wasn't seeking publicity regarding the donation plans, and no press release was issued, according to Horn.

4) Shelter And Safety

by Jordan Flaherty
September 20, 2005

Last New Year’s Eve, a Black Georgia Southern University student named Levon Jones was killed by bouncers in the Bourbon Street club Razzoo’s. The outrage led to near-daily protests outside the club, threats of a Black tourist boycott of New Orleans, and a city commission to explore the issue of racism in the French Quarter. Despite widely-publicized advance warning, a “secret shopper” audit of the Quarter found rampant discrimination in French Quarter businesses, including different dress codes, admission prices, and drink prices, all based on whether the patron was black or white.

“The French Quarter is not a place for Black people,” one community organizer told me pre-hurricane. “You don’t see Black folks working in the front of house in French Quarter restaurants or hotels, and you don’t see them as customers.”

Just north of the French Quarter, a few blocks from Razzoo’s, is the historic Treme neighborhood. Settled in the early 1800s, it’s known as the oldest free African-American community in the US. Residents fear for the post-reconstruction stability of communities like Treme. “There’s nothing some developers would like more than a ring of white neighborhoods around the French Quarter,” said one Treme resident recently. The widespread fear among organizers is that the exclusionary, “tourists only” atmosphere of the French Quarter will be multiplied and expanded across the city, and that many residents simply won't be able to return home.
Chui Clark is a longtime community organizer from New Orleans, and was one of the leaders of the protests against Razzoo’s. He now stays in Baton Rouge’s River Street shelter. “This is a lily-white operation,” he reports. “You have white FEMA and Red Cross workers watching us like we’re some kind of amusement.”

Despite repeated assurances of housing placements from Red Cross and government officials, the population of the Baton Rouge shelters does not appear to be decreasing, according to Clark. “You have new arrivals all the time. Folks who were staying with families for a week or two are getting kicked out and they got no where else to go.”

I went to the River Road shelter as part of a project initiated by Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children to help displaced New Orleans residents reconnect with loved ones who are lost in the labyrinth of Louisiana’s corrections system.

Everyone I met was desperately trying to find a sister or brother or child or other family member lost in the system. Many people who were picked up for minor infractions in the days before the hurricane ended up being shipped to the infamous Angola Prison, a former slave plantation where it’s estimated over 90% of the inmates currently incarcerated will die within its walls. Most of the family members I spoke with just wanted to get a message to their loved ones, “Tell him that we’ve been looking for him, that we made it out of New Orleans, and that we love him,” said a former East New Orleans resident named Angela.

While Barbara Bush speaks of how fortunate the shelter residents are, in the real world New Orleans evacuees have been feeling anything but sheltered. One woman I spoke with in the River Street shelter said that she’s barely slept since she arrived in the shelter system. “I sleep with one eye open,” she told me. “Its not safe in there.”

According to Christina Kucera, a feminist organizer from New Orleans, “issues of safety and shelter are intricately tied to gender. This has hit women particularly hard. Its the collapse of community. We’ve lost neighbors and systems within our communities that helped keep us safe.”

Where once everyone in a neighborhood knew each other, now residents from each block are spread across
several states. Communities and relationships that came together over decades were dispersed in hours.
Kucera lists the problems she’s heard, “there have been reports of rapes and assaults before evacuation and in the shelters. And that's just the beginning. There are continuing safety and healthcare needs. There are women who were planning on having children who now no longer have the stability to raise a child and want an abortion, but they have no money, and nowhere to go to get one. Six of the thirteen rape crisis centers in Louisiana were closed by the hurricane.”

One longtime community organizer from the New Orleans chapter of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence has written, “We have to have some form of community accountability for the sexual and physical violence women and children endured. I'm not interested in developing an action plan to rebuild or organize a people’s agenda in New Orleans without a gender analysis and a demand for community accountability.”
We are already unsettled, and now Hurricane Rita threatens a new wave of evacuations. Astrodome residents are being out on buses and planes. While communities continue to be dispersed, some New Orleanians are staying and building. Diane "Momma D" Frenchcoat never evacuated out of her Treme home on North Dorgenois Street, and has been helping feed and support 50 families, coordinating a relief and rebuilding effort consisting of, at its peak, 30 volunteers known as the Soul Patrol.

"I ain't going nowhere," one Soul Patrol member told the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper in a september 18 article about Momma D. "I'm the son of a bricklayer. I'm ready to cut some sheetrock, lay some block, anything to rebuild the city."

Asked about her plan, Momma D had these words, "Rescue. Return. Restore. Can you hear what I'm saying, baby? Listen to those words again. Rescue, return, restore. We want the young, able-bodied men who are still here to stay to help those in need. And the ones that have been evacuated, we want them to come home and help clean up and rebuild this city. How can the city demand that we evacuate our homes but then have thousands of people from across this country volunteering to do the things that we can do ourselves?"

Community organizers like Momma D in Treme and Malik Rahim, who has a similar network in the Algiers neighborhood, are the forces for relief and rebuilding that need our help. The biggest disaster was not a hurricane, but the dispersal of communities, and that's the disaster that needs to be addressed first.
Yesterday a friend told me through tears, “I just want to go back as if this never happened. I want to go back to my friends and my neighbors and my community.” Its our community that has brought us security. People I know in New Orleans don’t feel safer when they see Blackwater mercenaries on their block, but they do feel security from knowing their neighbors are watching out for them. And that's why the police and national guard and security companies on our streets haven’t brought us the security we’ve been looking for, and why discussions of razing neighborhoods makes us feel cold.

When we say we want our city back, we don’t mean the structures and the institutions, and we don’t mean “law and order,” we mean our community, the people we love. And that's the city we want to fight for.


Jordan Flaherty is an organizer with the Service Employees International Union and an editor of Left Turn Magazine. This is his sixth article from New Orleans. To see the other articles, go to You can contact Jordan at

5) Preservation article:

Breaking NewsHistoric trust rallies to preserve damaged New Orleans buildings
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (9-21-05)

There will be no rush to judgment on the approximately 100,000 buildings in New Orleans damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and there will be no demolitions without public review. "The vast majority of those structures can be saved," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who toured the city this week. "I'm confident we can avoid the wholesale demolition some of us were worried about."

Moe's comments came at the beginning of a meeting yesterday in Baton Rouge, La., with dozens of federal, state and local experts in historic preservation and cultural resources.

The trust, which convened the meeting and opened it to reporters around the country via conference call, announced it will try to raise $1 million to help pay for building assessments, which will be done by 100 teams of inspectors, each of which will include a preservation specialist. The assessments are expected to take about two months.

"Everything is proceeding very cautiously, methodically, legally and with every consideration for preservation," said a New Orleans historic preservation officer who did not give his name.

Some of the "shotgun" houses in the 9th Ward were submerged for more than a month following Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and survived.

The key, one expert said, will be moving quickly, after the water recedes, to dry out the buildings, remove carpets, drywall and insulation, and prevent mold and rot.

6) Frank Rich NYT Op-Ed:

Message: I Care About the Black Folks
Published: September 18, 2005

ONCE Toto parts the curtain, the Wizard of Oz can never be the wizard again. He is forever Professor Marvel, blowhard and snake-oil salesman. Hurricane Katrina, which is likely to endure in the American psyche as long as L. Frank Baum's mythic tornado, has similarly unmasked George W. Bush....

7) Tenet and Me letter:

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dear Trevor,

I have been a Registered Nurse for 30 years and never in my life did I expect to see an event or its aftermath such as Hurricane Katrina. What I did expect was to be at work regardless of the severity.

That is, in both my personal and professional opinion, an expectation of the profession when there are those in need of the care I had made a promise to provide some 30 years ago. So I stayed at Lindy Boggs Medical Center. While I can say that I was never worried for my own safety, I had great concerns for those vulnerable patients who had entrusted themselves to our care. My sense of urgency grew and I found myself on the roof holding up a sign along with two physicians hoping that a helicopter would acknowledge us and send what we were asking for: water and medications. I was bitten by one of my pets, anxious and frightened over all of the commotion. I declined a Tetanus shot because I heard someone say there were only 10 available at the time and I knew there were employees going through water to get to the Medical Office building to retrieve samples of medications from the physician's offices . They needed it more than I did. Yet I must admit, I took it later when I slipped and fell on the roof and got a cobblestone lodged in the palm of my hand. I figured God was telling me it was ok and I wasn't being selfish. I say this with a smile.

My biggest smile and sense of safety for all those around me came because of you. Thank you so very much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the individual that you are. You came to get everyone! You didn't forget. You cared and it showed. We felt forgotten and feared abandonment by FEMA and our Government. We heard there was confusion as to who was in charge. We heard help was declined initially by our Governor. It was difficult to ascertain what was truth and what was false. But what we all heard was that Tenet was here for us. You sent help to aid in the evacuation. You sent protection.

You later sent help to rescue our beloved Pets. You considered everyone's hardship and went above and beyond with paychecks and cash plus pay outs. You set up an employee assistance line and resources in abundance for those in need to reach out to. All of this made me proud to be an employee of this organization and committed to Tenet for life or as long as you'll have me. My heart and gratitude go out to you. To say thank you is not enough. Words can not express how I feel. You will forever be in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless you and all those who assisted you in providing so much support and assistance to so many in need.

I have no family. My Pets were my "Children" and Lindy Boggs was my home away from home. Many of those wonderful individuals were kind, caring, hard working, committed employees. I hope you re-establish this family in the future. There is a need for us in that area. Many of us have been communicating via email because phone service is so sporadic. Many of us would be willing to assist with the cleaning and restoration of the building. I would be glad to be one of those to scrub floors, wash and paint walls, to do whatever I can to give back a small fraction of what you have given me.

I lost a cat, my beloved Cheyenne, in the building. She was left behind by mistake; I hope she will still be saved. There was food and water. I hope and pray I will find her alive. All of my personal belongings and house papers are still there. Even the charger to my cell phone was left behind when I grabbed the wrong bag. Hard for people to purchase necessary items when banks are closed and only cash was accepted. Lots of challenges post event. Too numerous to share. I will put them to paper in the future.My poor old car was under water along with every one else's who was at work those days.

But I have much to give thanks for. I saw much. Both from the air and from riding in areas that was initially restricted to residents but that I had access to view first hand. Spent a day feeding Troops at a Coast Guard station by the breech in the flood wall, assisting a church organization with food for those in need, and even flew in a Black Hawk with a group of patients from the Northshore. But I feel that I have more that I must give back. So I will be seeking out some more volunteer work before battling the job market. I saw so many people looking for a job when I assisted at the information desk at Northshore Regional. The demand exceeds the current supply. Who would ever think this would happen in a time of a nursing shortage. So I pray that Lindy Boggs survives this devastation and its employees have the place they stayed to assist to return to.

But if not, I realize that you have done more than I would have expected or hoped for. You are truly a wonderful person and I hope that one day I might meet you to say thank you in person. I will never be the same. We will never be the same. Let us grow from this. Let us remember that when everything returns to "normal" that there will still be many out there that will need our help. We need not forget them as our daily lives return to something bearable. We should remember those less fortunate. We can help rebuild homes. We can pray for them and with them. We can offer so much of ourselves and much of this need not cost a dime. I pray that the relief efforts continue and people do not choose to forget and move on.

Thank you for letting me share some of my thoughts with you.

God Bless You and Yours,
Cheryl Ann Martin, RNClinical Administrator

8) Arabi Inspection Tour:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nancy and I returned home to Metairie on Sunday (September 18th). Lots of work to do, but the house is basically in good condition, with no damage to speak of.

Yesterday (Monday, September 19th, 2005) I made an inspection tour of my aunt's home in Arabi (St. Bernard Parish), in the Caroline Park Subdivision. It was a disaster. In 1965, I was there when the waters came up during Hurricane Betsy; we were able to wade away from that flooding and later rebuild and return.
That was in 1965.

In 2005, I do not have that same feeling about Caroline Park in the aftermath of H. Katrina. In Aunt Gin's house, the waters came up into the attic. The insulation became saturated with water, and as the flood waters receeded, the water-logged insulation crashed thru the saturated ceiling into the house. As the waters were rising, wooden furniture floated about the rooms. Nothing remained upright. Besides the debris, the floor was covered with a silty layer of sludge.

Outside, the land and lawn are ashen color of death. All of the homes there are marked with a large spray painted " X " to indicate that the property was inspected for dead people, and where there were " O "'s it indicated that there were none found. One house, however, showed a " 3 ", and I knew what that meant. In my aunt's area of Caroline Park, it wasthe Georgia National Guard who performed this grisley function.

But my mission to Arabi yesterday was threefold:
1) I had to inspect the house;
2) I had to retrieve certain papers (if possible); and
3) I had to retrieve my uncle's (Msgr. John L. Newfield's) historic chalice which dates from the late 1700s, and which has a history all of its own. In truth, this was my primary goal, and I knew that I would not leave until I found it.

I did inspect the house; it is a total loss.I did retrieve those papers - wet but usable.And, I did retrieve the chalice.

There was so much loose debris in the house, about waste high, that I could not walk about in the house. In order to gain access to the room where the chalice was located, I had to pry off the entire window frame so that I could enter. I removed not only the screen, but the glass and the windows, and part of the framing itself. Then, I could standupright in that window opening, so as to pry the closet doors off of their hinges with a garden shovel. I cast the doors across a fallen dresser and used it to support my weight inside of the room. I then searched for the chalice inside of that closet, and I found it wrapped in a protective (Ha!) plastic bag, and brought it outside and set it on the ground.

Although the wood and leather case that held the chalice and patten were so badly weakened by the waters that it fell apart at the touch, the sacred vessels were saved. When I unwrapped the chalice and patten from their protective coverings, I cried.

On the way out of St. Bernard, I stopped in at a military medical facility to get a Tetanus innoculation. While there, I saw Junior Rodriguez coming from a meeting; I asked him, "Hey, Junior, How about a photo?", and he answered, "Why? Do you have roaches in your house that you want to try to chase them away??" Great sense of humor. I told him that I was part of the Canary Islands group in Baton Rouge, and he told me how caring and concerned the people in the Islands for our condition. He said that there was even a Spanish reporter somewhere about.

That's about the extent of it for my one day visit to "Da Parish". The people there are strong, and I hope that they will be able to come back.

There was a building there, with a message painted on the roof, "Chalmette Spirit -- Salt of the Earth". How True!!!

Paul "Skip" Newfield

9) Pointed out by one of our readers:

A quote from a simple weather website is perhaps appropos to the initial intelligence situation in Iraq:

"Poor model analyses of initial conditions can lead to even worse model solutions."

That same sentence - placed into its original weather context:

"These scatter plots are intended for use by individuals with proper training and expertise.There are multiple potential causes of misinterpretation that include, but are not limited to, the following:

- Each model utilizes different assumptions and different calculations which leads to different models performing better in different situations.- All models have unique biases.
- Some models utilize statistics, some utilize physics formulas, some utilize a combination of both.- Some models perform best with weaker systems, others perform best with well
-developed, purely tropical systems.
- The spread of the various model solutions can give a sense of the uncertainty associated with a particular storm track. However, some of the models are interrelated as they share the same initial analyses or the same global forecast fields. Therefore, clustering of model solutions does not necessarily indicate truely independent agreement.
- Poor model analyses of initial conditions can lead to even worse model solutions.- The National Hurricane Center has access to many other models not included in these products. At times, these other models have a significant impact on the forecast track issued by the National HurricaneCenter.
- Further information on some of the models used by the National Hurricane Center can be found at the Hurricane Research Division website."


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