Saturday, October 15, 2005

Katrina Survivors

William, Jackson, Ms

We met William by the pool at the hotel we had evacuated to for a day, to get a taste of civilization. He was worried about three elderly sisters of his in New Orleans that he still hadn't heard from, two weeks later. He talked nonstop, nervously, and gave us several recipes that none of us had time to write down. Everyone we talk to has a tragic story, a misery on their shoulders. We do too. There's too much tragedy and not enough shoulders to carry it. It's just too big, this.

I really hope William found his sisters.


mercury said...

I found your blog yesterday and love it. It is very touching and artistic. One thing bothers me, though. Your mom is obviously very special to you, yet, all the times she has asked you to pray for her, you refuse. Sometimes ...most times, prayer is the very thing that we need the most. I would encourage you to seriously consider God.

Anonymous said...

Please, keep it up. The world needs people like you to rouse it to action. Are supplies still needed?

P.S.: I grieve with you for your loss. I wish I could give more, but I am in trouble for donating borrowed money. I will try my best.

clayton cubitt said...

Thank you both.

But please, Christians, give it a break. I've got no problem with you. Quit asking/telling me to pray. I'm not asking you to stop praying. You do your thing, I'm quite happy doing mine.

Kate said...

Clayton, I can't tell you how many times I've had people tell me "I'm praying for your husband" and "God bless the two of you, I'm keeping you in my prayers." When I'm feeling honest, I tell them that he doesn't need anymore prayers, he needs Americans to demand reponsible, and responsive, government. Prayers aren't going to cut it on the Gulf Coast either. A hell of a lot of hard work and a true commitment to each other and our larger community is what we need. We have to insist that everyone, regardless of race or class, is included in the rebuild of the coast and New Orleans, and not just the VIPs of Halliburton and its subsidiaries. I'd think any god worth worshipping would want us to truly and honestly take care of one another (which includes insisting our government live up to its promises), and not simply throw a cloak of "good works" over a pile of crap.

It wouldn't hurt if we insisted those responsible for the man-made disaster that has followed the nature-made Katrina were actually held responsible, including those all the way at the top. I don't have "faith" that will happen, but in my opinion it would be worth a thousand prayers!

Take care. Please keep documenting. Your work is so important and powerful. Thank you for sharing it.

Michael said...

Very nice.

clayton cubitt said...

I don't mean to be harsh here, towards the religious. I'm the first to tell anyone that the majority of the good work being done in the Gulf is being done by organized religious groups. I respect them their beliefs, but that is different than respecting the beliefs themselves. What I respect more than beliefs are actions, and they've been delivering action, which is more than can be said of many.

But just as I respect their decision to pray, I expect them to respect my decision to not. And we can meet together in action, which is what really matters in this mess.

Crack Head said...

One thing is for sure, scum bags will allways try to cash in on the pain of others:

Two lawyers create drink named "Katrina:Don't get blown away"..

While I don't have a problem with alchohol, a drink named after a tragedy like this is a bit sick. Hmm..Let me think, maybe I can tradmark the next NAZI beer, "Gas Chamber", with the slogan, "'s a gas".

Sick bastards...scary thing is they will probably get approved for Tradmarking the drink.

I just hope they don't make any money off of it.

Marty said...

I appreciate the gritty realism of your photography and the intensity of your communcation. Good work!

Marty said...

I appreciate the artistic but gritty nature of our photography and the intensity of the writing.

mercury said...

I apologize for pushing you about prayer. That wasn't really my intent or purpose. I haven't read everyone elses comments and didn't know that all the Christians keep bugging you about praying. I agree that we need to put our prayers into action and I am happy to see many Christan organizations and churches doing just that. I am also doing all I can.
Keep shooting.

Steve said...

Religion is a very personal thing for some people y'all, and while we may be happy to talk about our particular beliefs, sects or denominations, alot of people are not. I was raised Methodist, was an odinist for a while and am now Catholic,and a Secular Franciscan and while I'll freely talk to anyone who wants to know, I keep it to myself otherwise.

I applaud everyone who continually keeps Clayton, his family and everyone else caught up in this cruddy mess in their prayers, but we have to let him do his own thing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Clayton,

I have discovered your blog today and I find it very really super ! You have that kind of view so much special about Katrina ! This is really a great work. I have posted a comment on my own blog you can read here and I have targeted some of your pictures linked directly to your site. Hope it will not be a problem. If there is any, let me know by mail !
Best regards,

Matthew Ward said...

Love the blog, keep it up.

Kate said...

I didn't mean to sound so harsh. I'm sorry! I'm definitely of the "live and let live" camp. It's just your first answer, Clayton, reminded me of how frustrated I have been these past months when I've wanted people to act rather than to offer me prayers. But like you said, so many do both.

I moved the last of our things from New Orleans exactly one week before Katrina struck. I was so heartbroken during those first few days I flew down to Houston as soon as they started evacuating folks from the Superdome and volunteered at Reliant Park. It was unbelievable how many people came to help out, day in, day out, from all over the country and from all religious (and athiest) traditions. I worked with a man who was on the board of the Gandhi Library in Houston, a social worker from Ohio, a doctor from South Bend, Indiana, and a number of New Orleans evacuees who stood in line to volunteer at their own shelter every day. I worked with two young kids -- maybe 10 and 13 -- who were staying at the dome now that their home had been flooded, and they helped me sanitize cots for hours and hours, even as other volunteers came and went.

Some days there were too many volunteers and dozens were sent home or asked to come back for the night shift. I was overwhelmed by the open and generous spirit of so many. Some wore their religious beliefs on their tees, but most didn't. Regardless, everyone was there to help.

One of the tenets of zen is "My actions are my only true possessions." I guess that pretty much sums it up!

Take care --

Anonymous said...

I feel for your situation, but I just have to say something ~ why should the government be the only responsible parties here? Why is it the government that should suck up all this loss? Because you know what? When you say ~government help~ what you are really saying is ~taxpayers dollars~. Now, I would FAR prefer my taxes and such to go to a good cause like this sad state of affairs in New Orleans and else where that has been hit by such devastation. BUT ~ I just think people should realize that when they are out there demanding ~The Government~ to get into action, they are really demanding the rest of the nation. Again, let me stress this, I would FAR rather have my taxes and such go to devastating events like this , but, let's not forget who it is that funds ~the Government~. I think it's more up to each state to be somewhat self-reliant in helping their own out, and when that is exhausted, other states lending a helping hand. When does the responsibility of the state of Louisiana come into play? Why aren't all these folks from New Orleans calling for help from their own state? Hate me if you will, but demographically speaking, seems to me like more than just ~The Government~ is responsible here. Also, I have opened my home to a family that had to relocate, and now has a job in this state, is looking for a place, and now will live here, and raise their family here. So please don't think me a callous cad ~ I am helping out in all the ways I can, BUT, I also know this to be true ~ if you're too good for someone, you make them good for nothing. And in so many ways, it just defies reason that folks are already back to partying it up in the French Quarter, instead of getting down to business and helping out those around them. When the twin towers went down in New York, all of New York came to eachother's aid, and because of their ~rebuild, renew, redo ~ attitude, so many many others joined in to help them out. It hurt my heart to see so many sad images of what Hurricane Katrina did , and it hurt my heart even worse to see so many sad images of how so many of those folks reacted~ looting, shooting, etc. I saw a picture of a whole parking lot filled with boxes upon boxes of clothing, donated for the victims, and you know what, it was all torn through, laying all over the place, scattered, stepped on, looked as though it just wasn't appreciated! It blows my mind that NO-ONE had the initiative to organize sizes and at LEAST put stuff BACK into the boxes so that others could use it! I actually read a commentary on someone saying what a shabby lot of clothing had been donated~ you know what?? economy isn't all that great right now ~ MAYBE, just MAYBE, the folks that donated clothes gave whatever they HAD ~ oh, yah mean they didn't go out and buy yah all DESIGNER stuff? ~ you know, i am sorry, but dang it, it seems like when folks are in a tough situation, they oughta at least be appreciative of what help is given. And yah, I know, I am probably going to get slammed for my harsh unfeeling words, cuz I am not the one living through this hell, & you know what, you are right. I DON'T know what it's like, BUT, I DO know that there are a lot of folks out there doing all they can to help, and I DO know that Katrina will be paid for by the rest of us, and I DO know that work is not a bad word, it's a good thing.

Ring said...

Very interesting site, keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

Powerful. There is no other word to convey the images and story.

I will do my part and spread the word.

clayton cubitt said...

Long-winded Anon,

Your comment has nothing to do with this post, and I don't know if I'm able to decipher your point(s).

Simply: When people need help they don't care if it comes from local, state, or federal governments. They don't care if it comes from church groups or individuals. They only care that it comes.

But you need to recognize that a disaster the size of England is bound to overwhelm local and state agencies, especially ones as poor as these, and that's where the federal agencies need to step in and coordinate aid.

I live in New York, I was here on 9/11, and I witnessed the "rebuild, renew, redo" efforts that you mention. I witnessed them again down in the Gulf, and in New Orleans, every bit as dedicated, and hard working, and giving. The Americans in New Orleans are not lesser people than the Americans in New York. I know, I've lived amongst them both, and admire them both. They even kind of talk alike.

As for partying it up in the French Quarter, well, that's what the French Quarter is for. Lay off the tildes and try it some time. And remember, after 9/11, we were all told it was our patriotic duty to shop, shop, shop?

Nobody in need of clothing demanded designer gear, and donations of clothing were greatly appreciated. Donations of ripped or soiled clothing were ignored, rightly so. Need does not negate dignity.

And as for work being a good thing, why don't you head down to the Gulf, and see how the working poor live down there? You'll never see people more hard working than that.

So, to wrap up: Focus your points next time, try to leave them on a post that's actually relevant to them, lay off the weird punctuation, and quit talking out of your ass.

spittinmad said...

hey anonymous

let's remember that alot of the good folk of New Orleans are not in the French Quarter "partying it up"... that, as always is a privelege being inuldged by mostly out of towners (though seeing as most of the city is STILL shut down , the intowners will frequent).

Most residents are still not back in town, and those who are are working their butts off to save house and home. Not to mention sanity. Do you realize how hard it is to find a place to live there?

Do not forget that New Orleanians pay taxes too, they are paying to rebuild 9-11, rebuild Iraq and so many other projects too numerous to mention (although a bridge in Alaska to an island with a population of 45 springs immediately to mind.) This may be the largest loss of population and property this country has ever seen.

My best friend took a bath in a quarter gallon of water, and is still washing her few salvagable clothes in lysol, no time for the store...she's subsisting on a cache of ramen noodles as she salvages the remnants. My mama-in law has 2 sets of clothes that she took with her and no chance to even rescue any clothes from her scankified house. It can take days just to meet with your insurance reps or call FEMA once. That is, if you were lucky enough to won a house... many renters lost everything. People are checking on their neighbors, and their neighborhoods. The ninth ward has started to organize so that that the many remaining buildings are not bulldozed by over zealous development schemes. Everyone I know is busy ALL DAY EVERY Day (including us 3000 miles away) Then we finally get home and read diatribes like yours excoriating us for being slackers?

New Orleans needs the help to rebuild, and grants to small businesses would be much better than another big no-bid kellog, brown and root. More money money needs to make it back into the hands of the incredibly creative folk of New Orleans.

Clayton, thanks for all your work. If I meet you down there next week, the beers on me, even if we have to go to Rue Bourbon to get it.

LouLou said...


You are AweSome!

I think I am falling in love!!!


cheesemeister said...

The US government should most certainly be providing for its citizens. People should be placed in temporary housing with basic necessities such as running water, a toilet, a place to wash their clothes, and a supply of basic foods. Even living in a barracks-type situation would surely be preferable to living on the streets. As far as taxpayers' money goes, of course it should be used to help our fellow citizens. I'd be proud to know the chunk I pay out with every paycheck was going to feed, clothe and shelter the people whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina rather than to line some politician's pocket or build more weapons of war. I feel helpless and wish you luck. I wish I could donate more money than I have (total of $25 to Red Cross and other organizations.) I work as a nurse aide and don't make a lot of money. Again, my best wishes to you.

Madeline said...

Amazing blog. Found it on as it was a featured hot site. So I was wondering what camera are you using. :)

Jamie said...

clayton/seige, i am more and more impressed with you every day. youre talent as a photographer is only matched by your ability to tell your peoples story. again and again you are able to rebuff comments that are off base in a no-nonsense intelligent way with out ever ever losing your cool. but im beginning to wonder where you've been the past few days. it's been a while since you've posted and i'll admitt that im alittle worried if not just curious.
chin up, james