Thursday, December 15, 2005

Filtered Laughs

Cans of filtered drinking water given out by the National Guard, Slidell, La

I've been trapped here in NYC now for too long. I've been torn, trying to raise money by working nonstop, to make up for the almost two months of work I lost after Katrina hit and I started this project, the save-my-family project. But I really just want to be back in the Gulf, documenting what's happening right now, in the alternate universe, in the K-Hole. Every dollar I make here flows back there. Every laugh here makes me feel slightly guilty. I'm not torturing myself. I just have trouble enjoying myself when there's so much unfinished business. I know, it's not very New Orleans of me. I need to get in touch with that part of me again, the harder things get, the harder I should laugh.

Some very good news that might help: the FEMAman my mom met with over Thanksgiving really came through on his promise to help her out, and she received some aid, after all. Not the rebuilding grant, but a disbursement for the ruined contents of her home. I'm very pleased and greatly relieved to announce that we were finally able to locate a FEMAman who could actually deliver some relief, and, thankfully, pigs did not fly out of my ass as I had predicted.


wl, San ANtonio said...

I am happy to hear your family has gotten something out of FEMA. I think your blog has helped in more ways than you know. My family in Mississippi are still waiting to hear from FEMA. I also feel the guilt as you, that I should be there helping however I have a school age daughter here in Texas. To all of those who think the Gulf Coast is doing OK, go there, look around and see the people living in tents with ther blue roofs because the tents leak. Where is the local grocery store, how far do the smaller towns have to go to get mail. Where is the phone service, and other utilities. Yes, there are jobs there, not enough time on in the days off to meet basic living conditions much less stand in line for building supplies and getting the work done. THE Gulf Coast residents are in need of help of all kinds. The elderly are in most cases in worst shape of all. THey are to old to work, and contractors are ripping them off. What choice do they have?

Leslie said...

This is where you have to start making the calls and letters to congress - price gouging is a crime - and these no bid contracts are still there, even if FEMA said they aren't.
WL - have someone you know there start handing out form letters to be sent to their original and current gov't reps - with a stamped envelope if you can afford it. That'll get their attention, but with so few being able to stand up for themselves - someone needs to invest $50 in paper, envelopes, stamps and a couple hours time to get this started.

I'm as invested in this as I can manage. I don't make $700/mo on disability and it's all going toward the Hancock County effort - as is my time. I'll help anyone who wants to get started for their own part of the region, but I can't do it all. Email me at if you want help getting started.


...e... said...

i just got an email about countacting ongress re New Orleans, go to this page and email eamail email, and modify it to include the gulf coast too, of course, whatever you need. here is the link:

DaftDays said...

Progress. Any progress is good. You're ahead of a great many people.

And don't be hard on yourself. You do need to get back in touch with yourself.

Je m'ennuie de les vieux Cajins.

Wade Rankin said...

"...thankfully, pigs did not fly out of my ass as I had predicted."

You gotta admit -- THAT would have made one hell of a picture.

Thankfully, my family's home was not hit hard enough to be too hurt by FEMA's neglect. Based on what I've heard from family and friends who needed that help (and some that really didn't need it), a positive response from FEMA was a totally random occurrence. Glad to hear your mom was one of the lucky ones.

Kevin said...

I'm SO glad to hear that your mother finally got some FEMA money.

We live in Houston -- volunteered many days at the Reliant Center here and remained frustratedly heartbroken at how little we could do in the face of such a massive travesty/tragedy.

Through our middle daughter, we've 'adopted' a young man who fled here that fateful weekend. He worked for one of the big hotels in NOLA, so was taken in by a sister facility here and given a job -- and a room until Dec. 1. He has no car, only the clothes on his back. His apartment in NOLA was in total ruins and he can't go back, though he longs to.

You can't believe the crappy (and scary-dangerous) apartments that are "officially available" to Katrina survivors here in Houston. We finally dug around enough with the help of the internet and found him a nice, secure apartment, within walking distance of the hotel, and FEMA agreed to cover 12 months' rent. The lady at the apartment complex is a true angel.

His first $2,000 check from FEMA is still "lost in the mail" somewhere. (Don't get me started. We've stood in line with him, hung on the phone for him, faxed legal documents to FEMA for him -- all to no avail.) The hotel chain is messing with his check and he hasn't been paid for two months. But thankfully he DID receive some additional FEMA check just the other day. It made him feel like a real, recognized, person again.

That's the part that breaks my heart and I don't know what to do about it. These people have been cast aside and abandoned by their own country.

His apartment is furnished with everything we could come up with from garage sale shopping, our own house, and the stuff we were saving for our girls to start out with in their own apartment one day ...

He has become a great friend of the family and we have all grown to love him. He'll have a stocking and presents and much fun and food and conviviality on Christmas Day here, of course. But it all pales in comparison to his "real life" that has vanished.

My heart still breaks because we are a family of five (plus one fiancee) and it has taken all of us to help out one single person whose life was turned upside down by Katrina.

Who is helping out the tens of thousands of others?

Kevin said...

Oh, and -- love that picture of the filtered drinking water cans. Yummy.

Budweiser donated zillions of dollars' worth of cans of water here. A hefty tax write-off for them, and the shittiest water I've ever swallowed in my life. I'm sure it flowed straight out of Houston taps into the cans.

Mark said...

You've gotta laugh. I learned that a long time ago, as I explore here:

It's a dark path to coping, but it leads ultimately to the idea that the world is not tragic, but tragi-comic. If you can't find the comedy in the tragedy, you will either become insane or born again.

Once you find the thing that makes you laugh in everything you see around you, you are already on the path.

Anonymous said...

Check out this video made by Kennard Jackley with footage of homes being washed away by the storm surge in his neighborhood near the lake in Slidell, LA. I can't believe this guy could make humorous comments during this frightening event! It is hard not to laugh at his narration and be overwhelmed by sadness viewing the destructive forces in action.

An 11 minute excerpt of of 2.5 hour video is on


mark said...

I've been looking back at a lot of the blogs that commented on katrina just afterwads and for a few months , now almost a year on what do you think? Have you views changed??