Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back in Wisconsin...but there's more

I just got back home. I want to remind everyone that I have more stories to write so please keep checking out this site. It may be a day or so until I get the next story up. I have to return to my Real job tomorrow and we are heading into the busiest 5 days of the year at work. So I'll try to write what I can but I will be working some long days ahead. Enough of that. On to saying Thank You!

First off you may or may not be aware that this project was made possible by donations from blog readers. Many gave generously to pay my expenses. (I didn't take any pay) And I want to thank each of you for your donation. You made this possible. I can never thank you enough but ...Thank You.

Thank you to the other women who worked on this site...Vicki, NYMary and Erin. They took this from just a mere comment to an idea to a full fledged project. They were in the background setting up the site, taking care of the donations, supporting me and blogwhoring the heck out of the place. Thank you .....you Wonderful Moonbats!

I want to thank all the other blogs that linked to the site. I am afraid that if I were to attempt to list you all I may leave someone out. Please know that I respect your taking the time to link and doing what you can to bring attention to the people of New Orleans. ThankYou.

And then there is lb0313. What a wonderful woman and New Orleanian. She offered her home, life and friends to a total stranger. Now we are friends and that has been the greatest gift. Without her this trip just would not have been possible...Period. She cared for me, humored me, taught me, fed me the best damn food on earth and made it possible for me to fall in love with her city. Thank you lb

Finally thank you to the people of New Orleans who trusted me enough to tell me their stories. I hope I have done you justice. And I hope we in the blogosphere will not forget you and continue to help in any way we can as you rebuild. I know I will be doing just that. You certainly deserve better than what you have received thus far.

OK this is sounding like a bad Academy Award speech so play the music and give me the hook... I just wanted to say thanks.

Finally (really) to Nancy....thank you for caring for Teddy so I wouldn't worry.

Leaving New Orleans

I'm about to drive to the airport. I am feeling sad to leave. There are so many people to thank and I will do that properly this evening from my home in Wisconsin.

I came here because I Cared about New Orleans. Now.....Well now I Love New Orleans.

I know someday I'll be back. And I know New Orleans will be back too.

Monday, March 06, 2006


A wonderful man named Ricardo Guitierrez offered to help me out down here. Today he drove me through New Orleans East and then on to Mississippi. I will be writing about Ricardo in the coming days but now I need to pack. Thanks Ricardo!

Ricardo lives in a FEMA trailer....

Close up reveals.....

BTW I haven't found anyone down here who thinks we were too hard on Brownie and owe him an apology. Just saying......

The Body Count

CNN reports they found another body in NOLA.

Before dying, the man apparently was trying to crawl out of an air-conditioning vent to escape rising floodwaters, said Dr. Louis Cataldie, Louisiana's medical examiner.

Cataldie said searchers expect to find up to 400 more bodies of storm victims still hidden inside New Orleans homes six months after the storm.

I had a post on January 19 about Dr. Caldie trying to get 400 homes searched "because authorities have consistent information about people missing from those locations." They are finally starting that search now.

Evidently the man was found in this house which had been searched and had a Zero on it. (which means no bodies found)

Do you know how many houses I have seen that look just like this one with Zeros painted on them????? I had assumed the 400 places to search were basically rubble. My God 80% of NOLA looks like that house or worse. Cataldie has said that in addition to those 400 he believes there were an unknown number washed out to sea. I shudder to think of how many really died.

When I was in Bay Saint Louis, Missississippi today I was talking with a woman who believes as do others there that they are "suppressing the death toll." She said the official toll for her county is a little over 50. But she then went on to tell of at least 5 people just within blocks of her her who died and this was relative high ground. She said she just does not believe the official count. If true I guess it's a new twist on "Bush lied and people died"......

People died and Bush lied.

This is "working hard" George

I saw a group of kids from Fergus Fall, MN working to clean debris on the beach in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi today. They were really working hard carrying out huge pieces of broken dock.

Bless their souls. Really! There are alot of such groups. In fact one contacted me. They are coming down but need a project to do. So if anyone out their needs a house gutted send me an email. I know of 23 kids ready, willing and able that will be headed your way.

I also saw a huge church run tent city where volunteers stay. Now I don't mean pup tents. These were probably 10' by 20' tents. There must have been 15 of them and then some bigger tents probably where they serve their meals etc.

I am of 2 minds on these groups. I am told after they help, such as in feed you a meal, that they do proselytize. But if you tell them you aren't interested they back off and leave you alone. Now it's great they are filling a need. However anything that is happening here is by individual residents or such groups. It's very piecemeal. There's no overall organization or plan. There's no leadership or as Geoff Coates says in post below...No Vision. The area affected by Katrina is a whole region of America which was so apparent today as I went to Mississippi. The scale of devastation is overwhelming. I just don't know how this will get rebuilt this way. It is beyond church groups, mayors and even governors. The federal government needs to get off its butt and get the show on the road here.

Come on George put your back into it like these MN kids will ya???

Oy...the freaking garbage!

This is the garbage in front of the place I am staying. I'm not sure how long it has been out there but as long as I've been here. They just don't pick it up.

And it stinks. Thank heaven there is a gate to keep the smell away from the house.

UPDATE: The folks who live here don't see this as that big a deal considering everything. So this is more me....it's just pretty stinky.


I saw a fire today. The fire trucks are there but they can't really get water pressure so they call in the helicopters to dump water. 2 choppers circled above dumping water. This is common in NOLA....

(Sorry the pic isn't too great)

To Understand the Issues Facing NOLA.....

Watch this video. I interviewed Geoff Coates a founder of the Urban Conservancy in New Orleans. This is really a must see video to understand the issues here in NOLA. Geoff gives an incredibly articulate perspective on the media narrative of Katrina, the issues facing NOLA as it recovers and rebuilds and the country's stake in that process.

PART I (15 min)
--the media narrative of Katrina
--the status of NOLA infrastructure (what it's like living in NOLA)
--the necessity of Category 5 levee protection
--the lack of a Plan and Vision for rebuilding
--the conflation of right of return and the city footprint

Part II (13 min)
--why the rest of America should care about NOLA
--Katrina Response: shift from humanitarian to security operation
--lessons of the Gretna Bridge experience
--money to contractors not the people and the vaccuum of accountability
--what you can do to help NOLA

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Lakeview is a white upper middle class area of New Orleans. It was home to professionals such as doctors, lawyers, businessmen. There is some rebuilding here but many folks are just waiting to see what happens.

The place where the levee broke at the 17th St Canal...

"Broken Dreams"

"Beware Attack Snakes"

I had to go to the bathroom. I couldn't find any gas stations or stores open in Lakeview so I could either drive all the way back to where I was staying or use one of the City of New Orleans port a potties placed through out the area. I did use it.

They had a FEMA trailer. I didn't see many in Lakeview.

Weird sight.......A car off of Canal Blvd with books alongside on the ground and a wine rack and a book by Natan Sharansky just sitting on top.

New Orleans Cat Blogging

The Cat of the House is Louis or Louie. This is lb0313's cat. His temperment is just like my Teddy's.

Outside in the compound there are 5 outdoor cats that are basically wild cats. They were too wild to evacuate during Katrina so they stayed here in the compound. Some strangers squatted in the compound after Katrina. They camped on the porch pictured below. They built a latrine in the back yard. But they did not go inside the houses. And best of all they somehow got cat food and fed the cats. No one knows who they were to this day but the cats made it by relying on the kindness of these strangers. The folks here are very grateful to whoever they were.

The five cats are Spot, Boots, Rita, Bandit and Chevy. Chevy was adopted into the compound after Katrina. His people never came back. I was able to get pics of only 2 of the cats.

This is Boots the head tom cat here.

And meet Bandit.....

St. Bernard Parish

St Bernard Parish is a white working and middle class area. It was devastated by Katrina. It's an area that looks like any suburban area in America. There are the major roads lined with stores, gas stations, fast food retaurants and shopping centers. Almost all are closed. I saw an Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Walgreens open.

No one can live in the homes here. Some have FEMA trailers to stay in while they repair their homes. Others have moved on or are waiting.

Here's video of St. Bernard Parish......


We're having a wee bit of a network problem. I hope to have pictures and some video posted later.

Honestly I am a bit tired. I have at least 4 more stories to write. I leave Tuesday so I suspect I'll be writing some of those from home. So I hope you'll keep watching here.

We went out to eat last night at Rio Mar. It was fabulous. The folks I am staying with were friends with our waiter Trent. We never even looked at a menu. He just took care of us bringing one fantastic dish after another. I've found food, cooking and eating is a huge part of New Orleans.

We were very close to the infamous Convention Center which is right downtown. We went past it. It is completely cleaned up and it's hard to believe what happened there looking at it now.