Thursday, September 29, 2005

Curfew lifted. french quarter this weekend going to be like none other, nothing but locals, military, electric, service and all. I smile at that.

The Third Flood

I went out yesterday to again check on things out in Lakeview and retrieve a few more photos and some of my sister's artwork that were salvageable. What I discovered is that Catina St. has been cleared of the massive downed pine trees, but in doing so, they broke a water main which had been captured by the root system of a huge tree. The yards on that block are again under almost a foot of water... lol. Not a problem for any real flooding, of course, but it makes me keep harkening back to what I would say about that street... First to flood, last to drain. I did catch myself thinking almost immediately about replanting pines and oaks.

I spoke with Kelsey (pet rescue) this morning... yesterday she was on an airboat out in New Iberia when she caught a strange gust of wind and was flown out of the boat into a huge oak tree. She's fine - plenty of painkillers and rest, well deserved. I also know that the local press is planning a story about her. Very cool. Potentially titled - New Orleans Debutante Gone Wild, Wades Through Muck - Breaks Into Homes To Steal Pets... I know it's too long for a title... but it's true.

I wanted to take the time too answer a few questions...

My Travel Plans: Still tenatively scheduled to hit the road for the west next week, starting with drinking beer in Franklin, LA and staying with the Evans' family for a night. Then slow, long highways through Texas to Santa Fe, NM. After that, up to Boulder, CO where I lived for two years in the early 90's.

The Blog: I don't know. I'll probably post off of my cellphone throughout my drive - who knows maybe that'll be interesting? I understand that through normal burnout, interest will plummett for the site, and I'm completely fine with that. It has been a great source of strength and focus for me throughout - it has done it's job for me... and amazingly, it apparantly helped others. What a cool thing that is.

Something that I really started as a joke regarding racing sailboats while drinking beer and yacht club bar stories, could suddenly within barely two weeks become a lifeline, a focus, a diversion and in many ways a method for me to wrap my head around what was happening.

When I get back, my family, friends and I will be working to reclaim what we can - so I'll post about those experiences for a time. After that, I will probably just kill GulfSails. I to a small degree think of my relation to this blog in the way that the people of this city relate to the Superdome. To New Orleanians, the Dome is one of our most beloved buildings. The Saints were demanding a new stadium, but there was a huge outcry for nothing to happen to it... Until Katrina and what happened there... I really think that with the events at the dome, it was the only way New Orleanians could and would make the mental and emotional break with that building. I will also have to make a mental and emotional break with this.

• ed g. asked about Sunshine Canyon and Neopolitan's... Sunshine Canyon is where I lived in Boulder. About seven miles up into the Rockies, no neighbors for 200 yards, hiking to old silver mines, getting snowed in - great memories. Neo's is a dirt cheap and incredible little Italian restaurant about a twenty minute ride up gravel mountain roads - in the winter it's always warm inside, and the wine cheap and served by the carafe.

• Jackie asked if I like Canadian beer... I have no bias towards any adult beverages, although I am partial to rum drinks and one of our local beers, Abita Wheat.

• Anonymous asked about the scientists who crashed at the house... neither knows what's to happen (I don't think) with their positions. They both were working on their Ph.d's while teaching either at UNO or Tulane...

• Ames in metro Detroit asked about other boats which survived... The Reason Why was in a VERY well built and protected marina on the lake. I'd say that 80% or more of the boats made out. Municipal Harbor, the largest, was ugly. South Shore Harbor, I don't have much info on.

• Regarding Josh Norman's comment -- that is a fantastic piece of writing and very true. For that first two weeks, I was misplacing EVERYTHING.

• Anonymous from Germany pointed out that I look like a German comedian... lol, I checked him out... God I hope not. I did however notice today in the first beard I've ever grown, four grey hairs. Damn!

Thanks again to everyone for their kind words, support and offers of beer. It has definately helped...

I think that tomorrow night I will be headed down to the Quarter for drinks at Molly's At The Market... I can't believe that I haven't done it yet. And yes, I'll have my camera.

Saturday, there will be a fairly big effort for salvage at two houses in Lakeview, my friends and ours... for most of the people it will be their first time back... should be some interesting perspective and commentary.


This is a plaque my Grandmother kept in her 'mature' garden in Lakeview. It's still there, the plaque that is.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Blog Reader Roll Call

Thanks to an anonymous reader/commenter from Detroit for this idea.

I'd love to see where everybody who's reading this is from. Please take a moment to leave a comment on this post giving me and everyone else your locale.

Thanks again everyone.

Fatigue Maybe

I may be running out of steam.

I'm incredibly tired and frustrated.

My parents home, this bunker is and has been a source of my strength... I no longer need to be worried about its survival. It has actually become a haven for many friends of mine and will continue to be.

I need to leave for a brief time. Like two weeks.

What's wrong with me is that I am a loyal idiot.

I will always do what I must... and for whatever reason, that entails me feeling that I can not leave my city.

It's hilarious actually... every day there is a new reason for me to push that time back.

All I want to do is drive. I want to get in a car and drive. I want to drive Texas on small roads.

I want to have a beer at a horse ranch north of Santa Fe, NM.

I want to go drive up Sunshine Canyon in Colorado and then eat at Neopolitan's while drinking cheap red wine.

I think I actually need to get some perspective.

But everything keeps getting pushed back.

Stupidly I have not left this Parish to register for food stamps or to stand in line for 47 hours for Red Cross relief... Nor have I received a dollar from FEMA. Not a penny.


Trust me, I'm getting tired.

Sorry... I'm just bitching.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Brownie Introduces Me To My Hackles

I tell you what, I thought I knew what it meant to have my hackles raised during the Katrina aftermath...

Michael Brown is a lizard brained smarmy piece of salamander crap. Where does he get the gall to try and blame the Katrina fiasco on Louisiana and our elected officials.

Let me explain a few things... Louisiana does have an evacuation plan for the coastal areas, including the 1.2 million people of the greater New Orleans area. This plan was put into effect at least once a year, including the recent Hurricane's Ivan and Georges, and was well tested. We worked the bugs out long ago for the Contraflow plan. The country must understand that the city of New Orleans is effectively an island with only four exit roads: Airline Hwy., I-10 East & West and the Causeway over Lake Pontchartrain. These are ALL two lane bridges. Even with contraflow, the New Orleans area only had 16 lanes of road to evacuate almost a million people within 48 hours. To get 80% of the population out in this short notice is extraordinary.

And yes, it was only 48 hours notice. As of the Friday evening before, I even had a conversation with two individuals where Katrina came up, and I said we had nothing to worry about, Katrina was headed to Pensacola (unfortunately for them).


Michael Brown repeatedly stated that FEMA was working properly in Mississippi and Alabama, yet for some reason Mississippi Congressman Taylor kept reminding him that this was NOT true. That Mississippi was completely without assistance for a week. Brown even had the toadlike audacity to try and correct the Mississippi Congressman after he stated the "Federal Emergency Management Association" and then stated that the Congressman didn't even know that FEMA was a Government agency.

A few facts which should help give everyone an idea of where the trouble lay...

• When you have truckloads of food which can and must be delivered to starving people and a FEMA beaurecrat on the ground will not allow the food to go to the people who need it because there are no National Guardsmen to protect it, while there are 100 capable police officers standing nearby - who caused the problem?

• When you have FEMA beaurecrats on the ground seizing diesel shipments to a parish government, fuel desparately needed to maintain generators providing energy for the miniscule communications remaining, to such a degree that the parish government orders parish police officers to arm themselves and forcibly retake control of this fuel - who caused the problem?

• When suddenly the remaining communications available to one parish vanish only for it to be discovered that FEMA has come in and disabled a major antennae tower because it was not FEMA approved - who caused the problem?

• When there is a small group of National Guard troops who are trying to deliver truckloads of MRE's to the disaster area and are halted by a FEMA beaurecrat and the soldiers must then raise a superior officer on the radio who then fires (without the authority to do so) this idiotic beaurecrat thereby allowing the food to be delivered - who was the cause of the problem and who solved it?

Michael Brown you are the one who is dysfunctional and now, you are truly dispicable. DO NOT EVER THINK THAT YOU MAY STEP FOOT INTO THIS STATE AGAIN.

I do understand that there were failures on the state and local level, but according to FEMA's own "Hurricane Pam" exercise, THESE FAILURES WERE ALL PREDICTED.

Our people did their best with extremely limited resources under extraordinary circumstances.

I also must make a statement regarding Mayor Ray Nagin. I voted for this man in his first election, and will wholeheartedly do so again in the next. It is somewhat disgusting to me that parts of this country perceive him to be an idiot because he is African-American and speaks with a good ole New Orleans accent.

Nagin was a CEO of a major corporation before he decided to run for Mayor - bucking and defeating the old line corrupt power groups held by Congressman Jefferson and the Morial family. This man instituted New Orleans' first CTO position which eliminated outrageous things like long distance telephone service for the city government costing upwards of 25 cents a minute, by simply calling Sprint - contracts which were held by the cronies of Marc Morial and Congressman Jefferson. The CTO even began receiving death threats.

Mayor Nagin has done more for this city in his three or so years as Mayor than the last 5 mayors combined.


I also want to express my thanks, sympathy and understanding to Police Chief Eddie Compass. You are indeed a hero, as are the vast majority of the NOPD.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Another Walkthru In Lakeview

The following photos are from a 1st floor condo at Pier 8 on Lake Marina Ave...

No words necessary here... have a few cocktails first Buzzy.

Got to start cleaning sometime...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Of Linemen and Real Live Bars

I am normally a frequenter of Orleans Parish Bars - It kills me to not be hanging out at St. Joe's, Cosimo's, Hong Kong and New Orleans Yacht Club - so to find myself in a typical Metairie bar and being thrilled about it is quite a shock. Yeah that's me in the white shirt, my friend Paul and one of the bartenders.

Laughing, lots of laughing - even while punctuated with stories of lost jobs and homes. Amazing to sit there and listen, and realize how much individuals have lost. Good friends who have been fired and have no hopes of restarting their jobs in New Orleans, no place whatsoever to live, car notes on cars which are now totaled in the floodwaters... the tales are endless.

But then you run into some good hearted electric linemen from across the country, who are waking a co-worker, a 27 years old guy from Michigan down here working to get our power back up, who was electricuted to death of Friday.

Every story puts the one before it into perspective.

Yet, amidst all these personal horrors and complete destruction of lives... we can still laugh over a beer... or two.

This is healthy. We are not beaten.

But then the National Guard comes in and shuts down the bar...

Paul and Burke amongst three lineman from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and another state - which I forget (sorry). The guy in the orange is Brian Murphy from Billirca, MA.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

What bullshit is this? Midnight curfew-even bars. This is nola! We're in extreme situation-derserves extreme... Closing skills.

I am going to a bar tonight. a real live bar.

Post - Rita

The rain has settled and the last hold-outs from the trees have dropped. All in all, here in New Orleans, Rita wasn't so bad. Comparably.

Tomorrow, I think I'm going to make a run down to St. Mary Parish for some first hand accounts closer to Rita's landfall.

I may not stop until I hit Santa Fe. The desert sounds good about now.

A Northerly Wind Over Galveston

Louisiana will take the best part of this hit.

We've already taken one... we can take another.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I am now conducting reading the wind classes on the waters of the pool. Puff. Puff. Big puff.

Angelo badalamentti and outskirts of cat 3-4 hurricanes landing is curious...And good. Still gusting 30, no rain for a bit now.

Blustery night now. 30 kt winds-but can see sky. Clouds screaming by. thoughts go out to those getting pounded... This too shall pass.

Spitting AT the Wind

Now this is news... on October 23rd, Southern Yacht Club WILL be holding their closing regatta out on Lake Pontchartrain.

I hear the after party will be out on the lawn in front of the burned out husk of that once beautiful yacht club.

I will be there. The boat I mainly crew on has survived intact, in fact she's still sitting in her slip. Her name... THE REASON WHY.

Sorry for the bad news PHRF'rs TRW still sails. Looking forward to it - that should be a hell of a party... now for a rum drink... it is Friday night right?

Now we're really getting into it. 50 knot gusts, monsoon rain. Few transformers blowing. reminds me of something... Oh, yeah. early katrina.

Twin Rants

As I'm writing this, the first major band from Rita is inching its way towards myself and New Orleans, and it has got to be the tension in the air - but I am an angry man today. It kills me to write a post focusing on some dark things and actions when we have so many Americans and their property who are lined up like so many bowling pins in front of Katrina's twin. There is nothing that will be lovely about Rita, but in the hurricane's aftermath, which was for New Orleans the true storm, there will be hundreds of thousands of acts of kindness and generosity which will never be known to the general public... but the dregs, the muck of peoples selfishness whether it be by looting, or greed or something as simple as not thanking a kind gesture is what will get the airplay and be known to the world.

This is why I am loathe to go into this, but it has to be stated.

As I mentioned a few posts earlier, disaster does not bring out the best in people, but it does bring out what was always there and amplifies it... This is what's making my skin crawl this morning. The negative traits which are and have been amplified. My morale is low.

I am disgusted at a good friend whose house I checked on in the first week and told him that it was fine, that he was (and is) incredibly lucky. Some minor shingle damage, a broken gutter, no water in it - that's damn lucky. But this good friend has the GALL to be upset with me after he went to check his house and screamed like a little girl that he had a tree on the shed, and there was a big scratch on the exterior wall, and the inside stunk because of the rotting refridgerator! You little piece of smarmy, selfish, alarmist, elitist trash. It makes me want to drag you by the collar and rub your little nose in 60% of the city of New Orleans including my sister's house. You make me sick.

I am disgusted at the professional real estate manager, Dalton Truax of Wagner Truax Realty, who has been inassesible to his clients throughout this event, people he has been milking for years, who when was finally tracked down by one of the individuals who's condo building he manages - a condo which is uninhabitable - he damanded two months of condo fees from her. Dalton Truax - rot in hell.

I am disgusted at the main stream media for portraying in the first hours of Houston' evacuation that Texas is so much more capable and organized than the state of Louisiana's was... why does the media perceive this? Because their Governor is a man? Because their people are all wearing suits? Because they are spinning it better? Give me a break. A Gulf Coast city, the fourth largest in the country, had NO evacuation plan. They learned from us about Contraflow, and didn't even have a plan to implement it. Anyway - this is for Texans to flesh out... not for me, except when it is used to brow beat my state. To all Texans - who have been so incredibly generous to your neighbors, I say again that we are with you here in Louisiana and will do whatever we can to help in your time of need.

I'm pretty darn sure that I don't have to go into it again as to why I'm disgusted at Andrei Codrescu, PETA, National Humane Societies, FEMA, beaureaucrats in general and the Red Cross.

There is also another situation which is riling me up - which I can not go into at this point... but trust me, this bozo is the wangdoodle of idiocy and stress creation.

What the heck is a wangdoodle?

The rain has actually slackened and, jeez, ranting does bring down the blood pressure.

So here's my challenge for the nation... We must put all of the resources of this great nation into tracking down this one person who was living in New Orleans that God wanted to get rid of so badly that after he/she escaped from Katrina and obviously evacuated to Houston, that God sent Rita to get 'em. We must track 'em down and sacrifice this unholy soul to spare us from further wrath. We must do this. Bush -- put Rove in charge of this.

Wind gusting near 35 knots from east. Light rain so far. Still have power.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

PETA Go To Hell!

This has nearly made me jump out of my skin...

PETA is demanding that Louisiana's Attorney General charge LSU with animal abandonment! You slimy little pieces of crap. Where the hell have you been in all of this. I haven't seen any of y'all down here rescuing animals. Hypocritcal sons and daughters of bitches!

GO TO HELL! Take your quasi political agenda the heck out of my state or come on down and save some pets - but don't let me run into you because I'll ram a goddamned turducken down your rat bastard throats.


Donate To The Feet On The Ground

I know that everybody has been asking for direct links to who I feel are worthy groups in New Orleans and South Louisiana who have either worked their collective rears off during the storm and the aftermath or will be integral in helping to rebuild this great city. Well here you go...

Preservation Resource Center: This non-profit has played a great part in preserving New Orleans' architectural history and integrity and will now need more support than ever. They are also VERY active in restoring vacant homes and then selling them at below market rates to first-time homeowners. I have always loved this group for the work they have done.

The Iberia and St. Mary Parish Humane Societies: These are the people, like Kelsey Rivera, who have been on the ground rescuing pets left and right. I went out with them for a few days and it damn near killed me.

Renew New Orleans: This is a group of New Orleanians who, with some assistance from Lance Armstrong's Livestrong group, will be providing assistance across the board for New Orleans, but with a tilt towards young and struggling artists and musicians. If you donate to this group you will receive a Renew New Orleans wristband, ala Livestrong, but in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.

New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA): This is a school specifically dedicated to the arts in New Orleans. It is a pre-professional arts training center providing intensive instruction in dance, media arts, music (classical, jazz, vocal), theatre arts (drama, musical theatre, theatre design) , visual arts, and creative writing, to students from public, private, and parochial schools across Louisiana. Some of the biggest names in the Arts community of New Orleans got their start here, including the Marsalis family.

New Orleans City Park: Our greatest park, an old plantation in the heart of the city near Lakeview and larger than New York's Central park, was DEVASTATED. Our park receives NO dedicated city or state funding and only exists on donations from citizens and corporations.

• My Desparately Needed Vacation Fund: Joking about that.

These are all groups who I wholeheartedly support and who I know will be vital in resurrecting the city, the people and the culture of New Orleans. Thanks to everyone for their generosity and support!

First squall line. Rain. 20 knot gusts.

Going through tropical storm preps. Rita keeps tracking east. All of s. Lousiana may become vast wasteland.evil side storm on east.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I want to drop a quick line to everyone who is potentially in the path of Hurricane Rita...

Best of luck and we're with you on this.

Catastrophe Lessons & Observations

This started out as a 'top 10 list' of my observations regarding Katrina, but there was no way to fit all of these memories, information and personal learning into that count. So I'm not going to restrict it in any way.

I understand that in the great world of mass media and symmetry, everything I'm about to type would be more appropriate on the one month anniversary... but what the hell. Even when I'm sitting in front of the computer and can check the date - I can barely comprehend what the date of today even means, no really, I don't even remember the date the storm hit... I do remember the time and day though... Sunday at around 3:45am. I remember that.

Although it's probably not why you would expect.

It really has nothing to do with wind and rain and water... but instead, merely complete and total reorganization of my life, and I'm only one life - one person - there are millions affected.

The storm was nothing, the aftermath was everything. One can, after a bit, try and organize chaos... Try is the key word. It's a struggle, but we all know we'll get there.

Maybe it's a human thing that goes back to our ancestors picking up the first stone or bone and letting the static of life wash out - and that ancestor suddenly saw a tool. Maybe one of these days everyone will look again out at the expanse of New Orleans and see thriving neighborhoods, crawfish boils, parades and people earning a living. Unfortunately right now it feels like stone and bone.

I started this list last night while kind of rummy, so expect some of it to be philosophical, some personal, and some very specific. My apologies to all. (except the specific ones)

• Disasters do not bring out the best in people... it brings out and amplifies what was always there.
• Be good to your neighbors, and in the very least - wave hello. You never know when they might evacuate and loan you their generator after yours has broken or have a brother who's in the SWAT Team who'll run you supplies when you're desparate.
• In a catastrophic, region-wide, massivly destructive, technologically ending event... the most important hi-tech survival gear that exists are family, friends and NEIGHBORS!
• Regarding the two directly above this... I could go on for weeks... and will always be grateful.
• After a catastostrophic event and the ongoing catastrophic aftermath, bathing in the nude in front of the house is quite liberating after the first few minutes... I don't recommend this for all catastrophic events - preferably one where most people have evacuated... pick and choose your event carefully.
• Local media outlets, including some of the most idealized and forward thinking, can only be counted on to help their fellow citizens to the extent that their owners are non-skittish and non-pilesofchickenshithypicritocalrunawayassholeleaveyourgrandmothertodieterds. Always remember, that some of these owners are trying to save their own asses and their grandmothers jewelry too.
• Not all small local media outlets are this way. Some who only existed to sell hotel rooms AND only had a fingerprint on the internet, said screw that, and did their best to help by getting information out to their community via the web.
• One of the brightest points of light that has come out of this entire thing has been the action and selfless behavior by New Orleans' radio stations. These stations, who are owned by competing corporations covering similar and outrageously different markets, joined together within two days after Katrina. In an incredible moment of clarity, they decided to share 'on-air' personalities and broadcast the same unified signal of hope and vital information to their community. If they, as a whole, do not win a Pulitzer Prize or a Congressional Medal of Honor or something - I may vomit.
• Cats do not like to be rescued.
• Hey NPR, give Andrei Codrescu a rest. Simply because you can barely understand him because of his accent, does not make him enlightened and thoughtful.
• Monetary donations should NOT go to large national organizations but to the small groups with their feet on the ground. Individuals and grass roots organizations truly make the greatest impact. For example, the Red Cross has received over 200 million dollars, but I have seen only two Red Cross volunteers during this entire event. That just blows.
• COMMUNICATIONS, COMMUNICATIONS, COMMUNICATIONS. Without Radio and text messaging the situation on the ground and everyone's level of fear and uncertainty would have been more dire.
• Rescue workers, police, fire, medical, 18 year old soldiers, etc. have yet again proven they are the most selfless people in the world.
• Beaureacrats have once again shown that they are idiots.
• It may be impossible for all levels of government to think outside of the box on anything.
• There are always 'new' normals, even if they happen every twenty minutes.

Sorry for so few, I'll work on some more later.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Lakeview Home - A Walkthrough

The following photographs are from my family's home in Lakeview, Catina St. near Harrison Ave. in New Orleans.

I don't have really much to say about it. I do know that I was able to salvage some of my sister's art, a Clementine Hunter painting and some photographs on my first pass... that's about it.

The massive Pine trees on the property - it really had a feeling of being on the northshore - are ALL down. The street is still impassible because of them.

Amazingly, the walls are not breeding black mold, they're plaster and that may have something to do with it. The house itself feels sturdy and doesn't appear to have shifted. The long leaf pine floors also appear to have not begun to warp... for now.

This house is raised on pilings nearly six feet off the ground, and I've always said that the day this house gets water in it is the day of the destruction of New Orleans.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves... Remember that in the shot of the front of the house, not but two weeks ago or so, my father and I paddled in a canoe straight over those root systems without hitting them.

To my family who hasn't seen the inside of this home yet... have a few cocktails first.







Waitin' Around To Die

New Orleans is under a mandatory evacuation (again). So what am I doing? Going in baby.

The following is an email I received which gives a very colorful description of the events at the convention center during the height of the chaos...

The story contained below has been typed up and forwarded to me by someone other than the individual who lived it... hearsay and all that, but well worth a read.


Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 3:12 PM
Subject: New Orleans

This was sent to me by a friend with lots of New Orleans relatives.

Subject: a survivor's story: Katrina in New Orleans

i heard from my aunt last night that my cousin Denise made it out of New Orleans; she's at her brother's in Baton Rouge. from what she told me:

her mother, a licensed practical nurse, was called in to work on Sunday night at Memorial Hospital (historically known as Baptist Hospital to those of us from N.O.). Denise decided to stay with her mother, her niece and grandniece (who is 2 years old); she figured they'd be safe at the hospital. they went to Baptist, and had to wait hours to be assigned a room to sleep in; after they were finally assigned a room, two white nurses suddenly arrived after the cut-off time (time to be assigned a room), and Denise and her family were booted out; their room was given up to the new nurses. Denise was furious, and rather than stay at Baptist, decided to walk home (several blocks away) to ride out the storm at her mother's apartment. her mother stayed at the hospital.

she described it as the scariest time in her life. 3 of the rooms in the apartment (there are only 4) caved in. ceilings caved in, walls caved in. she huddled under a mattress in the hall. she thought she would die from either the storm or a heart attack. after the storm passed, she went back to Baptist to seek shelter (this was Monday). it was also scary at Baptist; the electricity was out, they were running on generators, there was no air conditioning. Tuesday the levees broke, and water began rising. they moved patients upstairs, saw boats pass by on what used to be streets. they were told that they would be evacuated, that buses were coming. then they were told they would have to walk to the nearest intersection, Napoleon and S. Claiborne, to await the buses. they waded out in hip-deep water, only to stand at the intersection, on the neutral ground (what y'all call the median) for 3 1/2 hours. the buses came and took them to the Ernest Morial Convention Center. (yes, the convention center you've all seen on TV.)

Denise said she thought she was in hell. they were there for 2 days, with no water, no food. no shelter. Denise, her mother (63 years old), her niece (21 years old), and 2-year-old grandniece. when they arrived, there were already thousands of people there. they were told that buses were coming. police drove by, windows rolled up, thumbs up signs. national guard trucks rolled by, completely empty, soldiers with guns cocked and aimed at them. nobody stopped to drop off water. a helicopter dropped a load of water, but all the bottles exploded on impact due to the height of the helicopter.

the first day (Wednesday) 4 people died next to her. the second day (Thursday) 6 people died next to her. Denise told me the people around her all thought they had been sent there to die. again, nobody stopped. the only buses that came were full; they dropped off more and more people, but nobody was being picked up and taken away. they found out that those being dropped off had been rescued from rooftops and attics; they got off the buses delirious from lack of water and food. completely dehydrated. the crowd tried to keep them all in one area; Denise said the new arrivals had mostly lost their minds. they had gone crazy.

inside the convention center, the place was one huge bathroom. in order to shit, you had to stand in other people's shit. the floors were black and slick with shit. most people stayed outside because the smell was so bad. but outside wasn't much better: between the heat, the humidity, the lack of water, the old and very young dying from dehydration... and there was no place to lay down, not even room on the sidewalk. they slept outside Wednesday night, under an overpass.

Denise said yes, there were young men with guns there. but they organized the crowd. they went to Canal Street and "looted," and brought back food and water for the old people and the babies, because nobody had eaten in days. when the police rolled down windows and yelled out "the buses are coming," the young men with guns organized the crowd in order: old people in front, women and children next, men in the back. just so that when the buses came, there would be priorities of who got out first.

Denise said the fights she saw between the young men with guns were fist fights. she saw them put their guns down and fight rather than shoot up the crowd. but she said that there were a handful of people shot in the convention center; their bodies were left inside, along with other dead babies and old people.

Denise said the people thought there were being sent there to die. lots of people being dropped off, nobody being picked up. cops passing by, speeding off. national guard rolling by with guns aimed at them. and yes, a few men shot at the police, because at a certain point all the people thought the cops were coming to hurt them, to kill them all. she saw a young man who had stolen a car speed past, cops in pursuit; he crashed the car, got out and ran, and the cops shot him in the back. in front of the whole crowd. she saw many groups of people decide that they were going to walk across the bridge to the west bank, and those same groups would return, saying that they were met at the top of the bridge by armed police ordering them to turn around, that they weren't allowed to leave.

so they all believed they were sent there to die.

Denise's niece found a pay phone, and kept trying to call her mother's boyfriend in Baton Rouge, and finally got through and told him where they were. the boyfriend, and Denise's brother, drove down from Baton Rouge and came and got them. they had to bribe a few cops, and talk a few into letting them into the city ("come on, man, my 2-year-old niece is at the Convention Center!"), then they took back roads to get to them.

after arriving at my other cousin's apartment in Baton Rouge, they saw the images on TV, and couldn't believe how the media was portraying the people of New Orleans. she kept repeating to me on the phone last night: make sure you tell everybody that they left us there to die. nobody came. those young men with guns were protecting us. if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have had the little water and food they had found.

that's Denise Moore's story.

Lisa C. Moore

Monday, September 19, 2005

Some Things Don't Change

The Saints lost.

Very cool of New York, the Giants and the NFL for all their efforts and signs of support. We appreciate all of it.


Well, that was the first time I couldn't get into Orleans Parish... I'll try again tomorrow. Inthe meantime I received this email today - and it damn well deserves a read. Thanks for that Chuck - you've got a great handle on the city - move on back home. We need ya...



Thanks so much for your solid, no holds barred, and hold UP the homefront stance thru all of this. My kids (both New Orleans born) and I have looked to your blog daily for over 2 weeks now for the forthright, hopefilled, and encouraging news of New Orleans.

We are expatriot New Orleaneans, and, tho in absolutely no way comparable to those who have suffered thru this disaster, have been very affected by the losses. Those of us with children who are proud to be "from New Orleans" have watched them struggle with these events in some very difficult ways for them. Your spirit, your endeavours, and news of people like Kelsey and Tiffany have given them some folks to cheer for.

The kids have felt helpless, but, thanks to your blog, we have made contact with Mike and the Renew New Orleans organization. Now they are very excited about the prospect of selling RNO braclets and making their own contribution to the reclaimation of their home town. The sixth grader has helped organize "pennies for the Gulf Coast" at his school ($3000 plus, to date) and the 8th grader is participating at his school. The Middle School fund raiser is definitely in the New Orleans spirit. A lady science teacher and a HUGE football coach are the "competitors". The one who gets the most $ donated in their name is the winner. If the science teacher wins, she has to shave her head and dress like a football coach for a week. If the coach wins, he has to come to work "in drag" including heels for a week.. Needless to say, it seems the competitors are actively campainging for contributions in the others name.

Of a more thoughtful note

I just re-read your posting "Disconnect Everywhere..." Today, a statement of yours in that posting seemed to really clarify a key element of the City that Care forgot. A key element of the character of New Orleans and New Orleaneans that is completely missed by so many.

"Is New Orleans destroyed, NO. Is it about 50% destroyed... that's probably pretty close. Will it survive -- HELL YES. Will it be changed -- HELL YES. Will it be the same -- HELL YES.

Even many New Orleaneans miss the embedded fact that New Orleans IS a CONTRADICTION and has forever been one.

Her contradictory nature has been, and remains, an underlyling theme of her charm since her founding. Who, in his right mind would ever have built a city in a swamp between a powerful river and a huge brackish lake with only a skinny trail down the Esplanade ridge even connecting those two natural enemies of development?

The United States has long been known as a "melting pot" of humanity. Nowhere else in the world can, or could you find a more complete "melting pot" than the City of New Orleans. The "alloy" made from the blending of the world's metals found in the crucible formed by the crescent of the river is too strong an alloy to be destroyed by a little wind and some stinking water.

Does she have her rich and her poor? Her haves and have nots? Her grand homes and her humble abodes? Of course she does. Does she have her class, social and cultural differentiations? Of course she does. She is no different from any other city in that regard.

She differs in that these differences have never been ignored. Instead, these differences have been dignified and appreciated. These cultures, all so varied, have been blended. Amazingly blended in that each of the contributors to the recipe has conserved their individuality while becoming an integral part of this wonderful concoction we know and love as New Orleans.

From this blending has come the flavor of a city envied by every other city in the world. A flavor that brings a gleam to the eye of people all over the world when they hear the words New Orleans.

What term do we use now when we speak of what is to come?

Does she need restoration? Maybe. But what needs the restoration? Her spirit certainly remains. There is evidence of that in the very existence of those arrogant and ignorant (LOL) holdouts who still remain in her bosom.

Does she need re-building? Yes. But what was destroyed? Only some board and brick are missing. Hell half the city was built from barge board to begin with. And, think about it, the Irish Channel wouldn't exist if there hadn't been raw material to make brick and a need for those Irishmen to lay it (tho the Creoles more than did that craft justice as well).

Does she need re-newing? Maybe, but not in any sense of being intrinsically changed. That term has some implication that something needed fixing before hand. (A lot of things did, but no one outside wanted to help with that B.K. (before Katrina).

Does she need RE-CLAIMING? Oh, yes. I truly believe she does. She needs to be reclaimed by those who know her, lover her, live in her, and have lived in her.

Mayor Nagin, stick to your guns. With all due respect to Adm. Allen and little to President W, New Orleans needs HER people now to re-claim her. She survived the carpet baggers once, about a 140 years ago, she doesn't need the California, Upper East Coast and Texas cronies to further line their pockets now. She needs the dollars to pay her OWN people to reclaim her.

Now, TAG, if you've read this far, I've taken enough of your valuable time. Go forth and rally the populace! Thank you again from me and my boys. And I'm sure there are many more of us expatriots who feel the same.

Dallas Texas


Alright... mini-vacation over. Back to work.

This afternoon I'm making a run into Lakeview and Uptown. I will have photos from inside homes that have been resting under 14 feet of water. Stories are that many have collapsed in on themselves or shifted on their slabs or pilings.

A few last humorous asides and observations...

• I went into a grocery store yesterday for the first time since the event and nearly had a nervous breakdown. The people, the FOOD and the normality really got to me. I'm not exaggerating - I nearly had a massive anxiety attack in produce.

• Again relating a grocery store story, a few days back, friends of mine who rode out the storm Uptown finally made their way up to Baton Rouge. That evening they hit Whole Foods Market for groceries and were completely blown away. One of them was skipping up the aisles yelling "We're in the Emerald City! We're in the Emerald City!"

• The running joke for any cut or bruise is now, "It's the black mold."

• RITA... There is no way that Rita will come here. That would be God spitting in our face... More likely, watch out Texas. Ivan, Katrina - the only things left standing on the entire Gulf Coast are in Texas.

• Very rapidly I am developing my own FEMA horror story. I haven't even gotten that stipend they've been handing out. NOTHING.

More later today...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

There's The Spirit

Crazy night.

I've sat here for the last three weeks, my Katrina solitude interrupted only by two people over a total of 22 days not counting the random survivalist neighbors, and then suddenly, three lawyers, two scientists, a librarian, an Emeril's chef and me. New Orleans came roaring back last night and if I had any doubts about her survival - they were quashed.

That defiant, self-deprecating, shoot the bird at the devil while drinking a Huge Ass Beer New Orleans' humor and attitude IS alive and well.

These friends were all trickling in, making there way back into the city from points like Memphis, Big Bend National Park, Atlanta, Annapolis, Alabama, and other points. All seeking a first-hand view of their homes in either Orleans or St. Bernard Parish. Their discoveries were mixed - some shockingly good news, and of course, some bad.

The most startling news came from Curt and Alice, whose home in old Arabi, that's in St. Bernard Parish, turned out to only have moderate roof damage - no water. We laughed a bit, because Curt, had only married his native New Orleans wife nine months ago - moving down here from Seattle at the same time and experienced Hurricane Cindy and then this. Welcome to New Orleans bud.

Our resident chef hooked us up with what was my first home-cooked meal since the event - red beans, steamed broccoli, green beans, dirty rice, salad, collard greens and a pork loin... heaven.

For lunch yesterday they all had their first MRE, prefaced by an MRE training seminar. The little tobasco bottles are a huge hit, but the general consensus is that Rumsfeld needs to work on his jambalaya and creole rice recipes.

With a lot of beer and booze drinking happening, the funniest moment of the night was the rehashing of George Bush's speech in front of Jackson Square. Not only was it bizarre for us to hear the President saying the words "Second Line", we couldn't imagine what the rest of the country thought of that. But we nearly died when someone said they expected Bush to break out an umbrella and a napkin at the end of the speech and start "Second Lining" with Cheney, the first wives and whoever in front of the Cathedral. It was really too damn funny... maybe you had to be there... I don't know.

There was an interesting dialectic happening also. All these exiles were fascinated by my stories - yet all I wanted to hear was their exile stories. It was killing me to hear about free admission to Graceland, comped meals, exile drinking gatherings in the middle of nowhere, boozy nights of hanging up "Viva Nagin" signs off overpasses in rural Alabama... it was killing me, even though I understood the incredible frustration they all had with simply not even being able to see their homes, neighborhoods and city. I know I'd be climbing the walls.

What was truly amazing though were the stories of families taking care of families. The media harps on the exiles housed in camps and the Astrodome or wherever... but the truth is that large amounts of New Orleanians have been taken in by their extended family. Eight and nine people living under one roof.

Family... taking care of family. Americans taking care of Americans.

It was a good night.

Homecomings 2.

The following email is from another very good friend of mine. He's an New Orleans artist and architectural designer, who you figure would be working on the New Orleans thing, but no - he's down in Pensacola working on Hurricane Ivan damage. Go figure.

Anyway, he gives a great heads up on two parts of New Orleans, and apparantly doesn't care for capitalization.



Jenny and i just returned to baton rouge from a day trip into new orleans. we went to visit our home to access damage. i am pleased to report that my primary dwelling is dry. the water rose to the 4th of 5 steps, remaining just clear of the floor joists. what this means is that my floor did not take water (as best as i can tell). my entire hvac system was submerged which will likely require all new ductwork, return air, furnaces and air handlers. my studio took 2-3 feet of water and suffered some wind damage, this is probably my greatest personal loss as all of my slides and records were in a cabinet that collapsed into the fetid drink. more importantly some 15 recent paintings were destroyed. oof. in addition to this damage my fences were torn up and a large section of my back deck was somehow lifted from its foundation, twisted and deposited onto another portion of deck, on top of this pile lies a very large felled tree which mercifully missed my roof by mere inches. o yeah, the honda is on the neutral ground with a thick layer of sluge on the floorboards, i imagine that many vehicles have met with this same fate. nasty. we are probably the luckiest homeowners on audubon street between claiborne and willow as the waterline sits clearly above the first inhabitable floor of probably 85% of these homes. there is also an abundance of wind damage to weatherboard siding, windows and roofs (projectiles and tree limbs mostly). my neighbor had a laundry shed, it was completely shredded by wind, all that is left is the washer and dryer and some other crap that he kept in there, but there is no sign that any of it was ever enclosed or under roof. speaking of washers and dryers, i went to check on the hardies house, i could not get into the gate because his washer has been dislodged from its normal location and deposited against the gate. i could tell that he like the rest of the broadmoore neighborhood fared much worse than audubon street. the watermark on his first floor reached my chin, i am about 5'-11". this particular area, while much better off than the lower 9th, st bernard, plaquemines, lakewood south, mid-city and parts of lakeview (my prayers are with you keith and nicole, courtney and michael, jo-harriet, the gilbert family, and so many others), was very hard hit. many of the houses in broadmoore will have to be razed, the storm leveled several structures (including hardie's neighbor), but mostly it covered the area with very high floodwaters. it is strange to see cars parked on neutral grounds for safety that were clearly covered with water probably 2 times their height. my uncle jimmy lives on bienville between city park ave and carrollton in a raised cottage just like mine his house was almost covered, it's a total. my mother's father was on virginia ct in mid-city (the house my mother was born in) behind parkway/par 4's it was a raised cottage, it took alot of water and it is a total. speaking of that area, as you might expect, there is a lake of stagnant water sitting in that dip in front of plantation coffeehouse, it smells absolutely disgusting. as does it all, everywhere. my fathers house lost a significant amount of its roof, the walls and ceilings are either down or incredibly moldy; his father lives on metarie court at the levee and took a good bit of water, but like the soldier that he is he has already personally torn up the flooring and the walls and disposed of the furniture, he'll be living at home before any of us, he is 87 years old.

There is a disgusting smell that permeates the city streets, all of them that I visited. It is nasty. If you are coming back anytime soon, bring sanding masks to breathe through when inside, some of that menthol to spread under your nostrils to mask the putrid smells of you refrigerator, mold and any sewerage. It is clear that it’ll take all of us to fix this, the residents will be doing a lot of the clean up and repair, many have nothing material to repair only their spirit. clearly we will have to be there for them in particular.

The times pic said mardi gras will happen this year. I am looking foreword to that. Come see us, we’ll be somewhat better by then.

Oh yeah, you know the big root beer mug on top of the frost top on clairborne ave. it is now ON claiborne ave.


(another Jeff, not the same one as before)

Too many stories...

Sorry, tonight's experiences are best left for desciption in the morning. Good things. Healthy.


The re-population begins.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Renew New Orleans


The objective of the Foundation is to raise funds for local New Orleans non-profits to be used to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of New Orleans, especially children and the disadvantaged. All proceeds from Renew New Orleans’ fundraising activities are donated to charities that support the renewal of New Orleans as a safe, vibrant and thriving city. Contributions will be made to charities that enhance life through education, health, human services, arts, culture and humanities.

A foundation for New Orleanians run by New Orleanians.

I personally know some of the individuals working with and KNOW that all donations will go in the proper directions.

Hmm... I wonder why Andrei Codrescu didn't think of something like this for his fellow writers? Probably was too busy showboating and whining about the 'death' of New Orleans. Too bad, he's got a national audience to some degree... probably could have done some good for those same struggling artists he was talking about. Oh well, have a port on me Andrei.

Morning Noodles

It is almost as if you were frantically constructing another world while the world that you live in dissolves beneath your feet, and that your survival depends on completing this construction at least one second before the old habitation collapses -- Tennessee Williams

Some observations:

• In a sure sign of recovery, with the litigation gumbo simmering down in Southeast Louisiana, expect the New Orleans population of attorneys and law firms to not only return, but go on a hiring binge.

• Many neighborhoods which were constructed in the 60's through the present must be completely rethought. Explain to me why one would construct a home which is not raised in a flood plain?

• In a similar vein, how quickly we forget the lessons, vision and knowledge of our forefathers. There was a reason that older homes were built raised several feet off the ground, and I and some of my neighbors can completely attest to understanding why historic homes have ceilings of 12 feet or greater in height - the home I have been in, with its 16 foot ceilings had a feeling of natural air conditioning in the midst of no electricity and the sweltering midday sun.

• This city is the second oldest city in the United States and large portions of our historic districts have survived the greatest natural disaster in this country's history. Yet, has anyone noticed, that the real devastation to this area has occured mostly in neighborhoods developed since the 1960's?

Correlation maybe?

Explain to me why one would build identical houses in Phoenix and Plaquemines Parish? Where is the sense and forethought in city planning at all levels of government? Not simply here, but throughout this country.

Where is the wisdom of growing water-intensive crops such as rice in California?

There are fundamental issues rooted in the core of American thinking regarding the environment and how we relate to it that are failing. We proudly herald the productivity of our companies to the world, yet build homes in the desert or homes in the swamps which don't accept the realities of their location, and, in fact, actually go to war with it. Where is the productivity in this?

Will we learn the lessons of Katrina, or will we rapidly rebuild for the sake of rebuilding, and leave this country and region the potential to convulse through this again in the future? It would be criminally foolish to to come back and duplicate the same design for these homes. There are many which if were only raised one or two feet, would have been saved - along with billions of dollars.

That smells productive.

Friday, September 16, 2005


I got this fantastic email from an old friend of mine yesterday -- and I have to share it. Hopefully he won't get pissed at me for this, but I think it really sheds some light on how even people who were only moderately affected property wise are feeling and thinking...


Dear Friends and Family:

Well, we finally got to see the house yesterday. It is in great shape. We live in a golf community near Abita Springs, La. It was deep in the piney woods forest which covers most of the Florida parishes of Louisiana. The first order of business at the next homeowners meeting will be to change the name of the community to "Broken Tree."

Katrina affects people in different ways. Some big and some little. I spoke with the owner of the land our neighborhood is built on, David Goodyear yesterday, his great grandfather bought all the land from Abita to Bogalusa in the 19th century. He was involved in, in addition to Goodyear Tire, the paper plant in Bogalusa, and used the trees to fuel that plant. David, 80+, had seen each section of trees planted in his lifetime. Now, 4 of every 5 trees for 20,000 acres are snapped about 30 feet from the ground. I have learned in the last few years that you can really fall in love with a piece of land, it's hills, trees, birds and lakes. Seeing it damaged is heart-breaking.

So, after 16 days in Dallas, we saw the house was in good shape. My wife was worried about the fridge. I said don't open it, we'll buy another one. No, she couldn't stand it. I left the room. She opened the freezer, then the main compartment, ran into the garden and threw up. I don't care who you are, that's funny. Anytime an "I told you not to" results in throwing up, especially if it's your wife, who rarely listens to me anyway, that's funny. She spent the rest of the time in the house with a sheet of Bounce stuck to her face, trying to get the smell from her nose. So, I promptly did what any self-respecting, non-handy, southern man with a weak stomach would do, I grabbed the duct tape, wrapped the doors up and rolled it outside and called my insurance agent.

Since there was no power, we arranged for a condo in Sand Destin, Florida and left abruptly. Our children are excited to go swimming. It seems I just spend my days figuring how to keep them as unaffected as possible, seeking generous cousins to play with, things to do and see, like waterslides, movies and museums with dinosaur bones, Uncle Jimbo, even a sandy white beach to bury 'dada' in. Can't figure out if I'm doing enough, too little or exactly what I should be? Watching my self implode on CNN is not good for me any longer. Priorities. Children...Wife....Mankind...Self...tough decisions. Am I the one running from New Orleans out of fear, where I should be in waders? Well, the kids seem like a good excuse not to. I just want to watch them and my wife sleep safely unaffected by the storm every night. Then I realize that the thousands of people who want to do the same, but don't have that same luxury right this second and I feel wrought with guilt and terribly lucky. Luck and guilt are strange bed-fellows to me. Who am I kidding, guilt is strange emotion for me period. I never minded luck much.

I can work remotely. We hope to return in another week.

Please take care and love one another. Let me know how you are doing. If there is anything I can do for anyone, please don't hesitate to ask. Thanks for listening.


Disconnect Everywhere...


The lack of understanding that even exiled New Orleanians have about what's happening down here is, I guess par for the course, and I shouldn't be surprised by the comments, cell conversations, emails and copies of chat room conversations that I have either received or witnessed.

Let me try to give a first hand account, again, to New Orleanians straight off... everybody remembering that I have lost a 4th generation family home in the still standing waters of Lakeview.

All is not lost you dumbasses. New Orleans STAND UP!

We have lost a lot, hard core, but much - MUCH - isn't even grazed.

Remember, that without the levee breaches, Orleans Parish would be moderately ok.

We would still have the destruction and loss of New Orleans East, the entire parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and the southeastern portions of St. Tammany. Gross devastation.

Trust me, I am with all who have lost... but my allegiance lies not with a single piece of property or neighborhood or single individual, but with this city, with its people and its culture. In total.

I get, as much as much as I can, the heavy loss that has happened here. I get it. I know it, personally. I get that we have a heck of a lot of work before us, a heck of a lot of crying... When I paddled up to my only Godchild's window -- I couldn't even look in. It killed me. My sister had painted the walls of that room with catwillows and happy grasshoppers, the room where my father grew up; my sister had painted this herself... NEVERTHELESS!

There are MANY parts of this city that will be habitable VERY shortly. Yes, there are enormous swaths of this city which are probably totaled, but there are also large neighborhoods which are excatly the way that you left them - minus a few shingles and some downed trees. The city is rapidly putting utilities back online.

I spoke with a good friend today who was all frustrated and ancy about getting into his house next week -- he lives in a zip code that is opening up. Frantic, he's like - yeah we're going to cruise in and grab some stuff and head back out.

I asked him, why would you not stay in your own home, when you have power, water and the city is the safest it's ever been? He was actually kind of stymied.

Seriously, to all residents of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes whose zip codes have been selected... You are really not going to notice a difference from when you evacuated... other than no crime, roadblocks, soldiers with machine guns walking around, and having to go to the Convention Center (Orleans Parish only) for maybe a week until the Winn-Dixie's are open; everything physically is almost normal. The only thing we're missing is people, the community.

Seriously again, large parts of Jeff Parish are already back online. The streets are clean, the neighborhoods safe and everything is under control. Heck you can even go buy a car now if you want. Orleans is NOT far behind.

Moreover, despite the losses, there are still some MAJOR misconceptions about what has happened down here. I drove throughout Uptown and the Garden District again today, and then I ventured my furthest downriver to date. I hit the CBD, Marigny and the French Quarter. In all areas, yet again I was shocked by the lack of damage and looting. I expected rampant lawlessness and trashing of buildings. The L.A. riots were probably much worse. The real looting happened on Canal St. and at several bars - seeking cash from the video poker machines. I can't say it enough, it is not what I understood as portrayed by the national media.

As someone who has witnessed first hand what the national media hawks on, and then experienced the truth and reality for myself... I can only now question what must happen in other newsworthy events... everywhere. This is quite sad, because the coverage by the national media scared the hell out of me some nights - nights where I did not sleep at all; sitting in the home where I grew up in, ready to defend it with my life... Waiting to defend it with my life.

The local media is also to blame. Dave Cohen in particular, I have found his coverage to be incredibly sensationalistic throughout - although he has calmed down somewhat recently. Heck, my initial blogging was this way too... but after I got to investigating - first on my bike and then by car... I started to get it. YES, this is a major disaster that has happened to the Gulf Coast. Is New Orleans destroyed, NO. Is it about 50% destroyed... that's probably pretty close. Will it survive -- HELL YES. Will it be changed -- HELL YES. Will it be the same -- HELL YES.

I get that this is contradictary. But that's the truth. The spirit of this city and people can not and will not be quenched. I saw it today as I drove down Frenchmen St. There were no cars parked on the street, the bars and restaurants were closed, but hell there was Rebirth Brass Band cranked up and playing from an upstairs apartment! REBIRTH BRASS BAND. I pulled over and listened as a few tatooed locals walked by, going about their business - some local eccentrics cruised by on their bikes.


Now, speaking to the rest of the country.

Thank you for your obvious support. All I know is that we WILL be throwing y'all a huge party every year right before Lent. I have seen and met people from every inch of this great nation of ours throughout my Katrina experience... Surfers from California to cowboys from Oklahoma. Yankees from Massachusetts to Pharmacists from Orlando. Even Texans... lol.

Thank you. I know that I can speak for all of us. Thank you.

Two days into this, we knew that our survival would NEVER happen without you. Everything is finally coming together, I think, and the situation is stable.

I, personally, could not have lasted as long as I have without help from generous neighbors, strangers via the internet, that damn cat that scratched me the first time in a rescue, a kind family, who has a brother who's a badass, SWAT, from Livingston Parish (he's short, but you know not to mess with the short ones), my friends, and my family.

We have a long road ahead of us and I'm dying to get a photograph of one of the two big new fire trucks that Louisianians sent up as gifts to New York City after 9/11, which are both now back down here in Louisiana driving around, showing everyone, demonstrating to everyone that what we do for others, will in fact come back to help yourself.


I'm drunk now. I can't fix this writing any more. Excuse me.

Below: Frenchmen Street... Same as it ever was - not a broken pane of glass.

Below: Looted Video Poker Machines leaving Polynesian Joe's.

Below: About to exit the 1 of only 4 true entrances to Orleans Parish onto Jefferson Hwy.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pet Update -- Some Words...

First off, Kelsey and her crew of three rescued 9 cats and one ferret today. They also, with the reopening of parts of Orleans Parish to re-population next week, fed & watered innumerable animals as per owner's directives.

This little crew has been out on the front lines everyday, beating themselves up in order to save these animals. Even today Kelsey received a dangerous chemical burn on her right wrist and had to be taken to a Military Med Station. Nearly all of them have received bites and must now go on antibiotics...

Moving on to the rant...

I have received a few emails today expressing frustration with the situation down here regarding animals, their rescuers and a lack or organization... and I am pissed off.

Several emails have stated that volunteers have come all the way down here to assist, then witnessed first hand the lack of organization and have left angry, after dumping supplies at Lamar-Dixon or wherever.

Guess what. Fear the day California that you get a massive earthquake and suddenly have hundreds of thousands of animals in dire straits... I HOPE you learn from this. Communication is effectively impossible. 504 area codes still can barely communicate with other 504 area codes, for Christ's sake. My cell only accepts calls from other area codes - no dialing out for most of the day.


These are small groups who are using their own resources and the resources of friends and family, which are already strained, to try and do good. This is an immense problem - which, by the way, is very quickly nearing the endgame - if it hasn't already. How do you suppose they start up an organization from scratch in five days when no one can communicate with each other? Send out homing pigeons and recall everyone to Lamar Dixon for a goddamned powerpoint presentation on who's in charge and what's the proper way to get into a two-story house from a boat? For fuck's sake.

All of this frustration had better calm down. Because that's what it is... frustration that you're sitting up in California eating brie, or in Ohio eating whatever it is y'all eat in Ohio, or wherever... Know this... that the good people of this state and many others are DOING THEIR BEST!

Will animals die -- hell yes. Have they already died -- hell yes. Have people died -- hell yes.

Deal with it. We are. But know that there are some damn good and outrageously altruistic people down here trying to save what they can, lying their way through checkpoints and risking their own skin for these creatures.

Fear this happens to you, because everywhere in this country would be in exactly the same boat.

Side note... I like Brie...

More to come.

Lots of information tonight. Everyone needs to calm down.

Music on frenchman. Codrescu go to hell.

I am downtown. Biggest government presence yet. Suprisingly clean. Looks ready to go.

70115 opens mon. 70118 opens fri. Treme mon a week. Conv ctr will become a huge mall.

I am uptown. Major lockdown. Major convoys military, utility. Levees over roads @ checkpoints. practice run opening parish monday by zip codes.

One Family's FEMA Horror Story

A few days ago, a family made their way back by boat to their home in Lakeview to get a first-hand look at everything that they own... their entire life, other than loved ones.

I've seen what it looks like inside of these homes... black mold up to the ceilings, the walls feel swolen and everything sweats, the air is stifling and smells... unholy, belongings are scattered and piled up in big uncomprehensible piles, raw sewagage and e-coli water lovingly embracing everything, langorously drifting down as the waters recede - no documents would survive - no furniture - nothing.

As far as the house itself, who knows... I've heard conflicting stories - Once black mold gets in a home, you can get it out... or once balck mold gets in a house, it must be torn down. Who knows how all of this will wash out.

The family was FINALLY able to get in touch with FEMA via telephone. They spoke with operator Nadine, #8869, out of Philadelphia.

Nadine, operator #8869, went back and forth with this family who has LOST EVERYTHING, their jobs, their home, every photograph, every document.

Here are some of the highlights (remember, they simply visited their home - by boat):

• Nadine, operator #8869: "I'm sorry, you're not eligible for the $2,000 general living reimburesement because you are back in the dwelling."
• Nadine, operator #8869: "No, you're not eligible for any FEMA property assistance because you have entered the dwelling."
• Nadine, operator #8869: "Mam, you must have all re-consideration documentation mailed to your dwelling, as you are now back in your dwelling."
• Nadine, operator #8869: "Sorry lady, but Mobile (Alabama) was hit much harder than New Orleans."

Thad... would you have some mid-level beaurecrat set up at least a powerpoint demonstration for your operators explaining what the hell is going on down here?

This reminds me in a way of the scene in "The Jerk" when Navin (Steve Martin) is working for the carnival guessing people's weight and he comes to the realization that you want to give away the crap. Hey Thad, me again... would you tell your people that they WANT to give out the assistance.

I have even been told by other individuals that their homes were rejected for FEMA assistance because the house has already been inspected by FEMA... these individuals homes are a mile into Lakeview and under ten feet of water... Damn, those FEMA inspectors are quick about it.

If you have a FEMA nightmare, email it to me at gulfsails at hotmail dot com and I'll post it here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A. Codrescu Defeatest? What a Shocker...

Hey Andrei, I hear that you're lamenting the loss, destruction and de-bohemianization of New Orleans... Well that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone as you sit up there in Baton Rouge watching the mass media and sipping port with your fellow sour and pale writers.

Come on down here to the streets of the city and watch New Orleanians battle side by side with people from all around this country - fighting to reclaim what has been lost. Come on down and get a nasty sunburn, hepatitus shots, cuts, bruises and unclean piercings. Then try your best to explain and espouse the death of this city.

Because Sir... you are dead wrong.

New Orleans is not an exquisite corpse.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Turning The Corner??

Before I begin, I want to again thank everyone for their support. I also want to mention that, yeah, I've heard the reports that everyone knows when I've been drinking because my spelling suffers... Well here we go.

Exploratory mission through Uptown, Mid-City, Esplanade and the Lakefront. You can actually drive now from the river to the lake in Orleans Parish. The water is receeding rapidly. Uptown is completely dry. Mid-City is mostly dry. Lakeview is under water still. The Esplanade area up to Broad St. is dry.

My biggest takeaway from today's reconnaisance is how many houses actually have not gotten water in them - including in Mid-City. Trust me, there is plenty of water to go around, for example a large area between Freret and Claiborne had water in homes. But there were some areas where I was completely blown away by what appears to be non-inundated homes.

There is a new issue though -- I spoke with an engineer today and he explained that part of the reason that the water has dropped so rapidly, is that at least a few feet of it has been absorbed by the Earth. The problem with this, as Lakeview residents already know, is that this causes the ground to buckle, expand and then after it dries out... to retract. Expect some homes to be off kilter when you return.

Not only can you determine flood levels by waterlines, you can also read this by grass and gardens. Any lawns, gardens, neutral grounds, whatever that were covered by water are now a dark hay brown and completely dead. There is also a inch of skanky muck and silt over everything - especially the closer you get to the lake. This is a sidewalk in the picture on the left.

I drove Claiborne, Tulane, Jeff Davis, Carrollton, Canal St., Wisner, Esplanade, Robert E. Lee, Lakeshore Dr., City Park, etc.

Speaking of City Park... it is really messed up. The park is mostly under water and the world's largest collection of live oak trees has lost plenty. Our trees are a big concern to me. In areas where there was standing water, all the trees are beginning to brown in their extremes. I'm not a tree doc - so I don't know if this means imminent death or is a temporary thing.

Throughout all of my travels in the city, I still have seen NO evidence of private residences having been looted and I would call the businesses that have been looted - minor. There are reports of a large amount of automobile thefts, although I attribute this mainly to individuals trying to flee the city and floodwaters. I am not making an excuse for them in any way, but I guarantee this explanation will make up for a large percentage of these stolen vehicles.

The military presence in all of these areas is massive. I had to drive through at least five checkpoints today showing ID and explaining myself. The traffic in these areas is very light, with the only exceptions military or government agencys.

I am aware that there is a growing outcry regarding rumours of soldiers systematically breaking down doors in order to check for survivors or the dead -- In the areas I was in, this simply is NOT true. Troops are systematically going house by house, but they are banging on the doors and yelling out and then leaving the mow famous markings ON THE SIDEWALKS in front of the homes. Moreover, even if they were breaking down the doors -- there is NO ONE left in the city to loot anything.

I have seen a fair amount of evidence of fire damage, though they may be getting a handle on this issue. To the left is Jesuit High School in Mid-City.

I am concerned now more than ever, especially as I realize that many neighborhoods in New Orleans will be salvageable, that the government will try and come in and bulldoze entire swaths of historic neighborhoods.


Also, with the incredible outcry against beaureacratic red tape, we must be wary of the government bypassing the rules and guidelines of the National Historic Registry and Districts. There are plenty of homes and structures that indeed must come down, but this has to be done surgically and thoughtfully. New Orleanians under the guidance of preservationists must be in charge of this upcoming phase of the rebuilding... I don't know who this goofball developer is that I keep hearing about out of New York, talking about how he wants to come down here and rebuild the city so that it looks like Times Square with all the jumbotrons and fancy shiny lights... Sir, thank you for your interest in helping us, but have you ever been to New Orleans?

Every day I am feeling that New Orleans is going to come back, better and quicker than anyone may realize. In fact, their are large portions of the city which could realistically be repopulated in two weeks.

Until next time...

Below: Intersection of Magazine and Leake.

Below is a military base at Audubon Park/Zoo

Below: Canal St. in Mid-City

Below: Cowboy's House in Mid-City

Below: Tulane Ave.

Below: Another shot of Tulane Ave.

One last comment -- I heard on the news tonight that they are taking all of the downed trees to a landfill to either be burned or chipped... Come on people, we have to think outside of the box here. Remember how we dispose of our Christmas Trees? The parishes take them and use them to rebuild the marshes... Wouldn't this be a great way to discard of all that organic debris and at the same time help to restore some of the marshes?? THINK GOVERNMENT.

Lost entire post due to system crash...


Hey Cowboy -- god damn it hold on.

Pet Update - Phone Number!

Today, Kelsey & Tiffany scoured Uptown New Orleans and saved 5 cats and 4 dogs.

An issue developed between the hands-on individuals saving pets and the state beaureacracy. RED TAPE bullshit.

Please contact:

State Veternarians Office

And let them know about your missing or trapped animals.

Jefferson parish Library System

The following are excerpts from a few emails sent by the Director of the Jefferson Parish Library System, Lon Dickerson.

Here's the latest update. Frankly, it was depressing to have to wear a mask today to enter Gretna and Belle Terre libraries. There's still a glimmer of hope that a portion of Gretna's collection can be salvaged.

I checked with EOC today; paper checks will not be mailed. Yes, another payroll is being prepared. No, I don't know when employees will be instructed to return to work. I'm not aware of anybody's position being eliminated; everyone still has a job.

I'm anticipating the loss of 200,000+ books, etc., as well as an unknown number of computers and 4 facilities. We need cash donations for books and other resources, computers, and construction c/o Friends of Jefferson Parish Public Library, P.O. Box 9391, Metairie, La 70055. Encourage individuals, agencies, and any other contacts to have to make donations. People can contact me at and Lisa Conescu, Friends President.
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