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.


Anonymous Maggie said...

Hey y'all. Sorry I missed the party. Hope to see you soon. Who was the sign-hanger? Good job.


3:21 PM, September 18, 2005  
Anonymous Rachel said...

I'm glad to hear that New Orleans' humor and attitude is alive and well!!! Glad those friends began trickling in and you had a good party!! You deserve it.

6:14 PM, September 18, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the pic of Stace and Steve. Miss y┬┤all. Glad to here there is some laughter and good times in all of this.

7:03 PM, September 18, 2005  
Blogger Chuck said...

A nice sight to see. Us New Orleans Expatriots can't come close to imagining what many of you are feeling and have felt. But, we can and do share in the desire to see to it that "the city that care forgot" is not forgotten by care.

Let dat Pelican rise on up outa dat gumbo mud like a Pheonix from the dust.

Thanks, TAG, for your continued good info. Have left Mike a phone message and hope me and mine can be heavily involved in Renew New Orleans from here in Dallas.

10:01 PM, September 18, 2005  
Anonymous Kelsey said...

Damn, after everything, we missed the best party.
We'll ve back soon. From the animal front, a great deal of our list has been rescued, either by us or other groups. The ones we were sure hadn't survived, did. I'm amazed by their abilities to survive. The one disappointment is that I got a call from the lady who lived in the house on Ponchartrain Blvd where Maria and I pulled 2 dogs with the help of the Oregon Nat'l Guard last sunday. I told her that the dogs had been taken to Lamar Dixon. She had been there 3 times and couldn't find them. Where are they shipping these animals and are they keeping a record of it? I was very disappointed, as this is our first non-reunion.
Troy, we'll be back Tuesday. I'll bring some more of Jim's beer.
When you decide to leave N.O. for some r&r, I'd like to challenge The Rabble to a 'get-together' that might rival what y'all did at my brother's wedding.

11:33 PM, September 18, 2005  
Anonymous WillowLu said...

Glad to find the update from Kelsey (who needs some kind doc to take a look at that hand). I gotta say, she helps make your crew look like damned fine people.

She's still living the emergency while others are shifting back into normalcy. She's rocks and it just can't be easy in any way.

My respects to Tiffany and all as well.

On the lack of organization at Gonzales, I have nothing but questions. It's nothing but "WHY?!" everywhere I look. Biggest "Why?" ::: Why doesn't the government end this nightmare and ORDER the National Guard and the Coast Guard to help save all these dying pets?

I think digital video coverage of this animal emergency coming from inside your parish is sorely needed. (Featuring the likes of your friendly neighborhood heros, Kelsey, Tiffany & co. of course.) Please let the world see how FEMA continues to ignore the crisis 3 WEEKS LATER.

Deep thanks and best luck to all ~ Jennifer

1:37 AM, September 19, 2005  
Anonymous Kelsey said...

Just for reference, the 2 ladies on the left of that picture are Cheri, from Lafayette and Leah, from Santa Monica.
I had Dr. White look at my hand and he was not overly concerned, so I won't worry about it anymore.
We'll be back tomorrow.

12:31 PM, September 19, 2005  
Anonymous Jenifer said...

Great post -- makes me feel like the city really will come back strong. I've been enjoying reading your blog, by the way. God bless all of you doing the pet rescues, and thanks for posting the pictures. It's shocking to see so much destruction in familiar places, but it's also good to see it's not worse.

The "American Gothic" picture is classic. :-)

(From a former resident of Lakeview -- sigh -- and also of Mid-city, Jefferson near Ochsner, West Metairie, and Abita Springs.)

1:03 PM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger merijoe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:02 PM, September 19, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Rescue operation moving to Michoud

Friday, 8:02 p.m.

By Sandra Barbier
Staff writer

A rescue effort started by a New Iberia veterinarian in St. Bernard Parish is moving into bigger quarters at the Michoud facility in eastern New Orleans.

Veterinarian Eric White started collecting pets and strays on Sept. 2, ferrying as many as he could back to his clinic and the Iberia Humane Society, where the animals were cleaned, treated and photographed in the hope of reuniting them with owners, said White's wife, Marilynn White.
"He's brought about 100 back," she said. "You cannot imagine the overwhelmingness of this endeavor," Marilynn White said. "They leave at three in the morning, and come back at 11 at night" with animals from St. Bernard."Then another whole crew bathes them, walks them," she said. Some are being sheltered at White's clinic and some are a shelter operated by the Iberia Humane Society, of which White is a board member.

White's task was made a little easier when he got the use of a barn near Aycock Street in Arabi to shelter the animals, and he received donations gathered through a Florida animal group alerted to his efforts through the Internet. He was able to construct temporary pens in the barn to separate dogs by gender, size and temperament, Marilynn White said.

Since then, the Georgia National Guard also stepped in to help, and now the effort is being coordinated by Rani Rathburn of the guard, she said.

Plans now are to move the shelter to a hangar at Michoud, on Saturday. Help now includes three more veterinarians, Marilynn White said. "They have about 250 dogs there...They are trying hard to leave the animals here (in the New Orleans area) and to reunite them with their owners," she said.

All the pets rescued by White can be viewed at the Iberia Humane Society Web site, Donations to help the effort also can be directed to the Iberia Humane Society, care of Acadiana Pet Spa, 1919 Sugar Oaks Road, New Iberia, La., 70563. Donations should be marked "Katrina - Dr. White," Marilynn White said.

There are reportedly thousands more animals roaming still in St. Bernard Parish, said Marie Brossard of the St. Martin Humane Society. Brossard said she has helped field hundreds of emails form St. Bernard residents who heard of White's work and who asked him to rescue their pets.

8:03 PM, September 19, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that a real flintlock pistol? This guy looks serious!!!!

12:40 PM, September 20, 2005  

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