Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World 9.16.2005

Subject: Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World Date: 9/16 4:20 PM

Hi all,
We are just amazed at how far afield these emails are going. We couldn't be more grateful for the support and the offers of help.

So many of you need some answers from us that you'll get one liners here: ML, by all means if they're interested, send our emails to them. We're humbled and grateful. Thanks! J, C, and anyone else who's offered to get stuff to us, I have a meeting with Lily Duke tomorrow at 10AM. She's the one who can tell us what paperwork we need to get things in here like the free dog food or the medical stuff. BTW, C, the doc over there said he'd have a list for me when I see him next. We'll get all this coordinated somehow. M and Z, we keep trying to get pics taken of YOUR house, but just haven't managed it. Will try again tomorrow. And we didn't hang up on you M, sometimes the line just stops working! And the bamboo plant is still hanging in there!

We were told by the doctor at the food distribution place yesterday that we looked tired and should go home and take a day off and have a drink. Best prescription ever. We tried but David wound up doing a roof over on the East bank today, checking on a house over there, really taking in the disaster in Kenner. I could see it in his eyes when he got home. I wound up figuring out ways to get stuff in here, so our day off didn't really work out but we're trying not to run around quite so much today.

Old red dog in our neighbor's yard should be picked up tomorrow by a rescue group from Utah. We duct taped his address to his collar and hope that he will be found. The owner of the shop I work in on Bourbon had had to evacuate leaving 10 cats, two dogs and two snakes. The SPCA got all but four of the cats out last week. Said they trashed the shop trying to catch them and couldn't get them all. She drove from San Antonio, Texas to Gonzales, LA yesterday and found all of them. At least now we know who's actually still IN the shop. David and I are going over to Bourbon tomorrow to put food and water in there. Businesses will start opening in the next couple weeks over there and as of tomorrow I can legally get into the Quarter to deal with these four guys. One of them is very shy anyway and the SPCA could never have found all his hidey holes. We'll just leave them there and keep the food coming.

We keep talking about the distribution area. I have almost 100 pics but with this horrid dial up connection I can't take the time to get them all uploaded for you. Give me a bit on that. One of the reasons we want you to see it so much is that the whole thing is so utterly surreal. The staging area is Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World.

For those of you unfamiliar with this area, Blaine Kern's is a gigantic complex of enormous warehouses and workshops. They design and make about 1/2 the floats for the various Krewes of Mardi Gras. Some Krewes have their own workshops. They also design and make things for Disney, Las Vegas hotels, other things. A third generation family business, it's really something to see. There was a huge 20 foot tall Jester there, but his face is now in the dirt. Looks like everything in the warehouses was fine and very little damage to the buildings themselves is evident. As army tents went up and stacks of food were placed in what was the parking lot, there was a gigantic alligator in the middle of all this. Take a picture of a soldier, there are the tail ends of floats in warehouses behind him. Big blue tractors that were lugging pallets of diapers are usually used to pull the huge floats down the street during Mardi Gras. In the warehouse staging area is a dead on Alien (Giger would probably love it!) float from last year's Alla parade and in front were towers of cases of cookies. Look around and there's a Captain of the 82nd Airborne talking to Rev. Stan Cunningham in front of a one story fiberglass statue of Elvis, with Marilyn looking on. At one point the guys at Kern lit up the big boat and a couple of the other signature floats so the relief workers from out of state could see them. Blaine Kern says there WILL be Mardi Gras this year. It is, after all, the 150th. I don't doubt it. And his generosity has been so appreciated.

The food distribution issues are changing as more stores open but will remain up and running for few weeks as the stores in our immediate area still aren't in business. We have to go a few miles for things like milk and gas, both precious commodities but becoming a little easier to get. There are long lines at the local Winn Dixie, about 6 miles from here. In the coming week, on the other side of Blaine Kern, a giant tent city will be erected to house workers coming in to help rebuild. I think those workers are coming through Habitat for Humanity, but I'll have more info after my meeting with Lily tomorrow.

Yesterday I took dozens of Mardi Gras beads over to the distribution center. I started handing them out to the soldiers. They loved it. I put some around the Reverend's neck. He said he was pretty sure all the NOLA relief workers were going to be preaching soon and that he'd be drinking and smoking. This guy is amazing. Went home to Nashville today. I told him he had to preach his first sermon back home with the beads around his neck. He might just do it! Of course he will still have to deal with the media circus that will no doubt ensue when one of the guys over there goes to CNN with the band aid on his eye and claims that Stan hit him with a cross and that there's footage to prove it! Bless Stan's heart, he took all the ribbing from us degenerate unsaved New Orleanians with great humor and gave as good as he got. We'll miss him.

Still no mail service, still no social workers that I've seen. Still so much to be done. It remains a very fluid situation, absolutely no pun intended so we'll just have to see what jobs need to be done tomorrow and what kinds of supplies we need. When you all ask we're not dodging the question the answer just changes so fast.

Love and Light,
Bec and David
NOTE: There was indeed Mardi Gras this year, albeit a tad smaller as so many Krewes had lost membership. Blaine Kern got the floats he was contracted to do out on the street when they needed to be in spite of Katrina having damaged some.


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