Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Couple of Minor Miracles and a Prayer 9.21.2005

Subject:
Okay, guys, a couple of minor miracles and a prayer. . . .
Date:
9/21 2:01 PM

Hi all,
Two miracles today: cable tv is back on, my broadband is not yet, can't figure that one out but am working on it, and UPS GOT THROUGH!! (C and M, THANKS!! The chocolate was a bit melted so it's in the fridge but the medical supplies will get to the clinic today.) We hear a knock on the door, hard knock. Figure okay, it's someone trying to get us to evacuate. No! It's a UPS guy! Amazing! And two packs of Gauloises in there too! It's gotta be Christmas!

We're currently under voluntary evacuation for Rita. We hate seeing the storm track heading toward Texas or anywhere for that matter. When one lives in this region during hurricane season, every time a tropical storm comes up and looks like it could be a hurricane, the weather forecasters say, "It's tracking this way, at this speed, in this direction, and we don't want to wish this on anyone else, but. . . . ." The implication is always "But HEY it ain't coming here! HURRAY!" This time it's harder to say any of those things. Most of our evacuees are in Texas. Galveston is already being evacuated. Many of the Houston Astrodome evacuees from New Orleans are now being flown to Arkansas, bless their hearts. Where are they going to wind up?

Rita is about 500 miles across and getting stronger. Unless we can find a way to make her go away, I fear that there will be five states in trouble when this is done. Florida to Texas, the hurricanes have destroyed things and people and lives. The Gulf water is just so warm that it's inviting to a hurricane. (Altogether now, THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING!) I was sent some pictures of Katrina as she approached. They are absolutely beautiful for something that was so utterly destructive. (Thanks, Sher!) If you want to see them, write and I'll forward them to you.

Meanwhile, here on the ground, the National Guard and some of the other aid people have been moved to keep them safe from destruction so that they can come back in sooner when Rita is over. Some are being moved over toward the Texas area. The Red Cross people David talked to yesterday, (more on that later), said they might be evacuating, they don't know. The city is full of media, contractors, various alphabet soup law enforcement. Workers are feverishly trying to get the broken parts of the canals fixed, but one of the holes is at least 300 feet across. Not sure if they'll get it done in time.

On the news today, a woman from Kenner, now in Baton Rouge, screaming at the news reporter about the incompetence of the Red Cross and FEMA.

David's experience yesterday was typical:

He takes our FEMA case number over to the FEMA disaster relief station. He finds a very nice fireman from Las Cruces, New Mexico manning the computer. The guy tells David that they've been given very little training, pretty much only told how to turn the computer on and check status. Well we can and have been doing that from here on our little dialup connection. After spending time there, he is told that our FEMA stuff is "pending." Yup. We knew that. Check it a couple of times a day. Most people have not gotten their FEMA money. Some got it in two days. The vast majority we've talked with either didn't qualify or haven't received it.

Red Cross Disaster Relief had no forms available for David to fill out for that relief. They were sorry, but they didn't have any. "Here's a card with the 800 number." Well you can't get THROUGH on that number unless you have a computer running a redial program to find a nanosecond breach in the busy signal, then you can sit for literally two hrs trying to get things filed there.

David had filed for unemployment as soon as we got home. At one of the centers, FEMA I think, he was told that the LA Dept of Labor was supposed to have reps there to help get that squared away, but they hadn't shown up.

St. Bernard Parish sheriff, so hard hit, along with Jefferson Parish sheriff department is asking where IS the money? They were supposed to be given funds from the big money Washington says is coming. So far, no one, including law enforcement agencies, has seen any of it.

Wanted to write an open letter to Laura Bush: "Dear Mrs. Bush, Evidently you have some influence over your husband. Please tell him to stay home. Everytime he comes to New Orleans for a photo op everything has to come to a halt, including relief work, for his security people. Please ask him to save the gas money and send it to the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's office instead. Thank you."

Was sent an article today that made me sick as well. Food sent by England, Spain, Israel, held up by the FDA because of regulations. It's in the British newspaper if you want to read it: Mirror.co.uk - News - EXCLUSIVE: UP IN FLAMES

There's still much to do here, but we're all keeping a low profile until Rita passes over. It will continue to be citizens, not institutions or agencies, that rebuild here. We will stay and pray for the people in Rita's path, then start back with our requests for food and meds.

Then we'll start asking why are we importing workers? We are forever grateful to that fireman from Las Cruces, and all the other people who left their families to come here to help us. But if FEMA is hiring people to help process, why not hire Louisiana people who are without jobs, can't GET the freaking FEMA money, and could use the paycheck? Ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous. Reports every night about the Louisiana people and New Orleanians without jobs. HIRE THEM to work HERE. Kill at least two birds with one stone: They get a paycheck (while waiting for their relief money), the city and state get rebuilt, and they are no longer in other states wondering what's next.

Had a wonderful Church of Christ pastor tell me that these sorts of ideas are just entirely too logical.

Keep those prayers coming, and love your return emails. They warm our hearts and encourage us more than you can ever know.

Love and Light,
Bec and David
__________________________
NOTE 9.21.2006

Incredible reading this. Day before yesterday we sent yet another packet of stuff off to FEMA, return receipt, Priority Mail, certified. We had done the FEMA dance for months, then were shuffled off to the SBA, who in turn sent us back to FEMA. We got a piece of mail from them a couple weeks ago asking us WHY our things had been in storage, could we send photos, and could we send receipts.

I wrote them back, included all prior letters and forms and affidavits with the dates (starting September 10, 2005) circled. Oh and I sent photos of our storage unit sludge. To date we have not received any money from any agency other than the Red Cross for $325 I think it was. That story will be in later emails I think.

The area is still full of out of town workers, and our evacuees are still flung far and wide.

Oh yeah, and evidently Mrs. Bush didn't hear my plea. He was back again on the anniversary and the traffic on I-10 was a nightmare. Also there was no posted itinerary for him anywhere that anyone could find.

As for the dollars the St. Bernard folks were waiting for? I think they're still waiting.

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