Friday, September 15, 2006

Day 17 9.15.2005

Subject: Day 17 Date: 9/15 10:30 AM

Hi all,
David and I really want to tell you how much your emails matter to us. You keep us going. Yesterday we got our tetanus shots courtesy of the 82nd Airborne, our arms hurt, we were tired, and we had a report of three relief workers in a car being shot at on the Westbank, where we are, by some idiots in a white van. Your emails got us out there again, although yesterday was a little different than the days before it. I'll get to that.

Years ago I worked for a while at the local public access station in San Francisco. Somehow, with absolutely zero knowledge of such things, I wound up in the booth, fussing with wires and cables and a board with holes in it from top to bottom. The puzzle was, which cable got plugged into which hole and in which order. There was a guy there named Julio, and this place was his little fiefdom. JulioVision we called it, and we were pretty sure that he purposely rewired the board prior to our arrival just to keep himself amused and us stressed out. How grateful I am for that experience now! David and I have come up with a little list of things we're going to be sure to have in an emergency situation. The first is a UHF antenna adapter. No kidding. We're all so cable or satellite dependent that unless we're really survivalists with the battery powered tv, we couldn't get any news. The information void was horrible. Since I've never seen a cable or cord that I didn't keep, I pulled out my magic box and voila! There it was. The glorious little brown square with two screws on it! Out comes the cable, in goes the adapter hooked up to some speaker wire, and an antenna liberated from an abandoned taxi cab. We were in BUSINESS!! I could have started a business doing that if only I'd had enough adapters! Oh yeah, and after we make sure we have water and adapters, a generator and a wireless laptop would be nice!

Resourcefulness is everything here. We've been writing you what we're seeing but there are so many others out there helping.

Here on Algiers Point are three guys who call themselves Fort Pelican, after the street they live on. Vinnie, Garrett and Greg have cleaned out fridges, shut down power for people out of town, checked on houses, held off looters with bravado and guns if necessary, kept people fed by emptying their own supplies. They stayed during the hurricane and an amazing woman in Houston had a blog. Her blog got hijacked into a sort of Algiers information site. She asked anyone who wasn't here to let her know privately if they had anything in their kitchens that Fort Pelican might be able to use. These guys were running all over, setting up generators, keeping tabs on people, staying up all night to keep the looters out. Their ingenious alarm system on the street was hundreds of empty aluminum cans strewn about the street. Anyone who walked there made noise and got a warning that they would be shot. There were a few actual Wild West shootouts here in our neighborhood. These guys were here through it all and still are. They're amazing. Vinnie had a van, which was helpful. The second or third night he got carjacked and beat up. He was okay, but his transportation was gone. Still he stayed. I saw him day before yesterday on a roof putting up "blue roof" for someone (blue roof is a huge tarp), and Garrett was helping and telling me that he had some insulin in his fridge should I need to get it to someone.

Over a couple blocks from them are the Irish Mafia. These are two crazy Irishmen, Paul and Irish, yeah that's what they call him, and about four families. They were using small generators, and a Blaine Kern tractor as a large generator, feeding and helping everyone on the block. They commandeered food and supplies and delivered ice all over the place. It's the local underground trading post. They were also here during the storm, carrying babies up to the Ferry Building to get them on evac buses. That bunch sat on overstuffed chairs out in the street with rifles and shotguns to keep looters away.

Betty and Ray live right on the point of land that gives us the name Point. Betty has been doing animal rescue, riding on her bike all over the place, finding rescue organizations to come in and get these animals out. So many were left behind and there were plenty of strays to begin with. We called her yesterday after our find.

We went to get our shots and a woman comes up and asks if we're able to bring her and her brother, who has health problems, some toilet paper and canned goods. We say yes, get her address and a list of what she needs. So we go to the distribution point and load up a box and some ice. There is a volunteer over there who knows us and says, "Hey you guys do animal rescue too dontcha?" Yes we say, but we're running out of dog food so we're praying it's not another dog. He says go to the corner of Slidell and Brooklyn St. He tells us there is a retriever there under debris behind a locked gate, needs food and water. So off we go and we do indeed find a very aged, red lab/golden retriever mix. This guy is a miracle of survival. There was debris he was crawling over and under and out of. The entire yard was three feet deep with siding and corrugated metal and worse, the power lines were falling right onto the iron gate. Luckily the power wasn't on yet, but this was an untenable situation for this dog. Unfortunately the gate was chained with heavy chain and a padlock and was too high and the dog too big for us to lift him over. So we drop him some food and water, then head for the Irish Mafia for some bolt cutters. They don't have them but the giant army truck full of guys does. One guy holds up the industrial size bolt cutters he has, another comes out with a chainsaw! Amazing. Their commanding officer lets us take the bolt cutter guy and two others, so we put them in the Voodoo mobile and go over. They get him out really fast and we put him in our car. (pictures of these saviors are attached!) We put him in our neighbors front yard because he can't get out, and a rescue group from Utah will be coming for the old boy today or tomorrow.





It's all resourcefulness, and the people I've told you about are just a few. I have lots of pictures but haven't had time to put them into any kind of reasonable format. Will try to get to that tonight.

Things are winding down in terms of food distribution. As the power comes on ice is no longer an issue. Stores are opening up, but farther down the Westbank from us so people with no cars will still be in need. What we're finding is that this storm not only took the roofs off houses (in fact a block from our virtually untouched house a house was removed from its foundation and dropped into the intersection. It is now kindling), but it has taken the roof off of some of the pre-Katrina problems that went unnoticed or purposely ignored. We're finding that some of the problems we're encountering are just pure poverty and these people will still be poor when this is done. That's bothering us a lot. The kind of community outreach that's been done during the aftermath of this storm, needs to continue for some of them who are ill, old, poor and without transportation. A store open 6 miles from here won't do them a damn bit of good if they can't get their food stamps, their money out of the bank if they have any, or transportation to get there. We keep hearing public service announcements, or pieces on the news, saying "Call your doctor and ask. . . . . ." WHAT DOCTOR? These people by and large don't have one, and many of the docs have moved to Texas where Tulane set up shop. I'm not mad at Tulane. They're doing what they have to, and god bless Charity Hospital which has opened their doors again albeit in a limited way. But the people on this side can't GET there. It's on the Eastbank. West Jefferson Medical Center has been wonderful, but again, no public transportation so how do they get there. Many of the people we're seeing were working in service industry jobs, mostly maids at the hotels, things like that, and getting some public assistance. We haven't seen social workers or anything like that running around here. That's what's needed. We need to be able to turn our list over to someone who will make sure these folks get their meds, have food, get the kids in schools in Jefferson parish, or whatever.

Generations have tried to fix this problem. The two of us won't be able to. We sure don't have the resources to do it all ourselves. We ARE hoping that maybe since some of this is coming to the surface in a huge way now, that someone who does know how to make inroads into the neglect we're seeing, will do so.

Thanks so much for your words of encouragement! I'll start uploading some pics tonight or tomorrow, but with our dialup through New Mexico finnagled connection it's tough! But we want you to see the generosity we've seen and the pictures will give you an idea of the outpouring of the rest of America.

Love and Light,
Bec and David
_____________________
NOTE 9.15.2006
Polimom's blog was instrumental in information dissemination when we were still in Alabama. Yesterday the Times-Picayune gave her her due in this article. Our gratitude to her remains undiminished by time.

The old red dog was returned to his equally elderly owners sometime in late October or early November 2005. We kept going back to the house to see if they'd returned and one day they answered the door. They were delighted, with tears in their eyes, when they heard the story. They put us in touch with their son so that he could facilitate the dog's return. When he got back they were surprised by how fat he was (although he was clearly on his way when we found him!) They told us that they had left him gallons and gallons of water and 100 lbs of dog food when they left. The food we'd left for him was just an appetizer or dessert, depending. We hadn't see the food as it was on the other side of the debris in the backyard. The looks on their faces when we told them the old dog's story was one of the highpoints of our "aftermath time."

The servicemen who helped us had given us their email addresses. Each of them emailed us to find out about the dog and ask for the photos.

The hospital, public transporation, poverty and inequity issues remain and will probably continue for some time. We still don't have the answers, and we're not seeing much coming from our leaders on these issues either.


6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good design!
[url=http://beucsbfz.com/nmwk/feto.html]My homepage[/url] | [url=http://zokkdwmg.com/uapb/zksg.html]Cool site[/url]

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great work!
My homepage | Please visit

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!
http://beucsbfz.com/nmwk/feto.html | http://lttclwnb.com/htpb/ptxx.html

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!
[url=http://paylvzso.com/acvh/dfpv.html]My homepage[/url] | [url=http://fdtdghth.com/uyin/lxte.html]Cool site[/url]

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done!
My homepage | Please visit

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done!
http://paylvzso.com/acvh/dfpv.html | http://ocfjlrlk.com/cvht/uede.html

12:48 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home