Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fig House

Finally using my friends house in Metairie as a base I snuck into see my home. Yes, snuck. I had to wait until the City said the French Quarter was open and told the National Guard at the entrance to the City on Metairie Road that I was going to a friends place in the French Quarter to help. I took the Interstate 10 and got off at Carrollton Ave. Dodging a lot of debris but few cars or people I made it to the house. I immediately began to clean up the trash and debris in the yard trying to make the front look like someone cared. The eerie thing was inside it looked like it did when we left but strange smells and funny bugs. We had 2.8 feet of water in the neighborhood, see the water marks on the picket fence. I first thought we were lucky as it seemed that when the electricity would be available we could come back. At that time all the utility poles were down in the street and the wires disconnected from the house. Large tree limbs were all around too. I just worked out side and moved the refrigerators to the back porch. All in all at that time I felt things were not that bad. The city was opening up neighborhoods by zip code and I thought they just forgot about our code, as it was over 2 months before they said 70125 was open. By then I did a lot of clean up. But I was in for a surprise about the utilities.


Sunday, January 22, 2006


I will now try to get back to my Katrina story. As we know I had a 'Plan B' which was to get my cabin on the North Shore fixed up so the family could live there pending repairs to the house in New Orleans but even the North Shore was devastated. So after 2 weeks away I took time to try to help my friend in Metairie. We drove from the cabin to her place off Metairie road. The water there was about 3 feet but had gone down by the time we could make it. Lucky for her no water got inside but there was a lot of tree damage. A large branch fell through the roof into a room. I was able the first day to cut and remove the branch and lightly patch the one foot hole in the roof, enough so the elements would not get in. One of the large problems was the neighborhood pets all seemed to find their way inside the house during the 10 days or so of flood waters. The entire house was full of mess. We could not stay overnight at first so we drove back to the cabin and called repairmen to meet us in Metairie for electrical and air conditioning work. It weather was hot and dry. The temperature was 97 degrees when I was on the roof cutting away tree limbs so air conditioning was a big priority. After a few days there helping clean, cut, repair I was able to finally get into the city to see my place.


Friday, January 20, 2006


Rebuild new orleans

Another Post-Katrina reality is the disparity between Louisiana and Mississippi in getting the Federal Government to respond. As people in Louisiana fight among themselves over race, removing washed away homes, dilapidated neighborhoods with no chance to recover and a large probability to flood over and over, the State of Mississippi had published a plan and gotten Congress to fund it. See this article for more details.
I am astonished that we who are trying to rebuild still try with all the turmoil and obstacles created by our leaders and those people who seem to think it is time to protest any progress rather than work together for a better place to live. New Orleans seems doomed to failure not because of the storm but because of the lack of effective leadership. We need to pull together and get America's support and not play race games, and blame the people who work hard for the problems created by social ills in the poor areas of the city. Those ills are created by those in that community not 'Uptowners'. Stop the blaming of others and get to fixing the problems.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sobering Figures

Although this weblog is intended to allow me to vent about my personal experience with the storm I was startled to read in the morning paper these figures. It is sobering to realize how many families are affected. Each of those homes represent more than one person, so my story is not unique. My struggle is just one of many.

217,000: Louisiana homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
69,000: Mississippi homes destroyed by Katrina.
Compared to:
28,000: All homes destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
27,000: All homes destroyed by hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Lumber Jack

Putting out my mind the images from the TV and getting right to work cutting trees and limbs gave me a goal to accomplish, albeit almost impossible without help and heavy machines. I went from sun up to sun down alone until my 2 daughters arrived to help. I would cut trees into manageable portions the size of a wheelbarrow so we could cart them to the front right of way for the parish to pick up. I did this a few days, enough so we could get down the driveway and around the cabin. I barely removed the 2 massive trees that leveled my Chevy Blazer, still today it is partially covered in trees. Too busy with other tasks now to even cut a path to the shed in the back. Lucky for me a Church friend stopped in and offered hot meals and a shower. His home was in a little better shape with electricity on. He also offered to allow my friend Alice to stay with his family while I roughed it out in the camper with no real electricity. We planned on checking on her home in Metairie in a few days after I got the electrical connection done to the cabin. I wanted to be sure I spent enough time at the cabin to have it habitable as we still did not know what lays ahead. I still have the image of the fire and water near Fig Street from CNN and did not know if my house in the city even stood.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Plan "B"

Having seen the immense and widespread damage caused by Katrina's winds and high water first hand it took a while to re-think. The original plan of getting the family all huddled up in St. Tammany was not possible. We then decided on alternate routes back to New Orleans. I was going to head back to my cabin as soon as I obtained a chain saw and generator in Mississippi, which took a while to find. I would live in the camper while cutting my way through the downed trees. My son off to new friends in Carencro, La. One daughter staying in Jackson, another going to her friend's in River Ridge, La. My friend Alice will stay with a church family in Clinton, MS. It actually took a few days to get Plan B in effect, gas stations closed all over Mississippi, no generators to be found but Wal-Mart had a lot of chain saws, just no gas to run them. After a day or 2 of planning I ventured out from Clinton, stopping at a Kroger to gas up a few store bought cans for gasoline. I got a few days worth of food and off I went.
Trees, trees everywhere, no place to even walk up to the cabin. I had to cut a path just to try to get the generator close enough to the camper. It took the whole day to just get that accomplished, and pick up some meals Ready To Eat at the local POD. At least I felt I was accomplishing something rather than being huddled up in a motel room scared by news reports.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Huddled Up In Jackson

Huddled up in a motel room in Jackson, Ms. with 8 people, 2 dogs, and 2 cats my son and I discussed plans. The media had us almost afraid to move, somewhat frozen in the barrage of images of our city flooded, in flames, and being looted. But we finally decided to first head out to my little cabin in the woods of St. Tammny Parish. We thought maybe we could get out of the motel and be closer to head into the city. We picked a day, Wednesday, September 7th to see what was up. We took some old friends from Slidell, La. who also wanted to check on their home. Getting gasoline was the biggest obstacle. We had to drive around to find an open station and plan on re-fueling to get back too. The trip there was a real eye opener. All the way from Jackson through Mississippi trees down, power lines down, and closed businesses. The storm did not stop creating damage it went on and on. Finally we arrived at my driveway but every tree on the 2 acre site was down or broken over. We could barley walk to the cabin but the roof was OK, some blown out windows and doors, no electrical connection, 2 large trees took off the electrical box. Lucky for me the small camper I had there was spared major damage, a few branches fell on and over it but it was standing up, not like my Chevy Blazer which was crushed by 2 large trees. My son took the friends to what was left of their home after 12 feet of water washed things around and returned to make more decisions. What next?