Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Words from Louisiana

we have come to know a virtual friend through the internet who lives close to New Orleans. she was kind enough to send us some creole heritage tomato seeds when we requested them after she left some comment mentioning them. she is among the kind and intelligent people who view our offerings here, and often leaves interesting and insightful comments. you may have noticed her wit and perspicacity in comments on other blogs. we e-mailed her shortly before the hurricane came ashore offering our best wishes for her and her family, not knowing if she would even be able to receive our note. she sent a short e-mail back, letting us know that she and her family were safe and secure, from the local library in the town to which they had repaired. we offered to post anything she might wish to send us about her experience. today we received the following:

Your weather report post is great. The bastards have already started to blame the victims, the locals, anybody but themselves. Homeland Security and FEMA were worse than useless before Katrina and in the immediate aftermath.

My emotions alternate between deep sadness for the people of the city I grew up in and fury at the Bush administration for their ponderously slow response.

As you know by now we have no homeland security. What all the billions went for, I don't know. As for Hastert's comments about bulldozing the city, they are despicable and he should resign as Speaker of the House. I heard Cavuto on Fox say that the US should just write off metro-New Orleans - you know - as though it's a failed business. Do they have any concept at all that real people live in the area? Insensitivity of this caliber is beyond belief.

I live in a small town about 65 miles away from NO now. One of my daughters lives in Jefferson Parish, and my sons live near me. My husband and I were in New York City for five days before the weekend of the storm. We were in the waiting area at the airport, on the way home when we found that the hurricane would hit somewhere near the Louisiana coast.

We spent one night at home, immediately began securing our house, and the next morning evacuated to the small farm where my husband grew up, which is located north of Baton Rouge. We could get wind there, but would not be in danger of flood waters. Our children and grandchildren, fourteen in all, evacuated to the farm which contains two rather small houses. In addition we had five dogs and three cats with us. But thank God for those two houses, because we did not have to worry about finding reservations in a motel. I was just so absolutely grateful that my family was together in a safe place. None of us knew whether we would have homes to return to when the storm was over.

The storm was not bad in our area; we had some wind and rain, but came out fine. When the storm was over we were able to get through to our neighbors who had stayed behind to ride out the storm, and we found out our house was OK. In fact all our houses were intact and not flooded, even that of our daughter who lived just outside of NO. A couple of days after the storm, my son-in-law was able to get to his house in Jefferson Parish and take supplies to his neighbor who had stayed behind and helped by feeding their pet chickens. The neighbor had no running water and no power, so my son-in-law was his lifeline. Every few days he would take him supplies.

On his first trip in, he brought back a friend who was living in his house with no running water and no power, so we had fifteen by then, and another dog. The friend was crapping in his back yard because he could not flush the toilet. He is a hygiene nut, so he was freaking out.

But we were the forunate ones. We have so much to be grateful for. The TV pictures were nearly unbearable to watch. One wonders if help would have come at all but for the TV pictures there for all the world to see. Even Shepherd Smith from Fox News said we looked like a third world country.

Our local university was used as a staging area for evacuees with medical problems for a few days until their conditions were evaluated. They were then moved on to who knows where. I was talking to some of them in the shelter at the Catholic student center, which was a shelter for people with pets. They said the folks from our town had been wonderful to them. I told them that we all knew that it could have been us. Had the storm moved to the west rather than to the east, we could have been in their situation. Either way NO was going to get it.

We are fine now in our home, but I just can't seem to move on. I feel that I'm living in a sort of twilight zone, stunned beyond belief. We have heard from extended family and, so far everyone is OK.

I have ridden out hurricanes before, both Andrew and Betsy, and the 1948 hurricane, but I will never ever do it again.

I see that our friend Ivor Van Heeden, from the LSU Hurricane center is all over the news now as an expert. He has been crying out for years about the danger - to the point where some around here wanted him fired because of his doomsday warnings. They just wanted him to shut up, but he would not. He and some others who tried to give the warnings were right, but they laughed at him.


our first almost-ripe creole tomato! grown from seeds from janeboatler.

we also very highly recommend the current post by Philalethes at bouphonia. he brings his usual intelligence and compassion and command of language to bear on the ugly social assumptions of too many people.

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