Friday, September 23, 2005

Between Katrina and Rita

The skies have that gray depressing look.  Darker clouds are blowing in.  The rain comes in bursts.  Right now it's an off moment, no rain but the wind is blowing.  The hurricane took an unexpected jog to the right, not a lot but every little bit puts it closer to us.  The levees in New Orleans are leaking and parts of the city that were finally drying out are filling with water again.  At the moment I have power and even internet access, but how long either will last is a question best left unanswered. 
Not much I can do but sit and wait for what will or will not happen.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Arguably two of the worst diasters on American soil occur when George W is president. Told of the terrorists attacks on 9/11 what does he do? He goes back and talks to the school kids. Than he gets in Air Force One and flies around the country, but doesn't head back to Washington. After Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast what does he do? He continues on his vacation for another two days. God forbid he miss a day of his five week vacaction while people are dying.

I'm not a big fan of Anne Rice. In fact I can't stand her writing. I've tried to read her vampire novels a couple times and can never finish them. And anyone who knows me knows that when I start reading something I like to finish it. But a few weeks back she had an editoral in the New York Times. I didn't see it, but the local news anchor read it over the air down here. And I found myself agreeing with her. I thought it was the best writing she has ever done. Her one line "My country has turned its back on my city." rang true. It hurts me to agree with it, but that's how it felt. The only problem I have with the editoral is she says "my city" but she doesn't live here anymore. She moved.

No more daily Katrina posts. Oh, I'm sure most of my posts will deal with it in some manner or another. I think Katrina will be a part of my life for a long time. But I've missed days and can't keep up with a daily posting, some days there just isn't anything to post about.

Mayor Nagin said awhile back that once the search for bodies began they were going to find a lot of bodies of people that died from the flood but they would find a good bit that died because the response from the federal government was so slow in getting in to help rescue these people. Unfortunately later when he met with the President he back stepped some of his anger. Still it's interesting to see that those in the Federal government now are trying to place more of the blame on him for not getting those people out of the city quicker.

The governor and the president seem to be in a pissing contest over who gets to say who does what. The governor wants to make it clear that the National Guard is under her power and that the army cannot make any arrests in the city. Who cares? Let them do what they have to to help.

When the city and state governments can't do it than it's time for the Federal government to step in and help. What happened?

Why didn't anyone realize that after something like this that some of the people left would be looters? Take any major city, New York, Atlanta, wherever...have some sort of major diaster and watch the looters come out. Why wasn't the 82nd Airborne moved in sooner? They're suppposed to be able to get anywhere in the world within days, yet they took over a week or more before they were in New Orleans.

Sorry this post is more mad than glad. With Rita out there threatening it's hard to be real cheerful right now. And these are just a lot of thoughts and questions that have went through my head in the past few weeks.

A repeat

Now it's Rita. It's heading towards Texas, but it still has a long way to get there and could turn. Even if it doesn't we're going to get a lot of rain and some strong winds. What are the odds of two hurricanes the strength of Katrina and Rita hiting the Atlantic in the same season?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Katrina: Day Seventeen (Tuesday)

Dr. H came in this morning, looked at me and said that he thought I could go home, depending on what Dr. J said.

Dr J came in within the hour and said the same thing. Drink lots of liquids, eat what I can and come see him Monday. So I was getting out of the hospital. That's the longest I've ever been in the hospital.

My Dad and brother came to pick me up. Walking out took forever. I can barely walk. A walk down the hallway now makes me exhausted. They brought me back to my trailer, they were putting my fence back up for me. I laid in bed while they worked. They managed to get my entire fence back up. My mother raked and finished cleaning my yard up. Except for the gate that's still missing it almost looks like it did before.

All the drugstores were closed so I won't be able to get my medicines until tommorrow. Got home and went to bed. I'm feeling better, but still not ready to run any marathons.

Katrina: Day Sixteen (Monday)

A better day. Feeling better every day now. Not so much of fighting fever and pain all day.

Tonight a nurse came in while I was sleeping to tell me I had a phone call. Since this was ICU they didn't have any phones in the rooms, but the call was at the desk. It was Heather, she had just found out where I was.

Katrina: Day Fifteen (Sunday)

Today was better. But I was getting a little worried. I wasn't scared, I was too pumped full of drugs I think to feel much emotion one way or the other, but I was starting to get a little worried. I seemed to be just as sick each day. When the surgeon came in today I asked him, if I was on the postive side of this, was I moving towards a good conclusion or bad? Anything besides just asking if I was dying. He said no, it was good. The apendic just had so much infection that got into the bowels that it was going to take a little time. He said again how bad it was when they went in.

Darryl showed up after work today to see me. They finally opened Saturday. My parents went to the store Friday to try and get ahold of someone to let them know what had happened to me. Poor Larry had went to all the hospitals in Slidell looking for me. The last time we had talked was right before I went to the doctor the first time, I had told him I was going to the doctor and since than I hadn't been able to get ahold of him. My phone wasn't working again. Larry didn't know what to think, he went to my house, afraid he'd find my body there, when I wasn't there he went to the hospitals looking for me.

Actually today I felt better than I have in a long while. I didn't get sick that night.

Katrina: Day Fourteen (Saturday)

Another day in the hospital. Still sick. Still running fever. Still throwing up.

Katrina: Day Thirteen (Friday)

Not much to say. Spent the day in the hospital. Was sick. Felt terrible. Every now and than I'd feel better, only to feel bad again. I was in fever most of the day.

I was so weak I couldn't even sit up in the bed without help. The nurse had to help pull me up to a sitting postion. It hurt so much just to bend or move.

I was able to walk by myself. I took little, little old man steps. Anyone that has ever seen me walk knows I walk very fast. Now I was walking about as slow as humanly possible.

To go to the bathroom the nurse would help me sit up, than help me out of the bed, and than I would do my old man walk to the bathroom. You know, those handicap handles on the side of toilets you see, I've always wondered how much help they really could be. Let me tell you, they can be a lot of help. Sitting down and getting up they were a big help.

As I sat on the toilet that night I suddenly had the alien vomits. It came out of nowhere and I barely manged to aim for the trash can across from me. It looked like something from Aliens, green and slimy. I sat there and threw up another four or five times. The weird thing is that after I threw up I felt a lot better. I was able to stand up and move a little better. Too bad it was short lived.

Katrina: Day Twelve (Thursday)

I spent the night sweating and vomiting. A wonderful combination let me tell you.

I woke up and my parents decided to bring me to their doctor. Whatever medicine the other doctor gave me isn't going to work, I can't keep anything down. I am really sick now, I can barely move.

When I get in to see the doctor I tell him about the other doctor. He asks me, I can hear the wonder in his voice, why did the doctor prescribe me medicine for a urinary infection if it came back negative. Than he didn't say anymore about it, I don't think he wanted to say anything bad about another doctor. But he didn't think that was my problem. He said the first thing they were going to do was get me in the hospital and have the suregon look at me.

Before I knew it I was in the hospital. He had called ahead to make sure I didn't have to go through all the waiting, I was to go right to admin and than get a room. The hospital had been pretty damaged in the hurricane. The roof had come off. They were making due as best as they could. They put me in a room for OB. The nurse came in and looked at me. She touched my stomach and said she bet it was my appendics.

Within two hours of being admitted I was in surgery for, yep, of course, my appendics. The doctors all say it was one of the worst looking ones they had ever seen. It hadn't rupurted. It had turned gangrene. The surgeon and my doctor both said if I had waited another day it might have been too late. There was a lot of infection in my stomach even now from it.

That night they woke me up and had to move me. They had a baby boom.. Three babies were born that night. They moved me down to ICU. Which left my parents in for a scare when they came in the next day and couldn't find me and was told I was moved to ICU. Not because I needed ICU, it was one of the few places with clean rooms.

Katrina: Day Eleven (Wednesday

I spent the night at my parents, but had to wake up early to meet Larry and Darryl at the store. They were supposed to have a conference call and be making a decision on when we are going to open. I woke up feeling sick. My stomach felt like there was a rubber ball in it, pushing out. We met at the store and talked for a little bit. It was good to see Larry, I haven't seen him since this all started. No decisions have been made yet. I went home feeling sick.

I laid down on the couch, sweating like a pig. My stomach was killing me. Of course all I can think of is all the stuff going on in the water and mold and stuff from the hurricane. But I've tried to be careful. All I've drank is bottled water.

That afternoon I decided to go see if the doctor I've been to is open. It is and it's pretty empty. I get in to see him without any problem. He takes a urine sample, does all the prodding and pushing. The tests come back negatiave for urine infection, I see the test and he tells me that. But he tells me that I must have an urine infection and writes a prescription for such. He tells me it will take five to seven days to get better. I go fill it and head home.

Once home I lay on the couch in pain. I want to go over my parents, I just don't think I'm in any type of shape to be by myself, but I have to wait to I fill up to driving. Eventually I decide to drive, if I wait much longer it's going to be dark and I don't want to try driving in the dark.

I get to my parents and go to bed.

Katrina: Day Ten (Tuesday)

I went to the westbank today with my brother. We spent the day pulling up carpet. His house flooded. It took us seven hours to get there, with three waiting for gas. It took us four hours to get back. I'm tired.

Katrina: Day Nine (Monday) cont.

I stayed at my parents. I got to take a hot shower and shave!

Cell Phones

I'm begining to hate my cell phone.

During 9/11 you heard of all thepeople that were calling on their cell phones to tell their loved ones what was happening. You didn't hear of No Service or Can't Connect or whatever else I get except for the person I'm trying to call. I know that this is a diaster unlike any before, but one of the advantages of having a cell phone I though was going to be able to connect in case of an emerency. I haven't been able to connect since the start of this whole thing, save for a few instances. My cell phone now says it is working and is the calling area, but whenever I try to call someone I get zip.

Katrina: Day Nine (Monday)

It's been nine days since this started. And probably a mulitple of those nine days before we get anywhere close to normalacy.

Today I slep really late, it was after eight before I got out of bed. I woke up with a headache and really did not want to do anything. I got up, washed and brushed my teeth and than tried to figure out what I wanted to do today. Since I had more bannanas than I knew what to do with I figured I'd drive over my parents and give them the ones Sams gave me. When I got there no one was home. The front door was open, the dogs were inside. They are terrible about going out and just leaving the door open. They think because they live in a small town that there is no crime. And what's worse with the hurricane there are looters everywhere.

I went in, walking through their house to see if someone was in the back or maybe out back. As I walked through I heard a motor humming. Than I realized that it was cool inside. I flicked a light swtich. The light came on. They had power! Wow, what a difference that makes.

I looked in their regrigerator and found some turkey. I made myself a sandwich. They even had mayonasie! I felt like I was in heaven. I would kill for a hamburger right now. Even the stores that are selling food at the moment are not selling any frozen stuff or meat. All that was ruined in the hurricane, so they're cleaning the racks and getting ready to get some in I hope.

I waited around for about an hour and when no one showed up I left. I came home and went to raking the yard. I raked most of the front yard, all the pine needles, pine cones, tree bark and whatever else is in the yard. At least it's starting to look somewhat normal.

There's a nice breeze blowing through right now. It's keeping the place fairly cool. But it has the feel of rain and that's something we don't need.

As I was raking I kept looking at my fence. I was thinking the front part I could fix by myself. It was not completely blown down, just leaning forward. If I could push it back, prop it up I could fill concrete around it and it should stand. It sounded like a plan so I went to Home Depot to get the concrete and wood. While there I saw Walmart was open so I decided to go there too. I needed a hoe and shovel and Home Depot's garden section wasn't open.

While in Walmart my phone rang. It hasn't been working since I talked to Heather last night. I was able to get through to Paul Stewart and leave a message that I was alive, but that was it. It was my brother. He had made it back to the Westbank ok. His house had gotten water in it. The bedrooms and part of the den were flooded. A couple inches of water he told me. He had pulled up some of the carpet. He said he was coming back to my parents tonight, the smell of the standing water was too much for him to stay in. He'd go back in the morning. I told him I'd go help him tommorrow if he was going to come back tommorrow night.

I got home and unloaded all the stuff I bought. I went over to push the fence up. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. The fence did not want to move. I had to wedge one of the boards against it and push the board down, pushing the fence out and back towards what I hoped was more of what a fence was supposed to look like. I went to the lake and filled my bucket up with water and came back. I filled the holes with cement and than water and mixed and kept it up till I had a lot of cement around the fence posts. Hopefully it will work. If it works there are a few other sections of the fence that blew down like that. I can get them up and cemented in place and than the remaining pieces I can attach, like a giant puzzle.

I think I'm going to go spend the night at my parents tonight. I can take a hot shower, sleep in air conditioning and otherwise act like a normal person again. That way I'll be there when my brother wants to leave too. I'm sure he is going to want to leave early. He said it took him about four hours to get into the Westbank today. Tommorrow will probably be worse, more people will be trying to get back in than.

More later.

War Zone

As I sat down to turn on my laptop a helicopter flew overheard. It's a common sound now. They are flying back and forth, delviering supplies, people, all sorts of things. Yesterday at Sams while I was waiting in line for gas a solider with a M16 walked up to a guy in a truck and they were talking. Earlier when I had been waiting in line to get in Sams another solider with a M16 walked by the front of the store. By the gas station they stand with their weapons at the ready.

Driving down the street and the odds are good that you'll pass a convey of military vehicles. Everywhere you look there is the presence of the army and the national guard.

It's been said already and it will be repeated over and over, but it's like living in a warzone.

Stay Out!

When we were in Tennesse, having fled from the fury of Katrina, they kept saying stay out. Don't come back yet. All the leaders of the parishes that were hit by the storm would go on the air and tell anyone that was in a safe place to stay there. But the day the storm ended we were trying to figure out which day to go back. We knew that the very next day was going to be too difficult to do. We thought about going back on Wednesday, but we wanted to travel the back roads again, skip the major highways and interstates and the traffic jams that were sure to be on them, and we figured that there may still be a lot of tree damage on these back roads. We figured that they wouldn't be bad for long, too many people drove these back roads to get from one place to another, they were the roads that went through the small towns of the state. So we decided to leave Thursday to go home. Even though that very night we heard the same thing on the radio.

Jefferson Parish has been saying that the residents can go in Monday but have to be out Thursday. My brother is going back tommorrow and he doesn't plan on leaving. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of people like him.

They said not to come and stay in Slidell. But I did. There is no power. No water. No sewage. Stay out until we can get it working. It might be a week or two, it might be as much as months, they keep saying. I came back. Tonight I looked outside in the very blackness of the night and saw lights in more homes than I saw before. There's still a lot of people not home, but more are coming. Today I saw a little girl riding her bike up and down the street.

So why do we come when it's going to be one degree from Hell to stay? I'm not really sure. All I can say is that this is my home. I can say I want to be here to keep looters out, which is partly true. But if they really wanted in there's not much I could do to stop them. But even if there was no danger of looters I would be home. I tell people that I've got to get to work. But that's not the whole truth either.

It's home. And home is where you want to be. Regardless of the whats, whys or anything.

Memories of New Orleans II

It was Mardi Gras. There was only the three of us this time: me, Sal and Ray. Where Mark was I'm not sure. Ususally when there was three of us it was the four of us. He probably was sending Mardi Gras with his family.

We went across the river. To the city. We left early, to catch Zulu. That mean leaving at six. We stopped and ate breakfast at Shonneys and than took the ferry across the river. This was easier than trying to find someplace to park. I have two images from this year at Mardi Gras. One is a picture I have of the trip, Ray is lying back on the grass on the neutral ground with a cowboy hat over his face.

The second took place on Canal Street. We went down there to eat. We got some chicken at Popeyes and ate it sitting around, watching the people and the parades. We didn't go into the Quarter. I've found for Mardi Gras, if you go downtown, you either go into the Quarter and spend the day there or you stay out on the streets and watch the parade.

Sal went to use one of the portapottys that lined the middle of Canal Street. We sat back and waited for him. After a few minutes you could hear banging coming from the portapotty that Sal was in. We were watching now. So was a good part of the crowd. The banging got louder. Suddenly the door flew open and Sal was standing there with a bemused expression on his face as the crowd around him errupted in cheers. He had forgotten that he had the chain on the door when he tried to get out.

That is something that I never let Sal forget.

Memories of New Orleans

(This is going to be a continuing post whenever I think of something I want to write about New Orleans)

I wasn't born here. I didn't even move here till my last year of high school. Actually I have never lived in New Orleans itself. I've always lived in the areas outside the city, Gretna, Belle Chase, Westwego, Slidell. But whenever I travel and when someone asks me where I'm from I always tell them New Orleans. These cities may not be part of New Orleans proper, but they are part of New Orleans in spirit.

I love this city. Yes it has its problems. Yes it doesn't always present its best face to the world. But this is one of the most unique cities in the world. There is no other city like New Orleans.

My first memories of New Orleans are going to the French Quarter with Mark, Sal, Ray and a host of other friends. We were young, just out of high school and in our first year or two of college, meeting mostly through work or some of them had known each other since they were kids, so of course most of our trips were to the bars and clubs in the city.

One of our favorite places to hit was Pat O'Briens. We would go there and order a Magnum, which is a drink the comes in a glass that is as big as a punch bowl and comes with a bunch of straws for everyone to drink. We would sit out on the patio and drink. Or they would drink. I've never been a drinker, though once or twice I would drink a little of the Magnum.

And yes I we went to some of the strip clubs. I can't remember the name of it, but it's still there, this many years later, there was a strip club with a swing in the window, where a girl sits and swings in and out, inviting customers inside. I remember there was four or five of us one night, we were at some strip club, and a girl came by and asked if we wanted a table dance. Of course we said yes. I remember sitting there, looking at my friends, and we all would look at the naked girl dancing and look slightly embarassed and look away, but we didn't want to look at each other.

The best times were at the Lakefront. We would stop at the store, get drink and food and than head out to the seawall. We would park and sit and talk and drink and eat. We could spend the night out like this. Sometimes it would be as small a group of three or four, almost at least always, Mark, Sal and Ray, sometimes a group as large as a dozen or more. But we could sit down and talk the night away. We would solve the world's problems there. We would discover things about each other that we had no ideas about. We could talk about nothing and just enjoy it.

Kartina: Day Eight (Sunday) cont.

I decided to take a run to Sams. I was really thinking about that generator.

As I got there I noticed the line for gas was only about 50 cars. Now that may sound like a lot, but believe me it's not. That's the shortest line I've seen for gas in awhile. I had just over half a tank but decided it was best to fill up now. Plus I had two five gallon tanks in the car I wanted to fill. It took less than thirty minutes to get to the pumps. Sams had employees along the line, handing out drinks, sandwiches, bannas to people waiting in their car. When I filled up with gas three days ago it was $2.75 a gallon. Today it was $2.99 a gallon. It cost me almost fifty dollars to fill up my car and the two gas tanks.

Now that I had gas I was going to go get a generator. Sams no longer was making people wait in line to get in. I went and got the smallest generator, it has a capicaity for 3500 watts, the bigger ones went up to 5500 watts. The problem is that I don't know what that really means. After getting the generator home in the instructions it lists different applicances and how many watts it takes. A light takes only 100 watts, the charger for this laptop less than that. A small air conditioner unit uses almost 1700 watts. The generator is supposed to last at least 12 hours. I couldn't have gotten the bigger generator, the small one was almost too heavy for me to lift and carry. But I've got it set up now on my porch and I have a lamp burning and my fan running and am typing this with the charger. I almost feel like a normal person again. The only drawback is that the generator is loud....very loud. But that's a small price to pay. I'm thinking I may still use the battery and the power invertor to run the fan at night, so it won't be so noisy and that way I can use the generator during the day to run the fan or whatever else I need to. I can even use my microwave. Even a small refrigerator only uses something like 500 to 600 watts. My only worry with getting a small refrigerator is that I don't know if I'll be able to keep the generator running all the time, and than everything in the refrigerator would go bad. Gas is going to be the problem with the generator. And making sure when I leave that I put it inside my house. I could see someone coming by and stealing it.

The neighbors that came back today have a generator too. I've heard it all day long. That's how noisy they are, I can hear theirs across the street. I'm sure tonight when it really gets quiet outside you'll be able to hear it for quite a distance.

Also coming home from Sams today I checked my cell phone again. I've been keeping it in my glove comptment turned off, to save power since it is so hard to charge it. Wonders never cease! I got service! I couldn't believe it! I had a bunch of messages from people trying to check to see how I've been doing over the past week. I was surprised to hear a voice from someone I haven't talked to in years, Paul Stewart. Paul and I used to work together years ago, and we became pretty good friends. He moved to California and get remarried and we kept in touch and than we just stopped like some long distance friendships do. I don't think it was either of our fault or intentional, it just got longer and longer in between talking. He was trying to get hold of as many people as he knew from the area, my voice mail was the first actual voice he had heard so far.

I decided to call Heather and see how she was, she had left a couple messages on my machine. She was actually the last person I talked to on my cell phone. She had called me as we were driving up to Memphis the day before the hurricane. Right after we talked is when my cell phone stopped working. I got her on the first try. She is in Alabama with her family. They are thinking of coming back towards home Wednesday. They may go to Baton Rouge. College restarts for her Thursday. She goes to college in Hammond, which is going to be too far for her to drive back and forth from Slidell to school with the problem of getting gas. Baton Rouge is closer, so she might try that. Plus she talked to someone at work and they told her if she wanted to she could work at the Baton Rouge store until she gets back to Slidell. The company is going to pay all the associates for this week.

I didnt' get much more accomplished this afternoon. It took me awhile to get the generator together and running. I just can't believe that I have a lamp on. My living room is lighted. It is so awesome.

Today was a good day.

Who's In Charage?

I was pretty impressed with all the planning that went into the pre hurricane prepartion. The contra flow, which is turning certain lanes of the interstate and highway into one ways out of the city, went fairly well. A lot better than last time.

But than after the hurricane it was like no one was in charge. Or at least no one had a plan. From some of the news reports I've heard that is pretty much the truth too. One government agency wouldn't do something cause they thought the other agency was resonsible for that while that agency thought it couldn't do it cause another agency was supposed to do it.....and people were trapped and lost and in the end people died.

It seemed like it took forever to get troops into the city. It seemed like it took forever to get food and water supplies into the city. People were trapped on top of parts of the elevated highways surronded by water and left there for days.

There was no communication between the people supposedly running the rescue operations.

Everyone assumed that cell phones would work I think. My cell phone has not worked since the first day of the hurricane.

Who's in charge?

No one it looked like.

Katrina: Day Eight (Sunday)

Another late morning, I got up at eight this morning. Mornings are the best time of the day. Last night my battery much not have charged completely, the fan went off before I fell asleep. But it was not that hot so I didnt' worry too much about it. But at seven or eight in the morning there is a slight chill in the air and it feels so good. Makes you just want to lay there and not move.

Went to Sams today for more ice. It looks like the cooler will hold the ice for about two days and than I'll have to be getting more ice. I have to get twenty pounds of ice from Sams, they sell everything in bulk. That is more ice than I need so I noticed some more of my neighbors across the street are coming home so I went and gave them a bag of ice. I want more people to come home. There is safety in numbers.

On the way to Sams I stopped at the store. Darryl was there, talking on the phone to Loretta. I talked to his wife while he was on the phone. The store was boarded back up, all the people from home office had left. After Darryl got off the phone he told me that they decided not to open till Wednesday or Thursday, that most people needed food and things like that more than what we sold. He said Loretta was pretty ragged, she's been traveling to the stores and seeing all this damage and it has to be getting to her. The store in Gulfport was wiped out. The one in Harharan has been looted and has standing water.

Afterwards I went to check on my parents. Today is the last day my brother will be there. He is heading home tommorrow, they are lifting the ban at six a.m. to get into Jerffersion Parish. Yesterday my Dad collapsed, he dehadrayted himself. I'm glad my brother was there. He put him in the van and turned the air conditioner on and they gave him a lot of water and soaked him down. He still isn't feeling all that great today, but maybe it is for the best. It shows him that both him and my mother have to take it slow in this heat. They can't try and do too much too quick. Better it to have happened now when my brother was there than later. I don't know how often I'll be able to get up there with gas so hard to get hold of.

The WalMart in Picayune was open so me, my brother, mother and sister went. I wanted to get some stuff that I couldn't find at Sams. I ended up spending close to a hundred dollars. I got some more food, but I also got a rake to try and help clean my yard up and a push broom. I want to sweep the street in front of my home, just to try and make it look better. Right now every little thing that makes things look a little more normal is a help.

They also got a generator. It lasts for about eleven hours. I'm thinking of going to Sams and getting one of the smaller generators. I'm just worried about getting the gas for it. It takes about five to six gallons for twelve hours. I have two five gallon tanks if I can get them filled. I don't mind spending the money on a generator if I can keep it running, I hate to spend the money on it and than not even be able to get the gas to use it.

I've been out in the yard cleaning still. I finally got all the tree from my yard to the front. There is still a lot of pine needles and pine cones in the yard, but that's what I got the rake for. My brick patio was covered with debris from the tree. I cleaned it and it looks better than it has in awhile to be honest. I even weeded in between some of the bricks which I haven't done in too long. I figured that as I clean I just as well get things looking as good as I can.

Ok, that's it for now, more later tonight if this laptop doesn't die on me. I wasn't able to charge it last night since the battery didn't charge completely. Bewteeen charging the laptop and having a fan run, the fan wins out.

Katrina: Day Seven (Saturday)

Today I decided to sleep in. So of course I woke up at five a.m. To my surprise the fan was still running. The power invertor was still working. Actually the battery was still working, I figured it was going to die sometime during the night. And than it died. Still it lasted longer than I expected. And now it was cool outside, this time of the morning, so it didn't feel so bad.

I went back to sleep and woke up around eight. I got up and did my little washing by the sink. I wet a washcloth, soap my body and than run the washcloth over my body again and than dry off. That's my bath.

I decided to take all my can foods and put them out where I could see them. Why? I don't know, I just felt better doing it like this. That way I wouldn't be surprised when I was running low on food, I wouldn't miss something in the cabinets. I took a small bookcase I had in the hallway and put it on the back side of the bar and filled this up with all the food stuff I bought from Sams yesterday. Than I went through my cabinets and took what I thought I could use and put them in the bookcase. I found some stuff that I just had to throw away.

Next I decided to clean out my refrigerator. It was empty so I figured this was a good time to give it a good scrubbing. Afterwards I put some water and drinks in it to store.

I forgot about my upright freezer. It was full of food. So I had to take a garbage bag and go clean it up too. I emptied everything in the garbage bag. I took everything to the trash dumpster. While there I was talking to a few other people that were from the trailer park. One guy said that someone tried to break into his trailer last night, only to run away when someone shined a flashlight on them.

My neighbors on my left came home. They had went to Tennessee to ride out the storm. They actually weren't here to stay, they were just coming to pick up some things and check on their trailer. They had brought a truck load of water back with them and gave me a case of water.

My neighbor across the street, Chris, had stayed in his trailer during the hurricane. He said the wind literally lifted the trailer up and shook it. Luckily it didn't lift it too hight. During the night someone had stolen his battery out of his truck. He was fed up and wanted to leave. But he had no battery. He had no phone, the phones, the cell phones still weren't working. He wanted to call his brother to come get him. He thought a phone in Pearl River at this local store was working so I agreed to take him down there to see. We tried three different places before we found a phone that worked. But it only worked with a calling card, money just fell through it.

I brought him back home. He wasn't that happy, but there wasn't much more we could do.

I was pulling the tree that I pushed off my porch into the side of my yard to the front of the yard. This was hard work, the limbs all twisted together. My body is covered in scratches and cuts from the pine cones and needles. I got maybe a little over half of the tree moved to the front. What I'm going to do with it here I'm not sure, but I feel better getting it in the front by the side of the road.

Chris found a battery and hooked it up. I had about a gallon of gas in a gas tank that I used for my lawn mower and gave it to him. He had about half a tank.

I was exhausted. I sat in my chair on the porch and just did not want to move. I drank two bottles of water. Actually one bottle, the other bottle I filled from the melted ice in the cooler. I never imagned water could taste so good...I'm sure I'll be repeating that in the time to come.

It's dark outside now and I keep hearing cars go up and down the main street, up and down. Now I just heard what is either a car backfiring or a gunshot. To me it sounded like a gunshot, but I can't know for sure.

The breach in the leevee may be filled tommorrow. Hopefully it will be. That will make a big difference in New Orleans. I just saw an interview with the Mayor of New Orleans and he looked completely exhaused, mentally and physically. I'm going to watch a little more tv and than probablygo to bed.

I am a Hypcrite

I hate guns.

I mean I really hate guns. I think a lot of our problems have to do with guns. But I hear you ask, what about guns for protection?

Two stories: The first one is from the news awhile back. A man was pulling into a parking lot. He cut off another driver for a parking spot. The cut off driver pulled a gun from his glove comptment and shot and killed the other driver. He said he was sorry but that he had just gotten so mad at the time he didn't realize what he was doing.

The second is from a lady that used to work for me. Her husband worked offshore so he got a gun for her to have for protection. One night she woke up to hear a noise in her apartment. He was offshore. She took the pistol for the dresser drawer, undid the safety and put her finger on the trigger. Someone walked into the bedroom and she rasied the gun to shoot. At the last moment she realized it was her husband. He was home earlier and wanted to surprise her.

Lately I've been thinking I want a gun. All you hear on the news is about the looters. Looters are everywhere. I'm living in a neighborhood which is still pretty empty of other people. There's not a lot of people back here yet.

What would I do if someone tried to break into my home? What could I do?

So that's all it takes for me to throw away my ideals. Fear. Get a little scared and I'm ready to chuck everything I've believed in and thought.

I don't want a gun. But I do want a gun.

We Are Not Refuges

My dictonary defines refuge as a person seeking shelter from a war, persecution or natural diaster in a foreign country. I don't know how many times I've heard the news media, the government, anyone talking about the people having to leave the city of New Orleans to find shelter in another state or city as refuges. Last time I looked Houston was not a foreign country. Baton Rouge is not a foreign country. These people from New Orleans are still Americans. They are still from the United States. They are seeking shelter in a different city, a neighboring state, not a different country.

Calling these people refuges is a way to distance them from the rest of the country. Maybe it helps to make such people using these names that it couldn't happen to them. I don't know why, I think initially the use of the term was used as shorthand. I was in my car listening to the radio when I heard what might have been one of the first uses of the name. One of the reporters said that the people in the Superdome were like refuges from another country. After that I started hearing it more and more. Everything that happens has to has a name or title, so they can put a logo on it, make it an event. It's not enough that it happened, let's make it a mini series as it happens.

I think calling the people that are having to find shelter away from New Orleans refuges cheapens them, it makes them less than what they are. It's easier for someone sitting in the north, the west, somewhere else in this country where it's not happening to them to think of them as someone different, maybe not even from this country.

Let's call them what they are: Americans! Americans that need help, that have no home, but nonetheless still Americans.

Stupid stupid remarks

I didn't hear him when he said them, I only learned of the remarks when the Governor commented on them. I'm not a big fan of our Governor. I think she's made a lot of stupid remarks since this all started, but I was proud of her when I heard her speech. She demanded an apology from the speaker of the house, not asked for, but demanded. Yes, I heard he later recanted his statement, not long after saying it, but it doesn't matter. How could he have been so stupid to begin with?

What did he say? He commented that maybe we shouldn't try to rebuild the city of New Orleans. Maybe it was for the best just to let it die.

I'm sure there are some out there that might be thinking the same thing. It's one thing to think it, even say it if you're an average citizen, you've got the right to say or think whatever you want. But this is one of the most powerful men in the world, he's right after the vice president in order of succession. And he's going to tell a city of people that have lost their homes, their every possession, some their loved ones, that don't worry about coming back to your home, we're not going to build it, we're just going to level it down.

The governor said that all these people have is hope right now and such statements crushes such hope. I agree completely.

And for the record the city of New Orleans wasn't just build below sea level for the fun of it. It's actually sinking, but besides that it was build because of the port. New Orleans is one of the most important ports in this country.

Death Toll

Today is Friday the second as I write this. One of the police officers in the store today said that there was over six thousand dead in New Orleans and over 600 dead in Slidell. They've been using ice cream trucks to pick up the dead bodies. They are thinking of using Northshore Mall as a morgue to house the dead bodies.

So far no offical counts have been issued, so I have no way of knowing if this is true or not.

My New Hero

In my car I have satellite radio so I can listen to the Fox News channel. They've been 24 hour coverge of the hurricane and its aftermath. They were talking about Houston and its mayor.

Houston has filled the Astrodome with the people that were in our Superdome. Actually they've taken anyone that showed up there from New Orleans, some of the busses that were showing up were from churches and busses that were just picking up people in New Orleans to get them out of there. There's about forty more busses of people in the parking lot of the Astrodome.

The mayor opened another entertainment center, I'm not sure which one, to house more people. I think he said this one holds around twenty thousand more people. He said that he would find apartment buildings to house these people. Whatever it took he was going to help these people. Than he got a little mad and wanted to know why no other cities are offering help. Baton Rouge, a city only about an hour and a half drive from New Orleans, which survived most of the storm's damages, the mayor there made remarks that he couldn't take all these people and he didn't want them either.

This is the type of natural diaster unprecendented in our history. It's going to show our good side and our bad side. For the people of New Orleans to survive it's going to take the help of the rest of this nation. We came together after 9/11 and we can do it again. Maybe I'm being selfish since this concerns me, but I'd like to see the nation coming together to help out New Orleans and of course Biloxi and the gulf coast.

Katrina: Day Six (Friday)

The problem with writing these posts is that I tend to do it at the end of the day, when I'm tired and not wanting to do anything. My mind has shut down and just want to rest along with the rest of my body.

Today started at five in the a.m. I was supposed to be at work at seven, mainly just a chance to see who was here and figure out what we're going to do type thing. Sams was supposed to have gas at six this morning. I got up, brushed my teeth and managed to clean myself with a wash cloth and bowl of water. Right now two of the most precious commodities we have are water and gas.

I got to Sams at around 5:30 or so. There already was a line. I'd say there was at least sixty cars ahead of me. I parked, turned the car off and waited. I got out and started talking to the people around me. I was parked next to a Sams employee that was directing traffic. He was from out of state, I forget where now. He was part of Sams diaster team, they go in after something like this and help to get the store running. They already had a generator running and the store was opening at seven. That was also the time he told he they were supposed to start selling gas.

By seven the line had to be a couple hundred cars long behind me. He figured they had enough gas to last about four hours. Once they started it went fast. They had a lot of pumps and they had an employee working each pump. Full service gas, what a concept! He pumped it and took my money. They had it organized very well. They didn't fool around with the cents, they just took the dollar amount, saved them time with having to deal with a lot of change. The only bad thing, and I didn't think of it but I should have, was that you had to pay with cash for the gas. I hardly ever carry cash around, I'm so used to being able to use my debit card for anything. Luckily I had some cash from my trip to Houston, my per diem and gas money and etc. By then it was almost eight o'clock.

I zipped over to work. Steve was the only manager there. Darryl (the store director) was not there yet. Loretta (the district manager) was there. Right after I got there Darryl showed up. He actually showed up while I was in the back of the store shopping. I figured there was some things I needed before we opened and they all disappeared.

They were sending in a team of about twenty associates from the Texas stores in campers to actually run the store, they figured the associates had enough to do right now. The associates could work if they wanted to, but this way it enabled us to open and serve the customers. The plan is to only let in around twenty customers at a time, stay with them as they shopped. We had a generator running so we actually had lights and some air conditioning.

One nice thing Loretta told us that the company intended to keep paying the managers no matter what. Now I know that could change later, but I thought that was pretty nice of the company, especially when they're sending in other people to do our work so we can attend to personal matters.

We decided that we wouldn't open until Monday. The Texas people wouldn't be there until than, so we figured there was no way we where going to be able to do much. Steve had to bring his wife to Arkansas, she's pregnant and he wants her around doctors and a more stable enviroment. Darryl wanted to get back to his inlaws and help with the cleaning. He figures his house is gone, he lives in Chalmette which is just about all under water. I was getting some stuff from the store for my parents too, so I wanted to drive out there and give it to them and see if I could help them out some. Plus I had a lot of stuff to do at home.

I filled two buggies with stuff. I got two camp stoves, ideal for cooking inside. Darryl showed me this device that connects to a marine battery we sell and than you can plug a light or fan into it. So I got two marine batteries and these devices. I got a cooler, I don't own a cooler. I ended up getting a bunch of stuff I figured I could use.
I would have got my brother some stuff too, but he was supposed to be going to the westbank early this morning and I wasn't sure when I'd see him again with the ways things where around here.

While I was there some police officers and national guardsmen came in for some stuff. We've been letting them come in, get whatever they need and just write it down and we'll worry about the money later. That was what Darryl let me do too.

I went home, dropped the stuff off and headed back to Sams. They would take a check if you were a Sams member, which luckily I was. I wanted to get some ice more than anything and figured I could stock up on some food stuff. Of course there was a line. I have an idea that before this is all over with I'm going to stand in a lot of lines. They were only letting about two dozen people in at a time. The line moved fairly quick and wasn't that long. It took me about thirty minutes to get in.

I got a lot of canned goods and some other things that I hope will last in this heat. And my ice. I was going to get a fan, I don't have one at home, but I forgot.

Back home to drop this stuff off, empty the ice in the cooler, which only took about half my ice, so I figured I'd bring the other half to my parents. Than back in the car and over to my parents.

I was surprised when I got there to see my brother there. He had already tried to get into the westbank and couldn't. They've declared martial law there and are not letting anyone in. They said starting Monday they'll let people in. I was glad to see him, but knew he was upset about not getting in. He just wants to know what condition his house is in. He is pretty sure that there was no flood damage but a tree could have fallen through, or looters or who knows. On the radio I heard that looters burned Oakwood Shopping Mall down, which is the big mall on the westbank. It's one of the busiest malls in New Orleans. The not knowing is driving him crazy.

Than I felt bad cause I didn't get him anything. I'll go back tommorrow and try to get him some things, at least the camp stove. The good thing is that he's there for the next two days to help my parents around the house.

I visited for a little while than jumped back in my car to head home. I had a tree on my porch I wanted to try and get off. I got home, ate some spam, but I was able to cook it on my camping stove! Such small joys make us feel more human.

One of the things I got at work was a saw and axe. The entire top of this pine tree was on my porch. I'm lucky it didn't fall a little farther and go through my roof. It took me about two hours to cut it up and throw off the side, but my porch is now clear. I'm going to put my outdoor furninture back out there, so it'll clear up my living room. I still am going to have to cut the tree up into smaller pieces to get out of here. I just cut off limbs and chunks so I could move it.

The rest of the night I plan to spend watching tv (I have a little portable tv I'm sure I've already mentioned), maybe eat something else and turn on my fan and than probably to bed. Tommorrow I'm sure will be another fun day.

Katrina: Day Five (Thursday)

Today is the day we decided to leave our safety of Tennessee and head back home to see what our homes look like. From what little we can gather from the news and the internet Picayune where my parents live is not as bad off as a lot of what we've seen on tv. The westbank where my brother lives, from the phone call my sister managed to get through, did not get hit too bad. Now when I say not too bad, this is all relative to what New Orleans and Biloxi went through. From everything we've heard about Slidell, where I live, the hurricane hit hard and bad. The storm surge was supposed to be fifteen to twenty feet high.

We left at six in the morning. Shirley wanted to cook us breakfast, but we decided to head out as soon as possible. We were going to try and retrace our path to Tennessee, by traveling the back highways. Again we found little traffic on the roads. As we got farther south the terrain began to change. At first we saw a few branches on the side of the road, as we rode on we found trees broken and lying on their side.

After hitting the center of the state gas became almost non exsitent. Everytime we stopped at a gas station they were either out of gas or they had no electriticty and could not operate their pumps. Not far out from Picayune the scenery became even worse. Trees were snapped along the side of the road. Not just one or two, but as we drove down the highway the trees that paralled the road were snapped like twigs. We passed one gas station and the top that covers the gas pumps was blown over. Fronts of buildings were blown over. Trees that were huge, that looked decades old, were uprooted and lying across the ground. Sometimes they were lying across someone's home.

On the side of the road a tree was blown over and was being held up by the electrical wires strung between the poles. The entire thing leaned over towards the street. This was not good, eventually it was going to come down if it didn't get fixed soon.

We turned down a road near my parent's house, one that I've traveled a thousand times. Trees on both sides of the roads were snapped in half. The road was almost unpassable. Many times there was just enough room to travel on the road. Than we came onto a pile, at least twenty feet high, of trees uprooted across the road. We were not going up that way. We turned around and went down to another road which we were able to travel over.

I held my breath as we turned up the driveway to my parents house. They have a long dirt driveway, about forty feet long before their home. In the middle of the driveway was a tree. We parked the cars and walked the rest of the way. They had two car ports off to the side that were now in the middle of the yard. One of them had literally been lifted up, blown over a fence without touching the fenced and was lying bent in two in the middle of their yard. The roof of their shed was peeled back, part of it had been ripped off and was hanging over their patio cover. The side window on my father's shop was broken and the door to the shop was blown off. But all his tool were still inside and looked in good shape.

The good news was that their home was fine. Some shingles had been blown off the roof, but besides that it looked good.

My brother and I went down and cut the tree apart so we could drive all the way up to the house. My father needs a chain saw. We had to cut the tree apart with an axe and a saw. It took us a little while but we managed.

A few more things and than I decided to head home. My brother was going to stay the night. He was going to have to go the long way around New Orleans to get to the West Bank, so he wanted to make sure he had a full day to try and get home.

My gas tank was getting closer to E, but I didn't have that long a trip. As bad as it had been so far, Slidell was worse.

I've never been in a war zone, but I've read how when a bomb goes off it just shatters the land, the shock wave can snap the trees in half. That's what the land looked like
as I tried to get home. When I turned down the street to get back towards my home all I saw was downed trees. It was a lot of weaving back and forth but I thought I was going to make it, till I got almost to the end and a tree was blocking the street. The good news was there was a backhoe there, looking like he was getting ready to move the tree aside. I decided to drive down to the store and see if anyone had made it there while the moved the tree aside.

Two campers were parked in front of the store when I got there. The door was unlocked. A stranger was at the doorway. He was from loss prevention. He said Loretta, our district manager was in the back of the store. I went back and talked with her for awhile. She had talked to just about all the other managers and everyone was safe. When I mentioned that I was almost out of gas she came to the rescue, she had a gas can in her car with gas in it. At least enough to get me around for another day, I was on E now.

I won't mention the fact that I locked my keys in my car when I went in, it was that type of day.

I left to try and get back home. This time the tree was gone. I had to dive under a leaning tree that looked like it was leaning too much, but I made it. As I drove back towards my trailer I was getting nervous. I passed one trailer where the entire side was pulled loose. I turned on my street.

I had a wooden fence around my trailer. Not one part of the fence was still standing. It was flattened. Part of the pine tree in my front yard was on my porch. My gas grill was upside down. I stood in shock. The trailer looked good though. Across the street from me there was a tree across the front of the trailer. In another yard a huge tree was on its side. I took some pictures, I'll post as soon I can get them developed.

I opened the door to my refrigerator and took a step back. Whoah, it smelled. I filled two big garbage bags with the entire contents of the the refrigerator, there was no use to try to save anything in it. I brought in all my food and water I got from Memphis and set up as best as I can. I've got my little portable tv, some food, something to drink. No water, no electricity. I opened all the windows, some of them barely opened, I don't think I've even opened some of them, I use the air conditioner instead of open windows. But it is still hard in here, sleeping is going to be fun. But at least it'll be in my own bed.

I'm going to watch a little more news and than probably head to bed. I'm off to work tommorrow at six, we're going to try and get open where at least people can get some things they may

The Katrina Posts

I have no idea when I'm going to post these notes. But I'm trying to put down my thoughts on a day by day basis of what happened during the hurricane and its aftermath. Somedays I put eveything down daily, others I might have had to go back and fill in the previous days. I figure that I'll write a daily log for awhile and inbetween I'm going to vent about events relating to Katrina. By the time this all gets posted I might have a couple dozen of these written. Right now they're saying that we might not get electricity for any where from four to six weeks.

Katrina: Day Two (Monday)

Early Monday morning the Katrina came aground. We woke to a nice breakfast made my Shirley. She outdid herself with fixing food for us. They had not interent connection, so no computer. They had direct tv so we were able to get one of the news station and try and see what was going on back home.

The first news we heard was that Katrina had changed course from where everyone expected it to go and was heading a little more east. Which was good news for New Orleans, but bad news for Biloxi and the Gulf coast. The weather was so bad that most news could not even transmit from the area. When it started coming in there were few scenes and they repeated them over and over. The stoplight falling and being blown down the street was a common one, I must have watched it a couple dozen times.

Pretty much of the day was spent around the television, trying to stay as informed as possible. But it was hard, there wasn't a lot coming from the news. It was hard for them to get in there.

None of the phones were working down there. I kept trying my cell phone, no signal. Sprint was down.

The night the weather was changing, the hurricane was moving farther inland. It started raining and the wind really picked up. Sometime after we all went to bed we lost power.

Katrina: Day One (Sunday)

Today started at six. Actually that was the time I was suppposed to be at work, but either I slept through my alarm or it didn't go off. I woke, rolled over and saw the time was at fifteen till six. Ooops. I jumped up, dressed quickly and was on the road within minutes. I made it to the store just a little after six. Steve and Heather were waiting for me outside the building. We were supposed to have about eight associates coming in. We were going to open only till around 11, see if anyone needed to come in for hurricane supplies and to finish getting the building ready for the hurricane. Jessica and Timmy showed up not long after I did. We decided that we weren't going to open at all, over night they had announced that Katrina was up to cat 5 now and heading right towards us. Slidell south of hwy 12 was under mandatory evacuation, that was only across the street from us. So we figured we'd finish getting the store ready to weather the storm and than head out. First off we got some money from petty cash and sent Timmy to the McDonalds to get us some food. It was open when they passed it on the way to work. We had to finish wrapping the registers and finish putting plywood over the front of the store. I had to do the Sunday fax, which is payroll and sales figures for the week. Need to send that so everyone gets paid for the week. While we were getting things ready Jessica's parents called, they wanted her home so they could leave, they had decided to leave the city now. We turned on one of those small portable tvs we sell to watch the news. They said the Cresecent City Bridge was like a parking lot, they were advising people not to take it. I knew my brother was still on the westbank, he hadn't left yet. I called him to tell him he better get on the road. We finished everything by around nine. My brother called me and said he was already in Slidell, I wasn't expecting to make it till later that day from the way they were talking. He said traffic had not been a problem.

Kenneth went back to my place to help me bring some stuff outside into my house so it wouldn't get blown away. I also had to pack. I know, I always wait till the last minute to do anything. Than we headed towards my parents. The plan had been to go to Picayune and stay in a hotel there with my parents, but since the night before they had changed their plans. A cat 5 hurricane changes a lot of plans.

We got to Picayune without any trouble. The Highway going out that way was using both lanes to head traffic out of the city. It looked strange seeing traffic on both sides of the highway going the same way.

We were on the road by twelve. Instead of the interstates we were going to take the small state highways and head to Tennessee where my Mother's family is. We took hwy 11 to hwy 13 to hwy 35 and than briefly got on I 55 till we got back off and on hwy 7 to Memphis. Actually outside Memphis. We ended up at my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Troys. They took us in without the bat of an eye. I haven't been back up this way since I graduated high school, so it's been a few years They were even willing to take in Buffy and Sheba, my parent's dog.

It took us eight hours to get there, which wasn't that bad. We never ran into traffic and the way was easy and smooth. We made one stop at Wendy's to eat and let the dogs out for a walk. Buffy sat in the passenger seat and just watched the scenary pass by without a bark. Every now and than she would try and curl up and sleep, but it never last for long, she would jump up into a sitting position and stare outside the car.

I think we were all in bed by ten that night. It was a long day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I'm Back!

Wow, it's been almost three weeks since I last posted here. I've missed all of you. This blogging gets under your skin, I really feel like the people I've met and talked to on here are my friends and I've missed all of you.

I wish I could say it's been a slow, uneventful three weeks, but as you all are aware of, it's been anything but that. I've been writing posts since all this started, I just have to download them. I'll do that later today or tommorrow. Today I just wanted to say hi to everyone again!

Briefly we got back home safe, not a lot of damage to my home or my parents, my brother didn't make it quite so lucky. The worst part was about a week after I got home I ended up in the hospital. My appendic almost killed me. The first doctor I went to insisted it was urninary infection and sent me home with medicine for that. Luckly I went to a second doctor who put me right in the hospital and they were operating on me with two hours of getting in the hospital. The doctors said that they had never seen an appendic as bad as mine, it had turned gangrene. Another day would have been too late they said.

I've still recovering, getting my strength back. It was not a lot of fun I can tell you. But I'm alive and back, so everyone leave comments! I want to read a lot of comments, I love seeing I have comments.

(Hopefully if this connection doesn't go down I'll be back here on a regular basis, but that's never a sure thing at the moment. My phone works when it feels like it. )

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