Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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Katrina Updates

September 21st, 2005 6:58 PM

From the Disaster Zone

Jason writes:

Here are a few stories from the last few days...

The city of New Orleans is still in dire need. Although some stores and businesses have reopened, the poor and forgotten people of the city are still in a serious state.

I met a woman who hasn't spoken to her 72 year old mother, her 2 daughters, and her son. No one has been in contact with her and it’s been over 20 days since Katrina. This brave woman told me that she was a Bush voter but that she was very upset with this now. She has not had any help or aid from any government programs yet. While Bush visits the virtually unaffected French Quarter the people that are really in need go un-noticed.

The Veterans for Peace who are down here are all angels. Everyday we go to the places that are being ignored and we bring food and goods to the people who really need it. We have aided in setting up kitchens & clinics in the 9th Ward and Algiers.

The Smell of Nola is intolerable at some points. Most of the garbage has not been picked up yet and the entire city stinks. Sometimes it turns my stomach. You'll be walking down the street and the stench is just everywhere. I don't understand how the government is letting people live in total filth and doing so little to clean it up or help.

I meet so many amazing people. It never ceases to amaze me how many stories each hurricane survivor has. This has been such a natural and man-made disaster that every person in that city has something important to add to the dialogue of this tragedy. Here are a few of the most powerful...

I met an woman who is eight and a half months pregnant. She has had no help from FEMA or the Red Cross. She gave me a tour of her house which has mold all over it. A perfect environment for a newborn.

I met a son who saved his mom from the Superdome. He drove to get her after she was in there for 4 days. He went around check points and waded through feet of water to get to her. He told me that once he entered the garbage dump that was the superdome he just yelled his mother's name for half an hour until he found her. He then carried her out through the flood waters and got her to dry land.

I met a woman with 10 children in Algiers the other day. She had kids running around everywhere, I couldn't believe my eyes. She was the first person I've spoken to in 12 days of being down here who actually had her 2K FEMA Check. I couldn't believe it! Someone actually got through the endless line of government red tape and got the promised money. I was so happy to hear all of this. But then she told me that because there are no banks open and because she doesn't have a car, she can't cash the check. Her FEMA check is totally useless to her! How hard is it to anticipate this? Didn't FEMA consider for one second that handing the poor a check in the middle of a disaster zone would be useless?

I met a mother whose son went back to Iraq yesterday. He coincidentally had been home during Katrina and was able to help out and make sure that his family was safe. This woman has also had no help from any government organization. While she spoke I could hear her phone on constant re-dial, desperately trying to get a hold of someone who might help. She told me a story about how late one night she was woken by very loud banging at the back door. She yelled out to let whoever was banging know that someone was in the house. Her son, who was home from Iraq at the time, told her to wait in her room and he would go check it out. Whoever had been banging on the door was gone by then but they left big boot prints on the back of the door. This woman's son told her that the boot print on the door was same as the boot print on the bottom of his military issued boots! I guess we'll never know who was really banging on the door but if the boot fits you...

Lastly, I wanted to let everyone know that I got into New Orleans no problem today. I was very surprised that it was as easy as it was. The way we drive in everyday is over the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway. Normally there are military personnel at a check point before you are allowed to cross over the lake and into NOLA. Today there was NO ONE there! I found it very weird for a city whose mayor just called off its re-entry to not even have guards at the main check point. I'm not complaining because it made our lives a lot easier today but it was very strange.

Well, Rita is on her way and everyone is sitting on pins and needles. The city of New Orleans would not be able to handle this hurricane. They say three inches of rain and the city’s in trouble. I pray that won’t happen.

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