Saturday, September 10, 2005

After the flood (This American Life, 9/9)

NPR's "This American Life" this weekend is titled "After The Flood," and is all about Katrina survivor stories. There's a transcript courtesy of Bellatrys of the full program (RealAudio, 58:59 minutes, CD sale link here - $13).

Prologue (0:00-4:59) Ira Glass discusses FEMA powers with expert William C. Nicholson
Act I: Middle of Somewhere (5:00 -21:05 ) -- Denise Moore, college-educated carless veteran from New Orleans:
I kept hearing the word "animals", and I didn't see "animals." We were trapped like animals, but I saw the greatest humanity I've ever seen, from the most unlikely places.
Act II: Forgotten but not Lost (21:05-38:45) -- Lorrie Beth Slonsky, Debbie Zelinsky:
--so even before we could explain what we wanted or what we had heard, that's when they began firing the weapons. Gretna police shot at us and said, "Get away, get away, you cannot come on the bridge."
Act III: Social Studies Lesson (39:45-45:59) -- Ashley Nelson, 18, author of "The Combination," published by the Neighborhood Stories Project.
When I heard about the hurricane, it was Saturday, and you know it was supposed to come next Sunday night, so when I heard about it, I went over to my grandmother's house, and ah - my whole family was over there, and I'm like, "Um, y'all come on--" I'm so - I'm just so amped up, I'm like, "You all come on, let's go rent a car, we gotta evacuate, we have a hurricane coming!" and everybody looked at me stupidly like, "All right, you gonna go rent a car, because we have that kind of money, to go and -- out of town, and you got that kind of money to do that kind of stuff?" like, being sarcastic about it, and I'm like, "--Man, I forgot we poor." --I promise you, that's what I thought in my head. I forgot we were poor.
Act IV: Diaspora (46:00 - 50:40)-- Cheryl Wagner of New Orleans, DP now residing in Gainesville, FL:
One of the people calling to tell us to get a shotgun, is a normally-laid-back musician friend who used to have a weekly gig in the Quarter singing Cuban love songs in falsetto. A few days ago he bought a shotgun in Baton Rouge, where he evacuated to, and is now calling my boyfriend and advising us to do the same. "I have five dogs, and I'm bringing the meanest looking one back," he says. "I just bought a shotgun with a sweet pistol grip."

Last week he also called to report rumors that people from New Orleans were raping and looting the mall in Baton Rouge. "You're a person from New Orleans," I thought, but didn't say.
Act V: Displaced Persons Camp (50:40 - 57:00) -- FEMA trailers in Punta Gorda, FL for Hurricane Charlie (2004) survivors.
KIM: Someone called me from FEMA and said, "Are you still interested in one of the mobile homes?" and I say, "Yes, I am," and he said, "Well, okay, you need to go down there to the site tomorrow to sign your paperwork, they have a house for you."

[American Life producer Lisa] POLLAK: That's Kim. Last December, when she got that phone call, she was desperate and out of options. She, her husband, and four kids, rode out the hurricane huddled in the shower stall at their rental house, the ceilings crumbling above them. After the house was condemned, the family spent two weeks in a crowded homeless shelter. Then came three months in an RV, the kind people tow on vacation, 30' long, all six of them living there. So by the time they got the FEMA mobile home, 70' long, with three bedrooms, it seemed like a mansion. They could live rent-free, paying only utilities, while they looked for a place of their own. --The problem is, nine months later, Kim's family is still there. Every month a FEMA agent comes by to ask her what she's done to get out. To keep her lease, she has to prove she's been working on it - and every month, she gives the same answer. She's called Public Housing, she's combed the ads, but in Charlotte County, there's not much that she and her husband - a WalMart manager - can afford. So far, the government's let her stay. But the pressure's getting to her.


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