Friday, October 28, 2005

Extend FEMA Deadlines for Survivors’ Support

The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Coalition:
In the next ten days, FEMA and Congress need to hear from us that survivors need more time and more relief. FEMA registration deadlines are coming up October 28 and 29 for all Katrina survivors in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Take 30 seconds to send a fast form letter and tell FEMA to extend deadlines now to ensure basic relief for survivors and continue to hold FEMA accountable.

Email Louisiana Officials for a Just Rebuild.
Whether you are from out of state, from LA, you can send fast form letters for a just rebuild.
From LA (includes living in exile):
( link #1)
Out of state:
( link #2)

Take 30 seconds for Real Relief Now, A Just Recovery, And Nothing less!

These actions are posted at


An excerpt from the blog of an attorney working with the indigent population in Louisiana. This post is another attorney's recollections of his experiences after Katrina. It is a long, long post, so for the sake of brevity I've included only a snippet here. There's a link at the end of the post if you'd like to continue reading.

In the weeks since evacuating New Orleans with my wife and two dogs and having no place to live, I have gotten used to asking for favors, begging and saying please and thank you. Through the glass, I told the clerk my "sad story." I told him that I was from New Orleans and trying to get back into town, that I had seen a satellite photo of my roof and that it was damaged and getting worse, and then busted out the wild card that works with most men in most situations. I told him that my wife had her heart set on my getting her wedding rings and the diaries of her sister who passed away and that it would break her heart if I didn't make it home to try to find these things and bring them back. I wasn't lying and he could tell. He asked me if I had cash and when I said yes, told me that he would let me fill up. I thanked him, sincerely, not in the manner that I do in my normal life, when people do little more than is required.

Within minutes of getting back on the Interstate, we saw flares and police cars parked ahead on the highway, blocking the road. Wallace and I checked in on our story once again and slowed to a stop next to a tired-looking, middle-aged white police officer."How you doing, officer," Wallace said.

He asked us where we were going and we explained that we were going to New Orleans, that I was a lawyer and that I had legal business related to the storm, a half truth. We showed him our identification. He responded simply, "I'm too tired to care. You can do what you want. He commented that our car smelled of gas and chemicals: "What, you got drugs in there?"We explained that we had cans of gasoline in the back of the van. He responded kindly, "Gas? You know that's not really safe ... get out of here.

"We drove through the checkpoint and up onto the causeway, the elevated highway that runs through the swamps toward New Orleans. Since the balance of the ride back into the city would be on this two-lane road, there would be little opportunity for anyone to send us back now. We were almost home.

You can read the rest of Billy Sothern's story here

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rising from ruin - Bay St. Louis and Waveland, MS

MSNBC is closely following recovery efforts in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Mississippi, with in depth backgrounders, features, and reporter blogs. Five weeks in a tent and still they wait:
“The worst thing about it is the bugs,” says Jeanette as Clint, who lost most of his drum kit to Katrina, knocks out some licks on a practice pad.

Also, “I love to cook and I can’t cook.” She likes to keep house, too. “I can tidy up the tent, but that’s about it. I can’t do it like I want to, but nobody can.” She doesn’t think the trailer will be a great substitute for the house, but hopes “it’ll be somewhere where I can stay out of the weather. … I’m tired of getting sunburned. “

That handful of minor irritations is the worst she has to say about her family’s plight, though. “If you let yourself go and get down, you’re not going to be able to do anything. You’re going to be miserable.”

And miserable is one thing she refuses to be, although she has great sadness for the loss of her home and even greater uncertainty about what will ultimately replace it since the family had no insurance.

“I tell Dale, I don’t want to go near the house. I can’t. It upsets me. It’s not going to be there anymore.”

But the Lusiches are not complainers. When the trailer comes, fine. In the meantime, here they’ll be, beneath the oaks, keeping house as best they can and looking squarely to the future.

“Thanks for interviewing us,” Clint says politely.

“Take care,” calls Jeannette Lynn in a voice as warm and southern as the late October breeze that carries it through the woods. “We love you.”
The "Rising from Ruin: Two Towns Rebuild after Katrina" web site promises a virtual tour of the two cities soon, as well as "Citizen Diaries."

Friday, October 21, 2005

FEMA photo: I-10 "Twin Span" bridge repaired

From FEMA:
Slidell, LA, October 14, 2005 - One of the workers for Boh Bros. Construction Co. watches traffic cross for the first time at the reopening of the I-10 "Twin-Span" Bridge. This Louisiana based company repaired the bridge damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in record time with no injuries 17 days ahead of schedule. Robert Kaufmann/FEMA
Other Katrina-related photos from FEMA can be found here; most do not appear to be copyrighted.

You can search by "disaster declaration numbers." The numbers for Katrina are 1603 (LA), 1604 (MI), 1605 (AL), 1602 (FL); those for Rita are 1606 (TX) and 1607 (LA). Oddly, this photo was classified under 1607 (LA-Rita) for some reason; I found it while searching for "Katrina" related photos by text rather than disaster number.

Followup: Sandi Smallwood about husband in DWCC

I wrote to Ms. Smallwood to follow up on the post "David Wade CC inmate's wife" below. Her husband Sam was in a Jefferson Parish jail awaiting trial when Katrina hit. In a comment at "The Katrina Briefs," Ms. Smallwood said he was first moved to a Jena facility, and then to the David Wade facility, where she said he was being denied access to counsel.

Ms. Smallwood replied:
Good afternoon,

Thanks for answering. The only news is that our attorney is back in town and working despite having much of the contents of his office on Poydras St in downtown N.O. sucked out of broken windows. I am hoping that he makes it to DWCC to see Sam soon. Sam has only been allowed two phone calls since being evacuated; he called his sister's home from Jena and then we spoke on Sept 8 after he landed at DWCC. Since then, I have received about 20 letters (the facility is providing paper, envelopes and postage).

Initially the letters were shocking with Sam saying many times over, "Please help me". He indicated to me that at Jena he had been kicked in the ribs and force to kneel for extended periods. I'm sure you've read the published accounts and I'm certain he was in that number. The tone has greatly improved but I am still troubled that he does not have access to a telephone. The assistant warden tells me that all evacuees share a single phone and I should consider the notion that Sam just doesn't want to call me. The warden has not approved setting up monetary accounts either and for Sam that only means that he gets no food other than the regular menu. He also has a chronic medical condition and states he is not getting all prescribed meds. I have read the governor's executive order regarding payment for housing said inmates and the previously established standard for reimbursement of medical care costs. With that being said, he should be getting all prescribed meds

I never thought either of us would say this but we really wish they'd get back to Jefferson Parish. He was surrounded by people he had known for a while, was receiving all meds, had money to buy extras and was allowed weekly visits. I understand the problem with returning the inmates hinges on the fact that Charity Hosp provided their medical care and the hospital is (probably permanently) closed. Although they had 68 deputies walk off the job, they assure me staffing is not an issue

Our attorney has called the DAs office to reschedule a status hearing that was scheduled for the day Katrina hit - Aug 29. To date, it has not been scheduled.

I appreciate your interest. Just to find Sam and maintain contact has been an all-consuming task over the last few weeks. We have decided to be strong and remain prayerful.

Thank you,
Mrs. Sandi Smallwood :)
Posted with Ms. Smallwood's permission.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

FEMA's Mike Brown inconvenienced by hurricane demands

As reported by AP via Yahoo, Brown's press secretary Sharon Worthy e-mailed FEMA staff chiding them for interrupting Brown's Baton Rouge restaurant visits:
'He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes,' Worthy wrote.

'Restaurants are getting busy,' she said. 'We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you.'
Via Billmon (headline: "Waiter, There's a City in my Toxic Soup"), who asks, "Would it have killed him to order take out?"

UPDATE, 10/20: Associated Press via Herald News Daily: 8/31 response from Marty Bahamonde, FEMA Northeast regional director for New England, on site in New Orleans:
"OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! No won‘t go any further, too easy of a target. Just tell her that I just ate an MRE and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants. Maybe tonight I will have time to move my pebbles on the parking garage floor so they don‘t stab me in the back while I try to sleep.

Found Katrina sounds

David Corn on Harry Shearer's "Found Sound" exhibition contribution "Sounds around Katrina," assembled from satellite feeds of the news coverage:
In the middle of covering Hurricane Katrina from the New Orleans area, CNN's Anderson Cooper had a conversation with a producer or executive. Here's his side of the chat:
Listen, we have a chaplain here who's with this National Guard unit, and he's saying--he's sort of an interesting guy. He says that, you know, a lot of his soldiers are kind of shocked by the disparities they are seeing between rich and poor. And that, you know, they're from Oklahoma and they're a pretty conservative bunch but they're starting to sound like a group of liberals because they're all sort of stunned by what they see. I don't know if that's of any interest, but....Right, okay, we're full. Alright No problem. The horse video should be being fed in on the back of that other story that we're feeding in. It's good video. I looked at it. It's cool.
The Found Sound exhibits are in several Washington, DC area galleries, and last from October 14 to November 5.

David Wade CC inmate's wife

A comment at "The Katrina Briefs" blog mentioned here on October 7:
My husband was an inmate in the Jefferson Parish prison who was initially sent to Jena - a trip that lasted 13.5 hrs and included no food, no water, a brief period of the driver being lost and no bathroom breaks. He is African-American and tells me in great detail the horrors to which he was subjected. He was one of those subsequently moved to David Wade CC. I know he was interviewed by an attorney there.

I am repulsed at the idea that the DOCs solution was to move the offending (i.e. black) prisoners to another facility. Why are the corrections officers, both from LA and otherwise, not facing sanctions and criminal charges.

I have called the DOC secretary's office repeatedly and I know they are tired of hearing from me. Their rebuttal is that this is all related to 'alleged abuse'. Guess what?? My husband is in jail because of an alleged crime!! I can't believe that in this time of crisis, no consideration is being given on the basis of whether the inmate is convicted or accused. My husband was a working, tax paying citizen prior to his arrest and quite frankly - his family needs him now more than ever!

I hope the horrible details of this abuse are made public and I am looking for assistance from anyone. Evacuated inmates not convicted are being denied access to counsel. HELP US.
Emphasis and e-mail link added.

Rambling Rebuilder

E L D, a.k.a. "egyptoid," is a Red Cross volunteer via the Southern Baptist Convention. In "Confessions of a Yellow Hat" he summarizes what he's been doing:
After Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, my boss let me go on extended leave of absence to assist those in need. Not having Red Cross training, and not wanting to go by myself or with a government group left me with few avenues to approach. Since I didnt know where exactly to go, how, or who to help, I linked up with the experienced deacons from my church, men who had been into the aftermaths of previous hurricanes, especially the four that hit Florida in 2OO4. [...]

The Red Cross has large tractor-trailer rigs, with specially modified trailers that expand into mobile kitchens. One is called “Spirit of America”. But there’s only a few of them. When disaster spreads on major areas, such as Katrina hitting a 4OO mile wide swath from Port Arthur Texas to Mobile Alabama; more of these feeding units are needed than even the mighy ARC can cover. Several years ago the idea hatched for the SBC to make their own kitchens. These run in a fashion similar to the Red Cross types, with some methods borrowed from military-style portable kitchens. The Army and Air Force can drop in just about anywhere in any conditions and feed 500 people on 6 hours notice, so there’s lessons learned from them. So different churches and sections of the SBC have different “units”, with a variety of jobs to perform.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Marcel Kollar: lost then found

Marcel spent 4 days with approximately 18 of his family members on Interstate 10 in New Orleans waiting for evacuation rescue after the Hurricane. On or around September 4, 2005, Marcel was airlifted off I-10 with his grandson Peter Colar and flown to New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport. On that day, he was wearing blue jean shorts and a white and gray shirt.

Marcel was severly dehydrated and agitated. At the time of evacuation, he was yelling out the names of his family members. He was sedated by medical personnel at the airport and placed on another helicopter for transport. We believe that it was a National Guard helicopter however we cannot confirm this for a fact. Helicopter personnel would not allow Peter to go with Marcel nor could they tell Peter where they were taking him. Peter was able to give helicopter personnel Marcel's information however Marcel did not have any sort of identification or contact information on his person at the time of evacuation.
Update as of 9/22/2005:
Marcel has spoken with his family, he's in a nursing home in Texas and he is doing well. He will be reunited with his family soon.

Thank you to everyone who has assisted us in finding Marcel. The Colar Family truly appreciates it.

Thank you God for keeping us all safe.

Open Source EHR Katrina Relief Network

Via The Health Care Blog: : Appeal for volunteers:
Open source advocate Fred Trotter is appealing for volunteers to help in setting up hospital and physician office systems in areas affected by Katrina. If you're a techie, please go over to his blog to see if you can help.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Preserving New Orleans Jazz video:
At a recent performance in Easton, Md., Preservation Hall Jazz Band pianist Rickie Monie and Bassist Ben Jaffe, also the band's director, talk about surviving Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and keeping the music of New Orleans alive.
Video by Pierre Kattar

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Something Positive...

From, The Times Picayune's website:
Raymond Kleinpeter has found normalcy right where it has been for 17 years, on his own little plot of ground. On Wednesday, the retired phone company officer, clad in a white T-shirt and straw hat, rhythmically swept leaves in front of his 1950s white brick ranch house on Topaz Street in East Lakeshore. Like many whose property survived the storm untouched, Kleinpeter says he feels guilty he was spared when so many others weren't. That's why he's decided to open his home to relatives and
friends in need of temporary housing while they rebuild their lives. "This is a
test for me, to be sure I'll be generous and share," he said.

Kleinpeter said his homeowner's insurance company mailed him a $3,000 check after the storm to help with expenses. When the adjuster showed up last week, Kleinpeter handed him back the check, not a dime spent." I almost kissed him," he said. It's all about moving forward, he said. Making a good neighborhood better. Making a great city greater. "If I get a chance, I might even cut my grass today," he chuckled.
Thank you, Mr. Kleinpeter. You are the New Orleans I remember and love.

San Gabriel Morgue -- Dr. Thomas Stair

Dr. Stair's job was to look after the health of volunteer DMORT mortuary workers at a major morgue in San Gabriel, an hour north of New Orleans. From his diary:
Monday, September 12, 2005
Operations decided to eliminate the two-hour commute, and send strike forces out to New Orleans for the next three days, spending two nights in the cruise ship the evacuees refused to board. Volunteers have begun showing up for “medical debriefing” for demobilization, so I made up a procedure we can all follow. We had our first heat exhaustion case: a middle-aged mortician decontaminating bodies felt lightheaded. We stripped him out of PPE and brought him by wheelchair to the clinic, where he lay in front of a fan and we spritzed him with water and gave him two liters of intravenous saline. In two hours, his vital signs were back to normal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
The weather just gets more hot and humid, so we have reduced shifts in PPE to 45 minutes. Public Health is starting up a vaccination clinic. Coast Guard is fixing the Internet connection. Amy continues coming to the clinic every day for minor complaints, routine health care and parenting she gets nowhere else. She left home in Oregon five years ago, at age 16, and has lived in a tent ever since with North Slope Catering, traveling from forest fire to forest fire. Nurse Sheila says she’s like the patients she sees at who have run off with the circus. Amy sits in the clinic air conditioning for a few hours each day and asks about nursing school. Today’s batch of remains was very decomposed. Vaseline on the upper lip mitigates the smell of decomposing bodies.
Via Majikthise, who remains a great source for New Orleans news.

Submerged: An Evacuee's Journal Michael Tisserand. Part 6 -- "Normal", 10/10/2005:
New Orleans is no longer a militarized wasteland -- at least, not all of it. You learn to cross off areas in your mental map: the Lower Ninth Ward, the housing projects, parts of Mid-City, New Orleans East, Lakeview, Chalmette, St. Bernard. But Uptown, there are blocks and blocks of standing houses. A man jogs in Audubon Park. A neighbor is out walking her Yorkshire terrier past my still-boarded house. It's all getting so normal.

We linger in Vincent's. When we finally make our way out, we pass Hank Staples, the owner of the Maple Leaf Bar, one of the city's best music clubs. He's starting to have live bands every night. He makes a joke about other club owners, says they can kiss his ass. As for him, he's opening up. By Saturday, the Leaf will be as crowded as it is on any good weekend night during Jazz Fest.

A few bar stools away from Hank, a well-dressed woman drinks a bottle of beer and sobs to herself. Nobody pays her much attention. The thing is, everybody's messed up. We all know this. It's normal. [...]

I also walked through a new park of trailer homes north of Baton Rouge. Planners say that people will be living there for the next 18 months. Tiny, wheeled homes on blocks stretch out over a gravel field in all directions. New occupants are walking around trying in vain to distinguish one home from the other.

I turned to a housing advocate who is organizing residents. "I'm trying to imagine living here for a year and a half," I say. "So are they," she says.

On Sunday, Oct. 9, the city of New Orleans had its first of what is sure to be many jazz funerals. A second-line honored Chef Austin Leslie, who died of a heart attack in Atlanta during the evacuation. The Hot 8 Brass Band played, and a few members of the Black Men of Labor danced. But they were outnumbered by journalists from The New Yorker, The New York Times, CNN, CBS, the Associated Press and others in search of a symbol of regeneration. As the band passed, workers in Hazmat suits stood on the sidewalk and stared.
To start at the beginning, see Part 1 ("Getting Out"). adds: "Michael Tisserand was editor of Gambit Weekly, a New Orleans alternative newsweekly that temporarily suspended publication after Hurricane Katrina. He can be reached at"

Monday, October 10, 2005

Riggsveda, Red Cross volunteer

Philadelphia blogger Riggsveda, signing off on October 6th for a while with Good Night and Good Luck:
If you read my previous post on the subject, you know I signed up to do Red Cross disaster assistance for the hurricane survivors. Well, today I got the call, and at the ungodly hour of 5:40 a.m. on Sunday morning I'll be leaving Philly for Baton Rouge. That's the staging area I'm being sent to, and the place whose hurricane damage Bill Clinton, upon his visit there Tuesday, called "astonishing." I heard him talking about it on the radio, and in a few brief minutes he spoke more sense about the disaster and its ramifications for the region and the country than I have ever heard come out of George Bush's mouth in 5 endless years of stumping and photo ops.

Anyway, I'll be away for 3 weeks, so this my temporary sign-off till I get back in November. Lately I've missed a lot of great opportunities to write loud and bitter polemicals against the increasing stupidities of the age, and now it's too late. And I'll miss being here for my favorite month of the year, and my traditional October reading of stories of the supernatural on my daily commute. I'll miss my family, and my home, and my pets, and all the old familiar things that I usually bitch so much about. And it's kind of scary, not knowing what lies ahead, or what people will think of me when I get there.
In her earlier post, Riggsveda wrote
I asked to do bulk distribution, that is, travelling around the damaged areas in an ERV to deliver meals and/or supplies and check on the survivors' needs (my first choice), or I may do feeding, sheltering, or casework.
She'll probably have some stories when she gets back. Thanks for doing this, Riggsveda!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Phyllis Mann: The Katrina Briefs

A lot has happened in the last few days... (an Update on Abuse of Evacuated Inmates. By Phylliss Mann:
On Sept 27, two attorneys Rachel Jones and Dave Park went to Jena. They learned that the inmates still at Jena, who by now had been there for 3 weeks, were continuing to be subjected to horrifying abuse, both physical and mental. Rachel and Dave went back to Jena, along with Christine Lehmann and Neal Walker, on Thurs Sept 29, to finish interviewing the inmates. Not only did the rest of the inmates confirm the abuse, but men who had spoken to the lawyers on Tues had been beaten and placed in segregation for telling the lawyers about the abuse. We also learned that inmates from Calcasieu Parish have been evacuated to the Jena facility.

On Friday Sept 30, the Department of Justice was notified of the situation. We also notified Human Rights Watch, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and members of the media including the LA Times, the NY Times, and CNN. The various civil rights organizations – in particular Ted Shaw and Vanita Gupta of the NAACP-LDF and Corinne Carey of Human Rights Watch- got to work immediately and contacted Louisiana state legislators. Those legislators (primarily members of the black caucus, I believe) were outraged and have worked quickly to take control of the facility. As of 5:00 today, we understand that the Louisiana State Police have been asked to take over the facility immediately, to protect the inmates, and to preserve evidence of abuse and the identity of the perpetrators. Also, a Judge from Orleans has signed an order authorizing Human Rights Watch to enter the Jena facility and conduct interviews.

I wanted you all to be aware of this situation, because even in the chaos that is our current criminal justice system, it seems that caring lawyers working together can achieve some small successes.

Phyllis E. Mann
Post Office Box 705
Alexandria, LA 71309
(318) 448-0000
FAX (318) 448-2250
(October 2, 2005)

Sigmund Solares: No press allowed at FEMA business forum

FEMA Coverup? YES or NO???:
Today I attended a Back to Business Forum hosted by Mayor Nagin's office. Many in the press have focused on the chaos that ensued when business owners mobbed the main stage to ask questions.

Right now I will cover only the issue of contractors from outside Louisiana obtaining the largest contracts and how the Department of Homeland Security may be trying to thwart the freedom of press to cover up the truth for major corporations.

When I arrived at the auditorium at 7:30 am I walked straight to the front row and I obtained a seat about 20 feet from the central podium from which I could take pictures. Immediately as I sat down an agent from FEMA / Homeland Security approached me and asked, 'What newspaper are you with?' As I handed him one of my business cards I replied, 'I am with Intercosmos Media Group, Inc., here is one of my business cards.' He replied, 'We are just keeping track of the press.' I thought it was strange that they were tracking the press. But, throughout the morning sessions I took pictures without any further questions being asked.

One of the main recurring themes of the morning sessions was general discontent by Louisiana business owners that believe too much of the money in the rebuilding process is being spent on contracts with out of state companies and the out of state companies are relying on out of state workers. The audience was told time and again by panel members that the audience would have an opportunity to obtain work as subcontractors from the large companies from other states that already had contracts for restoring Louisiana.

In fact, in the afternoon there were four sessions scheduled with each of eight major contractors who received the large contracts. The goal of the sessions was to identify the types of work subcontractors were needed for and explain how Louisiana businesses could apply to perform subcontract work.

As I proceeded to walk into one of the sessions with one of the major contractors I was stopped by Homeland Security. I was told that press would not be allowed in these sessions. I was told that I could only enter without the camera as an individual and without “doing your reporter thing.” I was also told to tell my “compadres” about the rule. I slowly started to put the camera up. The agent from Homeland Security continued to stand between me and the door until I put the camera away. I do want to emphasize that this individual was very polite and just doing his job. What I don’t understand is why his job was to track the press and prevent the press from taking pictures in the sessions with the major contractors.


You are cordially invited to a Rebuilding New Orleans Party!
TO: Residents of New Orleans
WHEN: Starting now and ending when done
WHERE: At your home or place of business

We miss you. After Katrina left we thought that you would return. Now we are not so sure. We at have been lonely and hard at work for the past month in New Orleans. Please come home, and bring cleaning supplies, be ready to work hard, and be prepared to find a place other than your home to sleep in.

No RSVP Necessary weblog forums

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Major Ed Bush, Louisiana National Guard, Superdome

Major Bush is a public affairs officer with the Louisiana National Guard unit who was at the Superdome for 8 days after Katrina made landfall. Speaking with Matt Welch ( Reason Magazine --Echo Chamber in the Superdome: A Louisiana National Guardsman explains how he dealt with false rumors being piped into Ground Zero of Hurricane Katrina), he dispelled the that a helicopter was shot at, and spoke at length about rumor control inside the Dome. He ends with these comments:
But New Orleans, I guess my last point is, I kind of feel upset. Because I have some pictures of a Dad reading stories to his kid. I have a picture of a lady who—I don't know what the hell she was thinking when she brought it—but she brought her clown suit, and make-up, and she's in full clown garb, and she's got a wig on, and a nose and everything, and she sat there for days and painted kids' faces all day long. I have 20 amazing stories of people taking care of each other for every one incident of someone stealing, or someone taking somebody's stuff, or someone trying to get into somebody else's business, or someone laying their hands on somebody.

New Orleanians have been kind of cheated, because now everybody thinks that they just turned to animals, and that there was complete lawlessness and utter abandon, when that wasn't the case. Because if there was, we would have completely lost control of the Dome. And we never did. People just kind of hung on, through the heat and through everything, until they got on a bus and left.
Usually no major media reports are collected here unless they are mainly in the voice of the eyewitness. This story qualifies, I think.

John Strain: Help Lake House

John's Online Journal, Mandeville, Louisiana:
The folks at Lake House operate a 6 bed group home named Carroll Street. The group home made it through the hurricane, but Lake House did not. Three feet of water destroyed all of their furniture, office equipment, kitchen appliances, television, and the list goes on. The building is a 5000 sq. ft. rental. There is roof damage along with the water damage and the repairs probably won't be completed for months.

As a social worker, I refer people to Lake House. What they provide in our community is unique. They provide a place for folks with a mental illness to come hang out. The people at Lake House help people with whatever they need. They help with trips to the mental health clinic or doctor, grocery shopping, a listening ear, help getting a job, and providing a place where they are accepted and treated like family.
See also a 9/15 message to his department by SAMHSA administrator Charles Curie:
I have just completed my second trip with Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to survey a greater portion of the damaged region, to interact personally with more survivors, and to meet face-to-face with more State and local officials. At every stop, officials articulated a clear need for mental health and substance abuse services. More often than not they had placed these at the top of their lists.
SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Brian B, Red Cross shelter volunteer

Brian B is from Oregon, and volunteered at a Red Cross shelter in a church in Houston. He blogged about the experience, summing up with an "IntroRetrospection":
Quite frankly, on an organizational level, the efforts (even those of myself and my fellow volunteers) left something to be desired. It's not that we didn't want to help, and it's not that we didn't have help to offer, but the actual process of delivering that help was chaotic. The problem was that there was no central clearing house of information that could direct an individual to every source of asssistance available to them. My last day at the shelter was the FIRST day it was visited by a FEMA official. It was Wednesday or Thursday of LAST WEEK when a representative of the AFL-CIO showed up to let us know they were assisting with job placement for displaced union members. On Thursday, I helped one gentleman fill out his LA state unemployment form, when a question on it caused a lightbulb to go on over my head. I ran a Google search, and became the first volunteer at the shelter who knew that the VA is also providing job assistance, for displaced veterans. Texas HUD, god bless them, is willing to foot the bill for rent for qualified applicants (and almost all Katrina evacuees qualify), but it takes 2 weeks to process an application, and we didn't know this until Thursday -- less than a week before people have to be out of the shelter. Many national and international corporations offered relocation and assistance to their employees, but unless those employees think to look that info up, it would have been very difficult for their companies to find them.

I started thinking that what's needed is a database -- run either by an organization like the Red Cross, or by FEMA, that lists all of the different private, local, state, and federal agencies that provide assistance, what kind of assistance they provide, to whom they offer it, and how one requests it. This database should be available to frontline relief workers, perhaps through FEMA and/or a select number of private agencies (RC for example). The workers should have a computer questionnaire they can use to screen each victim -- are you a veteran? A union member? Who was your employer? Did you rent or own your home? Did you have homeowners insurance? etc. etc., and based on the answers given, the database is searched and all relevant assistance for that victim is brought up.

One other thought on the relief efforts: I have heard a few people, both bloggers and non-bloggers, make comments to the effect that the relief efforts are in vain because it will just turn the evacuees (who are all single mothers, according to these same comments) into welfare recipients.

Kiss my white volunteer ass.

I've been around these people for a week. And while it's possible that my shelter was non-representative, I can tell you that most of the evacuees *I* encountered were families, and MOST of them wanted jobs as much as they wanted immediate aid. And many of them already had jobs by the time I showed up.

Subprime mortgages mean no mortgage relief for many in New Orleans

Despite the public announcements by banks and lenders offering relief to homeowners affected by Hurricane Katrina, many African-American homeowners from New Orleans will not benefit from these announced policies. This is due to the high percentage of African-American homeowners who have higher cost subprime mortgages, and the failure of subprime servicers to offer the same assistance to their customers as prime servicers.
From "Another Crisis in the Making! How the Subprime Mortgage Industry is Sandbagging Katrina-affected Homeowners" (Acrobat .PDF file), an ACORN report.

LACDL Inmate Tracking Blog

On 9-26-05 Phyllis Mann provided the following table for evacuated inmates held at Angola – Rodeo

Louisiana State Penitentiary (Rodeo) - Evacuated Inmates EMERGENCY LIST - COMPILED Verified against OPP and Jefferson lists

Alexander, Dave
Misd - pre-trial

Arrest 8-4-05 on charge of begging [...]
From "LACDL Inmate Tracking Blog", set up to assist LACDL, LIDAB, and LAPDA efforts to track inmates evacuated during Hurricane Katrina. From "How to use this blog":
If you are an Attorney assisting in this effort please forward the following information for each facility where you obtain inmate Tracking information to Elton B. Richey Jr. at

1. Name and location of the facility that was visited
2. Name(s) of the lawyers who visited the facility
3. When the inmate tracking information was obtained
4. Names of the inmates and DOC number or pseudo numbers if possible [...]

As inmates are moved we can then note these changes in the comment section of the post for that facility, assuming we are notified of those changes. If you have questions Email Me!