Friday, December 30, 2005

The Green Family, Edgar Hollingsworth and More Stories of Death and Survival

CNN has a Hurricane Katrina People Page up. (via RenaRF's dKos diary)

Also from dKos: This diary, which tells the tale of Edgar Hollingsworth, who you may remember being carried, near death, from his home sixteen days after the hurricane hit.


NPR has a series that follows Selwyn and Chiquita Smith, a couple who left NOLA before Katrina hit and have settled elsewhere now.

Photos from the WaPo

This end-of-year photo gallery from the WaPo has some Katrina photos.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

How They Died

Blksista's dKos diary discusses a NYT article that looks at how 260 people who died during or shortly after Katrina actually died. From the article:

More than 100 of them drowned. Sixteen died trapped in attics. More than 40 died of heart failure or respiratory problems, including running out of oxygen. At least 65 died because help - shelter, water or a simple dose of insulin - came too late.
As Blksista writes, "What is worse is that most of them survived the hurricane itself. They died, however, from the flooding and the sometimes bloody anarchy that seized New Orleans and its citizenry in the aftermath."

There's more at the link. And even more at the NYT link, including a map of where people died and profiles of some of the victims. Here is the story of Ethel Freedman's final days:

Ethel Freeman was 91, long retired from her job as a university custodian. She used a wheelchair, a feeding tube and diapers. But her mind was still alert. When she and her son, Herbert Freeman Jr., reached the convention center on the Wednesday after the storm, she asked repeatedly for a doctor or a nurse. Her son told her a bus was coming to take them to safety. It did not come in time.

"When she asked me something, I could do it, I could dleiver, and this was one time I couldn't," said Mr. Freeman, who has made his new home in Alabama.

That morning Mr. Freeman had started early, loading his mother, her chair, water and food intoa small canoe. Ferrying it to shallow water, he helped Mrs. Freeman out and pushed her to the convention center. "She was getting sick then, and I told her, just hold on until we get there," Mr. Freeman said.

They waited all day and into the night. Her son told her they both should pray. Mrs. Freeman died. Mr. Freeman stayed with her until Sunday, when he was ordered to board a bus. The next time he saw his mother, it was in a photgraph, dead in her wheelchair outside, an image widely publishe das an illustration of the darkest hours of New Orleans.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Share Our Strength

From an e-mail sent by Bill Shore, the head of an organization I admire, "Share Our Strength":
Last week, Share Our Strength did something that not many others have done. We returned to Louisiana. And in larger numbers. We returned with modest but heartfelt financial support and perhaps more important, a delegation we call Hinges of Hope consisting of more than 30 business, civic, media and philanthropic leaders from around the country.

Despite wanting to write immediately after that trip, an entire week has gone by. My only excuse is the challenge of making sense of what we saw as we drove for hours through an American city first flooded, then abandoned, and now paralyzed and alone.

The streets are still piled shoulder high with debris that may take more than a year to remove. Overturned cars dot the neighborhood. Every few blocks for mile after mile, a person can be seen standing by themselves on their porch, staring into the soggy shell of a mold and stench filled house. We spent several days in New Orleans and Baton Rouge visiting the flooded and abandoned lower 9th Ward, the FEMA trailer villages, schools that against all odds have re-opened, and meeting with families, students, teachers, legislators, and foundation officials. Still, we could not make sense of it.

It made no sense that Doris Votier the superintendent of schools in St. Bernard Parish, who was able to cobble together a new school from 18 donated modules and trailers but has not yet received FEMA dollars, couldn't get the city to install a street light on the dark corner where her students each night board the bus back to their trailer or hotel, and remembers that the first help to arrive was from a Canadian Search and Rescue Team.

It made no sense that tens of thousands of trailers could be purchased and congregated into makeshift FEMA villages but that with the onset of cold weather no indoor space could be constructed for residents to meet or families to eat.

It made no sense that the number of members of Congress, outside of the Louisiana delegation, who have come to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation in the state capitol to understand firsthand the rebuilding challenge, is zero.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Facing South headed to the Gulf Coast

Chris Kromm of "Facing South," the in-house blog of the Institute for Southern Studies:
Instituter Elena Everett and I are headed down to Louisiana and Mississippi this week for a first-hand look at the rebuilding process in the post-hurricane Gulf, as part of our coverage for Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch.

First stop will be be New Orleans, talking to leaders and activists about what's happening 'on the ground' and the political landscape. Then we'll be in Jackson, MS for Friday's 'Survivor's General Assembly,' organized by the People's Hurricane Relief Fund. Then it'll be back to NOLA to cover the December 10 'March on New Orleans.' (For more about the Assembly and March, visit here.)
The Reconstruction Watch was mentioned in this blog a few weeks ago. Kromm concludes:
So the post-Katrina South remains a test, for both political parties: Why the lack of leadership to make sure the Gulf isn't forgotten? What does that say about the priorities of our national leaders? It's also a test for the public: Will people realize that it will take a national response to turn Washington around, and demand better?

We're hoping that through fact-finding trips like these and projects like Reconstruction Watch, we can not only promote a more open and accountable rebuilding of the Gulf. We also hope that it will help keep Katrina on the national radar, where the decisions will be made that will shape the region's future.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ways to Help

I live in the township where all the schools mentioned in this article are located, although my kids don't go to any of those schools. I especially like the backpack project. From the story:

As students in Bucks County schools bundle up to face winter, children who are victims of Hurricane Katrina are living in trailers and tents without heat.

To help keep them warm, kids at Afton Elementary in the Pennsbury School District are filling 200 backpacks with socks, hats and gloves to send to Hancock North Central Elementary in Kiln, Miss. The student council and PTO are organizing the project called "Backpacks from Bucks to Biloxi."

Principal Norman Gross said Cary Weiss, general manager of Kohl's department store in Turnersville, N.J., and an Afton parent donated the bags.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Rising from Ruin

MSNBC is running a site called "Rising from Ruin." This is the mission statement:

In the coming months, will focus its coverage of the Hurricane Katrina recovery on two cities on the hard-hit Mississippi coast.

Though Bay St. Louis and Waveland are far from the media spotlight on New Orleans, the intertwined fates of the people, businesses and institutions in these towns tell the story of an entire region's struggle to recover from the most destructive storm in U.S. history.

It's got a lot of very shiny corporate elements but it's also got a great section of Citizen Diaries. Here's a great entry from one "My New Trailer Vocabulary":

I never thought I would be able to say that I live in a trailer.

Now, however, I probably use the word "trailer" 15 times a day. Typical statements regarding the trailer include:

We need to refill the LP tank for the trailer.

Wow, this trailer has a laundry chute. My house didn't have a laundry chute.

Can you believe how much the trailer shakes when the cat runs through?

What's with all these fruit flies in my trailer?

We definitely need a mud room in the trailer.

My trailer has surround sound -- my house didn't have surround sound.

Close the door so the gnats and mosquitoes don't get into the trailer!

The trailer is very cozy.

There's not much room in the trailer for a bunch of useless stuff.

The power's out in the trailer again.

The shower in the trailer has a skylight. My house didn't have a skylight in the shower.

Do you know how to work the heater in the trailer?

There's no room in the trailer's fridge for my crockpot.

We're not actually in a FEMA trailer, since they lost our application the first time and ignored us the second. Steve's parents were generous enough to buy a fifth-wheel for us to use. It is very nice. We're the envy of the trailer park. I feel very cozy in it.

There's more at the main link.