Friday, September 01, 2006

Part IV

October 12, 2005

9:00 p.m.---I can’t believe I’m only just now writing. Today I went into New Orleans’ 9th Ward with a new driver, R, and crew: J., L. and “”V.” It was a problematic trip. We were sent to a Naval Support base to feed the troops, who turned out to have catered their food and had no need of us.

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Our dreams of a mobile feeding crashed when we realized it was the base we were being sent to. (Management hadn’t bothered to tell us till after we got there.) Even though we’d been briefed with scary stories, given 600 meals for an all-day trip, and warned to wear respirator masks and not to get out of the truck for any reason whatsoever, we took advantage of the otherwise pointless stopover at the base to use the bathroom, and gave the guards some fruit for their trouble.
This was extremely disappointing. When this turned out to be a bust we got permission to cruise the street we were assigned, which turned into a cruise of the neighborhood.

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(All communication had to be via our private cell phones because the truck radio systems, as we discovered, did not reach from dispatch in Kenner into NOLA. The problem is, cell phone service down here--across the entire area---is really problematic, too. You never know when you'll get through.) We were able to feed some folks, but there were very few there aside from some military personnel sitting in the streets and a group of folks with masks on gamely trying to sweep up an intersection. "V" completely ignored the directionswe'd been given and jumped out of the truck, carrying food up to people and running around in the streets. We ended up getting back on I-10 and trekking east across NOLA and back,

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then back into Kenner to what may have been a FEMA distribution center at a church, where we unloaded everything.
I’m pretty tired. It was a long, long day. Started at 5:30 a.m. when I got up, ended when I got back to the shelter about 7:15 p.m. The devastation was endless. And vast, and numbing. Being able to do some good was healing. And when I got back I ended up being a shoulder to cry on for the assistant shelter manager (J., one of the women I rode down from Baton Rouge with—her cot is beside mine). I also told M., the supervisor, that I wanted to get certified to drive the ERVs while I was there, and he seems open to it.
So tired. More in a.m.

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