I didn’t update yesterday’s entry because I didn’t get in until 9:05 p.m., and after showering & prep, into bed at 9:50. I was so exhausted I could hardly move. Stupid logistics, sending us out of the yard at 11:00 a.m., back in for a 2nd run at 5:00 p.m. to a place in Kenner (3rd & Fillmore) that hardly anyone was at, and to which a 2nd ERV had also been sent. Ended up going to CVS to get rid of over 200 meals, but by 8:00 p.m. there wasn’t many of them, either. Another ERV lost it’s inside lights and couldn’t serve, so they came by and gave us their food. They were kind enough to stay and help serve, but eventually we had to give up and go back.
Our driver, M., was good fun, and earlier took us for a ride around the broken levee (17th Street) and through the Bucktown neighborhood destroyed by it. I got some photos.
I was angry when I got back. They had ramped up to 2 or 3 times the number of meals we’d been serving when we first got here, and there are more than twice the ERVs now. Everything takes longer. The meals are numbers that make somebody look good, but the last couple days I’ve been out, enormous amounts of food have been wasted, and I don’t remember that happening. Plus the food is getting worse and worse, and the Baptists are having a harder time getting it.
So today is my day off, and I wake up with more deep yellow gunk coming out of my nose and chest, and yellow pus gluing my eyes shut. I spoke to the nurse, who wants to take me to the doctor. Nice way to spend the day off.
LATER: The nurse, N., was a chatterbox and kind of a scatterbrain, who couldn’t even find her list of clinics/doctors to take me to. I ended up calling around myself till I found a walk-in ER clinic. (I was in tears as I did this, feeling like utter shit and about to collapse any minute, feeling like I’d lost my last friend.) After a very long wait (they accidentally took someone else first who answered to my name, then continued to respond to it until they asked her straight out, “Are you X?” at which time she seemed to regain consciousness, but it was too late.) I saw the doc, who ran a test that was 85% positive for strep throat. I had visions of being sent home as a “Typhoid Mary”, but the nurse spoke to Public Health and someone else, both of them telling her it was not a concern. So I was given a cortisone shot, a couple prescriptions for amoxicillin and Allegra-D (allergy med w/decongestant in case I was having allergic reactions kicked up by the infection or the mung in NOLA) and a recommendation for a day of rest and fluids.
We stopped to get N. a meal and (this was before she told me I could stay) I looked at the menu thinking this could be my last chance to get a shrimp po’ boy, so I ordered one, with fries. Since I wasn’t the least bit hungry, it surprised me to finish the whole plate.
I’m full even now, at 8:00 p.m., and that will be my one and only meal of the day.
I picked up another $200 at the ATM since my bill at CVS came to $150 (and I have insurance!), most of it for the medication, plus some items for work.
In the meantime, concerns continue, as people are sent out on fools’ errands with too much food, too late, and the waste piles up. Neither management nor volunteers understand each others’ concerns, and a number of volunteers who have spoken to J., M. or K. feel they have been ignored or given the brush off. If management is under stress and pushed into making decisions or enforcing quotas that seem unworkable...
It’s bad enough sending people on 2nd runs at 5:00 in the evening. People working 10-12 hour days, physically punishing days, have a hard time keeping up that pace, but if the results seem worth it, at least morale is kept up. But to send people out to work that kind of schedule only to see their work wasted, again and again, is to guarantee disillusionment and anger, not to mention loss of interest and focus on the main goal---to feed people who need it.
Cars pull up in the yard waiting to load cambros that aren’t ready, only to prevent the cars at the end of the line from loading snacks and water. Maybe time could be conserved by simply sending them through all the way when the H2O and snacks are loaded, and making a full circle back to the cambros, by which time the first pallets might be ready to load, and the cambro-loading could be done more by then, as well.
I’m so glad I’m not going home.
NOTE: The shelter meeting, postponed from yesterday, is now being held almost an hour late. The so-called “guest” expected with such ballyhoo failed to appear (was it the President of the ARC?) So the shelter manager wants to know if everyone had an “awesome day”. Everyone obligingly assented for the cameraman from HQ who has been circulating amongst us. Did I mention how they got us a large-screen TV just before the “visit”? Which replaced the donated, battered, rabbit-eared one that we got shortly after I arrived? And one of the first things we saw on the TV was a report on how the NOLA cops had beaten up some poor schmuck in front of some ARC volunteers, and when they tried to help him, the cops threatened to arrest them?
R brings up morning routine: “How to save time?” “Leave earlier!”
I forgot to mention the handmade signs we saw along W. Esplanade Ave. today: “Evacuate Broussard” “Thanks, Aaron”. Jefferson Parish is pissed at the man who cried for them on Meet the Press. I’ll have to ask the residents why.
Useful info gleaned from the meeting from a case management worker: way to get shelter placement---call 337.281.xxxx. If they have a LA identification and can find a hotel room, they can just say “Bill it to the Red Cross”.
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