Saturday, August 30, 2008

NEW ORLEANS AUGUST 30, 2008: THE DAY AFTER -- THE DAY BEFORE. MARKING THE 3RD ANNIVERSARY OF KATRINA



It is really quiet in the city. The sounds of everday life - they are subdued. Certain neighborhoods are more active then others. More boards are being drilled over windows today, and yet much less boarding up activity is occurring than I would expect after experiencing hurricanes in FLA/Virgin Islands. I haven't left New Orleans as yet. I heard that Whole Foods is selling off prepared foods off half price today before they close at 2 pm today. Rue was closed but the kind folks at Zotz had hot beverages brewing on Maple Street. Last night after filling all 4 tires with air - the back drivers side tire which had some construction debris stuck in it and the tire went flat. Luckily, just as I pulled out of the truckers gas station by the Lowes on Elysian Fields. The owner came out to help Nature change the tire. Nature is my storm buddy. He is a great poet, he can say a powerful prayer, and he is a talented carpenter/painter/tileman. Where he lacks talent -- anything having to do with cars. So the owners help was a great help. I was able to get the tire plugged on St. Claude Avenue this morning. $15 to plug the hole - holes. At first they asked for $20 and I agreed just happy to get the tire repaired - then it hit me -- $20 to plug a tire. It has cost me $5 before on St. Claude - but that was the tire place further down. So in the end I negotiated $15 with a $2 tip. Which was all the cash I had.

You know, as I have driven around the city of New Orleans these last few days, I have been conscious of how the city traffic (foot and car) has been changing. I am aware of how people have been leaving in what I perceive to be cycles. I seem to be keenly aware of traffic flow, who is still around, and what they are doing. Yesterday I saw a lot of pillows - either in peoples hands or being packed into cars. Yesterday and the previous day - I heard (and saw them chug on by) many cars that were struggling to get down the road seemingly on their way to get some band-aid repairs to get their owners out of the city.

For many New Orleans residents rebuilding, the anniversary of Katrina was marked by ongoing rebuilding efforts. There was an expereince of building and battening down the hatches on the streets on Friday August 29, 2008.


This morning in the city, I was aware of how quiet the car traffic was, there was more foot traffic and the car traffic seemed to be specific as there are many businesses which are closed. Kudos to the businessmen who have stayed open to help people like myself with last minute car repairs. Last night around 11 p.m. you could see the homeless gathering on Oreatha Castle Haley by the mission and under the highway. I noticed off to my right, a group of 5 people walking with their belongings towards the closed mission. There will be buses to take the homeless to shelters.

For the tourists, there hasn't been a whole lot for them to do as even some of the Quarter businesses closed for the hurricane. This morning Mayor Nagin has asked the tourists to leave.
My experiences so far have been about trying to get the car repaired, packing today, helping Nature who is my storm buddy get his things together, be there the best I can for friends and strangers, and observe the reality I am a part of in this moment. I have spoken to Ulla, three years ago day she was pregnant, alone and evacuating. This time, she is surrounded, upheld, and supported by those who love her. Another friend is leaving with her family on a bus for a shelter in Northern Louisiana, she and her children went through a living hell 3 years ago - they are still in crisis as a family - they will be safe and together. Uncle G and Kiki will be staying at his parents home - safe. I left a message for Mrs. G as I had spoke with her a few days ago, I am not sure with which relative she is with but I know for sure she is safe. I guess what I am sharing with you is that these are my dear friends who have been previously traumatized, and who have been going through sufferations since, and who are revisiting a similar traumatizing event on the anniversary of the previous one. And this is not specific to them - it is specific to a whole region, hundreds of thousands of people...

I was so tired yesterday. I went to get something to eat in the grocery store and met a woman in the isles who was just going through so much, and her stress levels were so high, that she needed in that moment, to process with a stranger, me. She told me later that she is a nurse. I was glad to be of service AND was already one step beyond weary -- by last night I was unable to center myself and found myself anxious, fearful, and crying. This mornings sun and a good nights rest has helped. So has the loving support around me. What is interesting for me is that I am so tired that I cannot help volunteer - which is the reason I am here. I just don't have anything extra in me. That doesn't stop my ego from beating me up for not being able to do more...


My plan is...

When I finish this posting, I am going to begin to pack and get ready to evacuate later in the day. The highways are bumper to bumper right now. My plan as of this posting is to leave early evening or later, when there are less folks on the road. I am taking my time, keeping my stress levels low and letting those who call me that I will talk to them when I have plenty of time on the road most likely sitting in traffic and update them then.

At the same time, my heart/spirit is holding how evacuation is particularly difficult on those already at risk and often living in crisis from paycheck to paycheck. For many, car repairs are needed to get family and friends out of town. For others, there is the trauma related to 3 years ago and for them -- how going through many of these same motions of packing and making decisions what to take and where to go -- is a great emotional and psychological strain. For many impacted by this natural weather pattern for this area, the high gas prices brings with them, the extra strain of having to travel. For those who cannot take their food with them, there is the throwing out all of their food (unless you can travel with a cooler) - the refrigerator lessons from Katrina/levy failure flooding -- travel monies, picking up prescriptions, etc. For others there is making the difficult decision between paying their rent and having the funds available to get out of the city, often with their families.

PHOTO: There is so much building debris on the ground in many at risk neighborhoods. I call at risk neighborhoods as neighborhoods where the people who have recently rebuilt are at risk of damage directly related to the construction sites nearby them. If there is wind, this debris becomes projectiles. If there is water, flooding -- as the storm drains become clogged with the debris.

Will the levy's hold? I think that is the greatest concern. Yeah, everyone is leaving in an orderly and calm fashion - everyone who can be saved will be. But what will happen to the levy's? What affect with the storm surges have on the structural integrity of the levy's.

Hurricane Gustav is the residents, the city of New Orleans, and the state of Louisiana's, first test of whether it is really safe to rebuild.


Blessings.
your planetary sister in New Orleans.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Hey Sister:

God Speed! I am concerned for you and the others. Be safe my friend!

Charlie