Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Break from Katrinaland

Today I took a break…My parents went out to look for housing, find secondary support for Gram. I only went out once, stopping at local farmers’ market and finally getting a notebook and pens.
So now FEMA is going to throw some cash our way. I can’t find any info about how or when these debit cards will be distributed. I am also concerned about whether my grandmother will receive one. My mother hasn’t talked to her, as far as I know, about this whole insurance hot potato thing. But we have to get it together and file an appeal. Zero dollars for someone’s house fully submerged by water! Bureaucracy reigns. Foolishness reigns!
I really needed a break today. A mental health break. But I don’t want to lose momentum. So either late tonight or first thing tomorrow I’m going to use my new notebook and pen to start a list of job leads and other tasks that need follow-up. I’ve been trying to keep them in my brain…not the most reliable filing system right now.
She didn’t have a lot of details, but apparently the housing market in Baton Rouge is bleak. They were shown a really unacceptable place that even the agent was embarrassed about. They’re going to get back to it tomorrow. The plan is to work something out with their mortgage company or something.
Some of the kids at the motel are going to school. I wonder what it’s like for them. Others run around all day unattended. I wonder what their parents are thinking. Orleans Parish has announced that school is probably closed until January, another parish—St. Bernard, I think—has thrown in the towel for the entire academic year. There’s a sweet little baby on the first floor who’s been wearing the same t-shirt for three days- “Somebody in Costa Playa Loves Me”—another curly haired toddler trods around in diapers and baby work boots. All he says is “Hi”…he’s very focused on staying upright in those big boots.
There are three guys staying the room next door to us. Every night they split a case of beer in the parking lot under a tree. Today I saw a big fluffy cat in someone’s window, gray with that smooshy, flat face.
So the horror begins again. Soledad O’Brien is reporting on over thirty people found dead in a Chalmette nursing home…some dead in their beds…and about 100, also in Chalmette who died awaiting rescue at the Chalmette Slip.
It’s hard to strike the right balance watching all this coverage. I want to know everything. I want to honor those who have lost their lives by not turning away. But I guess you could drown in sorrow taking this all in…
After 9/11 I felt the same way. Coincidentally, I had left New York City the day before that tragedy. How can I turn away? How can I not?
Now it’s my own hometown. I watch the reporters rowing through neighborhoods and I scan the poles for street signs…
Now FEMA wants to ban photos of dead bodies. When will they stop trying to spin and get to their work? If they were helping people they wouldn’t have time to censor the press. I wish someone would tell them to stop telling people who have lost all their possessions to go ONLINE and file a claim. I wish they would dispatch their representatives to the area and start trying to convince people they have some humanity. Now that would be a PR coup…

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