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Communication about the relief efforts here in town is still confused. Conflicting reports come out of the various relief organizations: donations are needed; donations are overwhelming but volunteers are needed; all volunteer shifts have been filled and people are being sent home; come to Reliant Center to volunteer; don't come to Reliant to volunteer; donations are needed at the Astrodome; don't bring donations to the Astrodome. It's hard to know how best to help, and the last thing I want to do is contribute to a traffic jam in the area where they're trying to get evacuees into shelters.

Estimates are that Texas is currently hosting around a quarter of a million evacuees, and the governor is beginning to send them to other states:

Aid centers will be set up at airports in Houston and Dallas where incoming refugees can be given food, water and medical care before they are flown out. The governor's office said some of those flights could begin today...

Since Thursday, Perry's office has been in contact with several states, including Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Iowa, New York, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, about providing shelter for Louisiana evacuees. West Virginia is sending three C-130 planes to Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio to help move refugees.

On Friday I went to Target and bought a shopping cart full of supplies--boxes of single-serving snack foods, juice, bottled water, diapers, baby wipes, and tampons--which I dropped off at an area food pantry. Then Saturday I went back to Target and did the same, this time concentrating on clothing--underwear, t-shirts, socks, flip flops, pillows, more diapers and tampons--and dropped them off at a collection point for the Star of Hope Mission.

I found a notice today on what seems to be one of the few web sites for the relief effort that's actually updated with any regularity, saying that volunteers with wireless laptops are needed at Reliant Center to help locate missing people. So Mr. Sus and I have arranged to leave the munchkin with my dad tomorrow and will be heading downtown with our laptops in the hopes being of some assistance.

In the midst of all the horror stories about New Orleans, here is a lovely requiem for this great city, focusing on its glorious culinary heritage:

The first great meal of my life unspooled in sharp relief, under the high faded ceilings of Antoine's in the French Quarter...

ETA: Anne Rice in the NYT -- "Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans?" (I'm not a fan of her in general, but she is eloquent in her love of her hometown.)



Sep. 6th, 2005 02:15 am (UTC)
I think what surprised me the most today was how friendly most of the evacuees were. These are people who have lost their homes, their possessions, their jobs . They are living in trying conditions in a city not their own. They were coming to us to see if we could help them find husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, parents and even children from whom they had been separated. And for seven hours, no one was anything other than very polite, friendly and kind. I wish I could say I would be the same if the situation were reversed, but I am not sure.

Oh, and WORD to Anne Rice. And a big ol' middle finger to anyone who insinuates that this city and its rich heritage somehow deserved this catastrophe. As my mom said today, it makes you wonder what sort of response we would have seen to 9/11 if the deaths had occurred in a primarily poor or black neighborhood. Compared to what has happened in New Orleans, those poor folks would likely have hardly been noticed.

Also, screw all the conservatives who seem to think that someone like Giuliani would have been able to better handle this crisis. Hogwash. That is comparing mountains and molehills.

Also, with respect to the inefficiency of the initial local response: first, I refer you to the fact that hurricanes happen all the time, and this one did not seem like much of a threat (relatively speaking) until long after it had passed (i.e., when the levees collapsed). Second, it isn't as if New Orleans government has a lot of cash on hand to do its job, planning-wise. The average salary for a city worker there is about $18K per year. This is one of the poorest major cities in North America. They don't have the dollars to afford to be as "enlightened" in their city planning as a Seattle, a San Francisco or even a New York. Sure, this was worsened by the fact that there is (was) a lot of corruption in government there. That does not excuse the weak-assed response of the federal government. We get to third world countries faster with our relief, nor does it give anyone the right to (as Anne Rice said) turn their backs on New Orleans.

I wonder what we have been spending those Homeland Security dollars on?

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