Paintings – Betsy McCall, in post Katrina Nola Series

Betsy McCall, in post Katrina Nola, Wondered How Her Life Would Have Been Different Had She Been Brenda Starr
35 by 19.64 in
Digital Painting 2007
Click on the image for overlay enlargement.




Continue reading Paintings – Betsy McCall, in post Katrina Nola Series

Back. And tired, tired, tired.

We are back–and no we didn’t listen to Jackson Browne. Sorry. We don’t have any of Jackson Browne’s CDs. Co-adult says there are some he’d like to get but I have to admit I’m not very familiar with Browne’s music.

Need to get an USB cable for the camera I was using the first couple of days of the trip before I can upload some of those images. In the meanwhile I’ve started work on some photos I took on Thursday going through New Orleans (where co-adult was born) and Gulfport (where co-adult spent some growing up time). We’ve a number of relatives down on the Gulf, some of whom are rebuilding or still displaced by Katrina, and had been told how badly Gulfport had been hit as well and how the news hadn’t reflected this. And Gulfport was indeed something else. We knew that it had been hit hard but it was distressing to see over a full year later how it still looked bombed out, debris lying everywhere, not even the piers and boardwalks rebuilt yet. I’ve only gotten about 18 photos of Gulfport done and have about 150 more to sort through and work on, but I’m hoping that the images will give, when viewed in total, a bit of what it’s like now to drive the beachfront highway.

The gulf parks in Mississippi off I-10 are still closed.

Thursday was a pretty bleak day, going through first New Orleans and then Gulfport. We drove in from Baton Rouge and had intially planned on spending the night in New Orleans but after seeing that all are favorite haunts in the French Quarter in New Orleans are gone, we decided to just make a stroll through and move on. The bookstore that I like to hit is still up and running and we did drop some business there.

And of course New Orleans is so much of it a ghost city now.

After driving through (co-adult thanked me for being kind enough to really depress him with the drive through Gulfport) it was a delight to meet up with one of Marty’s cousins and her husband in Mobile and have coffee with them. We made a vow to get together soon down in New Orleans, which would be great fun. They’re really enjoyable people and we would have accepted their invitation to spend the night at their place but we were the kind of road weary that just wanted to get that six hours between the coffee shop and home over with.

Click on the below photos to view larger at Flickr. At the Flickr page for the photos click “All Sizes” for the larger images.

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #2, November 2006

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #3, November 2006

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #13
Gulfport, Mississippi #12. November 2006. Hurricane Katrina aftermath. One year later.

My husband was born in New Orleans and spent a few years growing up in Gulfport. Seems appropriate to have a photo showing his face as he looked upon the debris. We’d heard from Mississippi and Louisiana relatives how bad the Gulfport area had been hit, and of course had seen it on the news (though it’s not been covered much) but it was still a shock to drive the highway down by the beach and see the state the area was in over a year later.

Raise your hands if you saw the pics of all the looted televisions and microwaves piled up at the convention center

Since Hurricane Katrina I’ve returned several times to look at the Pentagon’s study, published 2003, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security”.

The paragraphs I’ve been drawn to are the following:

Continue reading Raise your hands if you saw the pics of all the looted televisions and microwaves piled up at the convention center

Psychological violence against the survivors

I began the below post on Saturday but never published it. I’ll publish it now but first this:

Plan to Move Astrodome Evacuees on Hold

By JIM VERTUNO, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 52 minutes ago (9/6/2005)

AUSTIN, Texas – A plan to move some Hurricane Katrina evacuees from the Houston Astrodome to cruise ships was postponed Tuesday because many didn’t want to go, and a proposed airlift of refugees out of strained Texas appeared to be on hold after the federal government took over.

Officials had planned to begin moving about 4,000 evacuees on Tuesday to cruise ships docked at ports on the Gulf of Mexico.

However, officials of the Hurricane Katrina Houston Response announced Tuesday that the plan was delayed.

Incident Commander Joe Leonard said some people brought to Houston from the Louisiana Superdome want to stay where they are to concentrate on locating lost loved ones. Others want stability after having to evacuate their homes, being forced to endure squalid conditions in the Superdome and then being moved again to Texas.

“The ‘Dome is home for them,” Leonard said in a statement. “For residents, another immediate relocation is simply too much, too soon.”

I noted in the below unposted post that the survivors were going through a series of catastrophic breaks, not just one, each displacement being another stressful break for them.

And then there’s the story too of the little boy who was shown on television last week losing his little dog “Snowball”, he not permitted to evacuate with it. There were many such stories but this was the one that got the airplay and thus the outpouring of sympathy:

The boy was among the thousands sheltered at the Superdome after the hurricane. But when he went to board a bus to be evacuated to Houston, a police officer took the dog away. The boy cried out — “Snowball! Snowball!” — then vomited in distress. The confrontation was first reported by The Associated Press. Authorities say they don’t know where the boy or his family ended up.
Source: Pet lovers search for dog torn from youngster’s arms

I noted in a couple of other posts over the past week the break of compassion that came with tearing beloved pets from the arms of these individuals. People who had carried their pets through flood waters, who had saved them, demonstrating how pets are a part of the family. And it’s demeaning and psyshologically violent to disrupt those bonds.

Anyway, here’s the posting that I never made.

* * * * * * * *

This was early evening yesterday, somewhere around 5 or 6.

I had been reflecting on the survivors of Katrina not being permitted to take their belongings with them on the buses, taking another pass by this.

Evacuees continue to board buses at the New Orleans Convention Center, with many people filing past corpses to make their escape. Conditions are crowded and many people have had to leave bags full of belongings at the side of the road because there’s no room. National Guardsmen are providing security at the center. They’re confiscating knives and letter openers from people before they board.

So, I was writing and reflecting on how you make it to the Convention Center with a few bags of belongings, all that you have left in the world. And you keep those belongings with you, camping out with them through the horrors and humiliations. What’s in those bags? Family photos? Clothes? The children’s favorite toys? Who knows? But after five days, if you thought you were attached to those items before, now that you pretty well know they’re all that’s materially left of your former world, they’re going to be pretty important to you.

Continue reading Psychological violence against the survivors

Lady Laura’s multiple choice dilemma

President George W. Bush (R) and first lady Laura Bush walk across the south lawn of the White House as they return from a day trip to the hurricane-affected areas along the Gulf Coast, in Washington September 5, 2005. Bush, who has faced fierce criticism for slow relief response, visited dozens of Hurricane Katrina victims being cared for at a prayer center in Baton Rouge and promised the country would ‘do what it takes’ to help people get back on their feet. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Things Laura could be thinking:

“Thank goodness a good night’s sleep will dissolve any hint of conscience that is attempting to take root in my barren soul.”

“You may interpret my look of concern as having to do with the thousands of people we just killed. Actually, I’m worried because I said from the beginning we ought to ban media presence.”

“The facial work I had while on vacation means the world to me that I can feel so pretty while affecting grief and concern for my photo ops.”

“I’m thinking if I fall out flat on my back then the world’s eyes would turn to me and the headlines and pictures of Lady Laura collapsing in a grieved faint would save the situation. But I’ve also just realized it would backfire as George would keep on walking…”

FEMA cut emergency communication lines to Jefferson Parish

Over at Stonebridge, Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish, on Meet the Press:

Yesterday — yesterday — FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards and said no one is getting near these lines…

Go read. It’s heart-rending.

As if any of it is not.

The supreme violence of the privileged is to close its doors and windows to the truth

My husband remembers when he was a young boy and Dr. Martin Luther King was going to be going through Jackson, Mississippi in the “Freedom Ride” across the South. He says this is when he realized how crazy people were.

People all over the neighborhood, the schools, the church were saying that Dr. King’s buses carried people with machine guns and that they were shooting every white person they saw on the streets so when they came to town, go in your house, close your drapes and don’t come out.

If you did come out, after all, or keep the drapes open, you might see they weren’t carrying machine guns after all.

My husband went to his father and asked him about what he was hearing, because he thought it was nuts, and his father reassured him it was all lies and not to pay any attention to it.

Racism. I wrote yesterday of how my husband’s mother’s family is from Washington Parish in Louisiana. Some in Franklinton.

Today I noticed someone had reached this blog by doing a Technorati search for “Franklinton”. I went to look at some of those results. I wasn’t too amazed by what I found because of the racism I’d seen come out on some forums concerned with the hurricane, very little of it up front and loud, but a good bit of it cagey, discreet, the word “black” never mentioned, but absolutely understood in rampant rumors, told as truth, of looters run amok all over southern Louisiana, raping, killing, and carjacking.

But this racism was hosted by Fox. It’s a Fox Fan First Person blog of a woman, Michele, who fled to Orlando with her children, leaving behind her husband in St. Tammany Parish (next to Washington Parish and Franklinton was mentioned at one point, thus the visitor to my blog). They had a home on the lake which was destroyed. On 8/31 she posted of the generosity of people, for they have been given a trailer and generator, supplies, gas and food. She purchased a truck to send supplies to her husband who was asking for food, ice and water and the next day her brother-in-law left to take the supplies to her husband. She promised to take her children to Disneyworld. On 9/2 she wrote,

Continue reading The supreme violence of the privileged is to close its doors and windows to the truth

Quick, tell me who wasn’t grateful for the water and MRE’s that partnered Bush into New Orleans on Friday

More Help On The Way For Katrina Victims
WBEN Newsroom – Saturday, September 3, 2005 07:51 PM

New Orleans, LA (CBS/AP) – Thousands more bedraggled refugees were bused and airlifted to salvation Saturday, leaving the heart of New Orleans to the dead and dying, the elderly and frail stranded too many days without food, water or medical care.

Meanwhile, President Bush ordered more than 7,000 active duty forces to the Gulf Coast on Saturday, as the Bush administration intensified efforts to rescue survivors and send aid to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast in the face of criticism it did not act quickly enough.

“In America, we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need,'” President Bush said.

Already, the Coast Guard has rescued 9,500 people in addition to the thousands and thousands aided by local authorities, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a news conference. More than 100,000 people already had received humanitarian aid, he said.

No one knows how many were killed by Hurricane Katrina’s floods and how many more succumbed waiting to be rescued. But the bodies are everywhere: hidden in attics, floating among the ruined city, crumpled on wheelchairs, abandoned on highways.

You’re right, those people weren’t grateful for the water and MREs on Friday.

And the dying goes on — at the convention center and an airport triage center, where bodies were kept in a refrigerated truck.

CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports that at least 30 patients have died at the airport since Wednesday.

Right again, those 30 plus people weren’t grateful for the water and MREs on Friday.

Continue reading Quick, tell me who wasn’t grateful for the water and MRE’s that partnered Bush into New Orleans on Friday

The president tours the devastation

Alice is thrown with the force of a hurricane through a glass darkly, steps up to national television cameras and screams for help. She is half a decade into the 21st century, the grotesque, false face of lies selling a compassionate land of opportunity under strong leadership’s hand is torn away and drowning in the toxic flood that breeched the levees. The flag of freedom and equality for all hangs in shreds before the Hyatt in New Orleans as, in through the windows of first world America, is blown the full fruit of profit’s parade. And, no, don’t flail and rant, “Unfair politicizing!”, because this is what the wind and waters have flung live screaming before world’s eye these last few days in New Orleans. The agony unfolding has everything and nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of silent, unseen bodies heralded and have everything and nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina, their victimization forcibly unveiled by nature in its worst, truth-baring way. The miles upon miles upon miles of flood waters have severed government’s thuggery which fostered with years of abuse the truth that erupts now unchecked. The gangs that emerge only mirror the violence of the very few that are Fortune’s 500 and its nursemaids. Trapped between are those which have always been trapped. Their living has been the minimum allotted survival, people whose essential needs have always been called opportunist, unwieldy, ungrateful, who have been denied the resources reserved for a very few. They perish and their bodies are granted the same respect physically that has always been their psychic allotment. Now is no different from then. Nature has simply and terribly sheered away briefly the thousands laws and regulations that have resigned them to near invisibility even while fully exposed, asking little and getting less.

Every breech in the levee is replicated socially. Even as the Army Corps of Engineers nears success in filling the gap, so enter the guns of Iraq to fight the real enemy, what they have been firing on from a distance, the needs of people ravaged by Fortunate Few. 300 National Guard troops land in New Orleans, fresh from Iraq, who are said to know how to shoot and kill, who are said to be more than willing to do so, of whom it is said such action is expected.

A few days is all that’s needed to create a new repository of false front words.

The news reported,

Lucrece Phillips’ sleepless nights are filled with the images of dead babies and women, and young and old men with tattered T-shirts or graying temples, all of whom she saw floating along the streets of the Lower 9th Ward.

The deaths of many of her neighbors who chose to brave the hurricane from behind the walls of their Painter Street homes shook tears from Phillips’ bloodshot eyes Tuesday, as a harrowing tale of death and survival tumbled from her lips…

“I know this storm killed so many people,” Phillips said. “There is no 9th Ward no more. No 8th or 7th ward or east New Orleans. All those people, all them black people, drowned.”

The news reported,

First the federal government took the buses they had hired to evacuate them.

Then their hotels turned them out onto the desolate streets.

They trudged for blocks to walk over a bridge, but officers wouldn’t let them cross — and fired a few warning shots over their heads to convince them.

And the night was coming down.

Despairing, dozens of trapped tourists huddled on a downtown street corner and waited for dark.

“I grew up in an upper-middle class family. Street life is foreign to me,” said Larry Mitzel, 53, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “I’m not sure I’m going to get out of here alive.”

The fate of tourists in dozens of hotels here was caught up in the days of chaos and confusion that came after Hurricane Katrina’s 145 mph winds.

Street life is foreign to the majority of the people.

The “tourists” are reported as prey to the gangs.

Dare I say it, that the “tourists” are white.

Because that is the fundamental split here between class and class. If not absolutely, that is a fundamental split. Not absolutely, but the thousands dead are, as Lucrece Phillips says, “All those people, all them black people, drowned.”

And what most evidently distinguishes the tourists but their whiteness, so “tourist” becomes a euphemism for “white”.

The thousands of faces we’ve seen at the Superdome are almost exclusively black. The thousands chanting outside the New Orleans Convention Center are almost exclusively black. The thousands wandering aimless on the highway are almost exclulsively black. The thousands helping each other, carrying each other, fanning each other, supporting each other, helping each other hold it together in the face of a catastrophe, the horror of which has yet to be fully absorbed, the numbers of dead yet to be revealed and mourned. Jesse Jackson arrives at the city with three buses and says the media has focused on the looting, has transformed victims into criminals and animals. As for the few that make up the gangs, he acknowledges their existence and says they were people in misery before the flood, and that misery has been compounded with panic and desperation.

Considering what’s at stake and the horrors of the past week, it’s a miracle there’s been as little violence, relatively, as there has been. Thousands of people without water, without food, without sanitary facilities, pressed one against another, have waited, have waited, have waited, in toxic conditions. Three days is the golden window, the window of opportunity, allotted survivors of catastrophy, before the situation turns dire. That is three days without food, water, shelter. Those on the roofs have not been the only individuals who have gone past those three days and are into the fifth. The survivors sitting outside the convention center, as with the rest, are stranded in polluted, disease-bearing flood waters. They aren’t shipwrecked who once they make landfall can head their way home. They no longer have homes. They have lost loved ones and friends to the flood. All the possessions they had.

“I would rather have been in jail,” Janice Jones said in obvious relief at being out of the dome. “I’ve been in there seven days and I haven’t had a bath. They treated us like animals. Everybody is scared.”

Treated like animals. Person after person repeats the same, treated like animals.

There will be a cover-up, to be sure. Already, the wheels spin the cover-up. People will say that the survivors should share the responsibility, that they didn’t leave, when they couldn’t. They have been treated as animals, as criminals. They have been treated as bodies rather than individuals.

The president disboards Air Force One at an unknown location, on his way to New Orleans. He is on his way to tour the devastation. He is not only several days too late, he is years too late. 1.7 million people are dislocated and he jaunts about the country selling agendas. He flies over the devastation of the gulf and notes a church remains standing while its community is in ruins. Now he puts on the appearance of digging in, removing his jacket, rolling up his shirt sleeves. He comes to give a show of surveying, of tasting, of sympathy and sympatjhy. He comes to be celebrated for his concern.

It is the fifth day and I still can’t express in words my feelings. All I know right now is the president arrives for his photo op.

Look, Scott, there's our soup kitchen

MR. McCLELLAN: The President pointed out this one church that was still standing, but all the homes around it there were completely wiped out.

Right. God goes bowling.

Does this look like a man who wants to punch you out before you remind the public that he drastically reduced funding for southeast Louisiana’s chief hurricane protection project?

Friendly neighborhood gas update

Gas. Exxon at Piedmont and Ponce de Leon was totally sold out of gas today because of the run on it caused by rumors that Atlanta’s gas would be cut off because of Katrina. There were probably 30 cars still at the gas station across the street (at 10 PM) and officers still out trying to keep order at the gas station. A neighbor paid $4 a gallon at the Buddy’s station at North Ave. and Highland. The Governor says gougers will be prosecuted and set up an 800 number. The number was busy despite repeated attempts to get through, we’re told. The news was reporting $6 a gallon in Macon.

Increasing panic over gas in Atlanta

The AJC reports that “the possibility of shortages of gasoline at area stations had metro drivers waiting at pumps to fill up this morning. And prices rose accordingly.”

My husband just called from the gas station (where our water pump was apparently, mistakenly replaced when only some hoses needed replacing) and he was told by the guys at the station that the rumors are that gas is going to be cut off to Atlanta. So the prospect of shortages have turned into these rumors that Atlanta will be getting no gas. He’s seeing Midtown gas station after gas station with 50 cars waiting for gas, traffic jams near the stations, cars lined up out into the street.