Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rita Update

Updated: Saturday September 24th
Location: Algiers

4:33pm Time to run...sorry for the short update but we have an emergency shipment going to the bayou. I'll add more later. By the way - did you notice I used the word "emergency"? If you are wondering whether you should come down, or send anything.... I think you may have your answer. Peace.

Most people have heard by now that the southeast part of New Orleans that lies within the lower 9th Ward and St. Bernards Parish has been flooded again. It's so demoralizing to see this hard hit area become a lake again. Mother Nature seems intent on reclaiming her land for part of the lake. They can keep building leeves, but eventually sea-level rise and giant storms will take back the low-lying areas.

Parts of downtown New Orleans are also under water. Most of it seems to be less than four feet, but there are some of the lower locations with over 8 feet of water. As long as we keep getting this south wind - the flooding will continue. Our friends in the upper 9th and in other parts of the city seem okay. That is good news. But all of us are concerned about the possibility for torential rains in the next few days. Flooding may continue.

I can't tell you the impact - emotional and physical of more flood water. While people aren't swimming for survival this time, the houses that were filled with mud and mold after Katrina may become too waterlogged to be liveable. It makes the possibility of land grabs and profit - driven condemnations much more of a threat than it already was. Emotionally, it is difficult to watch the areas that we've all seen via the news, or in person, flood again. The images of Katrina are fresh and post traumatic syndrome is very common.

Rita's south winds have brought more water. Flooding continues. It feels strange to be so dry here in Algiers while houses float away almost within eyesite of our leeve.

With sensitivity emphasized by my own particular spiritual path ( and the wishes of my ancestors, I have been very concerned about the Native American communities. So I have been relieved to help connect Common Ground with the Point-Au-Chien community and to keep in contact with several others.

Rita has been a blow to these tribal communities in the bayou. For instance, in the Point-Au-Chien community, Katrina brought wind damage but not much water. But due to the path of Rita, the entire bayou is underwater from Houma to the Texas border. That's hundreds of square miles. They are in need again of food, water, house repairs and other assistance. We hope to send our first truck of food and water in the morning.

I still need to contact the Houma Nation. They flooded seriously during Katrina and were likely underwater again. With so many relief agencies pulled out due to exhaustion, fear of Rita, or a hundred other reasons - the need for aid across southern Louisiana is critical. Please support this work.

We currently have two advance teams out scouting to the southwest and west. We are trying to get an assessment team into the St. Charles area. Hopefully by the morning we will have both news reports, official updates from the government, and our own ground-truthing to help determine what aid is needed where. You can be assured that another call out for relief and aid is very close at hand.

I'm not sure how many hours I am sleep deficient. I know I am worn out trying to coordinate the advance teams, get the day-to-day work planned for Algiers, and interfacing with so many amazingly supportive people who are coming down or sending aid. The load is really staggering and the most intense organizing work I've ever done. I am very grateful there are other talented organizers in the collective that make it all happen.


  • About a week ago I lost my driver's license. As you can imagine it was quite upsetting - not just because it was my license, but because in order to get through checkpoints you need ID. I called North Carolina DMV where I got one run around after another. We can't do that... it will take two weeks... we can't send it there.. etc. I got tired of the bureaucratic red tape pretty quickly. We've had enough of that garbage with the relief effort already. So I called my US senator's office to intercede on my behalf. Thankfully they did, and I had my license fed-ex'd in two days. I am safe to travel once again.

  • You would not believe the corruption and chaos in New Orleans right now. It's absolutely outrageous. Add to that the posturing of officials and opportunists who are practically salivating over themselves to get a piece of the FEMA checkbook. As anonymous military official said, "You ever been to a third world country? Well they learned everything from here."


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