September 8th, 2005


Chris clan update

Well, it's good news/bad news again on the family front. Remember where I said that the Casertas were all believed to have been evacuated? Not quite. Aunt Mariam and Uncle DJ (these are the eye-talian Italians, grandpa's brother's son and wife and their branch of family) did *not* leave town. They refused to go with Donnie to MS. I'm only finding this out yesterday/today. That's the bad news, sort of. The goodish news is that while he could not convince them to leave town with him (someday I will write an essay on why I *truly* understand where these folks are coming from), he did manage to get them to go to the Superdome on Sunday before the hurricane broke. I quake in fear as to what they must have been through there, but at least we know the death toll inside the dome wasn't through the roof. The down side is that they're evacuated *somewhere unknown* at this point. They aren't on the Red Cross's lists except for my entry and a family friend's "missing" entry. But we'll call that a 'yet' for now. There's another thing that simultaneously gives me hope and scares me silly: DJ has Alzheimer's, and Mariam has Parkinson's. She is not too bad off yet, and has been caring for him on her own successfully til now. Perhaps their disabilities will have helped them get more quickly to help and support.

In the meantime, I am now diving into the morass that is tring to locate someone who was evacuated through official channels instead of the two rescues of GaGa and uncle Al which went through unusual twists and turns, thanks to the involvement of senior group homes. I'm all ears if you've read or heard details that are specifically about how to trace someone who has been in official shelters (not clear on whether places like Astrodome, etc. are FEMA or Red Cross at this point).

I am beat down by this process, well and truly. The rollercoaster is wearing on me, and my rage and anger grow daily. I leave fighting the good fight to those of you more capable of focusing (please do be careful to direct your attacks to those in leadership positions -- and if someone wanted to go after Gov. Blanco with both barrels, I'd *find* the time to cheer you on in person, and bring my vinegar and cheese grater with). In the meanwhile, I'm going to keep doing what I can to help and encouraging you guys to do the same, and I'm going to keep my vigil up and running for wisemack's family, too. Soon, I hope I'll have time to start tracking down all those friends from the Tulane years who stayed in the city and check in on professors and other places and persons who've meant so much to me over the years.

I still can't process what's really happened here, you know? It's as if everything I ever knew and loved have been turned on an angle, and I can't quite make all the pieces fit together again. One thing I do know, though, is that despite the failure of leadership at all levels, and despite the inadequacy of both governmental and private institutional support for disasters, the people of the Gulf coast will survive, and this country will be the stronger for it all in the end because the *people* of this country have taken back a measure of personal power in finding ways to help all of these people put their lives back together again in the face of incredible, unbelievable incompetence and even deliberate stonewalling.

Finally, those of you who want to know what's really going on in New Orleans, go here and read the Times-Pic. I know these folks, worked with them, and it makes literally me cry (I'm not a cry-person, either) when I think about it all. Chris Rose was one of my teachers in journalism back in those days, and I think this one's especially important for everyone not from Louisiana to read :

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