Okay. I promised myself I wouldn’t and yet here I am talking about the anniversary of 2005. But I’d like to be clear that I am just talking to my neighbors in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast. Not that I don’t appreciate you, my fellow Yankees and you Canadians and Westerners and your fierce concern for a fair shake for our city. I do, but I feel like I’ve spent these years talking to you about New Orleans and Louisiana and Mississippi and sharing the secret greatness of it with you and you either get it or you don’t. You either believe we matter or you don’t and there is nothing more I can say right now to help you understand. But I’ve had little time for my neighbors and pals here so this is for them because so many of them are downhearted and angry about the state of their place.
Now that we have the distance of time to raise our eyes and look about, it is very clear that we have lost a tremendous amount that is not going to return. My grandmother died in July of 2006, after returning in January to her remodeled and unfamiliar home. That home that her family had done their best to make right after dozens of trees fell on the property and one on the corner of her house. I am convinced she looked around her town for a bit and just said no thanks. I can understand that as many of my friends have packed up and moved away – for good most of them – because they are bitter or they are sad, so sad- or frightened by the real possibility of it happening again.
I wrote the next paragraph to friends in exile in December of 2005 (kept it in the email folder so named):
I know some of you have heard comments from some New Orleanians about your decision to not come back right now. Some people are acting badly about who is here now and who is not. I (and many others) understand why it is not feasible for some folks to come back right now. I think that it is very clear thinking to make sure that you are taking care of yourself and family, as well as doing what you must do to keep a job or children going.This is a frontier town right now, and not too pretty or easy. The ups and downs are dramatic and ongoing. I tell you, I would not be here either right now if my work did not depend on it. Having said that, I am glad I am here. I am glad because I can help with direct action, which is my thing, but if your thing is keeping the awareness up in other places, cool.I know each of you is doing the good work out therein the “normal” world. Thank you for that and please know all of us- whether on Esplanade Avenue or Main Street- are in this together.
Some of those who received it replied with gratitude and promises to return and some did not reply at all. Some of those who didn’t reply returned soon and some never did. I was wrong a lot about who would stay away longest and who would return. You never can tell.
I don’t know what wind event or infrastructure collapse or political spite is coming for us next, but there is one thing that I do know: the cool and lovely fall IS coming and with it, second lines and festivals and outdoor movies and football and satsuma season and much more. And then it will be Carnival season and we will sit together on neutral grounds and laugh and sing and dance and shake our head in amazement that people work every day and shovel snow when they could be here. I’ll bike to the park and meet friends for a walk around the Big Lake or make plans to meet for drinks for “an hour” and still find we are still there 3 hours later laughing until we cry, wiping tears away with paper napkins. The server will smile and bring us more drinks and napkins, pleased with our fun. I’ll stand on a corner good-naturedly arguing politics with favored friends who I find walking their dog and when done, will go back to my car thinking how amazing they are.Stopping in a store near my house, I’ll have a looong chat with the shopkeeper and find we went to the same high school or that he is related to my next-door neighbor and neither of us will be that surprised by the many connections. Artist friends will touch me with their enthusiasm and talent, so open and loving to a world that rarely honors them. My mother will proudly show me all of the young bananas on her trees and ask me once again if I know of anyone who wants them-if not, can I just put them on the curb, cuz somebody will take them.And in doing all of this, we’ll get through it again. Hopefully without any evacuation scares or more oil spilling and then we’ll have had another season to catch our breath and keep rebuilding even as we watch more of why we want to rebuild slip away or be taken from us. And really, that knowledge of loss past and present and likely in the future does connect us and make the time together sweeter. It doesn’t always make it easier but makes you feel less alone or unsure. So I hope you don’t hide away this week or next; embrace the ragged and the unfinished or shake a fist or raise a finger at the profanely new and shiny. Who cares what the world says about us or about 2005 or the city since; all that matters is what we think, what we do and how we shape it. Take in all of it with the grace and humor that we are awarded at birth or as soon as we kill that first palmetto bug (and keep right on talking) and let’s just go sit at the river and visit and remember.

Full-Scale City-Assisted Evacuation Exercise in New Orleans: Wednesday, May 17th 2017 is a non-profit organization incorporated by the State of Louisiana on June 8, 2009, and approved as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt entity by the IRS on August 17th, 2009.

Mission: annually recruits, trains, and manages over 500 evacuation volunteers (Evacuteers) who assist with New Orleans’ public evacuation option called City Assisted Evacuation (CAE). We serve to prepare and register evacuees, ensuring their ability to evacuate safely and with dignity.

City Assisted Evacuation occurs when a mandatory evacuation is called in Orleans Parish. It will begin approximately 54 hours before a Category-3 hurricane or higher makes landfall, and will run for 24 hours straight. We expect approximately 35,000 New Orleanians without a safe or alternative option to evacuate will use this process.

Tentative agenda for practice run on May 17 (evacuee transitions may differ):
8am: Volunteers will arrive at New Orleans Morial Convention Center for orientation and break-down of roles;
Evacuteer-trained individuals may be tasked as an Evacuteer OR an evacuee
8:30am: Volunteer orientation
9am: Volunteers will be bused to the Evacuspots (either Central City, Sanchez Center in the Lower Ninth Ward) and begin the role-playing exercise
10:30am: RTA buses will pick-up volunteer evacuees at the Evacuspots and bus them back to the Convention Center for staging of processing center (this will be our simulated UPT)
11:30am: 2 buses of volunteer evacuees will be transported to the New Orleans International Airport for processing to simulate air evacuations
12:30pm: Lunch
1pm – 4:30pm: Various exercises will be run from the Convention Center.


There are two roles for volunteers to play- Evacuteers and evacuees.


May 17, 2017

Another Gulf Is Needed More Than Ever

From Activist Cherri Foytlin:

Feeling a little low. If I’m to be honest with myself, it’s probably exhaustion mostly. But, I’m also worried about my insurance, and FEMA, and my community. And everyone is feeling the stress of being displaced in our own dwelling. We still have three rooms left to pull the carpet out. Water is STILL leaking from the walls. The rest of the floors may need to come up too. Furniture and a mattress had to be thrown away… Don’t get me wrong. I am proud that my six amazing kids, and an unofficial seventh – Logan, have been helping, each in their own capacity. And our neighbor Christine came over to help, and my nephew lil’ Dylan too. And I’m sure you know Karen has been incredible! I’m super glad that there has been no rain since this morning… It’s just that, I’ve worked really hard to provide for my kids, ya know? We all work SO hard. And ya, we’ll survive it, and for sure many others are a lot worse off… but, damn… ‪#‎thestruggleisreal‬

Postscript: Do not send me money. If you would like to make a donation on me behalf to ‪#‎AnotherGulf‬ week of action, I’d appreciate that. All previously planned events are a go, and I think we need it now more than ever.…

Study: Corps decisions doomed canal walls in Katrina

What is evident from the project record is that the Army Corps of Engineers recommended raising the canal floodwalls for the 17th Street Canal, but recommended gated structures at the mouths of the Orleans and London Avenue canals because the latter plan was less expensive.”

A corps spokesman didn’t comment specifically on the report, but said the agency gained valuable knowledge from such studies that it has used in rebuilding the levee system after Katrina.

“The Army Corps is first and foremost a learning organization,” said spokesman Ricky Boyett. “Our focus over the last ten years has been to learn from all the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.”

He noted that New Orleans’ revamped levee system protects much of the area from a so-called 100-year storm, or one with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year, and it’s also designed to resist erosion during stronger storms. “As a result of this effort and the efforts of all of our partners, the greater New Orleans area now has the best level of risk reduction in its history,” Boyett said.

Levee study

Love Letter to My City

Well, this letter could really be titled “Love Letter to the French Quarter” since that is where my mother brought me as a “world-weary” teenager and where I found my city. That lovely introduction to it all was why I write about the Quarter today; so that others will come to it and find their own home. I wrote this in an hour and sent it off without rereading it again so that I would have to let the emotion stay in there.

Love Letter/HuffPost