Hurricane Katrina: Graphic - What Went Wrong The Washington Post produced a timeline tracking Hurricane Katrina's path and listing the federal, state and local responses to the storm before and after it hit the Gulf Coast (updated thru 10/05)
Katrina's Aftermath -- Accountability This collection showcases Washington Post reporting on the debate over the government's response to the Gulf Coast Hurricanes and pre-storm planning. (updated thru 10/05)
Julia and Eldo Allen stand in front of the coffins of their son, John David Allen, and their daughter-in-law, Susan Allen, at the Combes Rest Lawn Memorial Park in Combes, Texas, on Jan. 18.
Son’s and wife’s bodies, left unclaimed, were going to be ‘disposed of’
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:10 p.m. ET Jan. 20, 2006
HARLINGEN, Texas - After Hurricane Katrina socked the central Gulf Coast, Eldo and Julia Allen watched the news and waited in vain for word from their son in Biloxi, Miss.
They waited for nearly four months, not knowing the horrific truth: that their son and daughter-in-law died as the storm surge swallowed their Beach Boulevard apartment. That their bodies had long since been found and identified at the Harrison County, Miss., coroner’s office. And that they were about to be “disposed of” after going so long unclaimed.
The agencies the Allens had been calling all those months hadn’t contacted the coroner, and the coroner hadn’t checked with the agencies.
“Nobody talked to nobody,” Eldo Allen said, his voice wrapped in grief. “That’s why we just was almost too late. If we’d been a little later they would have disposed of the bodies with ‘next of kin unknown,’ and that would have been ... “
He bowed his head over a dining room table laden with family photo albums, sympathy cards from the retirement community, and the black box holding his son’s ashes, before completing his thought: “That would have been more than I could stand.”
You can't imagine how difficult this simple process of reorganizing the topic headings is turning out to be. I thought I would end up with fewer categories at the end of the day. This is turning out not to be the case. My way through this is to hold the metaphor of Hurricane Katrina as a journey to a destination. The journey was very simple during the storms approach and landfall. Two categories there - "Approach" "Landfall". But then the aftermath splintered into a thousand pieces each representing important issues. I think of those issues as forks in the main road, twisting and turning, some ending up as dead ends that fall off the radar over time, some continuing on gaining momentum in the evolution of time, all leading eventually though to the end of Katrina's saga.
Sometimes, though I feel the saga will never end...that it will just go on and on...collecting new themes and issues, that either die off or gather momentum. Some things were brought up that we never hear about anymore. Like what happened to the people in St. Bernard who owned St. Rita's nursing home? Remember the place where all the elderly drowned and whose bodies floated down the flooded streets of St. Bernard Parish for days? The nursing home owners were charged? Are they going to trial?
This saga called Katrina has become so complex. The Mississippi Gulf Coast took decades to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Camille...and here are they again. What about us here in Louisiana? Six months away from a new hurricane season and folks are still in motels. People are scattered across the country. There are places in New Orleans that still look like a war zone. My friend, a student and computer network administrator for Tulane University describes nights in New Orleans as being desolate. He says many come into work during the day, but after hours there is a strange, haunting quiet that descends over the city.
My dear friend Maida, whose a manager for a public agency, and a person who professionally helps creative people produce, says I should try to narrow down the focus of this blog. She says "pick a topic or a theme you are interested in and blog that". Being the big picture person I am, I can't seem to do that. I want to know and write about everything.
All along the way I have followed my creative instincts in this organic thing called blogging. I've surrendered to the process of just letting the blog respond to the needs of the time - mine and my visitors...and I sense that it is beginning to morph again in a really cool way.
That's what the site reorg is about. I am trying to take stock of where I/we've been on this journey called Katrina, and in some way it is an attempt to regroup and bring some things to closure, maybe move on in a new way.
On another note, I am just starting to journal my own thoughts again. For a long time I've only been able to post articles, to reconstitute the news. I suppose its been helpful to folks to have a one stop place where they can find articles and information about the Katrina saga. Still, I have been aware that up to now I have avoided talking about Katrina on a personal level. I've so wanted to move on. The muse says the story isn't finished yet, though, and I still have a contribution to make...It will be interesting to see what unfolds.
I am in the process of recategorizing all my posts - there are 620 of them! It's taking a little time and things are going to get worse before they get better. Until I complete the process I may have some overlap. For example, I've changed the category "death toll" to "deaths". So until I finish renaming all the old "death toll" posts you will see both "death" and "death tolls" in the category list. Please hang in with me until I complete the process. When I finish updating the site it will be much more functional. I have also taken the liberty to add updated comments to some of my old posts. Things have a different perspective six months later. I am making a list of the newly updated posts here in chronlogical order in case you want to take a peek...
A Bit About Me: This may have been one of my most personally revealing posts. As I was updating it Ithought about the fact that I don't have an "About Me" page. I thought about creating one, but then decided I would rather people meet me holistically, experientially, and organically through my writing and through the pages on this blog. I recall a quote I read somewhere in a book. At the end of the book the author said something like.." if through these pages you come to know me then we have truly met". Well..ditto!
It's now 10:38 PM - I've been recategorizing all day and I am not even through September 1, 2005. Yikes! No wonder I've been dreading this task. However, I must say this process has been cathartic. At one point I started growing really weary of this blog. I wanted it to be over. Maybe in another respect this feeling was a metaphor for how I feel about Hurricane Katrina! Still, I felt compelled to blog on...
A student at one of the universities wrote me and asked me for an interview. The first question he presented was "why are you still blogging this when almost everybody else has stopped!". Now that's a subject for another post. But in a nutshell, I do it for one, because I am a storyteller...and this story is far from over. All stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end...and we're in the smack middle of the aftermath of Katrina. There are people still living in hotels for crying out loud. I have to do this. I am compelled to keep going by forces larger than me.
Admittedly though, up to now its become a little laborious. However, as I've said, the process of recategorizing and updating the site has taken me vertically into the blog and back through some of the past. It's been very insightful... I suddenly feel a strong sense of renewal and a new committment to the blog.
Isn't that generally how the creative process works? You start out energized and then get bogged down somewhere in the middle of the creation. Somewhere along the lines the muse gives you a swift kick in the pants and off you go...
Amidst controversy about whether New Orleans should even host Mardi Gras this year, I am blogging Mardi Gras 2006 at, uh... www.mardi-gras-2006.com. Do you think the show should go on? Post your comments here, or take the poll on the RIGHT sidebar (while it's still there).
BATON ROUGE, La. - More than 3,200 people are officially still unaccounted for nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
A total of nearly 11,500 people were reported missing to the Find Family National Call Center, a center run by federal and state workers. The reports included people from throughout the Gulf Coast area, but most were from Louisiana.
As of Wednesday, all but about 3,200 had been located, the agency said.
Some of those still listed as missing likely have already been found by their relatives but the center hasn't been notified of their status, it said.
More than 1,300 Katrina-related deaths have been reported across five states, with 1,101 of those from Louisiana.
Editor's note: Telephone number for the Find Family National Call Center is 1-866-326-9393.
Six days in Chalmette, La., has changed 20-year-old Jessica Pracher’s life. “It looks like Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast yesterday. Everything is the same except the water has receded and most of the bodies are gone,” said Pracher. Pracher, a junior at Centenary College in Hackettstown, went to Louisiana with more than 100 students and faculty from her college and Drew University in Madison on her winter break. Some groups helped in Chalmette and some in Metairie. They stayed in a church in Kenner, La., which was provided by the United Methodist Church of Relief. They were not prepared for what they saw. “We didn’t think there was much to do since the hurricane hit over four months ago, but when we drove into the towns, it was like stepping into a war zone. All of us were confused,” said Pracher. “Cars were overturned, houses were destroyed, there were dead dogs lined up on the highway where their owner probably had left them, the levee was leaking. It’s like nothing was done.” Some homeowners are living in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers in front of their destroyed homes. Others are living in tents in a parking lot, and some travel back and forth to their homes just to fix them up and put them up for sale. CONTINUE
I just posted an article by Cathy Young at the Boston Globe, but I thought I'd also share some of the stats I gleaned from the article. The stats are from Knight Rider & The Times Picayune, a prominent New Orleans newspaper:
42 percent of the bodies found in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes were recovered in neighborhoods with poverty rates higher than 30 percent.
African-Americans outnumbered whites 51 percent to 44 percent. In the area overall, African-Americans outnumber whites 61 percent to 36 percent.
People 60 and older made up about 15 percent of New Orleans residents but 74 percent of known victims.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, an analysis of -block-by-block census data and flood maps suggests that about half of the city's white residents experienced serious flooding, compared with three-quarters of African-Americans,
A visitor wrote asking about the death toll by racial breakdown. This article addresses that question and beyond...
The Boston Globe WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2006
BOSTON As the commission appointed by Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans unveils an ambitious plan to rebuild the ravaged city, this is a good time to revisit some of the myths and assumptions that surround Hurricane Katrina.
From the beginning, reports portrayed the hurricane as not just a natural disaster, not even just a tragic case of government bungling, but a devastating indictment of American racism and injustice. The British newspaper, The Guardian, declared: "Hurricane Katrina not only destroyed New Orleans, but also laid bare the ugly truth about America's racial divide."
At home, the tenor of the coverage wasn't much different, with headlines like, "Racism hurts us more than a hurricane." The Democratic Party chairman, Howard Dean, said, "We must come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived and who did not."
Margaret Saizan is a digital media producer, visual arts rep & vision strategist. Her mission is to inspire new vision through transformational media and communications.
Paul A. Greenberg Paul A. Greenberg teaches journalism at Tulane University in New Orleans. He also writes for a number of local, regional and national publications. Greenberg has been chronicling post-Katrina New Orleans since five days after the storm.
Maida Owens Ad director of the Louisiana Folklife Program Owens has curated exhibits & websites, authored & edited books & articles, produced videos, & created educational materials on Louisiana’s many traditional cultures.
Matthew White White has photographed every notable location on the La. coast. His photos and essays capture a landscape touched by and triumphing over catastrophe
Yoshio & Keiko Toyama Japanese Jazz Musicians and Co-founders of The Wonderful World Jazz Foundation which aids musicians in New Orleans.
Rick Portier As a TV photog in Baton Rouge Rick's been telling stories all of his life - Here are some of his!
Carol McClelland, PhD Transition expert focused on helping people get back on their feet after their lives have been turned upside down by natural disasters.
Making Change For Katrina National citizen-driven fundraising campaign to collect spare change to benefit the victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. The recipient is Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that builds simple, decent housing for people in need.
Emergency Communities a grassroots, on-the-ground relief effort using compassion and creativity to provide for those worst effected by disasters.
Sister City Support Network We are one city assisting one other city in its long term effort to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by: networking within our community, with other towns who embrace Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi as a sister city, and most importantly, with locals who live in Bay Saint Louis.
Levees.org grass roots effort to petition President Bush to build stronger levees. Excellent resource with facts related to Louisiana levees
Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coastal Louisiana The failed levees in New Orleans are just a symptom of this larger problem.While reasons for Louisiana's coastal erosion may be more complex than levees, they are part of the problem that has a solution.
Alternate ROOTS artists, activists, and culturalworkers supporting constructive self-determination by affected communities as they begin the process of healing and rebuilding & assistance for artists & cultural workers affected by the hurricane.