Thursday Evening Update in Covington

Thursday Evening Update in Covington\r\n9-9-05\r\nAndrea Garland\r\n\r\n I can barely speak about the horror that New Orleans is these days -- dead bodies floating through the streets, buildings on fire, still people stranded and others holding out in areas less damaged. There is much fear as to what the intentions are for the poorer neighborhoods -- are there plans to simply bulldoze them to the ground so that a newer, cleaner, disneyfied New Orleans can be established in its place now that poor have been either killed off or forced to leave?\r\n\r\nDear Friends:\r\n\r\nApologies for the lack of communication the past couple of days - we\'ve\r\nbeen very busy with hands-on work on the ground here, and also had a\r\nfew technical issues to sort out with the internet connection. Cell phone\r\ncoverage is also rather touch and go, so apologies if you\'ve had\r\ntrouble reaching us by phone.\r\n\r\nWe\'ve been in Covington, LA, 24 miles north of New Orleans, for the\r\npast 3 days, at the Pine View Middle School. There is a Red Cross Shelter\r\nhere we have been helping provide with assistance, along with the Vets\r\nfor Peace. The past few days have been long and emotional. It is good\r\nto be back amongst friends - we have met several of our neighbors from\r\nthe 9th Ward, and made many new friends. The spirit here is amazing -\r\nbetween the many wonderful volunteers arriving daily to help out and the\r\nincrecibly strong spirit of our fellow evacuees - most of whom have\r\nlost far more than we have.\r\n\r\nThough some people here have made it in and out of the city, we have\r\ndetermined that it would be next to impossible and possibly quite\r\ndangerous to try to enter the city. Not to mention that there are few people\r\nleft to help now that the entire city is under forced evacuation. The\r\nheadline of today\'s Times-Picayune (New Orleans\' newspaper) screams\r\n\'Leave Now Or Else.\' Apparently a last sweep of voluntary evacuations is\r\nbeing made, after which the remainder of the people left will be forced to\r\nleave, possibly at gunpoint. Stories from people evacuated after the\r\nstorm are mostly horrendous - a woman who walked through chest high\r\nwaters with her child to the Superdome, only to be subjected to not just\r\none, but two full body searches before being allowed to board the airlift.\r\n\r\nThe people of New Orleans are being treated as criminals, as if we have\r\ndone something wrong. A friend saw a 6 year old girl handcuffed for\r\nhaving a bag of diapers in her hand, taken from a store. I refuse to use\r\nthe word looting for any situation in which people were merely trying to\r\nprocur the goods needed to survive. A 6 year old girl, handcuffed.\r\n\r\nThe last few days have found me close to numb - now that we are here\r\nand talking to other evacuees, people that survived the storm but still\r\nlooking for family and friends - so many from the loweer 9th ward and of\r\ncourse you know how great the chances are that they are dead. Still,\r\nthe spirit of New Orleans prevails - a spirit born of hardship in the\r\nfirst place - and so we continue to go on.\r\n\r\nWe will get the real stories and pictures to you tomorrow - it\'s very\r\nlate now and we\'ve got an early run to do in the morning, so I\'m just\r\ngoing to describe a bit more about what we are actually doing at this\r\npoint and then get some sleep (something we have had very little of\r\nlately.)\r\n\r\nAt the moment, Get Your Act On has taken on the role of \'tell us what\r\nyou need and we will get it for you.\' The Red Cross is not allowed to\r\nprovide anything more than shelter and food, and while the shelter is run\r\nby some wonderful people, there are many things the evacuees need that\r\nare not being provided. So we have set up a tent where we hand out\r\nbasic necessities - soap, shampoo, deoderant, aspirin, vitamins, baby food,\r\ndiapers, toilet paper, toothpaste, tampons, baby bottles.... you get the\r\nidea. There are showers set up here, but there was no soap for people\r\nto wash. We have made two supply runs in the past two days getting these\r\nitems and more for the people here - these daily necessities make a\r\nhuge difference, allowing everyone at least the human dignity of \'keeping\r\nup appearances.\'\r\n\r\nTomorrow we will make our first attempt to get into the city - not into\r\nNew Orleans itself, but into Algiers, a neighborhood on the Westbank,\r\nacross the Mississippi from New Orleans. A good friend of mine and\r\nincrecible activist, Malik Rahim, lives there, and is starting a community\r\nrebuilding project. Algiers was hit pretty hard, but did not flood like\r\nNew Orleans. However, they are also not receiving any assistance, and\r\nare still without power, running water, or food. The Vets for Peace\r\nbrought them food and water today. Gaining entrance even to that part of\r\nthe city is still touch and go, but we will keep trying until we get in,\r\nto bring them two generators, chain saws and other tools to begin\r\nrebuilding their neighborhood. Until we can gain access to New Orleans\r\nitself and return to our home and help the others returning, we will be\r\nassisting other nearby communities in their efforts to rebuild, as well as\r\nhelping fill the needs of the evacuees here and in other shelters and\r\noutlying towns. The Vets for Peace and some other groups here (I\r\napologize for spacing their names right now, but will fill you in tomorrow)\r\nhave been making runs out to outlying towns still without water and food\r\nand making supply drops. It appears that we will largely act as a\r\ndistribution center - the Vets have arranged another spot in town to receive\r\nsupplies and redistribute them out to places that need them. Longer\r\nterm plans are being discussed for contiuing relief efforts until and\r\nafter people are finally allowed to return to New Orleans.\r\n\r\nI can barely speak about the horror that New Orleans is these days -\r\ndead bodies floating through the streets, buildings on fire, still people\r\nstranded and others holding out in areas less damaged. There is much\r\nfear as to what the intentions are for the poorer neighborhoods - are\r\nthere plans to simply bulldoze them to the ground so that a newer,\r\ncleaner, disneyfied New Orleans can be established in its place now that poor\r\nhave been either killed off or forced to leave? Tomorrow I will start\r\ntranscribing my friend Daniel\'s stories and others.... it is simply too\r\nmuch right now, I have almost reached my limit, and I have heard and seen\r\nso many things in the last few days it is mostly a big jumble in my\r\nhead.\r\n\r\nEveryone here is so thankful for everyone\'s generosity and support -\r\nthey send you their thanks and their blessings.\r\n\r\n<a href=\"\">read the article on New Orleans Indymedia</a>\r\n



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