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Report from ‘John’ – I received this by email

By September 8, 2005Uncategorized

I went into downtown New Orleans for the second time today, this time spent a lot of time driving where I could. I’m going back tomorrow. The difference from Friday to today is stunning: the authorities have
control. I felt very safe. Buses streaming into and out of the downtown area through the only route: I-10 to I-310 over the Luling Bridge to U. S. 90 to Westbank Expressway, then over the Crescent City Connection (the double span downtown bridge.) Saw very little evidence of looting. [CLICK ON ‘CONTINUE READING LINK BELOW FOR MORE]

Floodwaters obviously receding.

THE CONVENTION CENTER CROWD: Most all of the people have been removed. Some
still being picked up by buses when I left, but the difference between
Friday and today was remarkable. I visited with some, and what hit me was
all the people coming up to me begging me to put their names in the paper
in order that their relatives would know they were alive. They had
organized into various social groups, with adults taking turns sleeping
while others watched the children and guarded the group from the few thugs
that were causing trouble.

THE AUTHORITIES ARE IN CONTROL. They had secured most of downtown Friday,
but had total control on Saturday. No signs of lotting or damaging homes in
Warehouse District uptown to Audubon Park. I drove around a lot.

Workers are everywhere. Convoys, buses, cops, helicopters, ambulances,
airplanes streaming into New Orleans. Considering there is one way into the
city, I think the response has been really good.

MY PLACE ON JULIA AT CAMP STREET: At 604 Julia Street, if the electricity
and water were on, I could host a party tonight. There was no damage
whatsoever to any of the Julia Row Townhouses.

I finally had my big cry driving down St. Charles when I realized how very
little damage. There were only about 4-5 water oaks on St. Charles down all
the way to Tulane. Both Tulane and Loyola look like you could hold classes
tomorrow.Saw no damage to the historic St. Charles Avenue mansions.

LACK OF DAMAGE UPTOWN: There was very little noticeable damage to homes in
the Lower Garden District or Uptown on the streets (I went all over, going
from house to house of friends, saving Heidi Quenan’s house). Now,
something hit Heidi’s roof in the corner of her upstairs bedroom to cause a
leak: a section of sheetrock about 4 x 6 feet had fallen, but that’s it:
there was a candle still sitting on a table near the edge of her back
porch. I say this by way of saying that while I was stunned – and overjoyed
– by the lack of visible damage, I couldn’t see everything, of course, but
I was driving a 4-wheel drive jeep and meandered as I could. Lots of limbs
down, but my companion, Jimmy Blanchard, the artist, designer and
historical archivist and I were ecstatic that most of it is superficial.
Most of our trees are still there.

RED CROSS VERY VISIBLE: The Red Cross was visible, assessing damage to
homes. The director, on, I think, State Street, told me he was very pleased
with the lack of damage.

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT: There was little damage in the Warehouse District. I’ve
seen more litter on the ground at Mardi Gras. As far as Julia Row is
concerned, the New York Times and the Times-Picayune could have snapped
those pictures they ran from the corner of Camp and Julia today.

AUDUBON PARK: I checked out a friend’s house on Exposition on the edge of
Audubon Park and it was fine. There were limbs, but very few trees, down in
Audubon Park. Almost all animals survived at the zoo. Talked to the
exhausted but happy zoo curator.

UPTOWN IN GENERAL: There were very isolated cases of trees down on houses:
but here’s the interesting part: the trees that were down fell in between
houses or across the back yards, where the vortex of the which kicked them.
I saw no major damage to homes on St. Charles.

FRENCH QUARTER: Signs still hanging from shops. Very little evidence of
looting anywhere that I’ve been: which is the Quarter (went down Bourbon to
the 500 block, then turned back and came back out Royal; also drove around
the Chartres/Decateur area near Canal Place; none of it got wet), Canal to

FLOODWATER: Water obviously receded quite a bit since Friday’s visit. The
water from the lake and canal stopped on Canal in between Burgundy and
Bourbon. The rest of the Quarter stayed dry. Water came to 4-5 blocks
lakeside of St.Charles The water from the lake and canal stopped on Canal
in between Burgundy and Bourbon. The rest of the Quarter stayed dry. Water
came to 4-5 blocks lakeside of St.Charles.

Went to Audubon Zoo from Tchoupatoulas to 4-5 blocks lakeside of St.
Charles. The water from the lake and canal stopped on Canal in between
Burgundy and Bourbon. The rest of the Quarter stayed
dry. Warehouse and almost all of Uptown stayed dry. Water came to 4-5
blocks lakeside of St.Charles. The water from the lake and canal stopped on
Canal in between Burgundy and Bourbon. They sandbagged frantically in the
quarter about 20 feet lakeside of Bourbon Street when the water
started rising Wednesday. Water came to 4-5 blocks lakeside of St.Charles.

LITTLE EVIDENCE OF LOOTING: Saw a couple of looted shops on Magazine near
the nursing home, but that’s it. The door to Whole Foods Store was open and
those night lights. Now, to be sure, in a total of about 12 hours in the
city, 2 of them spent in my own building.

AREA I HAVE VISITED SO FAR: Quarter to Conti, to Bourbon, down Royal,
Chartres from 400 block to 200 block; all over Warehouse District, a bit of
the Convention Center, Poydras (major damage to those very old live oaks in
median while most of the fronds were still on the new palms at Harrah’s two
blocks away) Not much damage to live oaks in Lafayette Park. Been down St.
Charles from Canal to Tulane. State, Webster, Eleonore, Coliseum form
Napoleonville upriver for 6-7 blocks. Meandered through uptown, as downed
trees, limbs, power lines, etc. blocked many streets. All the way down
Tchoupatoulas; Lower Garden District, Magazine, Camp. Went to Palmer as far
lakeside of St. Charles as I could go. What’s remarkable is the lack of
major damage to this area.

I know this contrasts with the misery and suffering elsewhere in the city,
but the old historic New Orleans is in fine condition. I will continue
going in and will send you more reports. I have so little free time (it’s
11:20, and I’ll be back at work at 9). I will try to read e-mails, but I’m
losing ability to keep up with it.)
Pray for the thousands believed dead. Pray for the dead pets. Pray for most
of the rest of the city, since most of it will have to be torn down. Be
very grateful to the thousands of guardsmen and workers who have already
started what is going to be a very rebuilding. Be grateful you have a bed
and access to a computer to read this.



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  • moke says:

    when does the movie come out on these rants?

  • FMHoward says:

    How many days can people survive without water? Three or four days. Perhaps a week without food. Did the directors at FEMA know that when they decided to give emergency relief workers two days to get on the scene in New Orleans? Did caravans of food and water get turned away from New Orleans because there were no relief workers there to handle distribution? Were children and parents separated and loaded onto buses without regard to where they would be sent and when they might be reunited? Sounds like additional trauma, but I’m sure Barbara Bush is right – they are grateful for the intervention.Did President Bush really say that he would go to New Orleans on Friday after the Hurricane hit on Monday or Tuesday? It is so strangely funny, ironic, that it was urgent to nominate Roberts a successor to Rehnquist (whose his body was bearly cold) while it was okay to take days and days getting to New Orleans, getting levee repair started and getting soldiers and relief workers in place. It’s really a question of priorities.Are stupid and criminally negligent mutually exclusive? If FEMA knew its job and New Orleans was underwater and without communications shouldn’t FEMA have been more proactive since they had the more recent Florida experiences on their side.We really wanted to know what really happened on 9/11. Likewise, we really want to know what really happened to cause people to wait 5 days for drinking water in New Orleans. If race had nothing to do with it, why is the administration so defensive. Also, if race had nothing to do with it why was the comfort of relief workers (the ready, the willing, the able, predominantly white) was inappropriately deemed of more merit that the thousands waiting for them to come. Something is wrong with our priorities. We’re sending soldiers to die in Iraq but the idea that a few shots were fired in NO was so terrifying to us that it was preferably to let those who might have lived die rather than risk any lives, even those of soldiers and police? Funny, no one was hurt at least not until the shooters were shot on the bridge last weekend. Were we overly cautious? Or were most of “those people” savages?

    Where have all the heroes gone? Thank God for Gen. Honore whose love for New Orleans and for people was so evident. Thank God for Ray Nagin who just could not remain silent in the face of bold disregard for hurting citizens of New Orleans. Thank God for every relief worker, church and individual who tried and eventually made it onto the scene in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Thank God for everyone moved to see fellow Americans in such distress. I moved to tears. Did you feel anything? If we stop being defensive just maybe race relations in the U.S. would get better. After all, imagine your brother, sister, mother or even you in the Superdome or at the Convention Center during and after Katrina — what would you have wanted to see happen and how soon? My impression is that America is still telling poor and black Americans to wait. Martin Luther King, Jr. termed our tendency to tell hurting, ignored people to “wait for a more convenient time” as “paternalistic.” Dr. Luther King said: “Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” In this case, the waiting was tragic. Remember, police, fire and hospital workers stayed their post in New Orleans while their own families also died. They waited all day Tuesday, all day Wednesday, all day Thursday and all day Friday and they died. Let’s stop the intellectual hypocrisy. Let’s be honest. Someone is responsible and, frankly, caring and inquiring Americans want to know — who dropped the ball and why?

  • Jim says:

    Off topic…but…this blog was featured in a nice article in the Washtington Post on Sept. 7…Ernie is quoted extensively. Seems a lot of people are using it to keep up with what’s going on in NOLA. Here’s a link:

  • mike smith says:

    welcome to the “united states of afro america” get your stupid whiteass out of bed and go to work so i can sleep until i want in my aparment

    that you stupid ass white americans are paying are working for me now. get your ass out of bed. i have five boys and three girls.get your ass out of bed and get to work. i want my food stamps and welfare checks on time you stupid white idiots. my ancestors were slaves you stupid whiteass. you owe me everything i want you stupid white americans. soon you will have to work more hours so you can pay us more to infect your daughters with africanism .get your white ass out of bed and go to work.Robert E. Lee is laying in his grave laughing “I TOLD YOU SO”

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