Disaster Relief: Orange County Delivers

With such unbelievable suffering occurring in areas ravished by Hurricane Katrina, it is becoming a little harder each day for me to concentrate on local politics. Please use this thread to alert readers to local fund-raising events and relief efforts. In the meantime, an easy and important way to extend help is by donating online at www.redcross.org



Ray, your comments about local vs. national responsibility seem somewhat valid, as far as they go. But I fear they don't go far enough. If the relationships between federal and local governments are structured to absolve FEMA for responsibility for such a strategically important piece of real estate as NOLA, then something far more important is out of whack than who did or didn't respond in a timely fashion.

I received this from a friend, published in CEOs for Cities, about the strategic issues surrounding NOLA and the ports surrounding it. I wish I could link you to the source material, but I can't. If you'd like to read the whole article, let me know and I'll send it to you. (Just trying to steer clear of copyright trouble.)

From New Orleans: A Geopolitical Prize
by George Friedman

The displacement of population is the crisis that New Orleans faces. It is also a national crisis, because the largest port in the United States cannot function without a city around it. The physical and business processes of a port cannot occur in a ghost town, and right now, that is what New Orleans is. It is not about the facilities, and it is not about the oil. It is about the loss of a city's population and the paralysis of the largest port in the United States.

Let's go back to the beginning. The United States historically has depended on the Mississippi and its tributaries for transport. Barges navigate the river. Ships go on the ocean. The barges must offload to the ships and vice versa. There must be a facility to empower this exchange. It is also the facility where goods are stored in transit. Without this port, the river can't be used. Protecting that port has been, from the time of the Louisiana Purchase, a fundamental national security issue for the United States.

Katrina has taken out the port -- not by destroying the facilities, but by rendering the area uninhabited and potentially uninhabitable. That means that even if the Mississippi remains navigable, the absence of a port near the mouth of the river makes the Mississippi enormously less useful than it was. For these reasons, the United States has lost not only its biggest port complex, but also the utility of its river transport system -- the foundation of the entire American transport system. There are some substitutes, but none with sufficient capacity to solve the problem.

It follows from this that the port will have to be revived and, one would assume, the city as well. The ports around New Orleans are located as far north as they can be and still be accessed by ocean-going vessels. The need for ships to be able to pass each other in the waterways, which narrow to the north, adds to the problem. Besides, the Highway 190 bridge in Baton Rouge blocks the river going north. New Orleans is where it is for a reason: The United States needs a city right there.

New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating. The harvest is coming, and that means that the port will have to be opened soon. As in Iraq, premiums will be paid to people prepared to endure the hardships of working in New Orleans. But in the end, the city will return because it has to.

Geopolitics is the stuff of permanent geographical realities and the way they interact with political life. Geopolitics created New Orleans. Geopolitics caused American presidents to obsess over its safety. And geopolitics will force the city's resurrection, even if it is in the worst imaginable place.

I'm not 100% clear on this Ray, but I believe when the cabinet position for Homeland Security was created, responsibility for natural disaster response was given to FEMA via HS. I believe another change was that the Governor had to request the National Guard through HS.

In my mind the local officials are responsible for not having planned to evacuate using mass transit and not have adequate preparations for the SuperDome but FEMA/HS should have been present to take over for everything after that. From what I have read, it seems to me that communications have been nonexistent between local and federal officials, including the decision to keep the Red Cross out. While I understand keeping them out of the neighborhoods, what possible excuse can there be for not inviting them into the SuperDome?

I've posted links to several timelines at my blog.

Terri (and others) have an excellent point here about that local preparedness issue. I mean ... if you're running NOLA and the state of LA you know what the poverty situation is there and you know that the locals who remain are going to need MREs & drinking water for three days before you have any help. Why isn't that stuff sitting in the Superdome (or the nearby naval station or the nearby Army reseve post)? Heck, they should have loaded people up on all those school buses and moved them 150 miles inland if only to preserve the availability of the BUSES!

That IS on the locals and there will be more than ample blame to go 'round. Ray's point about FEMA's support role is exactly is right, but it's illustrative of the apparent SNAFU --that the local/state gov't was screaming bloody murder to allow this stuff in, but it was apparently being obstructed for lack of properly formatted request?

Michael Brown (to his credit) did say on day one that he had loaded up the supply chain as staging prep and that he was glad he'd done that ... and it seems it was halted at the border. Well all need to know why that happened as well as why it was apparently not an issue in other states.

P.S. As for my being "offended" Terri ... it's the pictures of this spectacular failure and breathtaking destruction and suffering that offend me, not a constructive discussion among the bunch of us rabblerousers.

Terri, the National Guard belongs to each state governor until they get federalized, a la Little Rock and Iraq. Unless I missed it, I have seen nothing to indicate that the LA, MS, or AL Army National Guard has been federalized.

Governors can request federal troops/military equipment to supplement what they have when an emergency has been declared. As of right now, federal troops are moving to the area.

Anyone who knows ANYTHING about "command structure" knows Terri is right. But it doesn't really MATTER (for now) who is to BLAME--we can sort that out later.

This thread is supposed to be about practical things one can do to help. Terri, Katrina, and several others (whose names are escaping me at the moment) have made practical suggestions.

I'll add one more--

If you know someone who is missing or displaced--form an e-mail phone tree. That way, their immediate loved ones don't spend time, effort, and psychic energy answering multiple phone calls about their missing loved one. We found our friends Steve and Warren...they are alive and well...but until we got the phone/e-mail tree worked out (which we did by Tuesday evening)it was tough on Steve's mom and dad. (and probably Warren's folks as well--but I don't know them.)

Also--go eat icecream at Maple View Farms tomorrow (Labor Day)--have Pizza and Pasta on Wednesday--and keep an eye out for other opportunities to eat well and help.

And for those of us who believe in a Supreme Being (God, Krishna, The Flying Spaghetti Monster) prayer NEVER hurts.


Having enjoyed the hospitality of a city so vibrant, joyous, and quintissentially ALIVE, just a few weeks ago, It is beyond comprehension to see the images of New Orleans and it's people descend, through a combination of horrible misfortune, gross incompetence and indifference into a truly apocalyptic hell.

I agree with Mary, Katrina and others who have said there will be plenty of time for 'armchair punditry' later. Lots of good ideas here about how to help. The National League of Cities is also serving as a central point for local governments to help their counterparts in the region. This will become more important once the enormous humanitarian crisis is stabilized, and the task turns to recreating a home for people to return to.

Make no mistake, this will be a task requiring a national commitment, will, and resources on a par with the Works Progress Administration set up to provide infrastructure and jobs to address the disaster of the great depression. Otherwise, one of the world's great cities will be forever lost, with its people and their irreplaceable history and culture scattered to the four winds, compounding and cementing the already unimaginable human tragedy now unfolding.

To provide a frame of reference, some folks from 'round here went to a tiny hamlet of about 300 called Speed, NC in the wake of the flooding following hurricane Floyd to help with cleanup and supplies. There is no damage so all-encompassing and pernicious as heavy flood damage: Structures are undermined and quickly rot; the stench of decay, and released hazardous materials permeates every stucture---Natural and man-made; water, sewer, and electric infrastructure are ruined. Those who survived, and those who witnessed this destruction in this tiny town were overwhelmed. The task in NOLA will be a hundred thousand fold. It just boggles the mind.


WIth all the bad news about helpers (like local medical folks who showed up with a state of the art mobile hospital and are still sitting at the state line) being held up or turned away, it seems likely that supporting the Red Cross still a good bet for helping on the ground immediately.

I saw my old friend Gibbie Harris (Wake County Health Dept) setting up a shelter to take in about 1,000 Katrina survivors on two hours notice. They'll need a lot of helping hands in the coming weeks and months, I'm sure.


And you can get into Wake County without difficulty, so those who are looking especially to help families with young kids or people who need a lot of hands-on support over a period of time ... this might be a great way to help.

Maybe Orange Politics can "adopt a shelter" and post wish lists of needed items ... the holidays will be here before you know it and these families are going to need a lot of holiday spirit.

They can't accept donations, but I can find out from Gibbie if there's a way to volunteer time or donate things like books and toys and various services.

Interesting stuff from the NYT and the AP on the bizzare happenings in the hurricane area. The NYT is looking hard at the NOPD's bug-out:

A Baton Rouge police officer said he had a friend on the New Orleans force who told him he threw his badge out a car window in disgust just after fleeing the city into neighboring Jefferson Parish as the hurricane approached. The Baton Rouge officer would not give his name, citing a department policy banning comments to the news media.

The officer said he had also heard of an incident in which two men in a New Orleans police cruiser were stopped in Baton Rouge on suspicion of driving a stolen squad car. The men were, in fact, New Orleans officers who had ditched their uniforms and were trying to reach a town in north Louisiana, the officer said.

"They were doing everything to get out of New Orleans," he said. "They didn't have the resources to do the job, or a plan, so they left."

Then there's this misapplication of resources offered by North Carolina:

Next door in Mississippi, the North Carolina mobile hospital waiting to help also offered impressive state-of-the-art medical care. It was developed with millions of tax dollars through the Office of Homeland Security after 9-11. With capacity for 113 beds, it is designed to handle disasters and mass casualties.

Equipment includes ultrasound, digital radiology, satellite Internet, and a full pharmacy, enabling doctors to do most types of surgery in the field, including open-chest and abdominal operations.

It travels in a convoy that includes two 53-foot trailers, which on Sunday afternoon was parked on a gravel lot 70 miles north of New Orleans because Louisiana officials for several days would not let them deploy to the flooded city.

Ray--I read through the Department of Homeland Defense National Response Plan yesterday and it seems clear to me that beyond the first 72 hours, all control for natural disasters then reverts over to DHS/FEMA. Clearly there are continuing communications problems between locals and the feds. Even though Fred's comments about the National Guard being under the governor's control is technically correct, its DHS/FEMA who decides how many and what functions. I couldn't find anything in the Plan that delineated the role of the Governor and DHS/FEMA in terms of the NG.

I continue to wonder why Florida efforts last year when they were slammed with storm after storm wasn't this poorly mishandled. I'm sure the local experience they have with relief efforts is part of it, but I also think timing (right before a national election) had to play a part--along with the fact that the President's brother is governor.

One more way to help:

Two key points from the plan, Terri. First,
the Governor is and remains the Commander-in-Chief of State military forces (National Guard when in State Active Duty or Title 32 Status and the authorized State militias) until those forces are federalized/called to active duty;

Second, National Guard forces employed under State Active Duty or Title 32 status are providing support to the Governor of their State and are not part of Federal military
response efforts.

As a practical matter, the Governor "allows" the federal commander of forces (currently an Army 3-star general) to integrate his forces into the relief plan. The most important and critically key difference in the two kinds of forces is that because of the Posse Comitatus Act, federal forces have no police powers, while the Governor's National Guard forces do.

The point was made in the front page story in the N&O about the Commanding General of the 82d Airborne Division, MG Bill Caldwell, now coordinating the federal troops in the city of New Orleans: "As federal troops operating on U.S. soil, the soldiers may not directly enforce the law and instead will rely on National Guard members, who report to state governors. They will detain suspects and stop crimes, Caldwell said."

Hope this helps clarify what is the confusing world of command and control under FEMA.

I'm sure people anywhere but in the US must be baffled at the way a massive failure to respond to a disaster is turned into a game of blame the local officials. The Cuban government and local officials weren't blaming each other last year when a category 5 hurricane hit Cuba--because nobody died. They actually had a sophisticated evacuation plan well developed.

Anyway, if people want to give donations to grassroots organizations in New Orleans, check out the list at:


Terri, Louisiana's plans are on the web too. Both the state and the federal, the most current documents. Here's the first assumption of the federal response plan's "concept of operations":

"1. Most disasters and emergencies are handled by State and local responders. The Federal Government is called on to provide supplemental assistance when the consequences of a disaster exceed State and local capabilities. If needed, the Federal Government can mobilize an array of resources to support State and local efforts. Various emergency teams, support personnel, specialized equipment, operating facilities, assistance programs, and access to private-sector resources constitute the overall Federal disaster operations system. The FRP describes the major components of the system, as well as the structure for coordinating Federal response and recovery actions necessary to address State-identified requirements and priorities."

I haven't read the FRP in its full, 310-page glory, but what I have looked at talks about answering to the local incident command.

The state documents on the whole are illuminating too. They shed light on the mess at the Superdome, referring to places like it as shelters of "last resort" that before the hurricane hits are supposed to be used as staging areas to move people out of town, and that aren't supposed to be stocked with the supplies needed for people to stay there for long after the fact. The pre-event transport out of town that's called for obviously didn't occur at the dome, and I question the thinking that calls for opening something other than a full-service shelter.

I think you are 100% percent correct, Steve. We created a patch-work quilt of organization and authorities, not to mention the bureaucratic effects of our three levels of government. Thus far, the only element of the Department of Homeland Security that shines is the US Coast Guard, mainly because their SOPs and plans precede the creation of Homeland Security.

We see those willing to provide all kinds of assistance who are still waiting for someone to make decisions. I hope it gets better, but at the least we can contribute money and maybe later they can accept the aid offered by those who are willing to lend it..

Just came from taking my daughters to Maple View Dairy where the line-up snaked right out the door and into the parking lot. Best bet: the $4 mini banana split.

It's good to see so much local support for the people in the Gulf Coast.

A post on DailyKos about the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

The earthquake struck at 5:13 AM.

By 7 AM federal troops had reported to the mayor.

By 8 AM they were patrolling the entire downtown area and searching for survivors.

The second quake struck at 8:14 AM.

By 10:05 AM the USS Chicago was on its way from San Diego to San Francisco; by 10:30 the USS Preble had landed a medical team and set up an emergency hospital.

By 11 AM large parts of the city were on fire; troops continued to arrive throughout the day, evacuating people from the areas threatened by fire to emergency shelters and Golden Gate Park.

St. Mary's hospital was destroyed by the fire at 1 PM, with no loss of life, the staff and patients having already been evacuated across the bay to Oakland.

By 3 PM troops had shot several looters, and dynamited buildings to make a firebreak; by five they had buried dozens of corpses, the morgue and the police pistol range being unable to hold any more.

At 8:40 PM General Funston requested emergency housing - tents and shelters - from the War Department in Washington; all of the tents in the U.S. Army were on their way to San Francisco by 4:55 AM the next morning.

Prisoners were evacuated to Alcatraz, and by April 20 (two days after the earthquake) the USS Chicago had reached San Francisco, where it evacuated 20,000 refugees.

Information Link

I find it disingenuous for anyone to say that locals should have done this, state should have done that, national should have done that. When, on Monday, the entire state was blacked out, someone should have stepped up to the plate. Maybe someone with an entire nation at their fingertips, maybe someone with the ability to have every helicopter in the United States Military flying to NOLA within minutes.

I heard several residents refer to Hurricane Dennis and their evacuation, then nothing hit them but rain storms. You are NEVER going to get everyone evacuated, tough cookies. It has to be someone's responsibility to get people out AFTER the disaster. Anyone who wasn't busy diddling around and eating cake would have noticed that an entire state was blacked out, that news reporters were describing thousands roaming the streets, and that maybe something GRAND needed to be done.

The President is supposed to be someone special, someone who makes great decisions when the time arises. Now we see that OUR President is just a guy with the right name, the biggest bank account, and the right PR man. Nothing special about that.

Several zoos and aquariums located along the Gulf Coast are struggling to keep their animals/fish alive. People can donate through http://www.lpzoo.org or by sending a check, marked
Hurricane Katrina Relief and payable to the Lincoln Park Zoo Society, P.O. Box 14903, Chicago, IL 60614.

To Ray's point about the Superdome/Conference Center being a "shelters of last resort" ... he's right. The function of those shelters in this context is that the people there be able to survive the storm itself and be in one collection area to be evacuated or told that they can return home.

It's like sending every kid to the gym during a tornado warning. Nobody's expecting to live there for a week.

Obviously, this storm delivered an unprecidented blast ... so those running the show should have arranged an airdrop of MREs and water and/or requested National Guard immediately ... to buy another 72 hours for rescue operations. To have a population of nearly 20,000 people and no form of communication, law enforcement or food/water rationing ... there's a lot of people who need to answer for all that, but my thinking is -- thank you free press. A LOT more people would have died if not for cameras and reporters getting to that scene. I hate to keep coming back to it, but it does cause the mind to wonder what's going on outside the green zone in Baghdad.

Thanks to everyone who donated to the first truckload. The front room is overflowing. We just did inventory and we're going to be sending:

56 care boxes -( blanket/sleeping bag, towel, washcloth, and toiletry kit)
35 boxes of diapers
plus some clothes, shoes, pillows, toys games and books.

You guys rock!

For those who couldn't make it over the holiday weekend, we have another load leaving for the loan star state on Friday, and we'll be sending clothes this time too. ( We've been especially asked for women's plus-sized clothes, so if any of y'all like prowling the thrift shops...)

John A, , maybe I caught you in one of these crowd pictures.

People patiently waited on a beautiful afternoon while
Mapleview did an outstanding service for the community.

Here's the latest on refief efforts from the NC Peace and Justice Coalition:

PRESS RELEASE Contact Andrew Pearson 919 360 2028, kangaroo@email.unc.edu


Community Groups Organize to Stop a Failing Occupation in Iraq And Provide Grassroots Relief for Hurricane Katrina Survivors!

§ In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.

Community Meeting, Tuesday, September 6th, 7:00-8:45, Durham Main Library Auditorium, 300 N Roxboro St, 560 0100. Contact: Andrew Pearson, 919 360 2028, www.NCpeacejustice.org

The cost of the Iraq War has hit home in a terrible way. Much needed resources were diverted from Hurricane preparation, National Guard troops are tied up in combat instead of disaster relief, and war continued to drain our country in its time of need. On Tuesday, September 6, the North Carolina Peace & Justice Coalition hosts a meeting of community groups and individuals to mobilize direct, grassroots relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina survivors and work together to end to the Iraq War.

Participants will learn about North Carolina's grassroots response to the Hurricane disaster, including an effort to raise funds to charter buses from Durham with donated supplies to Hurricane survivors. The buses will then bring survivors back to be hosted in the Triangle. NCPJC is working with a Durham based Coalition for Relief and Justice to identify grassroots organizations in the disaster area, such as Community Labor United in New Orleans, who have identified material and housing needs. We need to raise $5000 for each bus to send - $100 per survivor. Donations in any amount can be made online at www.NCpeacejustice.org starting immediately.

Donate Supplies: Peacefire Galleries 105 East Chapel Hill St., Durham

Host Survivors: Rooms, rentals, or space to host survivors, contact Tes: 919 542-9999 tes@unc.edu

Volunteer: Set up donation bins, organize fundraisers, and more: at www.NCpeacejustice.org

Members of the coalitions will call upon the Durham City Council to play a central role in making the Triangle a safe haven for survivors. The council meets today, Tuesday Sept. 6 at 7pm at City Hall. Come early to the Library meeting to coordinate. Council members can also be contacted directly by visiting: http://www.ci.durham.nc.us/

The meeting will also plan a huge welcome rally and march for the Camp Casey Bring Them Home Bus Tour, coming through Raleigh on Sept 15, Fayetteville on Sept 16, and Durham on Sept 17. We need to know if Raleigh and Durham can throw a huge rally and march to show our support for Cindy Sheehan's efforts. Nearly 1000 people came out for the Support Cindy Vigils on Aug 17 – One month later, can we double that number? Info at http://www.bringthemhomenowtour.org/

Organizers will also present mobilization plans for the Sept 24-26 march, rally, and lobby days to end the Iraq War in Washington DC. So far organizers are sponsoring 2 buses from Durham, 3 from Chapel Hill, and van and carpools from Raleigh. People will have the opportunity to sign up for buses to DC, and volunteer to help with ticket sales, publicity, NC march contingent preparation, fundraising, and joining grassroots lobby teams for Sept 26 visits in Washington. Info at http://www.unitedforpeace.org

People are asked to bring their checkbooks, their ideas, and come prepared to take on a task. Organizers expect a large grassroots hurricane relief effort, a powerful welcome to the Camp Casey Bus Tour and a huge presence at the March to End the War in Iraq.

Durham Main Library Directions at: http://www.durhamcountylibrary.org/branches/maindir.ht

DONATE AND VOLUNTEER!!! Online at www.NCpeacejustice.org Checks can be made out to "NC Peace & Justice" and mailed to NCPJC, PO Box 25107, Durham, NC, 27702

Contact: Andrew Pearson, NC Peace & Justice Coalition, 919 360 2028, kangaroo@email.unc.edu, www.NCpeacejustice.org


The horrific tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath have shocked and saddened all of us. We have an obligation and opportunity to respond to this tragedy as a community and as a city.

As the Coalition for Relief and Justice, representing a diverse team of Durham residents, we believe that local Durham government has a central to role to play in this response. We call upon our local elected officials to

§ Issue a proclamation of solidarity with and support for the people of New Orleans, the Gulf Coasts of Mississippi and Alabama. Declare Durham a safe haven for survivors and open our community for relocation efforts.

§ Use the downtown Armory or suitable space as a community resource and relocation center.

§ Provide transitional housing for relocated survivors. The housing can consist of private homes, churches and the large number of vacant and boarded houses throughout the City.

§ Survivors should be provided with jobs and other volunteer activities associated with the coordination of relief and relocation efforts.

§ Establish a Disaster Relief Commission.

Contact your local elected officials and let them know that now is the time for local government to step up to assist the survivors of this tragedy. The Durham City Council is meeting today, Tuesday Sept. 6 at 7pm at City Hall. Council members can also be contacted directly by visiting: http://www.ci.durham.nc.us/

My daughter and some friends are going to be selling Mardi Gras beads in front of the Great Clips hair salon at 401 W. Weaver Street Saturday morning to raise money for hurricane relief. They are looking for a charity to earmark for those funds. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Since your daughter is school age, and students from New Orleans have already enrolled in the CHCCS, it would be excellent to find a local fund that specifically helps these students.

Did you hear Maple View raised $30,000 on Monday?


What do you make of Bush saying "Who would have thought something like this could happen"? (or words to that effect), when there are detailed federal studies on this vulnerability?

How about Bush's patronage appopintee to head FEMA who didn't know the Convention Center was overrun with victims until the media informed him?

How about cutting money for levee improvements, etc. and explicitly saying that money was needed for the Iraq war?

How about Bush going to San Diego on Tuesday to compare the Iraq war to WW II and barely mentioning the disaster?

It is naive to claim that that the federal response was as good as it could have been. Sounds like a Fox News editorial.

Here's a recommendation I got for a good charity - sorry about thge length, but it's fairly informative:

Hello all,

I've been looking for an on-the-ground group in Louisiana to give my money
to in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and I think I have found the one. You
will find more information about the Lousiana Environmental Action Network
below. They are a coalition of 100 grassroots citizens groups who have
mobilized their network to drop medical supplies into some of the parishes
as well as other direct relief efforts. I suspect that they will also be
the ones that pay attention long-term to the needs of both the people and
their environment.

Steve Chase, who writes the first note below, is a long-time colleague of
Galia's from Movement for a New Society. Please feel free to forward this
email. The more money and support we can get in to the hands of folks on
the ground - and who will be there for the long haul - the better.


Meredith Emmett

From: Steve Chase
Subject: Grassroots Alternatives in Disaster Relief
Date: Sun, Sep 4, 2005, 2:24 PM

The Red Cross Is Great, But Here Is a Grassroots Alternative.

Dear Friends,

On Friday, I talked on the phone with my friend Marylee Orr, who lives in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Marylee is the director of the Louisiana
Environmental Action Network--a coalition of over 100 grassroots citizens
groups throughout the now devastated state of Louisiana. I got to know her
on the Department of Environmental Studies' field studies trip to Louisiana
last March when 13 of our students got up close and personal with
environmental justice issues in "Cancer Alley." Marylee helped our students
out a lot during our trip and I have been fast friends with her ever since.

Here is why I love her. Marylee hasn't been up late every night out for the
last week out of aimless worry about the many victims and the environmental
tragedy left in the wake of the hurricane and official mismanagement of both
the disaster prevention and response efforts. She's been up late because she
is working hard to do something about the situation. As she told me on the
phone on Friday afternoon, the federal government is not really on the
ground doing much yet and, in some of the hard hit parishes in the state,
even the Red Cross is not much of a presence yet. In the time honored
tradition of grassroots citizenship for the common good, this gutsy woman is
using the local contacts with grassroots activists, local officials, and
Louisiana faith communities she has built up over 20 years to help close the
dramatic gap between the intense need of the people of the Louisiana and the
official response so far.

Just this Thurday, LEAN members provided an airdrop of food, water, and
medical supplies to the trapped residents of St. Bernard and Plaquemine
Parishes, two of the most inundated areas in the state. Saturday, LEAN
dropped more supplies for stranded people in Washington Parish. LEAN is also
working hard now to raise more funds to allow local people, working with
local government leaders to provide direct, immediate assistance with all
the efficiency that comes from not being a bureaucrat or an outsider.
I've already made a contribution to the Red Cross to offer some assistance
to the hurricane victims in Louisiana, but I've decided to write a check for
ten times that amount to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network in order
to support people that I know have both the big hearts and the local
knowledge needed to help meet the crying humanitarian needs in Louisiana. I
also know that LEAN won't just leave the area when the immediate crisis is
over. LEAN will also work to address the toxic cesspool and chemical
contamination that will be left behind when the water finally recedes. I'm
asking everyone I know to join me in contributing money directly to LEAN for
their local efforts in disaster relief. Every penny will be used well.
I would trust Marylee with my life and I know her effort will save lives.
Please dig deep and give as much as you can to: LEAN, 162 Craydon Avenue,
Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

At the very end of our phone call on Friday, Marylee thanked me for pledging
money and for my offer to encourage other folks to contribute to LEAN's
disaster relief efforts, but she also asked for one more thing. She said,
"We need financial contributions from all our friends around the country for
sure, but we could also really use your prayers. It means so much to know
that people around the country care." For people who want to send good
wishes as well as their checks, please write to Marylee's group at
lean@leanweb.org. She likely won't have time to write back, but it will mean
a lot to this hard working, non-sleeping group of local heros to know that
our hearts and prayers are with them.

Below is an email I received from Marylee after our phone call.


September 2, 2005

Dear Friends of Louisiana,

Due to the catastrophic event of Hurricane Katrina there is an enormous need
for life-saving and life-sustaining supplies. At this time, the most needed
items are tetanus shots, insulin, IV fluids, as well as financial resources
to purchase and transport medical and food assistance directly to victims.

Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) is working closely with the
Office of Representative Brasso of St. Bernard Parish. Our contributions
are being immediately given to the residents of St. Bernard and Plaquemines
Parishes, two of the most inundated areas. LEAN feels that by working
directly with the parish representatives we are best able to assist in
meeting the critical needs of these victims and addressing the crisis in our

The situation in Louisiana is heartbreaking and we hope that by working
together we can help save lives and improve the lives of those who have
survived this disaster. We would appreciate donations of medical supplies,
food and water, or funds to purchase these supplies. For example, yesterday,
September 1, 2005, we purchased medical supplies such as aspirin, neosporin,
syringes, hand sanitizer, gloves, tylenol, bandages, and so forth. These
supplies were directly air dropped down today on September 2, 2005, to
people stuck in St.
Bernard and Plaquemines Parish.

We can not thank you enough for caring about what is going on in our region.
Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. Words can not describe the
suffering and courage of the people here. Please help us help our neighbors
in our home state. May God bless you for all your support, concern and
prayers during this tragic time.

With warmest regards,

Marylee Orr
Executive Director
Louisiana Environmental Action Network
162 Croydon Ave
Baton Rouge, La. 708

Here's another local response:

Students, faculty and staff have been meeting since last week about the School of Public Health's response to Hurricane Katrina. We have listed some of the works we've undertaken with displaced students on the website at http:\www.sph.unc.edu.

Our School is also working to raise $10,000 for the American Red Cross and other organizations involved in the relief efforts. Donations are desperately needed to help families and individuals who have been displaced. Our School's Student Union Board has placed donation boxes a number of sites around the school to simplify donations to the American Red Cross. If you have already given, your donation still may be counted toward the School's goal by contacting Samir Thaker, co-chair of the Student Union Board, at thaker@unc.edu or 404-227-3642. Alumni can contact Janice Periquet at janice_periquet@unc.edu or 919-966-0218.

Anyone wishing to offer shelter, clothing or other services to students who are coming to UNC from other university campuses affected by Katrina – primarily Tulane University – also may contact Jen Horney at jen.horney@unc.edu or 919- 843-5566.

Mark, I'm off for a few days and don't have time to draft a full response to your questions. But in partial answer to your third, about the levee spending, I'd note that the Washington Post is beginning to take a closer look at the matter that gets past the natterings of the capital spin machine:

"In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large."

"Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon."

"For example, after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations. The Corps also spends tens of millions of dollars a year dredging little-used waterways such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Atchafalaya River and the Red River -- now known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, in honor of the project's congressional godfather -- for barge traffic that is less than forecast."

As they say in blog-world, read the whole thing.


I have read such an overwhelming amount of information that reveals a mixture of incompetence, ignorance, poor planning, & the same sort of hubris that has brought us the criminal war on Iraq that I'm confident that no apologist for what has happened will get any long-term traction.

I just got this via e-mail:

As some of you may remember Jose Alvarez Sr. came to work for the Carrboro Fire department in early 2000. Jose then crossed the tracks to go to work for the Chapel Hill Fire department. Jose Alvarez Sr. and his family came to us from the city of New Orleans were he had served on the New Orleans Fire department for several years.

During the last year Jose's wife and children had moved back to New Orleans to take care of his mother while, Jose himself stayed back here to provide a income for his family. During hurricane Katrina, Jose and his family lost everything they had in New Orleans. Jose's mother and mother-in-law lost everything also and are now staying with Jose until they can get back on their feet. We at the Carrboro Fire department are taking up a collection for Jose and his family. We are sending this message out to everyone in the town that might want to contribute either with money or clothes, to this cause. Jose has a wife and 3 children.

Jose's wife - size 10 - shoe size 9-1/2-10
Jose Jr. - size 32 - shoe size 10-1/2
Twin boy and girl - size 8 - shoe size 2

Please feel free to contact Carl Freeman or Scott Merritt at the fire station 918-7353. If you need a donation pick-up, please call 933-0763.

As of last night I have gotten a simple group blog running that is intended to help organize local Katrina relief activism in the coming months. It's at www.katrinaNC.com.

It is affiliated predominatley with the NC Peace and Justice Coalition.

If you are attending any relief-type meetings, please post your notes so that others can tune in remotely.

If you have relevant, local news about NC-based Katrina reflief efforts, please post.


I just wanted to let you all know that my daughter and her friends raised $234.50 selling Mardi Gras beads in front of the Great Clips hair salon in Carrboro today!! They were enthusiastic and worked very hard to sell almost 200 strands of beads to passing pedestrians and motorists. All the money will be donated to LEAN. Thanks, Mark, for the suggestion. They researched the organization and were able to tell people all about the efforts of this group in Louisana.

I, for one, was very impressed!

From the Orange County Democrats

OCDP Katrina "Relief Not War" Effort
The Orange County Democratic Party is coordinating an effort to provide helpers to organize a truckload of goods* to be driven from here to Raleigh, where other volunteers will take the items on to the disaster area. We need folks to man a drop off point, pack the items, and someone to drive them to the truck in Raleigh. We will also need boxes and packing tape.

The volunteers who will drive down to the gulf region got a tractor trailer donated (48'x8'x13') and they are leaving at 9pm this Thursday night. They plan to go to the camp that the Veterans for Peace from Camp Casey has moved to in Covington, LA.

Binkley Baptist Church (1712 Willow Dr., Chapel Hill) has offered to serve as a drop off location for our effort on Tuesday from 3 to 8pm and Wednesday from 3 to 7pm. Now we need to make sure that we have volunteers who will be there once people get there with their supplies. Please email Becky Ceartas at becky@nacredata.com or call 919-932-4363 to let her know if you can help out on either Tuesday or Wednesday and for how long you can be there for.

(sorry -- I missed the last section of the message posted above)
This will only happen if we can get volunteers to be at the church during the drop off time and then have volunteers take the items over to Raleigh. This is all very short notice but if we each pitch in an hour or two we can make sure that these much needed supplies get directly to the people that need them in LA. This is also a great opportunity for the Orange County Democratic Party to get our name out there that we are a part of a grassroots effort to get supplies to people in the gulf region.

> Baby food
> formula
> diapers (all sizes)
> training diapers
> depends
> baby wipes
> pedialyte
> Toiletries (tooth paste, deodorant, etc.)
> feminine Products
> bug spray
> rubber gloves
> band aids
> underwear
> socks

I heard a rumor today that the four of the six firefighters in the now famous Bush photop were from Chapel Hill, the other two from Carrboro. Anyone know if there is any truth to this?

if the picture does not show up above, click on the dkos link to view it.

here is the Town of Chapel Hill press release on the firefighters going:

Orange County Democratic Party
Katrina Relief

The Orange County Democratic Party is coordinating an effort to organize a truckload of goods to be driven from here to Raleigh, where other volunteers will take the items on to the disaster area. Supplies that are needed include:

* Baby food * formula * diapers (all sizes) * training diapers * depends * baby wipes * pedialyte * Toiletries (tooth paste, deodorant, etc.)
* feminine products * bug spray * rubber gloves * band aids * underwear (new) * socks (new) NO OTHER CLOTHES

Take supplies directly to the Fellowship Hall at the Binkley Baptist Church, 1712 Willow Dr., Chapel Hill on Tuesday from 3 to 8pm or Wednesday from 3 to 7pm.

If you can help at Binkley with receiving and packing the goods or driving them to Raleigh, contact Becky Ceartas at becky@nacredata.com or 919-932-4363. We will also need boxes and packing tape.

The volunteers who will drive down to the gulf region have a donated tractor trailer (48'x 8'x 13'), and they are leaving at 9pm this Thursday night. They will deliver the goods to the camp that the Veterans for Peace from Camp Casey has moved to in Covington, LA.

Where the Supplies are Going:

Cindy Sheehan, the brave woman who dared to challenge Mr. Bush at his summer home, has now sent her Camp Casey from in front of Bush's ranch to the outskirts of New Orleans. Camp Casey and the Veterans for Peace have set up camp in Covington, Louisiana, on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.

They are accepting materials and personally distributing them to those in need. They are supporting The Red Cross with power, medical supplies, kitchen service, food bank and distribution, internet communications and trained medical personnel. They are distributing to the seven communities around New Orleans, LA.

Local residents from Raleigh are driving a tractor trailer with all of
the supplies donated down to the camp this Thursday.

Look for updates on this effort at http://orangedems.com/shtmls/katrinarelief.shtml.

Don't know anything about the rumour except to confirm that 2 of the 6 local firefighters engaged in the effort are from our (Carrboro's) department (As I understand it, 8 asked to go, but Chief Murray couldn't spare that much manpower). While we did announce it, we didn't issue a 'press release': Seems a lot of folk are spending as much time telling everybody what they're doing, as actually doing it...But I digress... From the photo, I don't recognize our guys, and think it's rather unlikely, as the firefighters pictured are in full battle gear, while our folks are working on direct assistance to victims in navigating the bureaucratic miasma to get help from FEMA and other agencies.

Back from Texas last night. We distributed supplies and then helped convert some old military barracks into shelters setting up cots, etc. Everyone was grateful for their small stash of supplies.
The big hits were a group of hairdressers and manicurists who'd come in from Chicago, including one hairdresser that used to work for Oprah. The were providing free services to all comers. One of the big Texas electronic stores supplied the facility with TV's and dish service in time for everyone to be able to watch the LSU football game ( and the Texas game, but less so.)
The residents I talked to were most grateful for a little bit of normalcy back in their lives. On Saturday night I cooked gumbo with a woman who'd been a cook in the french quarter for 32 years. She told stories of New Orleans for the past quarter century, but almost like a soldier with shell shock, she really didn't want to talk about the Superdome or the past ten days.

And for those who donated, thanks again. Our supplies ended up supplying close to 100 victims.



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