Super-fast update, since I am in the middle of stuff here, but also realized I haven’t written in a while.
I have visited Bay St. Louis. The destruction there is incredible. I have not seen the water front, just the wind and flood damage several hundred yards inland. Our team is kicking butt here, but it just takes so much longer to get things done than you can possibly imagine. It’s frustrating, but we won’t give up. It’s no one’s fault. We are now tied into the systems here so that we are no longer being actively prevented from working by the authorities. Now it’s simply a complex situation, and you have to work around problems one at a time.
I took a survey trip into New Orleans this weekend. I visited Algiers, where this is only wind damage, not flooding damage. I also visited the Central Business District of Nola, which seems to have not flooded either. After finishing my business there Sunday morning I headed down to the French Quarter to be a disaster tourist for a bit. I had set aside Sunday as my day off, and had no other work planned. Joel and I stopped in to this bar that never ever closes. There have been news reports about it. They were getting resupplied, so we helped carry ice upstairs to the ice machine (which, like the rest of the neighboorhood, has no electricity). After the restocking was complete, we had a couple screwdrivers. I have never been so happy to hand over $10 to a bartender as I was Sunday. It meant so much to me and to him to have a normal nusiness transaction in the middle of this mess.
I went “home” to Ponchatoula Sunday afternoon. I visited Miss Gerri, who has adopted the guys (and now, gal) of Radio Response. She lets us come over to her house for showers. She cooks for us too. I had a very relaxing afternoon at her place, and am totally recharged for a new week.
In other news, if you know anyone who will listen, tell them this: the mayor is making a huge mistake trying to get people in to the city too fast. I have been there and seen it. There’s nothing to do in the city. There’s no electricity, there’s no potable water, there’s. He’s making a huge mistake, endangering his residents, and doing it in the face of reasoned statistics and arguments from EPA, CDC, and Coast Guard. People who return too early will die unless they are completely self sufficient, as those of us working here are.
Something our group needs is remote helpers who can work the phone. If you’d like to volunteer, call the number on the Radio Response website. We need continue to line up experienced installers to replace the current group. We need to find places to install computer labs; in places we have bandwidth and equipment, but we don’t know where the people who need access to FEMA’s website are. None of this work requires someone on site.