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Newsweek: A Family Affair (Louisiana's ruling clan - Meet the Landrieus)

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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:59 PM
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Newsweek: A Family Affair (Louisiana's ruling clan - Meet the Landrieus)

A Family Affair
After the storms hit, Louisiana's ruling clan became both victims and volunteers. Meet the Landrieus.

Hurricane Katrina touched close to home for the Landrieu family. Moon Landrieu is at far right.

By Melinda Henneberger
Oct. 10, 2005 issue - Three days after the storm, Moon and Verna Landrieu's children sent out the search party. None of the nine of them had heard from the former New Orleans mayor and his wife since they'd set out at the last minute, under pressure from their offspring, just ahead of Katrina. "All we knew was that they had evacuated at 4 in the morning and were going to Crystal Springs to Tiny's house,'' says their daughter Melanie Cook, who lives in Mandeville, La., with seven children of her own. Tiny? "Tiny is a lady who was a barmaid for Mr. Sam Albino, a friend of my daddy's who had a bar and my daddy was his lawyer ... She'd been calling them to come and visit, so that's where they went. But then our sister Melinda calls and says, 'I had a dream'—she has these dreams—'and you have to bring a chain saw and go get Daddy and Mama.' So we had to rescue my parents from a double-wide trailer in the woods in Mississippi where the hurricane went over.''

As it turned out, the man who built the Superdome had been sitting out in his car a lot of that time, listening to WWL-AM. "The information you got was treasured but incomplete,'' the 75-year-old patriarch of Louisiana's first political family says on a recent evening in Mandeville, where his progeny were gathered all around him in Melanie's living room.

Ask any one of them about the past month and they'll say, "Like so many people ... '' Like so many, for instance, four of the nine siblings lost their homes and have had to relocate. Like so many, they were both victims and volunteers, eating Red Cross meals one day and passing them out the next. Like so many, too, they spent that evening together naming all that has been lost—like Moon's favorite doughnut shop. And they take pleasure in what remains: "There's a statue of Jesus at Our Lady of Lourdes that was not touched!'' Verna puts in. "How do they build those religious statues so strong?'' her son Martin answers, teasing her.

There are no other Louisianans, though, with the Landrieus' particular role in the history of New Orleans—or in rebuilding it now. Moon Landrieu pushed through the ordinance that outlawed segregated public accommodations there in 1969. Desegregation defined his eight years as mayor in the ' 70s, and he jokes about having become far more popular since his retirement. But his legacy as a parent is part of the reason.

When his eldest, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, all but tore her hair out on TV in response to the bad-mouthing of local and state officials, she was defending, among others, her own brother Mitch, Louisiana's lieutenant governor. When she returns again and again to the topic of the coverage of the Superdome, it seems an odd allocation of anger amid all the destruction—until one remembers that that structure was her father's baby, too. And when politicians from other parts of the country question the wisdom of "bailing out" the Gulf Coast, no one in the family can help remembering that, as Mitch Landrieu puts it, "There was a guy named Moon Landrieu who led the charge on bailing out New York City when he was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors" in the 1970s. /

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loudsue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-05-05 02:36 AM
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1. Interesting family history there!
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