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(N. Orleans) Remnants of lives continue to haunt - Going Katrina Crazy

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JPZenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:04 PM
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(N. Orleans) Remnants of lives continue to haunt - Going Katrina Crazy

From Sunday Phila. Inquirer.

The following column was written by a reporter of the Inquirer who used to live in New Orleans and returns regularly for stories. The Inquirer is having a full series of articles on the Katrina aftermath each day of this week at

"What plagues people is the mental anguish. Some people have gone "Katrina crazy." That's what my friends and I call it when you crack, when you just can't take it anymore. The endless calls to insurance companies and government agencies, the misery of driving miles past closed stores and businesses to find one that has reopened, the silence in a city known for its music and joy. And there's the unknown. What happened to this neighbor? Where did that one go? The usual support networks - friends, coworkers, fellow parishioners, even family members - are broken. Some have disappeared ...

..Two people I knew have killed themselves. A third, the brother of a former coworker, also took his own life. And on Aug. 8, a close friend - a photographer at the Times Picayune newspaper, where I used to work - made a very public attempt at "suicide by cop," beseeching police after a minor traffic accident to shoot him. John, who was hospitalized for a time, is a dedicated journalist and a devoted father of three. His actions ... were completely out of character - before Katrina. Before he lost his home and all he possessed. Before he, his wife and three children moved into a small apartment while fighting for insurance money and loans to rebuild.

Evidence suggests that the city's suicide rate has soared. No one knows for sure because some have masked their deaths as accidents for the sake of their families as well as the insurance. Mental-health professionals in the New Orleans area report that they and their services are taxed as they struggle to treat a fragile clientele while also grappling with their own storm angst.

One year later, the city - incredibly, unbelievably, unfairly - is still in pieces, far from fixed, its people far from healed. ... I am instantly transported to last August, when I stood helplessly in front of the convention center as people sobbed for help and begged for food or water under an unforgiving sun. Angry, sad, confused, I remember thinking, "How could this be happening? Doesn't anyone know what's going on down here? Doesn't anyone care?"

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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:11 PM
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1. I believe I heard
this week that suicides in Miss were up dramatically also. Another one of b#shco's many crimes to humanity.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:12 PM
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2. Yes, we care.
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:22 PM
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3. "If I had a Rocket Launcher" playing now (Bruce Cockburn)
on AAR (Steve Earle show) and I'm sitting here bawling my eyes out... Anger doesn't begin to capture how I feel about NOLA, the Gulf Coast, the Katrina debacle and when layered on top of the horror this administration has wrought in our name throughout the world--the murder, the lies, the wreckage of so many lives...

Anger that can't be directed, that can't be positively focuse, becomes inwardly directed--sadness, depression, despair. Damn, right, I CARE. The problem is that those of us who truly DO CARE are going to be "eaten alive" by this administration.... Only the sociopaths will live a long long life...

One day at a time, I guess... Oh, to be able to go back in time and change just a few important things...Sending prayers for those most affected and determination to do what one person can...

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JPZenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:34 PM
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4. Before and After Images of Katrina Damage in Mississippi
The following link shows before and after images of Katrina damage in coastal Mississippi.
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JPZenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:31 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. More Photos of Katrina Damage
The following photos were taken in March of 2006. /

I am reading "After the Deluge", which is an excellent book about the week that Katrina hit. Nagin, Brown, Cherloff and Bush all come off looking very very bad. The heroes in the book are the Coast Guard and the Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Service, who each rescued hundreds of people, working constantly day and night. Gov. Branco is viewed as a good hearted person who was used as a scapegoat.

The book in particular takes Brown to task for refusing most of the help that was offered in the first few days - including a hundred rescue boats and staff from the State of Florida.
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Sequoia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #4
12. Here's another I'd bookmarked last year from WLOX
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Skittles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 10:50 PM
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5. I cannot imagine it, no matter how much I try
years ago I lost my apartment to a fire - that was traumatic. What would it have been like to, at the same time, lose my job, my neighbnors, hell, my WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD, friends, family members, pets, insurance, etc, all the while knowing my government never gave a damn.........gawd, I'll never be able to imagine it. I grew up as a GI brat and the instability of that kind of living is very hard on a child - it tears me up thinking the trauma the children of Katrina suffered, how they'll ever get over it.

My boyfriend's brother works in New Orleans now in the rebuilding efforts and his reports just make me want to is disgraceful, the lack of progress, and how most people seem to have forgotten.
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ninkasi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:23 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I agree, Skittles
I was born in Houston, and live just north of there now. Before I retired, I met and became friends with lots of people from La., not just New Orleans, but other places. I watched T.V .in horror, my husband and I both did, and we kept telling each other, hey, news crews are there, we saw Anderson Cooper, and Shepard Smith, and if they could get in, and interview people in distress, where the hell is FEMA? Where is our government? WHERE IS OUR GOVERNMENT?

They were not only not there, but in some cases I read about, they were turning away offers of help from other places. I remembered Sept. of 1961, I was eighteen, and pregnant with my first child. Hurricane Carla came through, and it sounded like a freight train, and scared the hell out of me. We lost a few shingles from the roof, had a tree blown down, and were without electricity for about 2-3 weeks. It felt like an eternity, and here are Katrina victims, after a year, and not just a few shingles, but no house, not a couple of uncomfortable weeks till power got restored, but in some cases, they're still waiting.

I think that where some people could contort the reasoning for invading Iraq to the point where they could more or less accept it, even though we at DU didn't, but the victims of Katrina are our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans. I don't pay taxes to destroy other countries, I like to think I pay taxes to help this one when people need help.

The sin of New Orleans, and the rest of the Gulf Coast, and the sin of invading Iraq will always tarnish whatever perverted legacy Bush might have thought he merited. If I watched on T.V., and still felt shaken up, and cried last year, what must it be like for the ones who suffered the loss of everything they ever held dear? We need to leave Iraq and repair America. We also need to help fund the rebuilding of Iraq, and that doesn't mean giving the money to Halliburton, not for Iraq, and not for New Orleans.

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Skittles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:35 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. well said, ninkasi
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 04:43 AM by Skittles
I remember watching TV with my fist pressed in horror against my mouth, at the spectacle of terrified people, in particular a little girl, huddling on a bridge with no help in sight...I thought to myself, our government is gonna bring democracy to the world but they can't get a little girl off a bridge in Louisiana? :(

All that ridiculous blame-the-victim, blame New Orleans drove me nuts - if the city folk were incompetent (and I don't think they were, they were simply overwhelmed), that would be even MORE reason for the feds to step in. DAMN!!!
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Sequoia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #5
11. My husband's home, work and car were burned in the Malibu fire.
I could see the smoke rising from my office at work near LAX over the hills of Topanga Canyon where he lived and worked. He had just paid off for a car and all was lost. Those flames were 80 feet in the sky along the PCH and you could see it against the night sky from Santa Monica. It was horrid and so many lost their homes. Losing all that is very hard on you so I feel so badly for the victims of Katrina who are still dying.
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:39 AM
Response to Original message
8. I'm sure a lot of those people have PTSD, in addition to having
to deal with the stresses of daily life.

What happened to Nola was a tragedy. And the way the federal government didn't deal with it was an absolute disgrace.
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JPZenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 09:27 AM
Response to Original message
10. A Miles Long Trail of Suffering (from last year)
The following are excerpts from an article published last year in the New Orleans Times-Picuyne.

"On I-10, a miles-long trail of suffering

"Eighty-one-year-old Vivian Rillieux hobbled down I-10..., a cane in her hand to steady her swollen ankles and a rag on her balding head to block the punishing sun. All around her marched a sea of Hurricane Katrina refugees, some so dehydrated they could no longer sweat. The lucky ones pushed shopping carts with food and drinks. Others lacked shirts, or even shoes. Rescue boats motored down Canal Street, where the water was nearly to the tops of the thoroughfare's iconic palms and streetlights. Ahead in the distance, people trudged through polluted waters on Poydras Street to get to the Superdome, while helicopters, at one point including Air Force One, circled overhead.

When Rillieux learned that almost no neighborhood in the city had escaped unscathed -- even St. Charles Avenue had taken on water -- she buried her head in her hands. "The city is gone," she said. She and her husband walked amid thousands of refugees who streamed to the elevated expressway, one of the only safe places in a drowning city. As Rillieux trudged down the highway, even the few rescue workers and volunteers on the elevated roadway had little or no food or water to offer. What bothered the crowds more was ... No one could tell them where to go for help....The miles-long trail of suffering on the interstate underscored the biblical proportions of Hurricane Katrina.

After being trapped for days in their homes by water, the thousands of survivors faced a second horror of uncertainty and unbearable toil, scraping for minute-to-minute survival. A few yards in front of Miller, a family of 16, all wearing donated red T-shirts, marched west, asking periodically where they could find safe passage. They lived out of one shopping cart. Grandmother Margie Houston, 57, walked alongside toddlers and teen-agers while nursing a knee that had endured three operations. Two days before the storm, she had been released from the hospital after a bout of pneumonia and heart palpitations. The family had walked for a day after spending two nights trapped by high water in the attic of their eastern New Orleans home."

For more from The Times-Picayune's archives, see

Full text of this article:
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 09:40 PM
Response to Original message
13. k&r
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aaronbees Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-24-06 01:27 AM
Response to Original message
14. When I think of the Gulf Coast now...
and New Orleans in particular, I veer from hearbreak to a fierce rage; actully, the two seem to go hand in hand, born in the gut and heart. A particular kind of psychological hell is created when people are in so much despair that they mask their suicide as an accident. There was a woman in Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke" who discussed how that possibility had crossed her mind. And frankly, she seemed sane even if in despair -- at least much more sane than an administration that has largely left NOLA to waste away. These days I'd rather be mad than criminal.

Great, sensitive article and thank you for posting it.

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