15 February 2007

What's Next? Locust? Killer Bees?

As noted in an earlier post by Hollis P. Wood, my Carrollton home was impacted by the Tornado early Tuesday morning. Here is a brief narrative of the experience:

At around 2am or so before the rains began my six year old son came into our bedroom (as he often does) and wanted me to go lay with him in his bed. I got up and laid in bed with him and as he fell back to sleep the rains began. As warned earlier that evening by the local news, the rains became intense as a front passed the area. As I squirmed out of my son's bed (so he wouldn't realized I left) I decided to go to the computer to look at the radar to see how much longer the rains would continue. I watched in the animated mode for about 15 minutes or so as the heavy cells passed our area and just as the radar image indicated the rain lightened. I was about to turn off the monitor to go back to sleep when I heard this howl in the distance towards the River. The sound became louder and louder and then it was accompanied by a periodic popping sound. These were transformers afixed to utility poles exploding. Finally the sounds got to the point where it was quite apparent they were getting closer to the house--this was about 3am. I was fairly sure it was a tornado and I ran from the front room towards the bedrooms yelling for my wife to get our son and I grabbed our infant daughter from her bed. (In trying to recollect what happened as I wrote this my wife told me she was awake before I called for her because she says there was a brief power surge that caused the clock to reset and she was worried the alarm wouldn't go off the next morning. She looked out of the back bedroom window and saw a weird green sky. I didn't know about the green sky or the power surge.) After my wife and I ran into each other in a panicked state in a darkened room with each of us holding a child trying to get out of our daughter's bedroom with a wall of exterior windows, we managed to get in the one space within our house somewhat away from windows--an area between the kitchen and one of our bathrooms. The tornado passed as we sat on the floor in that space and my wife says she recalls hearing glass amongst the roar as the tornado went past us. I don't remember what I heard. This all happened in the span of less than 30 seconds and outside of our daughter's crying (which I also don't remember) we were all safe. I then went outside to see if any neighbors needed any help and to survey the damage to my and my neighbor's houses.

No one in our immediate area (our block) was hurt and within about 5 or 10 minutes after the tornado past most came out of their homes. The damage to our house was five blown windows--four on the the one side of the house and two panels in the window on the backside of the house in our bedroom. Both windows in the first room blew inwards placing glass throughout the room (the room I was in minutes before on the computer). I found an inch-long razor-sharp shard of glass impaled into one of the walls in that room a day later when cleaning up. The window in my daughter's room and two in our bedroom blew out towards the outside with all of the glass falling outside of the house. I am told this was due to the pressure differential. Shingles (including one in my daughter's bed) and leaves and twigs found their way into the affected bedrooms. My movable gate in my backyard got blown from the track and wound up flipped over in the driveway. Apparently the chain (part of the motorized apparatus of the gate) kept it from blowing away or blowing into our cars. The roof sustained shingle damage that will necessitate a new roof. And finally one of our 50+ year old crepe myrtles on the side of our house fell into my neighbor's adjacent yard. It grazed the back corner of their house but didn't do too much damage. I think we both got lucky on that one. Their house had a 50 foot tree fall on it during KTMB--it took them eight months for that damage to be repaired to for them to get back home.

Just like Katrina we got out of this fairly well--to which I am gratefully thankful. What's amazing is that in one block in both directions from my porch there is no evidence of any tornado. The destruction was contained to a very narrow swath--which we unfortunately lived along. On my block on the opposite street a recently renovated two-story mammoth of a duplex fell off of its foundations. The top floor is occupied by the structure's owner. The bottom unit: a middle-aged couple from Lakeview who of course lost their house in the flood. The double whammy. Two blocks away another recently-moved in middle aged couple had the roof ripped off of their house. I don't really know them but have waived at them many times when walking or driving by over the past months. They didn't realize a tornado was coming but thought the sound was hail. The sheetrock of the ceiling fell atop them as they laid in their second story bed. When they managed to get the sheetrock off of themselves, above them was open sky--the roof was gone . . .

This was obviously a traumatic experience, but I don't know if I am shell-shocked or desensitized or what but it still doesn't seem like it happened. Seems like a dream. My son's response as we huddled in the hallway as the tornado shot down Short Street was "Well, now I have something to write about in my journal at school." We have discussed what happened and I think so far he's handling it well and hasn't had any 'Nam-like flashbacks yet.

My block of street and the few blocks of Carrollton Avenue nearest me resembles the appearance of Fall 2005 with tree debris and metal and roofing tiles everywhere. The difference this time is that going one block or two blocks over within Carrollton and Uptown the ruin goes away. Gentilly, Lakeview, New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward, and St. Bernard 19 months post-KTMB don't have that luxury.

Up next: locust. Or killer bees (The bees could be led to the Superdome . . . .)

Will post neighborhood pictures soon. Stay tuned . . .

How important is New Orleans??

How important is New Orleans??

Everyone in the country needs to read this.


14 February 2007

Expecting the Locusts Anytime Now.

I spent most of yesterday helping Seymour clean up the glass inside and outside of his house. There were broken windows in almost every room including his 6 month old daughters. Glass everywhere including Seymour's computer desk. I expect he may be down for a few days, his desk was covered.

We got all the windows covered to keep out the cold and a lot of the glass cleaned up. I expect they will be finding it for months to come. Power was restored to the home about 6:30 last night. All in the Fair family are safe and unharmed.

I'm sure Mr. Fair will be posting pictures and telling his story as soon as possible.

Mardi Gras rolls on..............myself and 3 other contributors to this site will be on Float 15 in the Krewe of Thoth. Neutral ground side in the front. We roll Sunday at 11:30 Look for us, we throw tons of stuff. Literally, we had to build a bigger float.

13 February 2007

Don't Give Up...

When I woke up this morning at my "home away from home" in mid-America, I was frustrated to discover several inches of snow and a moderate winter storm. I thought I had it bad.

Then I went to my cell phone and noticed that one of my good friends, and fellow contributors to this blog, dropped me a text message saying that his home (which made it through KTMB relatively unscathed), was hit by the tornado that went through New Orleans this morning. He did let me know, however, that he and his family are okay.

I guess it could be worse.

Those of you who just got slapped in the face again, my thoughts go out to you. It just doesn't seem right. Keep the faith, and don't give up. Some of us still are concerned and care about you.

10 February 2007

Deficient Parenting in New Orleans

The murder of 17-year old Robert Dawson is an incredibly sad and outrageous story of another 17-year old getting into a fight with Mr. Dawson, going home to tell his mother of the incident, and then having his mother tell him he needed to get revenge by killing those responsible. The story has been well told by the Times-Picayune and I am sure everyone is a buzz about it. However, one line in the story caught my eye, actually a quote from NOPD spokesman Sgt. Joe Narcisse "No police department can make up for that degree of deficient parenting.“

I find this statement from the NOPD shocking. The NOPD announced that the 17-year old murder suspect's mother had cocaine in her posession. Granted, this is bad parenting, I guess that is obvious, but it could also be a serious problem associated with drug addiction and the wide availability of illegal drugs in the Crescent City.

The NOPD may not be able to make up for any degree of deficient parenting, but they can and should crack down on illegal drug distribution. This is the root of nearly all of the crime in New Orleans. I rarely feel unsafe in New Orleans in any neighborhood, and that is because I am not in any way involved in illegal drugs. Most of the crime, including murders, have their root in illegal drug trafficking; we all know that and that is why we become most alarmed by murders not directly involving drugs (which are quite rare). The NOPD was not very good at stopping illegal drug activity before Katrina, and they seem to be even worse at it now.

Don't believe me? Most neighborhoods in New Orleans have a street corner or two, or maybe a single block that is owned by teenage thugs that blatantly sell drugs on the street. We have all seen it over and over again. There is one block like that near me. Calling NOPD for action is a joke. They show up in a cruiser 45 minutes after you call (if you are lucky), and drive right by the drug dealing sentinels stationed several blocks away from where deals go down, armed only with Nextel/Sprint phones. These sentinels alert the actual drug dealers that a police cruiser is nearing the location where deals are going down. By the time the NOPD shows up, all is quiet, drugs are stashed under houses and in trunks of abandoned cars, and the police officer comes straight to your door to tell you he/she does not see anything going on. Of course, you would think that the NOPD would understand the logistics of the drug dealers, but it is obvious that they don't. Or they don't care.

Would Robert Dawson, 17, and just returning from Dallas, be dead today if the NOPD had control over the drug trade? I can't say for sure, but if cocaine and crack and pot were not so readily available in nearly every neighborhood, maybe an addicted mother would not have cocaine in her system at the time her son came home from a fistfight with another teenager. Maybe she wouldn't be addicted at all and be caught up in a cycle of buying (and selling?) illegal drugs.

I have an idea for the NOPD: spend more time out of your cruisers and on your feet walking our neighborhoods, arresting thugs selling drugs who control our many of our corners, and shutting down illicit drug distribution in New Orleans. Then maybe you can get into the crime prevention game instead of the crime solving game. And maybe help some other drug addicted mother to be less deficient at parenting.

08 February 2007

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. (AP) - A commercial for Snickers candy bars launched in the Super Bowl broadcast was benched after its maker got complaints that it

OK... Here we go again. Great topic for the news. Thank goodness when we have Astronauts Gone Bad, and now Snickers ads offending people... I think I will have to change my moniker to PC (Politically Correct) Beauregard. We simply can't focus on the real issues at hand. New Orleans is still struggling to recover while congress is debating non binding resolutions on the war in Iraq and working on other weighty issues like fixing that important Steroid thing.

Can't wait for Mardi Gras this year... Media coverage will be the same... Katrina tributes (a VERY good thing) but then they will let it fade away while they do nightly features on Mike Tyson's drug rehab (I can't wait for the Diane Sawyer interview).

I also have to continue to listen to people who know nothing about the city, its traditions, it heritage, and the reality of the situation prattle on about what should be done to "fix" or bulldoze it. My standard response is simple... "ever been there? Ever been outside of the French Quarter? Ever talked to a New Orleans native who knows the city? Ever been to a restaurant or a club that is not listed in some tourist guide? No??? then (in the words of Chris Farley) then why don't you just SHUT YOUR YAPPER???

It will take time for the Crescent city and the gulf coast to recover. Time, money and the resolve of some of the most incredible people I have ever met. And as long as I have a voice, I will continue to take up the cause. Hail New Orleans!

07 February 2007

Perspective, People

Now I understand why New Orleans can't capture the imagination of the national news media anymore.

There are MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more important stories out there for them to cover.

Like astronauts having affairs.

God, I hate sweeps. This is what you get when you let audiences, consultants and focus groups determine what is newsworthy instead of trained professionals.

05 February 2007

Peyton Manning--CHAMPION

Okay, now it's time for all the haters to move on. New Orleanian Peyton Manning is a champion.

There is a Super Bowl ring in the Manning family. Archie can now live out his life peacefully.

Now they don't have to hear about how the Mannings are losers. How Peyton could never beat Florida. How Peyton could never beat Brady. How Peyton didn't win the Heisman.

Now, Peyton has something that Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Charles Woodson do not have. A Super Bowl ring AND an MVP award.


If anybody but the Saints was going to win it all, I'm glad it was the Colts. And not just because they beat the Bears (Finishing What Katrina Started). And not just because of Peyton. Reggie Wayne is a local guy too (even though he went to "DA U"--of course, that was at the disastrous end of the Gerry DiNardo days), Booger McFarland (LSU) now has two rings, and Joseph Addai (LSU) now has a national championship ring and a Super Bowl ring.

I just can't believe I'm so happy for a guy who went to Tennessee and whose dad and brother went to Ole Miss.

Now all of the "He'll never win a big game" people have to find somebody else to pick on. Any suggestions?

01 February 2007

Damn You, The Onion

For making me laugh hysterically at New Orleans's situation. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.

My favorite passage:

"We've done our best to ensure the city is as well off as it was before Katrina hit," Blanco said. "It's all back—the same abandoned cars, the broken bottles, the spent shotgun shells, the rat colonies, even the used diapers on the front lawns. People of New Orleans, welcome home."

Oh, if only we had enough money and resources to return New Orleans even to its old "decrepit" condition.

And for those of you are offended by the story. Remember a few things. First, this is a joke. Second, this is satire. Third, The Onion is anti-establishment/anti-government. An enemy of the enemy is our friend. I know that this can be a sensitive topic for outsiders to make fun of. Sort of like the way you can call your brother a no-good S.O.B., but you'll kick anyone else's ass who says it. But I hope you enjoy it anyway.