Monthly Archives: April 2008

What New Orleans Has In Common With Hawaii Or Lake Tahoe

New_Orleans_Skyline_from_Uptown.jpgNew Orleans is once again among the top ten travel spots in the United States and a winner of the travel media network TripAdvisor 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards, according to a new poll of travelers.

The winners were determined by a combination of TripAdvisor’s travelers’ favorite places and overall popularity on TripAdvisor.com. Six of the other top ten destinations are located in California, two in Hawaii, and the other is in Arizona.

“Whether it’s for their unique beauty, or abundance of attractions, the awards honor the most beloved destinations from around the world”, said Michele Perry, vice president of global communications for TripAdvisor. "Determined by millions of travelers, the awards are unique because they single out not just popular places but truly exceptional places that enthrall travelers and keep them coming back." Other awards were given to the top world and top European destinations.

2008 Travelers’ Choice U.S. Destinations:
1.     Lake Tahoe, California
2.     Big Sur, California
3.     San Francisco, California
4.     Poipu, Hawaii
5.     Sedona, Arizona
6.     New Orleans, Louisiana
7.     Carmel, California
8.     Napa, California
9.     Lahaina, Hawaii
10.  La Jolla, California Continue reading

Sean Penn To Get Dirty Hands In New Orleans

Sean PennAs the Jazz Fest winds down next Sunday evening, a bus caravan with fans, no doubt, of another music festival 1800 miles away will descend on New Orleans with a purpose and a Penn in hand (pardon the pun) – namely, actor Sean Penn, who is leading the brigade, called the “Dirty Hands Caravan”, from the deserts of California to K-Ville.

The activist actor is on the way down yonder with the bio-diesel buses carrying volunteer activists taking part in Penn’s pet project that aims to “Inspire individuals to take individual action”. The group intends to do good works in New Orleans.

“I see this as a reckoning,” said Penn, who made two appearances at the Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, California on Sunday.”My generation and those that came before have to recognize the numbing of incentive that we’ve passed on to the change-hungry, imaginative, smarter than us youth of today.”

The Oscar winning actor also said, “We’re providing the wheels, and they’re going to show us how to take the ride. I believe they are capable of engaging independently of their friends, their political party, or an established coalition. The Dirty Hands Caravan seeks to empower young people to stand up for what they believe in, with its longevity based on inspired individuality and pride.”

Good Neighbor Offers An Olive Branch

Whoever it is on the legal team at State Farm headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois that does not want to add insult to injury suggested this olive branch:

State Farm Insurance Company has reached a settlement with a Mississippi couple.

A few weeks ago a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans ordered a new trial and threw out a lawsuitthe couple filed against the insurance giant for denying their claim of hurricane Katrina damages.

In 2007 a Gulfport jury had awarded the couple $2.5 million in punitive damages, reduced later to $1 million by the judge. The panel said the judge shouldn’t have allowed jurors to consider punitive damages in the first place.

gimme time

I always wonder how all those people find time to be on the streets of New Orleans – or anywhere in any city for that matter. But for some reason or another it seems that Canal Street is always crowded, the malls are always busy, and things like the Jazz Fest draw crowds on a Friday afternoon, makin it look like something bigger than I saw even before Katrina.

WOW! Don’t you people have jobs..don’t you work? Then I wish somebody would give me the secret and tell me–but only if u r not a banker, how the f— do you have the time to spend a whole afternoon listening to music?!?

I think i need some time-management classes or somethin’.

Oh…must be the tourists, visitors, and peeps just wantin to come back home…thank you all.

You Go, Girl!

Tammy Gillespie, a married mother of three from St. Bernard parish who is a hurricane Katrina survivor living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, won $20,000 in the Tennessee Lottery second-chance drawing.

“You’re serious? You have no idea what this means!” Ms. Gillespie told Rebecca Hargrove, President and CEO of the Lottery, during the surprise phone call Ms. Hargrove made to share the good news. “We’re Katrina survivors and we’re trying to go back home. I just can’t even believe this is happening to me …Tennessee has been so good to us!”

Congratulations, Tammy!

Another Victory for State Farm: Insult to Injury II

Judge rejects fraud claim against State Farm in Katrina suit
By HOLBROOK MOHR

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge dismissed claims of fraud in a key Hurricane Katrina lawsuit that accused State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. of using different engineering reports to deny a couple’s insurance policy after the storm…[DETAILS]

You Wonder

Let me tell you a little story about a EMT who worked in New Orleans long before katrina. He lived over on the Ms. gulf coast and did the responsible thing and evacuated his family out of harms way. He was far from rich and he was barely able to keep his families head above water (pardon the pun).

He left town with 100 bucks for gas and food and no idea what would happen to him. Luckily he worked for a good co. and they found a safe place for his family to go. The only downside was, as soon as they were safe he went to the superdome to help with all the poor, unfortunate, and downright ignorant people who refused to leave.

Upon arrival he was cussed at constantly and berated by the citizens he was there to help. He went without sleep for days, taking care of the sick and dying. There was no air conditioning and the temp soon rose to over 100 degrees. You couldnt even wipe the sweat from your forehead because of the possibility of cross contamination into your eyes. All the while the doctors and nurses that were sent from all over the country to help were being yelled at and treated like shit by the residants of N.O.

You had tourists there from germany and england that could not believe the peoples behavior. You fought and yelled and screamed like little babies. Everyone was scared, alot of people had lost everything, so what gives you all the damn right to make it personal. The only person responsible for your plight at that time was yourself.

Allow me to fast forward a couple of days. After being shot at and working on a MP that was shot, my company decided it probably was not safe anymore. On my way to a helicopter I was punched in the face and had feces thrown at me. “How Civilized”  I was evacuated to I-10 and causeway, many of you remember the place, TV crews kept calling it the cloverleaf.

My company handed me a hot breakfast when I arrived. I noticed a young boy standing nearby looking at me as I opened the plate. Considering my last 72 hrs. I really had no appetite so I gave the plate to him. His mom took the plate from him!!!!! That pissed me off to the point of violence almost.

Here we were 1000′s of volunteers helping 10s of thousands of people get out of a city, and I personally wanted to give that little boy a plate of food and his Fn mother took the plate from him. Then I looked around and noticed all these people in line bitching and crying that they had no food or water. I had been there for 5 minutes and I noticed, just across the interstate mind you 10 tons of mre’s and another 10 tons of water. People were to lazy to go get it. Another lady came up to me and asked me for a coke. I handed her my bottle of water, she threw it back at me because it was not cold.

Photographers were trying to take pictures of patients on stretchers. I was removed from the situation and placed on another helicopter to be re-united with my family 5 hrs. later. Upon seeing my wife behind the wheel of the only car we owned now, my stepdaughters 92 acura hatchback, I got in the car and she informed me that we had lost everything. I broke down, finally, not because of my loss or because I was in a strange city with no friends and only my family to rely on.

I broke down because of you stupid, incencitive, ignorant citizens of New Orleans that didnt have enough sense to evacuate a bowl, even though you had a cat. 5 hurricane coming towards you and were told to leave. I hope you leave next time, I doubt anyone will come to your rescue again.

No Place Like Home: Hurricane Katrina’s Lasting Impact

One of the findings from a study presented at a meeting of the Population Association of America in New Orleans is that hurricane survivors who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina were over five times more likely to experience serious psychological distress a year after Katrina than those who did not…[SCIENCE DAILY]

Love Affair Drowning In New Orleans

U. S. Corps of Engineers Mississippi River Carrollton gauge chart April 13-19, 2008

My romance with the National Weather Service flood warnings is over – for now. In the middle of my evacuation infatuation plans the love affair with the service and the idea of skipping town for a few days this week was put on hold.

But (damn!) the fear of FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers running things scares the hell out of me.

Who cares? Day and night, in the past week, I was beginning to get a little frustrated anyway with the flood warning forecast reports, predicting that the Mississippi River would crest at the flood stage of 17 feet at the Carrollton gauge in New Orleans (the record high flood stage is 21.27 Ft. set on April 25, 1922).

Then to take it to an extreme, the weather service’s warning also explicitly and brilliantly said in case of high water (which at two feet can float a small truck) – “TURN AROUND AND DON’T DROWN” (duh!).

This was a rollercoaster prediction, with either the morning or evening forecasts alternately predicting that flood stage would come, causing “minor” street flooding in New Orleans, at first late Monday night, then Tuesday morning, then Monday night, then Tuesday morning, then…well – you get the picture.

And even after the Bonne Carre Spillway was opened, diverting river water into Lake Pontchartrain, I still didn’t rest easier, watching the National Weather Service reports from the water gauge still going up, from 16.7 to 16.8 the next day to 16.9 Friday evening (after all, the water is being diverted right?). And what happens to the lake when it reaches a flood level?

If these kind of predictions would seem to cause a little anxiety, in my case they did, but only by their very origin and nature. On the other hand – who expects the National Weather Service to be precise?

If it looks like this romance has a chance of starting up again, I’ll have to think it over. It may not be love after all.

What I was doing on the day my street flooded

     On the day my street flooded, I was posted on my porch chillin with my boys and we had thought that everything was all good but that all changed. All of a sudden water started coming down the sidewalks and the streets were still dry. Man that tripped my head out, the water streamed down to the main street and filled in the rest of the street . A few hours later the water had risen to about five feet before it setteled in and started doing its damage.

Waters Are Rising

Has anyone heard anything about what happens if the Mississippi River levees in New Orleans get topped? Or, worse yet, if they get breached, or blown up? Can we count on the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and the local, state and federal government to have things under control?

How fast could water come in, and could it cause 3 or 13 feet of water in the city?

I would hope they know what the integrity of these levees are, and they have a better plan for that type of emergency, and fill us in, cause if the citizens know what they’re up against, we can all make better plans.

Hurricane Katrina Survivors Have Better Things To Do

“V-Day” events, the French Quarter Festival, and the Strawberry Festival had to wait. On this weekend what was more important to some hurricane survivors were much smaller events with more important goals that mattered.

Like a meeting of the New Orleans Survivors Council, a small group with huge aspirations. Since 2006, the council has met on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. in an old, gutted ninth ward church to map out plans for bringing New Orleans hurricane survivors home and providing much-needed services and resources of empowerment to the community. One of those goals is to restore this historic church used as a meeting place. For more info on the New Orleans Survivors Council call (504)655-2715

Another happening for Katrina survivors took place Saturday in another ninth ward location, at St. Claude and Tupelo St., which has become home to the ACORN Lower Ninth Ward Center. There on Saturday, around 200 survivors attended the first annual Rebuilding Fair put on by New Orleans ACORN.

Here Rachel James, a winner in one of the raffles held during the Rebuilding Fair, proudly shows off her prize – a Mother’s Day cake:
Picture 013.jpg

With no guest speakers, live music, or carnival rides, just being there at hurricane survivor events in New Orleans and the gratifying feeling of being among others who survived and are trying to help rebuild lives and homes matters much – and means a lot to them.

Problems With FEMA Relocation Assistance?

A Katrina survivor wants to connect with others who have had problems with FEMA’s Relocation Assistance Program, and left a post in the Katrina Connection Forums as well as this post on craigslist.org (Please register for this blog to post your experiences or ways to get help):

Not long ago, I relocated from New Orleans to Portland Oregon. Got this letter in the mail from FEMA, decided to give up my life there and return home, with the promise of my moving expenses being reimbursed. I’ve raked up over $3000 in debt now, and still have not received a dime. I have 2 close friends who have been rejected altogether. I myself was rejected too, but i appealed, and it’s still up for review. I’m looking for other people who are dealing with this program. I’m outraged at the way it’s being handled (mishandled), and as we all know, one single voice is not going to be heard. Anyone out there want to share? Possibly write letters? Possibly have a group voice to stand at city hall for a press conference, maybe? Something?

scratalie

Gimme A “V” ({})

Gimme a “V”…gimme an “A”…I’d better not go all the way. The stigma of this website being a “V”-friendly site scares me. On the other hand, if I were a certain mayor…the stigma could possibly in some way turn out to be a good thing.

But then, to avoid sounding like a male chauvinist, let me make it clear: I am a man who understands. So, to avoid being quoted as saying what the “Chocolate City” mayor Ray Nagin said…how can I give props to an event for the “V”? And, other than being (dirty) thought-provoking, what does the “V” have to offer (men)?

Well, let’s see. When I first heard the term “V-Day” used, another word – war (as in “D-Day”) – initially came to mind. I’d bet curiosity makes most people want to know more about V-Day, after realizing what the “V” stands for, because females for generations have held the word sacred.

Actually V-Day is for a good cause. A global movement to stop violence against women and girls. Sounds rational enough to me, because if men value material things they love and don’t perform violence against those things, and if we value and promote global social causes, we should also do no violence against it and value and promote the v—–a, right?

Anyway, Eve Ensler, the “Vagina Monologues” woman behind the mission, has managed to round up star power and the media to New Orleans to help promote the idea of increasing anti-violence awareness.

Salma Hayek, Faith Hill, Jane Fonda, Jessica Alba, Glenn Close, Ali Larter, Rosario Dawson, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Beals, and Charmaine Neville are just a few of the names slated to appear at the New Orleans Arena and Louisiana Superdome during the two-day “V To The Tenth” anniversary events, opening with a “V To The Tenth” celebration at the New Orleans Arena on Friday, April 11.

Jennifer Hudson will perform, Oprah will do a rendition of the V-Monologues, hundreds of others will speak, and thousands more will listen as the global crusade against violence against women and girls goes wild, with a parade on Saturday, no doubt.

The parade will feature our very own Katrina Warriors, survivors in their own right, who also have a new website sponsored in part by the “V” people. Gimme a ({}) and all it stands for. There! I said it!

Insult To Injury?

An elderly woman died in front of the convention center in New Orleans during the chaos following hurricane Katrina. Her son sued the State of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans, but the case was thrown out.

A federal judge held that the company which owned the barge that broke loose in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina and rammed into the ninth ward levees is not liable for damages.

A federal appeals court dismissed $1 million in punitive damages that had been awarded to a couple from Mississippi who had sued State Farm for denying their claim of wind damage to their home, destroyed by flooding and wind.

A federal judge stopped Mississippi attorneys once associated with famed attorney Dickie Scruggs (who engineered tobacco company lawsuits) from representing State Farm policyholders in lawsuits against the insurance giant. Scruggs recently pled guilty to bribery of a judge in another Katrina case..

A federal judge earlier this year ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers is immune from liabilityin a class action lawsuits filed against the agency.

What does this latest trend of anti-Katrina survivor judgements mean? At the very least, in most cases, examples of insult to injury. Not only have many hard-working, taxpaying hurricane Katrina survivors obviously suffered damages and hardships from the disasters that incited the litigations, but they are now getting the “short end of the stick”.

Of course courts were deluged with a hail of lawsuits after Katrina. In many cases it’s insurance company litigation.

One problem is that after working hard, buying a house, and maintaining homeowners insurance, many people never purchase a flood insurance policy they need, for whatever reasons. Most insurance companies assert that homeowner policies cover wind but not water damage.

Yet, if the government has found that it did, in fact, make mistakes following hurricane Katrina, has learned its lesson well, and therefore should not be held liable, then perhaps the homeowners who admittedly made the mistake of not having that flood policy have learned their lessons as well and in some cases should not be held liable.