Monthly Archives: July 2010

We Want Our Lives Back Too

BP Chairman Tony Hayward

In the recent movie “Brooklyn’s Finest”, actor Don Cheadle, as an undercover cop, tells his superiors that he “wants his life back”. When I first watched this scene, I couldn’t help but be distracted from the storyline and think of someone named Tony Hayward. This post is long overdue.

Did the BP CEO watch this movie before the oil spill, and had it leave a profound effect on his persona? Or is it just a eerily ironic, stupid statement made by someone who had and still HAS a lush albeit complicated life?

That life he never lost will continue on in all its pompous, plush glory, even if he is replaced and no longer running BP, while those who so much depended on nature destroyed by Mr Want My Life Back’s business must continue a struggle to recover their lives. And in the midst of hurricane season, worry about complications from more than just a possible hurricane. We want our lives back, too, and many are still rebuilding from the devastation of hurricanes Katrina & Rita.

A fitting life for Mr Want My Life Back would be a US government imposed life on the waters of the Gulf Coast, where as much as he claims to care about the people, he can work side by side with the cleanup workers, and eventually the fishermen, shrimpers, and others in the seafood industry, to EARN his life back.[

FEMA Extends Temporary Housing Program For Hurricane Ike

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced today that the Governor’s request for an extension of the temporary housing unit (THU) program has been granted for eligible Hurricane Ike survivors. The program, previously extended to July 9, 2010, will now end January 7, 2011.

“While the majority of temporary housing unit occupants in this program have transitioned to more permanent, long-term housing, there are a few that need a little more time,” said State Coordinating Officer Ben Patterson. “We are confident that this second extension will help the remaining occupants of FEMA-supplied units complete their recovery.”

In response to Hurricane Ike, a total of 3,701 temporary housing units (mobile homes and park models) were provided to Texas residents. Currently 149 units remain occupied.

“The majority of our remaining occupants are working to rebuild or repair their homes” added FEMA Hurricane Ike Recovery Manager Brad Harris. “Remaining families may continue to live in the units as long as they remain eligible and can show that they are making progress toward their permanent housing.”

FEMA continues to provide eligible applicants the opportunity to purchase their temporary housing unit through a sales program. To date, 1,062 occupants have chosen to buy their unit.

FEMA will also continue to work with the state, tribal nations, local governments and voluntary organizations to facilitate donations of units that can be used for the sole purpose of providing temporary housing to eligible applicants.

Additionally, at the State of Texas’ request, FEMA has reopened the temporary rental assistance program. Applicants may be authorized to receive a one-time Temporary Housing award for two month’s rent to facilitate their transition from the FEMA-provided THU into interim housing (subject to program rules for maximum assistance). For those applicants who are moving from the THU because their home is being constructed under a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) project, the Recovery Manager may, on a case-by-case basis, authorize one additional month of rental assistance if, due to unforeseen contractor delays in repairing or reconstructing the dwelling, the applicant will have to remain out of the dwelling for more than 60 days.

Beyond Katrina

NEW ORLEANS, June 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Hurricane Katrina’s deluge was Biblical. When it hit Louisiana and Mississippi the morning of August 29, 2005, the storm caused fearsome destruction. Then the disaster grew worse. The levees – the man-made walls built to protect New Orleans from the water surrounding it – failed. Their collapse flooded 80 percent of the city. By the time the waters receded and the survivors regrouped, Katrina, and then Hurricane Rita, had claimed more than 1,400 lives and the dreams of hundreds of thousands.

“Hurricane Katrina was a watershed in American history,” says historian Doug Brinkley. “Never before did we watch the near total devastation of a major American city as it happened. The response and rebuilding challenged us as a nation. New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have come back renewed. The story of what happened five years ago must be remembered.”

On October 26, 2010, the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans will remember the devastation and showcase the renewal with a new exhibit years in the making. Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond is a $7.5 million exhibit opening on the ground floor of the historic Presbytere in the French Quarter’s Jackson Square. The 6,700 square-foot installation tells the stories of real people caught in the hurricane’s wrath. It tells of their rescue, recovery, rebuilding and renewal in a way certain to move both those who survived the storms of 2005 and those who watched the events unfold on TV.

Combining eyewitness accounts, historical context, immersive environments and in-depth scientific exploration, Katrina and Beyond enables visitors to understand the 2005 storms’ impact on Louisiana, the Gulf Coast and the nation. It is a story of how a culture – the rich, variegated world of New Orleans and coastal Louisiana – has learned to live with the fragility of its environment and how the storms of 2005 gave rise to a new vision for the region.

Designed by the Boston-based firm ExperienceDesign that worked with the Museum’s historians, curators and exhibit designers, Living with Hurricanes consists of a powerful and moving series of galleries – each telling one aspect of the story using artifacts and rich media – sound, video and computer graphics.

“Museums have become places for interactive learning,” says Museum Director Sam Rykels. “The galleries in Living with Hurricanes are designed to convey what happened to visitors of all ages and all backgrounds incorporating everything from survivors’ personal mementos to their thoughts and feelings.”

Gallery One illustrates Louisiana’s history with water, from the Mississippi River’s benefits to the threats of coastal storm surges and floods. Visitors will move through the “Evacuation Corridor,” overhearing residents’ voices as they weigh their options as Katrina approaches. A state of the art “Storm Theater” shows Katrina’s full fury with moving and dramatic footage of the hurricane’s onslaught.

Gallery Two takes visitors past a leaking floodwall and into an attic and onto a roof where they can view the flooded city surrounding them. They’ll hear a firsthand account of a St. Bernard Parish family’s rescue and view artifacts, histories and photographs.

Throughout the galleries are compelling artifacts ranging from music legend Fats Domino’s baby grand piano found in his flooded Ninth Ward house to a Coast Guard rescue basket to seats from the Louisiana Superdome. The objects serve as touchstones in recalling the days after the storm.

The forensics of Katrina unfold in Gallery Three where science and innovative displays come together. A large interactive table map shows the paths of Katrina and Rita and the sequence of floods that inundated the region. Visitors discover how the levees failed with digital animation. Additional displays illustrate the realities of eroding wetlands, disaster management, engineering and the science of predicting and tracking hurricanes.

The Fourth Gallery celebrates recovery and promotes preparedness, showcases the ingenuity of Louisianans in rebuilding their lives and communities. The gallery will be updated regularly to reflect advancements in flood protection and coastal restoration and new strategies for living with hurricanes.

“Visitors will leave knowing the power of hope,” says Louisiana Lt. Governor Scott Angelle. “Even in the darkest hours just after the storm Louisianans were already drawing up plans to make their home a better place than it was before. Now, five years after, there’s a true rebirth in our state.”

Founded in 1906 with a mission to collect, preserve, interpret and present the state’s rich history and diverse cultures, the Louisiana State Museum’s collection now totals more than 450,000 artifacts and works of art. These provide an authentic experience of Louisiana to visitors from around the world while enhancing the quality of life for residents. The Museum is part of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

The exhibit will be located at The Presbytere on Jackson Square, New Orleans. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, please call 800.568.6968 or visit