A Note to Our Katrina Evacuees

We’re ever so grateful you got here safely. Understanding exactly what you’ve gone through, we’ve welcomed you into our community, thrown open our schools, volunteered by the hundreds to see you get all the assistance you need; done our darndest to try make it better for you the best we can. But, when you have the time to take a deep breath, I want you to know that you’ve landed in a community that is still wounded. A small community still trying after a year, a YEAR, to find housing and work for it’s people, but who still had the heart and the love and the compassion for your need to say ‘C’mon on in’, instead of ‘move along’. Please cut us a husk when things don’t move at big city speed. I know it’s hard. Some of the newly christened volunteers helping you out still are living in trailers or with friends themselves. Homeless, like you. But they answered the call. And no, sometimes they don’t have all the answers, but please, please realize the Herculean effort put forth before you complain and castigate them to print and TV journalists. It’s so disheartening and demotivating. After all, they’re volunteers. We have been listening to your complaints. As we hope you can tell, we’ve tried to make things better as quickly as we could. And your appreciation gladdens our hearts.

Outside the church, Red Cross volunteers handed out water and snacks every 10 minutes to the hundreds waiting in line. Inside the church’s air-conditioned gym, 450 seats were available for those near the front of the line.
Rows of 30 applicants at a time were called in to see case managers. The rest of those seated cheered and clapped every time a row was called. Several applicants whose row was called would do a little dance of joy for the amused crowd or pump their fists in the air.
“I’m starting to feel relieved,” said Katara Sellers, 26, of Gautier, Miss. “This is the best place I’ve been so far to get help. I actually expected the line to be longer.”
Eva Kemp, 27, and her cousin, Susie Foreman, 66, both tried to get help three times in Mobile, where they reside. They either were turned away despite getting in line at 2:30 a.m., or they would find out after being in line for hours that the facility would help only Louisiana or Mississippi residents.
“Here, they give us water and treats,” Kemp said. “They watch out for us. There’s no chaos here.”

It’s such a shame, the practice we’ve had this year. How many times we’ve gotten a chance to try to make it perfect. A little bit of a break would be good for all of us about now.

2 Responses to “A Note to Our Katrina Evacuees”

  1. Lisa says:

    On one of the more liberal blogs I read, the writer was complaining about how hard it is to get through to FEMA for the $2000 debit card thingy they’re doing.
    She was trying to help her aunt, who is living with her grandparents, all nice and snug in Northern LA, and OHMIGOD it took FOR.EV.ER. to get through and CAN’T BUSH JUST DIE ALREADY!
    I want to say, “Look, beyotch. Your aunt is FINE. She has a roof over her head and food in her stomach. She is living with FAMILY, not in a shelter or some random FFA Camp in butt-f*ck Arkansas. Let FEMA help the people who have literally NOTHING first. God.”
    Some people.

  2. Ditto, my sister, DIT TO! When we heard these selected few howling about how nobody know nothin’ and why can’t they get someone who knows sumthin’ instead of the idiots they have to deal with, man, I think everyone in Bangla-cola was ready to throw the lot of them back on I-10 and say ‘takes your chances’. The ‘idiots’ are f@cking volunteers, quite a few still suffering from the big storm last year and the one a month ago that didn’t hit NOLA, so I guess that means it doesn’t matter, since it was only us. Oh my God, we were all so hot…took me a second to write this post and a week to get it fit to print. (I’m still gonna get pictures of the 4 FEMA trailer parks just in my neck of the woods, alone.) The other problem is that they’re city dwellers, for God’s sake and welcome to our world. Sorry you have to drive 10 miles one way and 5 back to get to the different places. Welcome to our world. If you wanted convenience, you shoulda landed somewhere urban, where there’s bus service and cabs and walking distances. We can’t help what we are, but you sure as hell could try to appreciate where we’ve been and our bustin’ our collective asses to get you everything you need that we possibly can. And that maybe we STILL don’t even have ourselves yet…
    Damn. There’s a lot of pissed people here, but they’re working and helping through it.

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