Thursday, September 15, 2005

Monday, September 12th, 2005

9:20 am
I’m sixty-five miles west of Houston, in one of the three trucks in our small caravan to Louisiana. Oliver is driving and Marenka is considering sleep after driving half the night, while Democracy Now plays on the radio, coming out of KPFT FM. The electronic road signs state that Hwy 10 is closed in New Orleans, LA. I just left a voice message with a contact who has been moving between Austin and Algiers, asking where Hwy 10 is closed and if it will affect our ability to reach our ultimate destination, Algiers. Algiers is on the West Bank of New Orleans.

Now we’re on our way to a mall parking lot on the outskirts of Houston to collect our posse. We’ll decide where we will drop off some of our donations to sort through for different shelters. Last night we finally made direct contact with Kori of the Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC). Thanks to the many, many people who responded to the call for donations, we have office supplies (copy and fax machine, office paper, pens, etc.) and $1218 to deliver to them.

11:50 am
Just got word that Kori from FFLIC is waiting for us in Sulphur, LA. We’re on our way. With no warning we’re hit by a crazy tropical storm – within seconds visibility decreased to 15 feet ahead of us. We keep moving slowly and steadily.

12:05 pm
We survived! The storm has cleared as quickly as it appeared.

6:11 pm
The last six hours have been ridiculously intense due to pressure to arrive in Algiers by the 6:00pm curfew, which obviously we have not achieved.

At 2pm we had hit a parking lot of a traffic jam due to a semi truck driving off a bridge. Through smart maneuvering with and 4-wheel drive, we succeeded in cheating at least 30-40 minutes off an otherwise two hour delay of stop-and-go traffic.

Later, in Sulphur, we met up with Kori Higgs of FFLIC at a gas station off the highway and transferred our donated office supplies (copy machine, fax machine, paper, pens, and $1,218.) Kori was extremely happy and thankful and repeatedly expressed FFLIC’s appreciation. They are still looking for a space to replace their office in New Orleans. Once they secure a new office location they will be able to respond to the amazing outpouring of support they have received from the email they sent out within days of the hurricane (included in Natasha’s email.)

Also in Sulphur we filled up 30 gallons of gas canisters and bought 64 gallons of bottled water and lots of bug spray. At the gas station Michael Kozart asked about alternate routes from two dislocated residents of New Orleans. One man told Marenka, “Yeah, I used to live in New Orleans… up until the 29th.” He said their families are alive but in shelters and
difficult to get a hold of. The other man said, “I’ve lived in New Orleans my whole life – 53 years. We’ve had hurricanes before. But this… It’s like a dream and I just haven’t woken up yet.” They inquired what we were doing with all the gas canisters. When we told them, one man asked how much we were getting paid to help. He was clearly surprised and pleased to know people are making deliveries without monetary compensation.


Blogger raeanne said...

This is the first time i've been able to logon and read about you guys. Natasha, I listened to your call on ECR, and you were just great. Gino, your pictures are so telling. They make me feel like I'm there with you all and I wish I was. Sending my love to Michael and Dixie. Kozart, it's great to see your smiling pictures as well. I also see pictures of wonderful Kori, all my love to you, gurl! I'm so glad you are safe. Just wanted to say THANK YOU ALL for the great work that you're doing. You are an inspiration!! Hoping to join you and build with you soon. Until then, love and solidarity- Raeanne

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