Saturday, August 29, 2015

Peace, Love & Levees my friends... 

Monday - August 29, 2005

We sat huddled in our den watching television. The gravity of the situation becoming clearer and clearer... All I wanted was to go back one day and stop time and gather everyone and have the opportunity to walk out of our city the way I was able to walk out of my house... with my loved ones, holding hands and heading toward safety. I was absolutely polarized. You could not make a call, texting was spotty and proved very frustrating. Around Noon, I vividly remember all of us agreeing to turn off the television and we sat in silence staring at each other. All I kept thinking about is all of those I left behind... friends, clients and my family - my New Orleans family... the people who lived here, worked here... the people that made this city what she was

By late afternoon I was able to pull it together enough to put myself to work. I had a job, a company and had to figure out what the HELL  we were going to do now. I knew that some of our rescue groups in NOLA would need a home and having grown up in Ascension Parish and having a Dad that knows EVERYONE I knew we had to be ready to help anyone and everyone that we could. My Daddy started contacting everyone he knew with rental property. By about 2pm on the 29th you could not find an apartment to rent in Gonzales or Baton Rouge. They moved that fast... all of us that were displaced knew it was going to be a very long time before we would be able to go home.  It literally happened that quickly. Baton Rouge/Gonzales was New Orleans West.

The next few  days were spent working and trying desperately to find and help as many people as we could. Each night music filled the air and a large Daiquiri filled my belly! My parents moved from our home to give Mike and I, Derek and Rae plenty of room. The members of their congregation made sure that we had food and clothing and would offer to do anything they could for us. One of Derek's best friends and fellow musician,  joined us on day two and from that point forward everything changed again...  I will just say this... Having a Musician for a baby Brother has given me great joy and I have been blessed to know some of the best Jazz Musicians this city has to offer. The one that moved in with us is one I have always been especially close to. I can't tell his story because it is not mine to tell but I can say this... When you know in your heart of hearts that the worst possible outcome is likely the outcome it is so very painful. Not knowing was so hard. All I could think about was how scared someone must have been to be alone in a home while the city was filling up with water and what dying alone must have been like. His Father's was the first of many funerals that we would attend in the coming months.  That experience with him, living the pain of worry with him is something that I will never forget.

We were back in New Orleans five days later and from that point forward we were back almost every day. I spent countless hours at Lamar Dixon (located just three miles from our family home in Gonzales) with the LASPCA and rescue groups from across the state and finally the country. Mr. Bill and Ms. Mary Lee Dixion had no idea what they were getting themselves into when the offered Lamar Dixon for a rescue/shelter because I don't think anyone could have known just how AWFUL and painful things would become. 

We were lucky... We were able to get to our home on the 7th day. I was going to post photos but when I opened the photo file, I saw the first images of Lamar Dixon and my heart sank and I closed it as quickly as I opened it. I am not ready to see any of the images that we captured... Perhaps K20? By the time we arrived here most everyone that wanted to leave was gone.  We did not know that but, we could not get close to either the Superdome or the Convention Center. I remember driving down St. Charles Avenue and seeing the National Guard everywhere you turned. We were not supposed to be here and we were thankful that they let us move about the way they did. From the street everything looked fine... the fence was down but the house looked fine. Every window in place. From the moment I opened to front door I knew everything was not fine... but oddly I was not emotional at all. We walked slowly to the back. The floors and walls already molding... We went directly to the third floor and the moment I opened the door, I could see the sky. We lost the entire back roof. Everything was gone... We were so lucky! We only lost half of everything we owned. Water in... not up.  We grabbed some things and left knowing what we needed to prepare for. 

Day 8 - ... We were learning our new normal. Living in Gonzales, working at Lamar Dixion, standing in gas lines, working and putting NOLAPC back together. When we were here, we visited everyone that was open... we watched Football at Molly's in the Quarter almost every Sunday. We would always come with a trunk full of stuff and leave with an empty one. 

I had a plan to be back in the city as soon as I could and wanted to be ready to support my clients that I knew would be back too. It just so happened that my company had a corporate apartment in Elmwood and it was offered to me. I was back in Jefferson Parish in less than 30 days. New Orleans was a hell hole and I was so happy to be back in it. The company that I worked for was amazing to me... I was able to work where ever and when ever I wanted to... no questions asked. I hired a contractor from Gonzales and had a roof and rebuilt home by mid October. (Thank goodness my Dad knows everyone in Ascension Parish!) We were back here...I was so lucky and so blessed and I felt so guilty. We opened our home to anyone who needed a place to stay... 

Those of us that were back learned to live with, respect and appreciate the National Guard even when it was past curfew and we had to beg to get into the neighborhood. (Shout out to the Cajun Army from Lake Charles that was stationed near me!)  We listened for and celebrated the HUGE trucks that picked up debris, trash, refrigerators...We knew everyone that was home and watched out for each other. We made plans to eat at restaurants that were opening just to encourage them and offer appreciation. We all moved from house to house, helping each other... and one by one my little pet care company grew again. I could have never imagined what it would become. 

Slowly we were finding our way... 

I hate to say this but I am not in love with "the new New Orleans" at all. I am learning to adjust to it but I miss our New Orleans. The pre K New Orleans. I see the progress and the "new" things but I know what is missing and what the new replaced and frankly I would rather have that back... I miss our people the most.

With that, these ten years have given me much to be thankful for… new friends, clients and a team that helped me in my darkest days… I have been asked time and time again “why did you even bother” and to that I always say the same thing… because I was here before and I was not going to let that damn hurricane destroy what I created.  My silly little pet care company was coming back just like I was.

I love you New Orleans… and I am learning to love you more. I will not forget who you were and I am going to try to love who you are becoming.

Viva New Orleans! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Douglas Brinkley (I am sitting in his kitchen)

Haha... I bought my house from Douglas Brinkly. BTW - still have mad respect for Honore!


This face...

Sending love to Mommy...

All smiles...


Today just went off the rails...

I will catch up, I will catch up!

Hug me...

Waiting for the cookie part!

Sunday - August 28, 2005

7am Katrina was upgraded to Category 5, @10am a mandatory evacuation order was issued and at 12pm the Superdome opened as shelter of last resort. 

I remember having conscious sleep... hoping that we would wake up and that Katrina would have miraculously moved or weakened. Neither happened and I remember turning on the news and sitting at the edge of my bed and crying uncontrollably. I was born here... I knew full well that this is "the one" that was always talked about. We all know that we live in a saucer... All I could think about was all of those people that were going to try to stay and ride it out and all of those that HAD to stay and I was considering doing the same. I had to talk to my baby Brother first. I was going to do whatever he did. 

Remy and I took off on our last morning walk and I remember crying when I walked out of the door because I was sad that the trees would never be the same. Seems silly now... It was a beautiful morning. The birds were chirping and the sky was blue. It was a quieter morning as a lot of people left Saturday night or earlier Sunday morning. My last walk was quiet and slow and I cried the entire time.

After much discussion with my company, my family and considering NOLAPC, I decided it was best to go to Gonzales and be ready to come back after the storm passed. I had my "animal rescue pass" and had a feeling it would be needed and used... I just had no idea how much so.

I spoke to Derek and we decided that we would all leave at 4PM and take the "back way" to our home in Ascension Parish. I spent the entire day cleaning house because I did not want to come back to a messy house. I often tell people I wish I would have realized that I was rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I had to get it done before we left. I packed three bags for Remy... his beds, his blankets, food, medication... chew toys, toys, etc.. I packed three pairs of pants, three t-shirts, tennis shoes, a pair of PJs and undergarments for three days ohhh and my toothbrush. NOTHING ELSE. Derek and his wife got here at about 3ish and we all walked to the third floor to secure the balcony doors. I remember someone asking me what I was taking and I said "Remy, Derek and Mike".. that was the only thing that mattered to me. I distinctly remember telling them I could live without everything in this house as long as I had my family. 

When you know the back roads, and you are only going an hour away, and when you leave at the 11th hour... well, evacuation is not that difficult. It only took us three ish hours. We arrived at our family home and we drank more wine that night than I had ever had before or ever have again. No one slept... we stayed up all night. 


Holy typo

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Please share with your friends in Terrytown...

There is a cat killer in Terrytown!

Behind the new Plasma Center on Niagara

Yesterday my mom lost her cat because someone shot her with a pellet gun. The vet said she had been shot 2 other times the 3 shot killed her. We have other reports that neighbors have found at least one other cat killed by the hands of this killer. Please keep your eyes open this needs to stop!!!

It was our last "normal" day here... Saturday - August 27, 2005

I had returned from a business trip in Atlanta late Friday night. My flight was packed with CNN and NBC staff heading toward the Gulf Coast.  My isle mate was a CNN producer whom I would connect with 5 days later.

5am ~ Hurricane Katrina was a category 3 hurricane..
10 am  ~ Jefferson,  St.Bernard, etc... issued evacuation orders..
5pm ~ Mayor issues "State of Emergency in Orleans Parish and calls for Voluntary Evacuations 
(where I live)

On Saturday I woke up, walked my regular route with Remy but kept getting stopped by neighbors and friends and on each occasion we talked about what everyone was doing and when they would be making the decision if/when to leave.  When I got home I was debriefed about each client and the status of evacuation. I will forever be grateful to my attorney for making sure my "Hurricane Policy" was in place long before August 2005. Everyone had a plan and by mid afternoon everyone was were and with whom they needed to be with.  Between my job in corporate America and NOLAPC I was a MESS. We walked to dinner Saturday night and I wish I could describe the feeling amongst all of us. It was an odd energy... It was like everyone in the restaurant had a personal connection. The bar was packed... drinks flowing and people were toasting our city and each other. Random people were hugging each other and exchanging numbers. I made more new neighborhood friends that night than I had any Mardi Gras or neighborhood party. We were all in this together and I think we all new our lives were about to change in the most dramatic way. Dramatic... not yet traumatic. 

We made our way home, stopping in to talk to neighbors and friends just to make sure we knew each others plans. When we got home, I left the gate open and the door unlocked and received friends until about 11ish when we watched one last update and went to bed. Little did I know it would be the last time I slept here for a very long time. 

If I had to guess... some Camanders staff had a post shift cocktail party...

(HaHa - look how my Iphone spelled Commander's. That is what I get for voice blogging on my walk!)

Camp Tink...


Obligatory air it out photo...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cookie part!



This face

The cards got tossed on the side table...

The side table is a window from our "country house" (our family home in Ascension Parish... so not country any more) propped on a gate square.

Ain't there no more... What does an orcid, a voodoo doll and a deck of K&B cards say about a person? Don't answer that!

Our newest mid day babies... Welcome y'all!

Morning cuddles

Who thought this was a good idea?


Sexy and his MUCH YOUNGER Lady friend... 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

#fakedogfacts on twitter will make you laugh.

Dear New Orleans by Steve Gleason

If you have ever wondered why we love our city so much... This is a beautiful explaniation. His words may me cry. It is going to be a long week.