Sunday, October 09, 2005

Team Lab-Rover's Biloxi Blog

Update # 3– Saturday, October 8, 2005 – New Orleans LA.

Greetings from New Orleans – We have landed! Our assignment to SE Texas coast is still on hold because residents have still not been permitted to return into the area – thus recovery efforts have yet to begin – A MONTH LATER! There is no definite timeline when this will occur. In the meantime, the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana contacted us (personally) again asking if we would be available to assist the church’s recovery efforts in downtown New Orleans at the Cathedral. After meeting with some of the folks there, it was an easy decision – ABSOLUTELY! There is clearly a need and Andrew and I believe our time here this coming week can be best spent there.

Christ Church Cathedral will become a major supply distribution center for returning evacuees. The Bishop and Dean of The Cathedral have temporarily moved their offices to Baton Rouge leaving Canon Rev. Steve Roberts in charge along with the Sexton and the Parish Administrator. We quickly saw a need of support for basic operational setup – organization – and logistics. Andrew’s Red Cross relief experience as Logistics Manager during the massive floods in the Pacific Northwest a few years back kicked in! We were told that truck loads of supplies were going to arrive in the next 48 hours in force! - And we needed to be ready to receive them – inventory them – store them and be able to hand them out. SO here we are and here we will remain.

Our initial contact was the Senior Warden, Elvia James, of St. Luke’s Church- a small parish of 150 souls from the Ninth Ward. There appears to be only a few minor problems she is trying to cope with – She has no Rector – her Junior Warden is in Atlanta – Her Vestry members are gone – and the remaining parishioners were either lost in the flooding or evacuated to Houston. Andrew and I spent an hour with her just trying to prioritize what she needed to accomplish and put aside those tasks that could wait OR over which she had no control i.e. returning residents arriving to uninhabitable homes. She herself still has water in her house.

Today was spent helping the church install a wireless computer network so more of the staff can work (when they return!) on laptops, sorting & handing out on-hand supplies, making/distributing flyers indicating The Cathedral was a distribution center for needed items and registration/inventory/needs forms to help with the recordkeeping. It seems that the word is spreading about the availability of supplies here as more and more people are showing up. As an interesting aside – Andrew and I have yet to see a single Red Cross or Salvation Army individual or vehicle since our arrival in town 3 days ago. A financial assistance center at the Airport opened up YESTERDAY but will only process occupants of 1,000 cars a day. HMMMMM – do the math!

Bishop Jenkins arrived this morning and greeted us warmly – they will be holding the first service in the Cathedral tomorrow since Katrina – we will be there!
Andrew and I will be moving our WINNEBAGO over here to a secure parking area behind the church. I will try to put some thoughts down tonight about our tour through The French Quarter, The Garden District, and drive down St. Charles Ave. and Canal Street. As far as we can determine there is not ONE SINGLE dwelling/structure in the entire metro New Orleans area within a 50 mile radius that was not damaged to some degree. The entire area smells like a dumpster – The weather has turned BEAUTIFUL – blue skies and75 degrees….. With a 10-15 mph STINKY breeze that you cannot get away from. Until later….J & A