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Survived Katrina

Posted by kait (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 6, 05 at 23:47

Hello to everyone. This is Kait-the-ever-ambilvalent "should I choose bisque appliances for my kitchen". Well fate has stepped in and made a decision for me. There will be no kitchen renovation...at least not for a very, very, very long time. Maybe not ever.

As an SICU nurse at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, I was assigned to work at the hospital for hurricane duty, and was there from Saturday through Thursday. I was evacuated (by boat, later by bus) from New Orleans last Thursday, with only the clothes on my back (which had to be destroyed) and one small bag. It is exactly as the news reports portray it - a disaster, a war zone, something that resembles a third world country. We lost generator power on Tuesday, which meant our patient's had no oxygen, no IV pumps for critical care drugs, no air conditioning, no lights, no running water, no working toilets. As you all know by now, the rescue helicopters and boats were slow to arrive. So many people died needlessly. We were helpless to provide adequate care. There was so much suffering. It was intolerable. Just heart breaking.

People indeed were shooting at the helicopters rescuing patients (but not at my hospital). We did have to have armed guards all around our perimeter to keep us safe from looters and people trying to break into the building. There were a few people roaming our hallways that "did not belong there" - no riots or violence, but many of our cots, food, linens, flashlights were stolen. This was an additional hardship after working 18 hours a day in 98 degree heat trying to save lives, to have to sleep sitting up in chairs, in the dark - hundreds of us lying in the darkened hallways. I cannot even express how awful it was. However, we were the lucky ones in our "private, uptown hospital." The nurses and doctors at Charity Hospital and Tulane Hospital suffered under greater dire straits - and greater physical danger than we did. And we were very terrified at our own place.

Almost all of my friends and family made it out of the storm safely. However, so tragically sad, my beloved 85 year old mother-in-law, Rita, and my 60 year old cousin Mario, drowned while trying to help pull his invalid son onto the roof of their house. Mario's wife, Rosemary had to witness them being swirled away by the raging flood waters. This is an unbearable grief. She was such a loving woman. She deserved a better death. They both did. We take comfort in knowing my wonderful father-in-law is there to greet them in heaven.

On the positive side, if one can call it that, I worked along side the most incredible physicians and nurses I have ever known who worked 18 - 20 + hours a day, nonstop to help save patient's lives, evacuate everyone. Back breaking, exhausting work with no resources, "mash unit" conditions. It did not matter what color - black, white, brown. Dedicated, brave, HEROS. We struggled, we grieved. We were grateful for any small victory .

I am writing this post from my DD & DSIL's home in Northville, Michigan. The outpouring of help and support from this small community has been humbling and wonderful to witness. I am safe and sound in the arms of their love. My house did not get flooded, and from neighborly reports it seems to be "okay" without any major damage visible. But I do not know when I will even be able to go back home to see it. So, my kitchen is far from my mind and my eyes. But my LIFE has been saved and I can live many more days pondering "should I choose this or that." Ironically - Sears had a 20% off sale on Saturday (day before the storm) and I actually placed the order for bisque appliances. I do not know if I will ever get to use them, because I do not know when or even if I will ever be able to return to what was once "my wonderful New Orleans", and my family and friends are scattered far from me all across the United States.

So, keep safe tonight my friends of this forum. Hug and kiss all the people you love. Please say some prayers for my loved ones, and all of those who suffered this storm. I am moving tomorrow morning to a rental unit here for the next few weeks, but will try to check in later in the week.

Much love, Kait


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait,
God bless you for all the humanitarian work you have done for your fellow New Orleanians. It is heartbreaking to read your post and yet joyful to know you have survived, despite the incredible loss and misery you have been through. I hope that you can be re-united with more of your family and friends sooner rather than later, even if it is not in NOLA. We all grieve with you for all the horrendous losses of the last dreadful week.


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RE: Survived Katrina

So very sorry for the loss of your MIL and cousin. May G-d grant you solace. Thank you so much for staying and saving lives.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, I echo AnnaLee's words of blessings for you for working through the madness and helping those around you. To say I am sorry for what you and others had to deal with in the madness is far from what needs to be said. I am glad you are now safe and with your family. You and your family will be in my prayers tonight.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Wow. What a truly "first person account".

AnnaLee, you responded so eloquently. I'll be that poster everyone hates and say "what she said". Just so you know there are more folks out there who feel all the things AnnaLee described.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, glad to have you back!

You are a hero. I'm in awe of the bravery, dedication and compassion you and your colleagues showed in such horrific circumstances.

My condolences for your losses. I hope you're able to return home to your beautiful city soon.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Oh Kait, I am just sitting here dumfounded. I simply cannot think how to express the emotions of gratitude and awe I feel for you and the others who put compassion and humanitarianism first without ever stopping to think twice about it. I am so very sorry for your family's loss, but if it is any consolation, the deaths of your MIL and cousin came about because they, too, put the safety of others as their first priority. In the midst of this misery and tragedy there is nobility to be found, and you all exemplify it.

May your love and compassion sustain and nurture you. Know that it has done so for many other lives.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Oh my gosh, I am just dumbfounded, grateful, and feel that you have been blessed. God chooses his heros for a reason, and you are one of them.

This may seem trivial, but I bet you can just call Sears customer service and have them hold your order until you call again and give them the ok, just so that you don't lose your money. I'm sure they'd be glad to do it.

God bless you.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Dear Kait,
Thank you for posting your unbelievable experience. I know it cannot have been easy to recount the hardships and tragedy you witnessed and endured. In those awful hours and days you truly found the stuff you are made of : that knowldege will sustain you for the rest of your life. I am in awe. God Bless.


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RE: Survived Katrina

yes, thank you for sharing your story; it's very touching and you are one who made a difference to others in this tragedy. I wish you strength and good health for the weeks and months to come.


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RE: Survived Katrina

I cannot imagine what you and your family have been through. Thank you so very much for your post.


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RE: Survived Katrina

kait,
I'm so very sorry for your family's losses. I can only echo what's already been said. Thank you and your fellow medical professionals for risking your own safety and security in helping our fellow brothers and sisters and stay strong.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, you have my deepest sympathies for the losses your family has suffered. It's unimaginable. And I will echo what everyone else has said - - you are a hero. I am so glad you are safe and sound in the arms of your loved ones.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, my sympathy goes out to you--I'm so sorry for your loss and for having to endure the horrible situation at the hospital. My best friend is a nurse who had friends at Charity Hospital, and they have told similar stories.
You are one of those people who made a difference, and sacrificed much to do so. You are what makes this country strong and resilient, and I am proud of you. I wish you only the best as you begin to reconstruct your life.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait:

"We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us;
we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." ~ C. S. Lewis


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait - Wow...what a story. You are truly a hero for the work you performed. So sorry for your losses.

Glad to hear you have received such a warm welcome in Michigan....I would expect no less from my fellow Michiganders! I am fairly close to Northville, so if you or your family need anything, please e-mail me.

You are all in our prayers.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Oh, the pain this horrible hurricane brought into so many lives. I'm so torn reading these accounts and so very thankful that you posted so we would know. May you be forever blessed for your heart and soul. I am lifting up you and your family in prayer with deep hopes your hearts are Comforted in a mighty way. If there is but one good news, it's that you have Hope and Faith that you'll be reunited in heaven.

Sincere Blessings,
Sheri


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait: I'm so glad to know that you and most of your loved ones are safe. My hopes and prayers are with you all as you begin to rebuild your lives.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait,
Wow. I'm so glad you checked in. I don't think I realized until now that we had any KF members who lived in NO. I mostly don't pay attention to where members are from.

Your story is both heroic and heart breaking at the same time. My wish is that you and all those who were effected by this storm will recover and bounce back and be able to get back to the mundane every-day living very soon.

Please keep us posted!


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, I was moved to tears by your post. The thought of losing family members, having your day-to-day life among friends and family shattered, losing a beloved city, is so unimaginable.

I'm sending prayers, good thoughts, and best wishes your way. I like to think that somewhere, a bisque kitchen, inside a house filled with family and friends, is in your near future.

I think also of what a powerful symbol a home is -- sheltering walls, a roof above your head, a place where you and your family are warm, dry, safe, protected. While the people in Katrina's path who were lucky made it out with only the loss of their home, it's still an enormous loss. What it's like to lose family members, friends, and your home is just... words fail me. I simply can't begin to imagine it.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait--
I had to read your post twice because it was so surreal--I had to keep telling myself "this is true--she lived through all of this." I haven't posted much since the tragedy. I feel somewhat changed and "cured" of being TKO. I will appreciate and participate in my life and my home, but there will always be a reminder of "there but for the grace of God..." There will be hundreds of thousands of people, all around us, assimilated into our communities, who lost it all. It was not self-centeredness, it was not laziness, it was not lack of prudence (good heavens, most of these houses were carefully boarded up). It was merely a force of nature and so much bigger than anything we mere mortals think we can "manage."

I care about all the lovely people on these forums, and the wonderful friendships being here the last few years has afforded me, but I am ready now to move ahead in a different direction. I'll pop in occasionally, I'll have a question here and there, but I'm ready for the next chapter. Be well, friends.

And God bless you, Kait.
Pamela


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait,
Reading your post brought tears to my eyes. Such sadness in our world -- but such goodness, also. Reading your very vivid account, well, words rather fail me. Bless you for all you did, for all you endured - and for getting through what lies ahead of you. I'm so sorry for losses your family has suffered -- so heartbreaking. Our nation is in mourning, and will be for a very long time. This disaster defies words, --

I hope the passing days will be good to you -- Please take care of yourself -- as you took care of so many --

You are in my thoughts and prayers --
Chris


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, I'm struck by your words and very saddened to hear of your loss, my sympathies. Bless you for being the healing angel that you were to those sick people in the hospital. Being hospitalized is traumatic enough, I couldn't imagine the conditions being like they were and for it to have been worse somewhere else.

I hope that you are out feeling the sunshine on your face of this beautiful Michigan day.


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RE: Survived Katrina

kait many thanks and hopefully blessings to you for all the work you did in helping others. I'm so sorry that all your family didn't make it. Your personal loss makes the big picture losses all the more understandable and touching.


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This proves there are angels on earth.


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RE: Survived Katrina

I have no words to adequately express my feelings upon reading of your experiences and loss except to commend you for your compassion and heroism in such adverse/barbaric conditions. I am praying for you and your family right now. God bless you today and in the coming days as well.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Perhaps there shouldn't be but there is a difference between seeing it on the TV screen and hearing it from someone that actually had to live through it. Personalizes it even though we have never met and most likely never will.
Glad you are with your family. So sorry about your losses.
Take Care


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait your story is both inspiring and tragic all at once. I am so sorry to hear about your loss and so relieved that you are safe with your family in Michigan. A close family member of mine has siblings and a father in the NO area and also has suffered some very terrible losses due to the hurricane. You are all in my prayers.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait~
Thank you.
Your story is amazing. In a time of disaster you gave your best efforts to help others.
You are truly a great American.
I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you will have easier times ahead.
~Gail


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, what a heart-breaking story. I hope you find peace and a semblence of understanding in the weeks and months ahead. And it's great to hear that you are safe.

That kitchen will wait for a while. For now, concentrate on the other things that are broken in and around you.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait,I too am so sorry to hear of your great losses & suffering, and applaud your heroism and strength in such a tragic time.As others have stated better then I , you're a great American, and your sacrafice is an inspiration to us all.

Know that you can count on us here at the forum for as much support as you need,I'm sure we would all be willing to help in any way we can.Your story makes it even more real as it affects us all even more deeply as we read your graphic account.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait,

I've read your post many times since you posted last night. It's almost difficult to know how to respond. The events you describe seem surreal. Sadly, I'm sure it's all too real for you.

First, please allow me to tell you that you are an amazing woman. Until a couple weeks ago, not many people in this country would have seen and done the things you did, and endured the family tragedies. My heart hurts for you and others like you that have tried to help others while enduring such unimaginable personal loss. I believe in the coming weeks and months we will all hear personal accounts of bravery and survival similar to yours. You are all heroes and angels.

Your post and the events of the past days have radically adjusted my perspective. I am reminded of what is important.

My prayers go out for you, your beloved MIL and cousin and for all those suffering as a result of Katrina.


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RE: Survived Katrina

kait

What a heartbreaking story. You showed such bravery and compassion during the disaster -- a true hero. I'm so sorry for your loss.


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RE: Survived Katrina

I have a few minutes use of a computer this evening, and just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone for your prayers and good wishes. My sister is with me, and we have received free food and clothing from total strangers just wanting to help us. FEMA has given us a place to stay for 2 weeks and home owner's insurance adjuster will meet with us monday about alternative housing. We will check in with the Red Cross on Monday. We are finally getting a little rest, but my sister is really showing signs of post-traumatic stress - many nightmares, flashbacks, bad memories. But we are on safe ground now and slowly but surely getting our basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter met. I'll try to make another post in another few days - your support is precious and encouraging. I can't thank you enough. Kait


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Kait, I re-read your posts and cried again. I think of you often, because you put a name and a personal story to this great tragedy. I am keeping you and your sister in my prayers every day.
Pamela


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RE: Survived Katrina

Words cannot express the horror you have been through and the profund sadness we feel for you. Our thoughts are with you and we all cannot but think of you often.


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Kait,

I've heard very sad mention of Memorial Hospital on CNN the past couple of days. It is beyond imagination what it was like there for the survivors and for those who lost their lives at Memorial and other places.

Know that my thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and yours.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, thanks so much for posting your experience, and for your bravery and strength in helping the sick people in your hospital. I'm very sorry you lost family members.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Mention of the tragic story of Memorial is here as well. I'm so sorry for your ordeal, Kait.

Here is a link that might be useful: Memorial Hospital


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait,
I think of you and your harrowing story so often. After hearing the news reports about Memorial, I re-read your post, and again, am so overwhelmingly saddened for what you and so many others endured. READING your account seems so surreal. I cannot even begin to imagine what you LIVED through for days. Being on the outside, only hearing reports such as yours, I can't help but wonder where the strength comes from to get through it all -- not only all you experienced during those few days, but now the aftermath -- dealing with FEMA,insurance, squaring away your home, the paperwork, and at the same time trying to process your emotions and grief and all you've been through.

Bless you and your family. You are so mucn in my thoughts and prayers.

Chris


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RE: Survived Katrina

I want to thank everyone again for their prayers and words of encouragement. I was so dismayed to learn that 45 of our patients died, and just wanted to let you know that none of these patients drowned or were left behind alive to suffer (as in those terrible stories about the nursing home that left 30+ patients in their beds!). These poor patients were elderly and very sick and died before they were able to be evacuated. Our Chief of Anesthesia and Chief of Surgery, as well as the Hospital Administrator, and many nurses, and managers all stayed until the last living patient and staff member had been evacuated. There is still so much sorrow and suffering left to go through that it's just overwhelming. I am still just putting one foot in front of the other and glad to be safe with loved ones. The future is to difficult to contemplate right now. I am so grateful for the kindness of my daughter and her circle of friends. So, I'll be here for at least the next month, then I think I will be able to get back to New Orleans to survey my home/neighborhood. This is not a task I'm looking forward to at all. It's one thing to see this kind of devastation on tv, but seeing it first hand will be worse. Again, thanks to all for the support you've given me.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Dear Kait, You don't know me and I don't know you but I have read messages on this forum for the past several months and feel as though I know history about a lot of members. When someone has asked if I knew anyone in New Orleans, I have said that I have a friend named Kait and I tell your story. You are the only person I "know" who has gone through this tradgedy. You put a name on the faces of people I see on tv but do not know. You make it more real and that is how it should be. It's important to remember that all the people that suffered have names, have family, and have lives of their own. I often think of Nate Berkus (decorator/Oprah friend) and the tsunami. He was also someone I could say, "Oh I know who he is" and it made it real.

Our family went through a horrible tragedy a few years ago. The nurses we encountered were angels on earth. I know the numbness you feel but I promise it will pass (sometimes you'll wish it didn't) but do let those around you comfort you. It helps them as it helps you. I have to say I am so proud to know you and I thank you for all the help you tried to do. I think we all feel blessed to know you.
Judy


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, G-d bless you and your family and my prayers and thoughts are with you and all of the people of New Orleans and Mississippi and all the areas impacted by this storm. Your courage in the face of this distaster is awesome and I'm overwhelmed with pride in my fellow American who forges ahead during life's most difficult challenges with such a positive outlook. Your kindness to others and unselfish acts are simply incredible and we cannot really imagine what this must have been like for you and still is like for you.

I think when something like this happens we learn how much joy in life we need to experience purposefully and how much we need to live life to the fullest and enjoy the things and people around us. It is our obligation to be happy and make the most of every gift we've been given.


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RE: Survived Katrina

I just cannot believe what I am seeing on the TV, and am just terrified that hurricane Rita will veer even closer to the Louisiana coast. I had just received such good news about my house/street. No water - maybe a little rain water damage in attic/ceiling from vent that blew off roof, need to replace gutters, shingles, the fence, carport, etc. Every single tree on our street except the 100+ year old oak trees has been destroyed. But this is so minor compared to those who lost every thing or sustained devastating damage. And now there is ANOTHER category 5 hurricane? It is just too much. It's going to destroy whatever city it hits - and those for 50-100 miles on either side. If it comes close to the Louisiana coast line, it will push water from the Mississippi River into the city, and then the properties that did not flood in Katrina will be at extreme risk from flooding (the flooding from Katrina came from Lake Pontchartrain). I don't want to see this storm make land fall anywhere. At least Texas is taking all the necessary steps to minimize the loss of life by evacuating their cities including hospitals/nursing homes. All the people in the path of this storm need our prayers now.


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RE: Survived Katrina

This is so overwhelming. I can't believe Houston is evacuating.


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RE: Survived Katrina

An incredible story of Katrina I just was forwarded today is below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Your Mamma got you out...


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RE: Survived Katrina

Flyleft:

Thanks for sharing that incredible story. It was so moving, especially the line where the writer describes that her neighbors and church were "transformed" by the incident as well.


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Wow. What an amazing story of resourcefulness, determination and humanitarianism. Brought a tear to my eye and I'm not the teary sort at all.

One positive thing I hope will come out of these tragedies is a renewal of interest in volunteerism. There are so many worthy organizations that need help. The response to Katrina by private charitable organizations and decent, compassionate people demonstrates that individuals do have the power to make a difference.

Here is a link that might be useful: Volunteer America


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kait, I just read today (cleaning up old papers--this was from the 20th) that Memorial is one of the hospitals they think might be so badly damaged that it is beyond repair...they talked about how the staff there fought valiantly and had to make some horrible decisions that folks on the battlefield usually have to make...my heart went out to you all over again. You've been put in a position that I personally can't imagine myself in, and performed heroically. Just like the mom in the article above. Both her genius and dedication and yours make me wonder how I would measure up in, god forbid, a similar circumstance.


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RE: Survived Katrina

I've reread all of the kind supportive posts again. I feel so lucky to be in Michigan - I've found southern hospitality at every turn here. THe outpouring of support and caring has been heartwarming. I am going back to New Orleans on Monday to make repairs to my house and property. Memorial Hospital has stated they will remain closed for at least 6 months (could be much longer). So I am jobless, but not homeless. I don't know what the future holds - I hope I can find a temporary job near my home while I do the repairs. Then what? Sell my house (as ludicrous as it sounds, I can probably get a decent price since it's in a very exclusive area and did not flood) and move away from the only place I've ever known? away from family and dear friends. Of course, my daughter wants me to stay here. I'm just too overwhelmed to make any kind of permanent, life altering decisions right now. It might be too hard to start over at age 55, single and displaced. Just wanted to say thank you again for the support of this forum. You have helped lift my spirits more than you can know. Love, Kait


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RE: Survived Katrina

Oh Kait,
Somehow I must have passed over your post, apologize for
my late response. I am so truely sorry for the loss you
you and your family has suffered. In time you will know the right path for you.

Our son went to New Orleans this week to transport a patient and he remarked
that while things are still so dire, that there is good taking place. The seeds of renewal is being planted.

Take care and keep us up-dated. Our prayers and hearts are with you.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Up late tonight - babysitting darling grandson (doesn't quite sleep through the night yet). I'm leaving early tomorrow morning for New Orleans. Found out my internet service and telephone are not working yet - it might be a long time before I get back to this forum - I miss the normalcy and "chatter" of daily life, routines, planning, the choices we make about kitchens - the real heart of the home ....it's putting stock and faith in the future.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, You proabably don't have internet access yet. I'm guessing that isn't terribly high on your list of priorities now. You've been on my mind the past couple of days though so I just thought I'd post that we're thinking of you. If you do have the opportunity to peep in, please let us know how you're doing.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, I hope you find your house in good condition when you get home. When you're able please let us know how you're doing. Also how the city itself is faring.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait - It's been a couple weeks since you headed back. We are hopeful that things have gone better than anticipated. Please let us know how things are going for you if you pop in here.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Hello again friends. I just got my cable service back yesterday. Have lots to catch up on and so much information to share. But first must catch a little bit of sleep. Working three night shifts (6pm - 7am) at local hospital. Life is very, very different here now. Long stories to follow. Love, Kait


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RE: Survived Katrina

Hi Kait,
It's great to hear from you. Glad to hear that your back working, this might help get a bit of normalcy back after your traumatic experience. You just might be back to planning the kitchen before too long.

Are out of town people coming or even allowed into New Orleans since the Quarter didn't flood? The news seems to be conflicting sometimes, it's hard to believe most of what you hear.

We are looking forward to some antique shopping and visting the D-Day museum again, that is when allowed and when the area can support this. I for one feel that I will definately appreciate more of what our areas have to offer. Sometimes we tend to see the negative aspects of an area which over shadow the positives. Hopefully, as the rebuilding takes effect the positives will grow.
Have a good day.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, glad to see you're back in communication. Your story is still very much on my mind and I'm anxious to hear what it's been like to come back to New Orleans.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Hey Kait! Good to hear you're online and that some aspects of life in NOLA have returned to normal. Working a 13 hour shift sounds awful though. Not quite "laissez les bon temps roulez," n'est ce pas? Still, I bet anything that smacks of normality feels awfully good now.

Hope to hear more from you when you have the time.


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Wow! This just appeared on the internet. What a heartbreaking development...

New Orleans hospital staff subpoenaed
57 minutes ago
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Louisiana prosecutors, probing allegations of patient neglect and mercy killing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, have issued subpoenas for 73 employees of a single New Orleans hospital, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office said on Thursday.

Kris Wartelle, a spokeswoman for Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, said the subpoenas were issued on Tuesday in a bid to compel doctors, nurses and others at Memorial Medical Center to speak to investigators.

A representative of the now-shuttered Memorial could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for hospital owner Tenet Healthcare also could not be immediately reached.

Prosecutors had previously delivered a search warrant and removed files from the hospital, where 34 patients died during Katrina.

Dallas-based Tenet has said the company believes as many 11 patients on the Memorial campus had died before the hurricane but could not be removed before the storm hit.

Witnesses have said conditions at Memorial quickly deteriorated as temperatures soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degree Celsius) inside the building and the sanitation system broke down.

CNN has cited a doctor at Memorial Medical as saying discussions of euthanasia had taken place there, although he said he never saw it performed.

Over 200 patients in nursing homes and hospitals died in the chaotic aftermath of the August 29 storm and several full-scale criminal investigations are underway.

The Louisiana Attorney General's office is examining allegations ranging from abandonment of patients to euthanasia at six hospitals and 13 nursing homes in the state.


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Kait,
I just started a post, and it disappeared somewhere !! Who knows, this may show up twice !!

I was glad to see your update -- I think of you and your harrowing experience often -- The things you went through are mind-boggling beyond comprehension -- just so very haunting --

I hope that in some way you're able to acquire a sense of normalcy and inner peace, although your new "normal", I'm sure, will be so different from anything you could have ever imagined --

Please continue to post your updates when you have a chance -

Sending good thoughts your way always --
Chris


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Kait,
Great to hear from you! Stay well and keep in touch.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Hello good friends. Thank you so much for the encouraging words. It's hard to even know where to begin.....for the New Orleans area is truly a "war zone". Fully 80% of the city is devastated - meaning the houses had 5-10+ feet of water inside them - and this water stayed there for 3-4 weeks. Some of them were re-flooded by hurricane rita. This water not only destroyed homes, it killed all of the grass, landscape, and most of the trees. It looks like it was bombed. You just cannot even imagine how widespread and total this disaster is until you are on the ground driving through the city and seeing it for block after block, mile after mile after mile. Some of these areas cannot even be rebuilt, they will have to be bulldozed. The pictures on TV cannot capture the scope of it. My childhood home had water OVER THE ROOF TOP!

I am in a neighborhood called "Old Metairie" just 1/2 mile from the city. About 30% of the people in this area had at least 2-5 feet of water in their homes (many are just a block away from me!). These houses can be repaired/rebuilt. We have many grocery stores/small shopping centers/restaurants etc. that are open now with limited hours - usually 8am - to about 7pm. My sister lives about 2 miles from me and she had 4 ft of water in her newly renovated house that she has only lived in for two years. My brother lives in Mississippi and had 22 ft of water. Yes, you read that right: twenty-two feet. His house is between the Gulf of Mexico and the Jordan River, about 4 miles from the water front, but the storm surge was that huge! His house is built on 10 ft pilings, first story has 12 ft ceilings and the water line just touched that ceiling. He was able to save many things from the second floor - everything below was lost. I have several cousins who lived right on the coast (200-300 feet from the water)and their houses are completely gone - meaning there is no structure remaining - just vacant lots. These were huge, well built, older homes. I have at least 20 aunts & uncles & cousins who have lost their homes, almost all of them beyond repair. Almost half of the people I worked with have had water or extensive damage to their homes.

- Being interrupted by unexpected guests, but this is now considered a luxury and a happy occurrence in a city that has lost about 70% of it's occupants! Will continue in next post. Kait


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OY cup--Kait, I'm so sorry to read this development...


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Kait - This tragedy has been so horrendous. You really bring it to life for us, much more than the news stations. I can't speak for everyone else, but I think of you often since you left Michigan, and really hoped things would go better than anticipated.

I'm so sorry to hear about all the suffering your family has endured. I can't imagine the grief of having your familiar places changed so dramatically. Try to hang in there, and keep us posted when you can.


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Kait - my prayers are with you and your family, friends, and neighbors.


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Back again. Hardly know where to begin or continue. This is the prevaling sentiment in New Orleans. It is amazing, but people are still somewhat "in shock" here. In fact, I think the depression is worse now.....as the reality of this situation sinks in day after day. Most of my relatives have decided not to rebuild/return to Louisiana. They young ones have been transferred with their companies. The older ones just can bear to deal with the long process. The rest of us are living with the terrible uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. The big debate here is "should we move away or wait for the rebuilding - and can we really rebuild an entire city?"

The big news this week is that the Army Corps of Engineers said they built the sub level of the levees down to 17 feet. Sonar tests done by the investigators say they are only at 10 feet!! And they are sitting in peat soil, not in solid ground. The citizens are outraged. A meeting of the American Institute of Architects was held here this week and the chief engineers took tours through the old neighborhoods; they were stunned by what they saw and some actually wept. The only solution is to have a completely new levee system capable of withstanding a category 5 hurricane. Without it, I can't imagine anyone wanting to rebuild. Now we have to wait for the final word from Washington.

Meanwhile, we all just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Taking it day by day. I am working again 3 days a week at another hospital. Several are open here, but only on a very limited basis. Anyway, I am so grateful to have a job and my home. A lot of people don't have either one. I do not have the answers yet to what the future has in store for me. I'm going back to my DD in Michigan for Thanksgiving, and fully expect to hear all the pleas for me to move up there. I just can't bear to make those kinds of decisions yet. Maybe after the new year, I'll have more clarity. Thanks for listening. Kait


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Kait,So sad to hear about the state of the state in NOLA.I think you're right to let time tell if you'll stay or go.I beleive NO will be rebuild, and be stronger and better then ever before, but it will take a very long time.As a native you have a special obligation to stay and preserve the flavors and traditions of one of our countries most elite cultural centers.NO has made more contributions to food, music and culture then any American city it's size.It breaks my heart when I see it's native sons and daughters being scattered across the country. With each family/musician/chef not returning a part of that unique fabric is torn apart and can never be rewoven quite the same.

You have to do , what is best for you and your personal life, and with so much of your family gone it would be tempting to just leave, but if you're brave enough to stay and help rebuild such an important American community you'll be making a civic contribution that will last for
(hopefully) centuries. Also your scattered family will always come back to visit you ,as you'll be a beacon of tradition and all that represents "home" for the families that have lost theirs.

Thanks again for checking in and giving us updates, I know this forum cares alot about your plight.You represent the best and bravest and we all care a lot about you.


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Hey Kait, I can't even imagine the turmoil you're going through. I wouldn't want to have to make the decisions you're facing.

Years ago I knew a woman whose children convinced her to leave her home in CT to move near them in TX. This woman, like me (and I think you) was very attached to the place where she grew up. It was hard for her to imagine living anywhere else, but she missed her children and grandchildren, too. So she moved to TX with one provision, every year in mid May and mid October she returns to CT for two weeks; in spring to see the trees and flowers blooming and in fall to see the fall foliage.

Perhaps if you decide to move away you can keep in touch by making an annual or semi-annual visit at whatever times of year you always felt most happy in New Orleans.


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Kait,
Thank you for your continuing posts that give such a vivid first-hand account of NO. I'm sure that at times you must feel that you're living in a bad dream, that this can't be real. So hard, -- the days, weeks, months ahead for you with just day-to-day living, and then all the decisions on top of that. I can't even begin to imagine so much around me in ruin -- I think this is one of those situations, like in a death, where people are told to not make any rash decisions -- to wait awhile -- that it's impossible to make a life-changing decision when your own life is in such turmoil. Time might help you see the situation more clearly. It's just got to be so hard, though. I think that New Orleans was unique to so many areas, in that whole entire families for generations stayed there, as opposed to so many other parts of the country where pulling up roots and moving across country for job or whatever, separates families time and again. That's one of the things that was so charming about NO -- families, roots, porch sitting --
all of that and more.

You continue to remain in my thoughts so often. As others have said, you, more than any news accounts, have made this come so much more alive. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

God Bless -

Chris


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Kait, thank you for reminding us that tho this isn't the Headline du Jour, it's still an ongoing bad dream for the majority of your down in NOLA.

As long as you have some, some, level of 'normality' with a familiar home and work, I think you are wise to take your time and consider your options. I've never lost my home in circumstances as you have but I have been evacuated with no chance of return, and that kind of forced departure leaves a lot of 'what ifs' in one's heart and soul.

You'll know what's right for you when the time is right and ripe. Love and wishes for a Thanksgiving with as much peace as you can have.


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I agree - - thanks, Kait, for keeping us updated on something that seems to have fallen off of the radar screens in our short-attention-span society. I can't imagine what it must be like to lose your hometown like this. You are in my thoughts.


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I am so glad to see how many of you reading this post care about New Orleans (and me!). And thank you for really "getting it". This is truly a unique and special place - a "faded rose" to be sure, but one with a rich, rich heritage, full of marvelously quirky, talented, soulful people. It's a place steeped in tradition, blessed with a strong sense of community, historic neighborhoods and architecture, we have pots full of the best food this side of heaven, and music to heal the soul. (Anyone see the movie Steel Magnolia's?) For all events, from the cradle to the grave, we have a special ceremony to celebrate it. Where on earth can you find a place that hosts a jazz funeral for the death of it's own city?? With a parade winding itself through the ruins? Perhaps it is lunacy. Perhaps it is magic. I just know, we all want to restore it. And of course, it would be wonderful if our infamous history of corruption and crime could fall by the wayside.....and leave us with only the best of the best. This is proving to be a very painful, and slow process...and we can only hope we'll be led in the right direction.

Well, I am off to Michigan for a much needed visit with DD. As much as I have lost, I also have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I am still alive, living at home, have a job, some of my friends and family members are returning and rebuilding (while living in FEMA trailers), and I have HOPE. Also, I am so lucky to have this forum to talk to! It's just so nice to hear that "other people from far away" care about my city! So, I especially want to thank everyone in the forum for your kind words and encouragement. It has helped me more than you can know....you've been a big part of the "recovery". I wish each of you a happy, happy Thanksgiving. Love, Kait


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Kait, that's a wonderful description of what makes New Orleans, New Orleans. It truly is a place unlike any other.

New Orleans news stories continue to tug at my heart, and the ones concerning Thanksgiving and how it was celebrated by people in New Orleans, and far and wide by the displaced residents of New Orleans, were particularly poignant.

The enormity of the whole situation -- a major American city shut down, a distinct way of life swept away -- is still difficult for me to imagine. And on the one hand when I think of rebuilding my answer is an immediate, "of course" but issues like safety in the face of future hurricanes seem completely unresolved. I can imagine how difficult this makes the decision to stay and rebuild for anyone who lives there.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and I hope that next year finds New Orleans much more completely on the road to recovery.

Thanks for continuing to share your story.


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Kait, thanks again for putting a human touch on this story for those of us who don't know anyone from NO personally. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family, and I admire you for your ability to be thankful while you are going through such turmoil.


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Kait, your DD is a very lucky woman to have a mom as unselfish and giving as you. Thank you for keeping us updated. Hope your holiday was warm and wonderful~take good care!


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Kait, I've been following your story closely, it is a story very dear to my heart. I know quite a few people going through hurricane issues but you seem to get what is important and what you need to concentrate on! I live in Louisiana about 3 hours due west of NO. Hurricane Rita hit us shortly after Katrina hit you. I can't wait for the day NO is back up and running. We belong to the Sanger Theater and will sadly miss the season this year. Keep your chin up and keep on keeping on! I think of you from time to time and come here to check on you. Glad to see you coming back. I hope you have a great holiday season and if you are ever in my neck of the woods, let me know, we'll do lunch!


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I big thank you from me too Kait. Truthfully - I came back to this thread to learn what is happening. Sadly, it seems that it is all but forgotten and we have moved on to other things. I remember hearing how this will be the biggest rebuilding we have ever seen....WELL??? What exactly does that mean? Where's the money? Is it happening? I am not overly religous or anything but - god bless you kait. My MIL is a nurse. You are doing good work under dire circumstances.


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Kait,

The other day when Oprah had her Favorite Things show, and was honoring those who did so much through Katrina, I was so hoping you were in the audience !!! When they'd show people in the audience, I thought, Well, maybe that's Kait !! It was just such a heartwarming show, and seeing all those people in the audience ... I just kind of multipled your story over and over again, and tried to understand what they'd been through -- True American heroes !!

As always, I continue to marvel at your strength, your compassion, your wonderful way with words that puts much more depth and meaning into Katrina than we ever could glean
from even the best news reporting.

I'm so reminded .. daily .. of my blessings ..
as I put out my Christmas decorations and think of the special meaning behind so many of them -- what they represent by the people who gave them to me -- the wonderful family traditions they inspire ..
I'm so mindful that I have my wonderful treasures, and so many people don't. Emotions always seem to run higher and deeper through the Holidays -- wonderful times, bittersweet times.

I wish you and yours, and your friends and neighbors ..
a holiday season of comfort and healing .. Just know that so many people are thinking of you, and are so moved by your experiences ..

Blessings to you --
Chris


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I just want to make sure this thread doesn't scroll off --


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Have been overwhelmed past few weeks with family details. Will give long update soon...lots to share. Kait


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Looking forward to the update, Kait.

Am I right in thinking that New Orleans has been more in the national news in the last week or two than it has been recently?

There's the debate about whether or not New Orleans should hold Mardi Gras --there are those who think the city has no business doing this since about 75% of the residents are still unable to return, many because utilities have yet to be repaired in their neighborhoods. and it would be better for the city to put their resources towards getting things fixed, rather than holding a celebration.

There's the continuing debate about levy construction -- how much, how fast, can the city ever truly be protected from a category 5 hurricane even with levys, etc. And the federal government has just kicked in 3 billion for levy construction, I believe.

The escalating cost of rentals in New Orleans. Seems that it was a pretty undervalued rental market before the storm and it is now a more expensive market, which shuts many former residents out.

The number of people who are unable to return to their house, who will end up defaulting on their mortgage because they are unable to carry both the cost of their temporary housing and the housing they can no longer live in.

And I've heard/seen/read lots of others lately.

This whole story continues to amaze me. The thought that such a large and distrinctive American city could be dismantled in a few days' time and (from the looks of things) be radically changed forever is just unbelievable -- I am unable to grasp the enormity of it.


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Well it has been a very emotional week for me and my family. We were finally able to hold a funeral service for my beloved (ex) mother-in-law. I'm not sure if this issue has made the national news or not, but over 1,000 people died in the storm and there are still a few hundred "bodies" that have not been released. The identification process has been horrific and painstakingly laborious. They wanted to make absolutely certain that each person was "absolutely and positively identified without any mistakes." Rita died on August 29th, and was finally laid to rest on December 14th. I cannot believe the effort I had to put forth over the past 3-1/2 months to get her back here. My ex-husband is an only child and lives in Nevada, so I have been the one to make the necessary arrangements. I am hoping that this will allow us (especially my DD) to have some closure and healing now. She was such a precious and loving person. Although I have been divorced from her son a long, long time, she and I remained very close and spoke weekly for almost 40 years. My daughter (from her son) was just the apple of her eye. We will all miss her very much. I'm rarely, if ever, ill....but the incredible stres and strain has finally gotten to me and I now have really bad upper respiratory infection for the past several days - had to miss work. I've read through everyone's comments and will post a final Katrina update about New Orleans as soon as I feel better. I have been through a lot of trials in my lifetime, but I have never experienced anything like this. We have had the death of many loved ones, and it is also a death of our city. There was an incredible editorial in the New York Times recently, if anyone else saw it. More soon, Kait.


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Kait, thank you for continuing to post. The loss of your mother-in-law was so tragic, and the difficulty you had in securing her remains sounds painful. I hope that knowing she has finally been laid to rest brings you and your daughter comfort.

I hope you're feeling better. You've been thru enough in the last few months without having to deal with illness.

The NY Times editorial you mentioned was excellent. I've linked to it for anyone who'd like to read it.

Here is a link that might be useful: NY Times editorial


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Kait, I'm so very sorry you've had such a difficult time trying to give Rita a proper burial. I know she was your exMIL but the your love for her shines through is each of your posts. Obviously she felt the same way about you. I do hope you were peacefully able to lay her to rest and begin the healing process as you mentioned. Grief is difficult enough without having to fight cityhall in the process.

I do hope you're allowing some time and space to care for yourself. Please know that even though we've never corresponded (I don't think we've ever even posted to the same thread) I do think of you and others in your situation frequently. Even those of us who only saw this horrific chain of events on TV will be forever changed.

Take care and be well. Please continue to give us updates. What we hear from you is so much more real than the nightly news.


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Kait - I, too, continue to watch for your updates. Your story has really stayed with so many of us, and really makes us realize how much the suffering continues as we go about our "hectic" holiday plans. You have really reminded me how much I have to be thankful for.

Not only have you and DD had the loss of your MIL, but to have to fight to get her a proper burial is unimaginable. Please hang in there. Things have got to get better in the coming months. The strength you have shown from prior to the storm, during the storm and thru today are such an inspiration to me.


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Hello again friends,
I am up long after New Year's Eve midnight having one last glass of bubbly, decided to sneak in here and write one last post on this topic.

I am continually amazed by the incredible inpact and scope of hurricane Katrina. We are still riding the roller coaster of hope vs. dispair and uncertainty. There are many signs of rebuilding here, but mostly on the outskirts of New Orleans proper. Many of my friends and coworkers are hopeful of returning to newly rebuilt homes sometime in spring (a fitting renewal!). About 70% of New Orleans proper is still a disaster zone and uninhabitable. Vast areas of the city remain untouched since the storm. The city planning committees (emphasis on pleural) are trying to reach some consensus on a citywide rebuilding plan. There are difficult decisions to be made.....and it is evident that some neighborhoods will have to be bulldozed and made into green space. Of course, there are cries of racism and "classism", but the hard facts are: the earth has no color and money consciousness. Mother nature did not discriminate. Bad land is just that....bad land. I have friends in multimillion dollar homes - and they, like the poor, are going to have to abandon them for the greater good of community safety and cohesiveness. It is so sad, but it is going to be necessary. New Orleans will definitely be a smaller city for a very long time, maybe forever. But smaller can be good, in fact better and definitely safer.

We have come to learn and somewhat adjust to new norms. Such as the Burger King around the corner closes daily at 3:00pm now. We are still without many amenities. So many families had to relocate out of the region (enroll kids in new schools, etc.) and many of them will be returning to us in January. So hopefully this will bring more workers to the area. However, housing is still at an extreme shortage. A small 2BR 1BA apartment can rent for as high as $2000/month. A small 1BR 1BA (and by no means luxury, in fact borderline undesirable) will go for $1000/mo. - there are long waiting lists for these. Many construction workers are actually living in TENTS in designated areas for about $300/mo. Utility bills have DOUBLED in cost. We still have mail delivery problems - I just got a letter dated October 6th! Life on every level is different now. It is surreal.

The failure of our city, state, and federal government to respond appropriately to such a disaster is a disgrace to the whole nation. There was an interesting article in our local newspaper last week about the massive reconstruction program in europe after WWII - the USA donated 13 billion dollars in aid in 1947, which is equal to 100 billion dollars in today's economy. We have allotted 250 billion dollars to the war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I do believe congress will apportion more money for us, as well as the Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts (who do not get nearly enough press coverage about their catastrophic loss). And of course, we are praying for a commitment to build the levee system to withstand a category 5 hurricane. I am sure many of you have heard of the scathing reports of the Army Corps of Engineer's criminal negligence in faulty building of the levee system here. There have been many meetings with great engineers from all over the world - taking a look at the magnificent job done by the dutch.

To the average person living here, our daily lives go on and we are picking up the pieces day by day. Those who lost their homes have either temporarily or permanently moved elsewhere. The rest of us here try to support our local economy, neighbors, friends, and families. Every time a local grocery store, restaurant, or shop opens up for business again, a long line starts to form outside. Strangers hug each other, pats on the back, and greetings of "welcome back" abound. We are resilient, and not as foolhardy as we are portrayed. Although I personally think having Mardi Gras this year is probably not the best thing to do. It brings a huge amount of cash flow into the city, but I do think it sends the wrong message. Like many others, I plan to stick it out one full year here. If we receive full support of the government at all levels, and are given a rational and safe plan for rebuilding neighborhoods AND the levee system AND an appropriate wet-lands ecology package....then we will stay and continue to make the sacrifices inherent in living in disaster zone. If not, then I, like many many others will decide to move away. I try not to think about that too much right now because there have been so many changes on every level in such a short period of time - it just becomes overwhelming.

I want to thank each of you again for listening to my story, this piece of history. Your kindness and understanding has meant so much to me. I hope I have been able to give you a more personal glimpse of New Orleans life, and that you can take with you an appreciation of the good people here - of all colors and classes. If anyone is interested in reading local stories (our newspaper is outstanding now!) you can go to the website
www.nola.com and it is fascinating.
We are finally beginning the process of emotional healing, and I know this will be a long, long journey. I hope my city recovers and that I can live the rest of my life here, but only time will tell. I have reached some level of equilibrium for now. I think it is fitting on the last day of 2005 this should be my last post to this thread. I am looking forward to 2006 with a little more hope in my heart, peace of mind, and generosity of spirit. I wish each of you a Happy, Happy New Year. Life must go on, I will meet you in the discussions posts - my cabinets have arrived - I have a kitchen to do!!!
So much love to you all, Kait


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Kait, Thank you for this letter. I come to this thread often to read about you and the life you have now. Most people in our country can only 'imagine' how this has affected people. But with your written word you are bringing them closer to reality.

I live in the ravaged area of where Hurricane Rita hit. This area has lots and lots of damage and we are still recovering. Maybe in many many years both our areas will be somewhat normal again and we will rejoice in this mess being a distant memory.

Here's to hoping 2006 is all that you desire. Happy New Year Kait.


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Kait:
Thank you for documenting your journey back towards normal in nola. My own family is just putting back the pieces of their lives in Texas following Rita. Friends in the NE are continually surprised to hear that everything is still not "over." Having lived on the Gulf Coast and spend much time in NO, I am saddened at the enormous toll these storms have taken in human, emotional, economic, and environmental terms, as well as the stunning blow to a unique culture. Let us all welcome 2006 with its promise of rebuilding a brighter future and hope the government acts responsibly at every level. The larger world is very interested in our progress and actions.

On a personal note, congratulations on getting your cabinets delivered. I sincerely hope you are able to secure workers for the installation and that it goes quickly. I know it is very hard when you are competing with the overwhelming volume of repair work that need to be conducted in your city. Warmest wiches for a safer New Year and a beautiful new kitchen.


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riverrat1 - Meant to ask you earlier, where in LA are you? Did your home sustain any damage? I think a lot of people forget abour hurricane Rita coming on the heels of Katrina...

AnnaLeeF - Were you on the Mississippi gulf coast? We sold our summer home in Waveland about 5 years ago. That house was one of three houses left standing on our street about 6 blocks off the beach.


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Kait,
I'd like to save this thread for my DDs & grandchildren (one day, fingers crossed!) - you have so elonquently provided a first hand account of a major historical event and your words should be documented and shared with later generations. Thank you.

All the best to you and yours in 2006!


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Kait, you've got mail!


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Kait, not Missisippi, although I have visited and worked there when I lived in Memphis. I grew up in TX between Beaumont and Port Arthur, where Rita blew through at 120 mph.


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Kait, May God bless you, as well as all those who've suffered (and continue to suffer) through this tragedy.


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Kait and riverrat, best wishes to you both and your communities for the coming year. Thank you for sharing your stories.


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Kait's posts are a piece of history documented from the inside.

The early posts may be very useful for the investigations of the hospitals. That broke my heart to see an investigation launched after I read Kait's contemporaneous description of what happened.

I don't know the ethics of sharing these posts in a more public space. Although this is a public internet space a kitchen forum conversation thread is a back door and hardly has the same exposure as it would elsewhere.

Some of my professional work is with archives and the issues surrounding documentation and I know there are more more important human issues right now. But future generations will be grateful if Kait's eye witness posts don't get shuffled off into cyperspace neverland. My gut feeling is that it is Kait's decision and not one of the readers who must save these posts and see that they have a future life. (Kait are you listening.)

I wish you the best, Kait. You've given us a gift of your voice and story. Thank you.


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Hello again friends. I continue to be amazed by your kindness and concern.

Paulines and Elizabeth10029 - if you are back in here reading, yes by all means please feel free to save these posts. ALL OF YOU have my permission (and gratitude) to keep or share what I have written. I am humbled by the thought that my words have meant so much. There are so many more stories here that need to be told.

The political firestorms have been whipped up to a frenzy over the past few weeks. I am sure many of you have heard on the national news the statements our mayor, Ray Nagin, made this week during his MLK celebratory speech about making the city of New Orleans "chocolate". Well, of course, the whole city is now in an uproar. I really think he is suffering from "Katrina fatigue". This mayor was very, very well liked by the most of the city - all different races. Now, he has become a symbol of division. And this comes at a time, when we must really pull together and present a rational, unified front. I am embarrassed and concerned about the damage he has done - the whole world is watching us. And I think the image he put forth is so misleading. While to the outside world it appears that there is a huge racial divide - in reality, New Orleans incorporates her diversity far better than many other cities. One of my dearest friends of 30+ years is african american - and she has spent the past few months living in my home. Our families vacation together every year. My other best friends are indonesian, hispanic, and greek - I am the "token wasp!" I have wonderful friends from as far away as Syria and VietNam. And I am not uncommon. Most New Orleanians work with, laugh and play with, cry and mourn with the many diverse people here. The problem arises when poverty and crime are added to the equation. I have no answers, only more questions. As do the other good people (of all races) who live here. We shake our heads in dismay and write letters to the editor!

We are in dire need of effective leadership - and it is sadly lacking. The initial rebuilding plans for the city were just released and are being evaluated now. There is just no way possible to make everyone happy. We have to choose safety over everything else. Some people are simply not going to be allowed to rebuild their neighborhoods. It is so sad, tragic. But it would be insane to allow these people to live in harms way - even if they really WANT to! Desperate times make for desperate decisions, and some people just cannot believe or trust that the engineers and experts are telling the truth about where to rebuild or not. The next few months are going to be critical ones - will the city of New Orleans succeed in creating a plan for rebuilding better and stronger and wiser than before? Or will history repeat itself? Can we get congress to give us Netherlands-quality category 5 hurricane levees? Are we valued?

President Bush visited last week and commented that "this is looking like the New ORleans I remember". Well, that was voted as the most ridiculous statement of last week. He saw the French Quarter (which did not flood at all) and the Garden District (which did not flood at all). It's just unbelievable. Only 30% of New Orleans has lights. That's right. It is pitch black at night. And cold. No heat, no lights, no phones. My friend's neighborhood - about half a mile from me - still has no working phone lines. Not one single person I know, who lived in the areas of New Orleans that flooded, has been able to move back into their house. People in Jefferson Parish (suburb of New Orleans, where I live) are able to rebuild now and some have been able to move back. It is absolutely still a disaster zone. And it will remain so until the city institutes a viable rebuilding plan - which appears to be months away yet.

I am leaving tomorrow to visit DD back in Michigan for a week. It will be wonderful to get away from the daily bombardment of Katrina news. Of course, she calls almost daily (and usually right after the 6pm news) and at the top of her list is "Mom, why don't you sell your house and move up here?" Honestly, I do think about it. But, I have decided to give it one year here and if we cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel by then...well, I will have to make some very hard decisions. Meanwhile, I will play with precious grandson, enjoy the clean beautiful snow of Michigan, and my beautiful DD, and leave the troubles of New Orleans behind for a while.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to share your life experience with us. I've read so many articles about Katrina and New Orleans, seen so many TV documentaries, heard so many radio programs on the hurricane and its aftermath, but nothing has given me such a clear understanding of all of the dimensions of this terrible hurricane as your heartfelt posts. Thank you.


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait,
How are you doing . . . one year later ????
Have thought of you often throughout the year . . .

Chris


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RE: Survived Katrina

Thank you kitchencrazychris for thinking of me. I'm still here in "post-Katrina-land". I've had to wait a solid year to finish my kitchen renovation that was supposed to take place the week Katrina hit us. Most of the cabinets are up now, just awaiting a few pieces that had to be replaced - carpenter comes back Monday. Granite gets installed next Friday. Electrician is here now....it's a crazy house now....will catch up with everyone later in the week. Kait


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait, I only tonight ventured to this side of the forum -- by accident at that. I read your accounts for the first time.

Houston is feeling more division that a year ago too. Our mayor who has done so much and who led when no one was leading is starting to take the brunt of frustrations here. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to be mayor of New Orleans.

This brings back memories. We had a fire at a senior apartment development a month or two before Katrina. My sons had a bake sale and we donated things to the residents. I saw the Red Cross working in our neighbor hood for the first time and thought about how surreal that was.

Then Katrina came, and we all went through closets and pantries again, pulling out more clothing, towels, blankets, housewares, furniture, food and water -- making special shopping trips to load up and donate even more. Items we bought to prepare ourselves were donated to others. Moms went out and bought up school supplies already on clearance to make sure the children coming to our school had all the things they needed. We got school tshirts for the kids. People were lined up in car lines to drop off items at a church serving as one of many Red Cross shelters. Nothing was enough.

Still aching, we faced Rita. We went through all the same exercises again -- and waited and watched as it looked like she was heading straight for us. Many of our friends left town, even though we live 60-70 miles inland. With a nasty Category 5 storm filling the Gulf and looking straight at us, we wondered if they were right and we were wrong. But if you looked at the roads, there was nowhere to go. That last morning, they said it was too late to leave, but we were still wondering. But Rita wobbled and went to the east. We would up on the dry side.

That night, the wind howled. I was very glad we pulled everything outside in. I learned that our new high school was a Red Cross shelter (we took our patio chaises for the elderly and sick the afternoon before and somehow found more food, water and blankets), and as soon as it was light enough to see we were fine and that the roads were clear enough, I took off for the school and spent the day working in a Red Corss shelter.

It was such an incredible summer -- in an unbelievable sense. Never could you have imagined feeling so blessed to be able to keep digging deeper and to keep giving. We were touched by stories of the families of friends. Even now, a year later, a family from Louisiana bought a house near us. It sat vacant for some time, vitctim of a bad divorce and more. We're very happy to have them bring life back to the house, and hope it will bring life back for them -- even if it's just a bit of a restart that takes them back home later on.

The newest addition to our own home is a product of Rita. We have a black lab pup whose mom was out during Rita when the fences were blown down. We weren't looking for a dog when a friend told us about the pups her inlaws' neighbors had. We first met the sister -- named Rita -- adopted by another friend. We were suckered and drove 5 hours there and back that Super Bowl Sunday to get a puppy we'd never seen.

You wouldn't be at all suprised to know she is fun and loving, energetic and playful -- and very strong. She was spayed this week, and she didn't even stop to think about acting the least bit delicate.

We had a tough time naming her. She was born Dec 4th, and Holly and Noel were on the list. So was Windy (like the song). The boys agreed on Coco. Had I read this thread a year earlier, she might have been Kait.

Love and hugs from a Texas neighbor.


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RE: Survived Katrina

What a wonderful, giving heart you have,lastcatx. The past year has been one of the most powerful, life changing times in my life (and I am 56). The events surrounding hurricane Katrina have brought out the very best in people and, unfortunately, the very worst. New Orleans is still suffering horribly - from the lack of leadership/vision, the unconscionable delay in getting those federal funds to the people trying to rebuild their lives, and the now out-of-control crime!!! I am watching the 10pm newscast while writing this, and a reporter for local NBC station is interviewing many politicos from Houston (it is part of a week-long special). I feel the need to apologize for the horrible behavior of some of the evacuees.....and I know the whole world is now Katrina-weary (and oh, are the locals here REALLY over it!)and especially Houston. The good, hardworking people here are just as fed up as the rest of the world. It becomes more evident with each passing day, that I will have to move away from this place that I loved so much. Irony is, I have to finish my renovations first (the granite has been delayed for 2 weeks!) - I might not get to enjoy all this hard work. Thank you for you kind, kind words and for taking the time to help so many people in need. And, Coco sounds like a perfect name to me. Hope she is bringing lots of joy to you and boys! Love, Kait


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RE: Survived Katrina

Kait -

What an amazaing story! My brother lives in Gulfport Ms., so I know that the area is still a long way from "normal".

Please keep us posted.

God Bless!


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RE: Survived Katrina

a bump up of an amazing first person account. Kait, if you still visit here - let us all know what's up. I just heard mention from two New England friends that their churches are sending groups down to help with the reconstruction. This has gone on for so long. I guess the blessing has been more personal time with your daughter & grandkids.


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