Saturday, February 11, 2006

The series on Katrina's victims will run next weekend when I am on vacation, but I will post it here with extras after it runs.
I thought an update on the Coast might be relevant now:
Officially, there are 166 known victims of Hurricane Katrina in South Mississippi's three coastal counties, including four unidentified victims but not including the estimated 300 or so missing people. That does not mean 300 people were swept to sea. All it means is that the official number of victims will surely rise. I will explain later once the series runs how FEMA severely screwed up the search for missing people in Mississippi.
The most active aid groups here now are probably all faith-based, except for HandsOn International, Americorps and members of the Burning Man festival-sponsered group, and this is no joke, "Burners without Borders."
If there is an interest, I'll post the story I wrote about them later.
FEMA continues to make life difficult down here for everybody, from mayors to tent dwellers. I don't know how to explain it except that for every good thing they do, and they do do some good things, I hear about three instances where incompetency, arrogance, ignorance, laziness or miscommunication have really messed something up.
There are not as many people in tents as there were before but there are still a lot, mostly in Pass Christian and in random spots in Hancock County.
Debris cleanup is about three quarters done coast-wide, but Pass Christian and HAncock County are way behind the curve, largely thanks to the hyper-careful slowness of the Army Corps of Engineers. The big problem now is getting onto private property to remove debris and demolish badly damaged houses, and you can imagine the massive fights that go on with that, especially with so many people still living out of state.
Homeowners are slowly starting to rebuild. There is the big problem now of building back safer, which of course also means more expensive. The federal government is wisely, in my opinion, dangling financial incentives in front of towns and individuals that build back safer.
Despite the extra money that it might provide, The Coast's towns have all rejected a regional water and sewer authority that would have come with a $600 million dollar bonus because, as one local mayor put it to me recently, "They can't take away our authority like that."
It's funny how improtant home rule is here. I never thought about it really, coming out of the Northeast. We don't really have that attitude there, save maybe New York City itself. What's great about many local's opinions on home rule is that they don't take into account the fact that an overarching governing body could actually mean less levels of bureacracy than several small local governing bodies, especially for businesses.
Ah well, the -you-won't-tell-me-how-to-run-my-ship attitude down here does go back to the beginning of Southern culture though. Hence all the guns.
'Tis a shame though.
Businesses are trickling back. Three casinos are taking people's money as we speak. Just about every month from now to August another should be opening up or breaking ground on their new land-based operations.
The FEMA trailers are, apparently, pieces of crap. As a coworker put it last week, "My FEMA trailer has a blue roof."
The best place to get drunk on the Coast right now is Ocean Springs, at least according to my erstwhile co-blogger Mike. There are several cool bars open there now. Harrison County still only has bars that are guarenteed to present you with at least one mullet and at least one toothless grin before the evening is done. Good for a laugh, but not for chilling out. Perhaps I'll coax him into giving a better update on the Coast's nightlife, of which he is an expert. I generally go to New Orleans or Mobile for a good time.
We're giving a talk at USM about this blog next week. Not quite sure what to say yet, other than our laziness in keeping it updated lost us a lot of readers.
There was a great story about a (moronic) kid in Delaware who was fired from his reporting job for posting some (moronically) inappropriate comments on his blog.

I can say confidently that I am definitely not as moronic as that kid after reading his blog, but it still made the hairs on the back of my head stand up because he was fired, apparently, without prior warning that what he puts on his blog could get him fired. I know only a small amount of common sense needs to go into making that connection, but still, it's fucked up that there was no warning.
And on that uneasy note I close.


Blogger Eva said...

Still reading and checking in! I think you have a lot more loyal, die-hard readers than you think (who haven't abandoned you, or this blog!).

Your stories touch our hearts, make us think, and make us feel for those whom you write about. We will keep coming back for more, as long as you keep writing.

You have a truly special gift that you're sharing with us through this blog. Who would have thought that someone from New Jersey would care about Pass Christian? Because of you... we do.

Hope this gives you some food for thought for your talk at USM.

10:23 PM  
Blogger beagle said...

Thanks for the update Josh! Some of out here are still reading!

10:22 AM  
Blogger Sarabeth said...

I'd like to hear the story about the burners.

I still check in.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm still checking in!

12:25 PM  
Blogger Keeper said...

Still checking each morning.So glad that some things are improving, regardless how minor.Thanks for the update.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Blue Dog Art said...

I have been MIA in commenting but was thrilled to see that you are keeping up the blog. A co-worker spent a few days in New Orleans last week and has been deeply affected by what he saw and the overwhelming expanse of the devastation. His pictures were unbelievable. I'm glad to see things are progressing where you are. Thank you again, for keeping up the blog. The country needs to see and know how things still stand for those of you affected by the hurricanes. Though the national spotlight has somewhat faded, based on what I've seen and read something needs to bring the story back to the forefront.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still checking in from Missouri! I missed you guys!!

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I would love to hear about Burners without Borders!
Thanks for the updates, however infrequent. I still check in every couple of days.

6:06 AM  
Blogger KLCtheBookWorm said...

Another vote for the Burners without Borders story!

10:58 AM  
Blogger ~ FluxRostrum said...

The real disaster is far from over. Check here for video reports from the clean-up/recovery.

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i, also, check in every few days. please keep up the fantastic work! i'd like to hear more about those burners!

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad you are still here

8:13 PM  
Blogger Red Rover said...

Still reading

8:17 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Howdy guys....
Still checking in from time to time here in Delaware.
I just wanted to make a brief comment about the reporter/blogger from my neck of the woods.
He was a bit of a moron. The things he said on his blog were offensive and stupid. He was somewhat hunted down by one of the local conservative radio guys here and "outed" to his employer. While I don't agree with what he wrote, I don't agree with the way he was let go either. Its kind of scary that someone can be fired so quickly over essentially a free speech issue.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still reading from Cincinnati, too. I'd love to hear about the burners.

Tell them that this is where the news is not separated from the reporter. Here, we get what is real and [hopefully] uncensored. I like getting the news from someone with whom I can connect.

I don't think that people have necessarily left because you're not writing as much. I think there's a lot of people out there who stick with the headlines, instead of following a story way past the headlines.

Thanks for everything you do!


4:14 AM  
Blogger The Fergoosons said...

I'm still here, please continue to post, as my brother tells me it is still just awful there, so much still looks the same...people need to know what is not happening there, they still need so much help. FEMA is now taking advantage of the people that have taken jobs hauling debris away, they were paying by truckload, and now are paying by the hour...same costs for the guy with the truck, but not enough money to cover the costs now...there are a number of things I could say the the initials FEMA stand for now....

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

still reading!

10:15 PM  
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