Jennifer's Journal


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Rita Report

Rita has come and gone here in north Louisiana, and we were left basically unscathed.  We had 50 mph wind gusts, white caps on the lake and lots of small tree limbs and leaves flying, but no downed trees.  Our power blinked a dozen times but was never lost entirely.  We even dodged the flooding that was predicted, while getting 3-4 inches of badly needed rain.  This morning  (Sunday) we still have a constant wind from all directions, but the sun is out and the cleanup coming right along.  Others were not so lucky, however.  Let's hope the rest of Louisiana can get back to normal before long, as well. 
Friday, September 23, 2005

Storm Saga

Here we go again, watching Rita.  Yesterday (Thursday), the forecast here in northern Louisiana was for Cat 2 hurricane winds.  And we're over three hours from Lake Charles.  This is unheard of!  Of course, I don't really expect it to happen, have no plans to evacuate.  In fact, the quilt show for our guild is scheduled for this weekend, and that's where I'll be, helping man the quilt show.  But our secondary forecast is for 20 inches of rain as the storm stalls over our area late Saturday evening.  I was wishing, just a few days ago, that we'd get a little rain, at least, out of Rita.  Looks like I'll get my wish....  Flooding isn't that much of a concern for us since our part of Louisiana is in rolling hills with an elevation of around 150-200 feet.  The local creeks and rivers can, and probably will, flood, however making roads impassable.  Lots of trees and branches may go down, causing power outages.  So I'll be gathering candles and lamps and stockpiling water, also making extra block ice to help the food in the freezer keep until the power comes back on.  That may take a while, since our local power company will be short-handed, with most of their employees heading south to more stricken areas.  So this hurricane season continues.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Something Good

The old folks used to say that something good can always be found even in the worst of nightmarish events.  For Katrina, it has been the overwhelming response of people from around the world.  The message in the song linked below is another good thing.  I should say that the composer/lyricist is my son-in-law, which makes it extra special to me.  Give a listen?
I am a native of Grand Point, Louisiana, which is mid way between New Orleans and Baton Rouge in St. James Parish, but have transplanted to southwest Mississippi.
By candlelight, in the coolness of the morning, on September 2, 2005, the 3rd day after Hurricane Katrina hit, I wrote the words to this song.  Being without power at my house, I drove 200 miles to my in-laws' house where I re-recorded it on my Digitech GNX4.
For 9 days,  we were without power and water near Meadville, Mississippi, but I am thankful for the things I do have, among them, my family, my friends, a house and a job.  
I am trying to get this song "out there" so that others might hear it.     Please listen to the song and if you are moved, pass along the links or cut/and paste them into an email. 
Let me know where it's going!
Contact Info:
Gerard C. Faucheux, Sr.
1168 Myers Rd NE
Meadville, MS 39653
Friday, September 09, 2005

Grisly Stories

Now we have the sickening stories of murderous beheadings and mutilations coming out of New Orleans.  It's come to the point where I can hardly bear to watch the news.  So much death and horror forces you to turn away from the incredible inhumanity of man.  It's time, I think, to leave this behind by immersing myself in a different New Orleans during another time period, one where--I like to think--life was lived on a higher, more gracious plane.  No doubt that's an illusion, but I can at least make it true in my books.  I'll start book #4 of my current contract today, then--finally putting the first words of Chapter 1 on paper instead of just tweaking the chapter outline.  Maybe Gavin, the maitre d'armes of Guarded Heart, will take me away from it all.    
Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Blame Game

A recent article circulating on the web (An Objectivist Review by Robert Tracinski, The Intellectual Activist, TIA Daily) suggests that many of the more unsavory events that took place in New Orleans recently can be traced to the pernicious effects of the welfare state which robs people of initiative and destroys the value system and work ethic of those who are its beneficiaries.  Tracinski states:
"What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the
welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is
behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the
responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to
a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to
overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain
that the government hasn't taken care of them. They don't use the chaos
of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about
saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own
anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their
businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried
about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But
living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains
and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the moral
ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one
is reporting."
    As interesting as this exposition may be, I'm not sure it's the whole problem.  The simple truth is that a lot of the people from "the projects," in New Orleans and elsewhere, work daily to escape them and many are sunk in apathy because they can find no way out.  Then let's be realistic; all human beings are, at their central core, animals.  Threaten some of them, and they will join together and fight the common enemy.  Threaten others, and they turn vicious, taking advantage of the weakest around them.  Still other become whiners out of fear, being too incapacitated by it to save themselves.
    Beyond this, I'm more than tired of the whole finger-pointing thing that's going on, as if there is no such thing as a "natural" disaster, as if everything that happens has to be someone's fault or directly traceable to some error of the system.  The events in New Orleans constituted a movable disaster--it started much as usual for a hurricane hit but kept expanding day by day until it was almost impossible to get a handle on it.  The main culprit was not Katrina but the failure of the levee system.  This had been predicted as a possibility during a major hurricane--but the city had avoided it for nearly 300 years so there was no reason to suppose it would happen in 2005.  What occurred as a result was tragedy on an unprecedented scale.  And yet it's clear that the more terrible aspects were blown out of proportion by the media.  Disaster, destruction and unlawfulness make dramatic stories which fill air time and cause people to stay glued to their TV sets while commercials run.  What we saw, over and over, were pictures of houses with water to their rooftops and people waiting to be saved.  Very little was shown of the French Quarter or the Garden District which were both essentially dry--and these two historical areas form the most valuable real estate in the city, the areas which account for its unique character.  We constantly saw people looting, shooting, and dead bodies lying unclaimed--but few pictures of the thousands of area residents who--beyond the police and firemen whose job it was respond--converged on the city in private boats and helicopters to save people.
    Order has now been restored in New Orleans and the pumps, a percentage of them anyway, are running, the water going down.  The cleanup is beginning.  Let's forget the blame game and get on with returning this grand and historic city of "dreamy dreams" to its former glory.       
Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Special Contest

Romance Designs, in association with dozens of romance authors across the country and the American Red Cross, is sponsoring a Hurricane Katrina Relief contest.  In exchange for your donation, you will be entered to win one of the many bundles of books autographed by the authors.  This is a special opportunity for readers of romance to be a part of this national recovery effort while possibly gaining a unique prize.  Please enter today! 

Here is the direct link to the contest and available prizes.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

To Help Katrina Refugees

For all those who have asked what they can do to help the refugees who are stranded in my particular section of northern Louisiana, here is the information below.  Though the address is for a church, this is simply a convenient collection point--the effort to take care of these people has no denomination.  You can be very certain that every single penny you donate, or every item you send, will go to some displaced victim of the Great Hurricane of 2005:
Checks or cash donations, also boxes of items, can be sent to:
His Hands Ministry
First Baptist Church
500 S. Cooper Ave.
Jonesboro, LA 71251
Please mark your check, envelope or box: Attn: For Katrina Refugees
What do these people need that you might be able to send?  Diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, distilled water for mixing with formula and small toys suitable to occupy young children.  Nonperishable food items--canned meats, beans and wieners, spaghetti O's, etc.  Dog and cat food.  Personal hygiene items such as bars of soap, liquid soap, antiseptic wipes, Kleenex; dish washing liquid, clothes detergent; tooth paste, tooth brushes, deodorant, sanitary napkins;  clothing, especially for men; new socks and underwear for all ages.  Any and all of these items will be gratefully accepted.  And you will be blessed.  
Friday, September 02, 2005


Another day has passed, and the situation here seems to be improving--in a manner of speaking.  Slowly, one by one, the small towns around New Orleans are regaining their electric power.  Our governor, who sounded for a day or two like a mom scolding her kids with gritted teeth, has now declared martial law and called out the big guns--40,000 plus National Guard troops--while giving them permission to use "all necessary force."  As the first of these military convoys roll into New Orleans under the command of a 3-star general, quiet is beginning to be felt.  Also, law enforcement in the smaller towns outside the city have stepped up their presence, regaining more control.  Yesterday, a unit of National Guard from Missouri came through our small town.  On hearing details of the conditions toward which they were head, they said, "Don't worry, ma'am.  We'll take care of it."  More power to them.  And a good thing is, our local unit of National Guard, which has been in Baghdad for the past year, will be coming home a bit early.  They may have to deploy at once to New Orleans, but at least they'll be on home ground.
In the meantime, the local community center, about 10 miles away, has been commandeered by the governor and will be opened by the Red Cross no later than Monday.  500 people will be accommodated in this facility.  This is in addition to several hundred now being put up in surrounding church camps and at the state park.  Our local Wal-Mart has begun taking cash donations at the door, and groups are gathering donations of personal hygiene items--soap, deodorant, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, diapers, washing detergent, dish washing soap, towels, bed linens, men's clothing, new socks and underwear, distilled water to mix with formula, also small toys.  All the comforts and conveniences of life lived in a dormitory style environment are required by these people who are coming with next to nothing.  Beyond these things is the urgent need for nonperishable food items.  In the meantime, all these very items are disappearing from the store shelves as the refugees who are living in RVs, motels, rental cabins or with relatives stock up for what looks like a long haul.  However, Wal-Mart, in particular, is doing an excellent job of anticipating future needs, and the situation may look entirely different after Labor Day.
We are told that schools throughout Louisiana will be required to take any and all of the school age children who have been evacuated to their area.  This is right and just, but will be a tremendous burden on schools that were, in the main, already overcrowded.  How it will play out, no one knows.   
I was at Sam's Warehouse yesterday.  In the parking lot were two buses labeled across the top, in place of their destination, EVACUEE.  I'm not sure whether they were waiting to be dispatched to New Orleans, or waiting for those they had brought from the city to shop for items they would need while displaced--since Sam's was working alive with people.  Either way, it's a sign of the times.  Back on the interstate, at this town nearly 250 miles from the disaster, there was a huge lighted and blinking sign: Next Exit, Evacuation Center.  This was, I knew, for the big civic center there, a center that has seen many concerts by Tim McGraw, Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, and so on.  So it goes.     
Thursday, September 01, 2005


Things change here from moment to moment.  The news now from the southern part of Louisiana is that criminal gangs from New Orleans are spreading west and north out of the city like rats leaving a sinking ship.  In smaller cities and towns like LaPlace, Gramercy, Lutcher and Gonzales, they are stealing cars, taking them at gun point, and breaking into houses and small business to loot them, particularly of guns.  "It's crazy down here," one person said.  "People are sitting in front of their homes with shotguns," warning off the would-be thieves that are cruising the neighborhoods.  These opportunistic criminals are targeting any house that doesn't have a car in front of it, assuming that the owners have evacuated.  They started first in the more affluent areas but are now taking over in the all of them.  People are fast coming to the point where it's kill or be killed.  Where will it all end?


The following is being circulated as an eyewitness account of events in New Orleans/Baton Rouge area on August 30-31.  If it's a hoax, I apologize, but it seems too chillingly real to be ignored:
Subject: The PMAC [PM? Athletic Center at LSU in Baton Rouge] will never
host as important an event as it did tonight

Little did I know what I would be doing following Hurricane Katrina's
aftermath but as I type right now, there won't be a more gratifying or
more surreal experience (as the one) I went through tonight. We went up to the office today
and held a press conference regarding the postponement of the game and it
was the right decision. As the PMAC and Field House are being used as
shelters we decided as an office to do everything we could to help the

At first, we were just supposed to make copies of this disaster relief
form for all of the people. The copiers will never print a document more
important than that. It's weird. Nearly 12 hours ago we were running off
copies of game notes for a football game that is now meaningless. We
printed the copies and carried them over to the Field House at 6:30 p.m.
I wouldn't leave the area for another 8 hours.

On the way back to the PMAC in a cart, it looked like the scene in the
movie "Outbreak."  FEMA officials, U.S. Marshals, National Guard, and of
course the survivors. Black Hawks were carrying in victims who were
stranded on roofs. Buses rolled in from N.O. with other survivors. As
Michael and I rode back to the PMAC, a lady fell out of her wheelchair
and we scrambled to help her up.

We met Coach *** and Coach *** in the PMAC to see all the survivors
and it was the view of a hospital. Stretchers rolled in constantly and,
for the first time in my life, I saw someone die right in front of me. A man
rolled in from New Orleans and was badly injured on his head. 5 minutes
later he was dead. And that was the scene all night. What did we do?  We
started hauling in supplies. Thousands of boxes of supplies. The CDC
from Atlanta arrived directing us what to do.

One of the U.S. Marshals was on hand so the supplies could not become
loot. I asked him what his primary job was. He serves on the committee of
counter terrorism, but once he saw of the disaster, he donated his forces
to come help. He said the death toll could be nearing 10,000. It was
sickening to hear that.

After unloading supplies, I started putting together baby cribs and then
IV poles. Several of our football players and *** and *** helped
us. At the same time, families and people strolled in. Mothers were
giving birth in the locker rooms. The auxiliary gym "Dungeon" was being used as
a morgue. I couldn't take myself down there to see it.

I worked from 8 pm until 2:45 am. Before I left three more buses rolled
in and they were almost out of room. People were standing outside, the
lowest of the low from NO. The smells, the sights were hard to take.

A man lying down on a cot asked me to come see him. He said,"I just need
someone to talk to, to tell my story because I have nobody and nothing
left. He turned out to be a retired military veteran. His story was what
everybody was saying. He thought he survived the worst, woke up this
morning and the levees broke. Within minutes water rushed into his house.
He climbed to the attic, smashed his way through the roof and sat there
for hours. He was completely sunburned and exhausted. Nearly 12 hours later a
chopper rescued him and here he was.

We finished the night hauling boxes of body bags and more were on the
way.  As we left, a man was rolled in on a stretcher and scarily enough he
suffered gunshots. The paramedic said he was shot several times because a
looter or a convict needed his boat and he wouldn't give it to him.
Another man with him said it was "an uncivilized society no better than Iraq down
there right now." A few minutes later he (the injured man) was unconscious and later
pronounced dead. I then left as they were strolling a 3 year old kid in
on a stretcher. I couldn't take it anymore.

That was the scene at the PMAC and it gives me a new perspective on
things.  For those of you I haven't been able to get in touch with because of
phone service, I pray you are safe. Send me an email to let me know. God

Bill Martin
LSU Sports Information


Day three following Katrina, and we woke up this morning to see that removal of those stranded in the N. O. Superdome has been halted because some idiot fired at an army helicopter.  I'm surprised the people waiting to be taken to Houston didn't chase down the miscreant and beat him to a pulp.  Now that the army has been threatened, even so slightly, maybe martial law will be declared and order restored to this drowned city.  It seems this may be what it's going to take.
But life goes on here north of the disaster area.  There is still difficulty in calling long distance--my call this morning to a town only 30 miles away could not be completed because all circuits were busy.  I'm told that normally all such calls are routed through a central phone office.  Where is it located?  New Orleans, of course.  So the phone company is having to reroute everything through other exchanges, including Atlanta.  A minor thing, compared to the thousands who have no phone or cell service at all.  But telling.
My purpose in making this call was to discover if a local disaster relief fund had been set up to aid refugees in the civic centers and other places.  So many people have asked if they can help or where they could send a check that I thought I might be able to post an address here.  My own local town doesn't have such a fund, according to the mayor's office.  I was referred to American Red Cross--and they are helping of course.  And yet the ladies from area churches are taking money from their pockets to pay for the food they are preparing and delivering to families camped out at the city-run shelters, state park and church camp grounds.  It seemed useful if monies could be collected to help in this endeavor--because it isn't going to be over in a day or two but may stretch to weeks of meals.  In addition, a lot of people would like to help but are wary of sending money to organizations where bureaucratic overhead may take a large percentage of it.  More on this later.
I seem to have left a couple of things unresolved from my previous posts.  I should say, then, that my daughter and her family from southern Mississippi are safe and sound, though their home is still without power, water or phone service.  All things being, equal, and since they are not in the worst hit area, they should have these services restored by the weekend.  Also, I've seen aerial photos of Grand Isle which was on my worry list.  The beach area appears to have similar destruction as the coast around Gulf Port and Biloxi, with a wide swath wiped clean and debris piled in a long row like a particularly vicious high tide.  Beyond it, however, houses appear to be standing.  What the death toll may be there, however, remains to be seen.
The number of deaths rise every hour where Katrina left her mark.  Mayor Nagin says it may run into the thousands in New Orleans.  I look at the roofs of houses barely visible above the water and think of the people who may be trapped inside, unable to break out or give any sign they are alive, and I fear he's right.