Waldlaw Blog

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi

For the last several days, my partner and I have started every morning and ended every evening watching the news on TV. It has been a sobering way to start and end the day, and I keep trying to think of more ways to help those left homeless, jobless, familyless, etc. by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. So here are some ideas: (1) To make financial donations, contact the Red Cross at 1-800-435-7669 (or, in Spanish, 1-800-257-7575; (2) If you live within 500 miles or so of the areas affected by the hurricane and have a room, a bed, a couch that you can share with someone who lost their home, MoveOn is participating in a grassroots effort to house those rendered homeless. To post offers of housing or look for temporary housing, go to: http://www.hurricanehousing.org (2) Folks needing disaster assistance can call 1-800-462-9029; (3) Folks still trying to locate loved ones can call an emergency line at 1-866-438-4636. Disasters always serve to remind me of the fact that there are only "six degrees of separation" between us and anyone else with whom we come into contact. This one has been no exception -- I have had several recent reminders of how close we are to New Orleans, here at home and in my familly. First reminder: Just two weeks ago we celebrated the wedding of my brother and his wife, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the kind of heatwave that only New England can produce in August. My brother is a musician and a writer on all-things-music-related, generally folk/blues music from the U.S. and various music of the world including, particularly, the "folk" music of both Mexico and parts of Africa. (His website, for those of you interested, is www.elijahwald.com.) Anyway, Elijah and Sandrine got some friends to perform the ceremony for them -- a couple who have, themselves, been married for 45 years so, in Elijah's and Sandrine's words, they "know how to do it right." And the couple was, you guessed it, from New Orleans. So having shared a very joyous occasion with our family two weeks ago, we all are watching in horror now as their lives and livelihoods are jeopardized. Second reminder: There is an older, African-American woman who is a bedrock at the elementary school my younger son attends (my older son having started middle school today -- how did we all get this old??!!). She rules the roost on the play yards, helps in the childcare program, works with kids with special needs of one kind or another. I saw her on the yard before school this morning looking glum and asked her what was up. The answer: 4 of her sisters live in New Orleans and she's still only heard from 2 of them. YIKES!! Third reminder: I spoke to a client on the phone this morning, here in the Bay Area, whom I am helping with an adoption. She works for a disaster relief agency, and was the one who gave me some of the phone numbers I've listed above. She is concerned that she could be deployed south at a moment's notice, as apparently much of her agency already has been. Disruption hitting very close to home.... So: to those of you in the affected areas, and those of you with friends and family in New Orleans and the surrounding areas -- I hope you and they are safe, and send my thoughts and prayers your way. And to the rest of us, let's show the world that the United States -- which has spent so much time and effort recently inserting ourselves into the affairs of countries around the world -- knows enough and cares enough to take care of our own in a moment of crisis. I'm calling the Red Cross right now to make a donation. I hope you'll join me.


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