Patrick, Great to hear from you. I am now in Gulf Shores playing hooky with Mary. We embrace any chance to get out of New Orleans. Indeed the damage is staggering-and depressing. One report estimates that over 50% of local residents have clinically significant depression. Every day brings news of businesses failing or moving away. Even in the French Quarter many shops have shut down. It is a real Catch 22. With so many homes and apartments destroyed or unoccupiable, businesses cannot find workers or customers. Workers cannot return because there is no place to live. It is numbing to drive through New Orleans and see mile after mile of severely damaged homes. Even when utilities are restored many will not be able to build. They may not be eligible for insurance and without that they cannot qualify for a mortgage. Most did not have flood insurance, so they do not have enough equity to obtain a loan. Without employment, a loan is a pipe dream. I think you get the picture. Gotta run. I’ll write more later today. Harry
From Harry …
Thanks for the article. We call her “Meemaw”. There have been some wild editorials in the local paper saying “Meemaw’s tranq’d” . One writer wanted to send the national guard in to free Edwin Edwards from the federal pen so he could be brought back to save La. We know he will steal so we just factor in a percentage for graft! Meemaw had difficulty making deciisons even before the hurricane. This is the 5th governor I have wowrked for and this has been the most unproductive, unchartered time even pre-Katrina. There are Meemaw recall petitions circulating now. Hopefully she will be able to be a help in rebuilding, but so far she has done nothing.
My correspondence with my cousin and his spouse continues. They live in Metarie, Louisiana, and both are attorneys. Following is most of an e-mail from Mary written in her usual rapid style, typos and all. Of course this is just how she writes e-mails.
GULF SHORES, MISS. — Hey Patrick! It’s Mary-Hope ya’ll had a great Christmas. We’re still alive and fighting to get back to normal. I am in Gulf SHores. I ran away the day after Christmas. I got up, made my specail andouille sausage, left over turkey gumbo and headed to the beach. It is nice to get away from N.O. Harry has finally moved his files, copy/fax machine, computers, secretary, and paralegal out of our house and back to his office. There is still plywood on his office windows etc but the new carpett and wallpaper went in. We need to get him new office furniture, but they will start working there after New Year’s Day. We didn’t decorate much for Christmas because it still rains in our great room downstairs where we put up the tree. We have had 4 patch jobs done to our roof but are still waiting on a full new roof. Then I can hang paintings back up etc. Harry and I run to the attic each time it rains-we have tarps inside the attic as well as out. We bail out the rain and hope no more comes through the ceiling! But we are very fortunate compared to so many. There are now a lot of FEMA trailers on our block. Our neighbors that are back all have 2 story homes. The bottoms are gutted out and they loive upstairs. They have to wash their dishes in the bath tubs and set up temporary kitchens. The FEMA trailers make things easier for them. There were some very creative Christmas decorations on FEMA trailers. It wil be years before the city gets fixed up, but some areas are showing improvement. Our oldest daughter Shelly got to come home for 48 hours! She is in D.C. and has a job and has no vacation time, but it was great to have her home for the 2 days. She is working as the an admin. assistant/office manager for the campaign of the democratic candidate, Doug Duncan, who is running for governor of Maryland. She really likes the job, is making contacts and getting her foot in the door. Her boss is the campaign manager/consultant-he is from La. She is working hard and loves it. It will be interesting to see where she goes after the campaign is over. I think she would eventually like to “work on the Hill”. Julie did not like St Louis. It snowed and she was cold. So she is back to start classes at Loyola on Jan. 9th. Right now she is living at home and is not too pleased. The area around the universities had minor to moderate damage so there are not a lot of apartments available. Tulane is bringing in a cruise ship for some of their students to live on this semester. Julie is very resourceful so I imagine she wil find some aptmt or empty dorm room. I am still not in my office but we hope to get back in by the end of January. I lost half of my attorneys so we should not have to lose anyone in layoffs. We still are missing one or 2 foster children. It is sad but many of our teenage foster children have already been arrested or hospitalized in other states or cities. I guess we will eventually close a lot of cases. Most foster parents want to return to N.O. but many lived in n.O. East which had 10 feet of water. What scares me the most is that no one has a plan for how we should rebuild=which areas, what new code requirements etc. Harry has enough cases to last at least 5-6 years. Since our house is paid for and our kids are out of high school we can just wait and see what happens, but I am glad that I can run away to Gulf Shores! The majority of N.O. still does not have power, water, gas, stop lights etc. Since nothing is being done and hurricane season is just 6 months away, hopefully the levees will hold this next storm season til repairs are made. Have a safe and Happy New Year.