Thursday, September 08, 2005

Reality Check

Back to New Orleans.....A note from us to our former chef Bethann......

Dear Bethann:

The offer still stands. How can we help?

Michael and Amanda

And back from Bethann......

Dear Friends:

Thank you. I've been wanting to write but I haven't had a chance. In the short-term future, I'm reluctant to relocate so far away in case I ever need to go back to New Orleans and see if I have anything left that's salvageable in my apartment. I'm trying to stay in the region until things are more clear (no idea at what point I'll give up on waiting).

I had one person in mind who I thought might be especially interested in your offer but nobody knows where he is now. Beau is a really niceguy in his mid-20's from NO who worked at Peristyle (the restaurantwhere I was to have started working). The pastry chef hadn't heard from Beau when I finally heard from the pastry chef yesterday for the first time.

I think that people are largely staying with family around the countryor are trying to stay in the region. This will probably change as people have to start settling or moving on. I'll definitely let peopleknow about your room and work offer. I may be interested down the line if it's still available but don't keep it open for me.

Everything is so uncertain right now. I think there might be some people who were ready to move and start over from scratch or who have family far away or whoare being relocated through their employers. Most people are still overwhelmed to some degree and everything remains so uncertain. At this point I feel lucky since so many people are and have been in such horrible conditions. I do, however, think I lost everything I owned with the exception of my car, my cat, and 2 suitcases of clothes and a laundry basket of shoes. I did better than many in terms of clothing, but I lost (most likely) everything else. I rented and my renter's insurance didn't cover flood.

Since many of us who lost everything are currently living temporarily in furnished homes with friends and family, we aren't fully feeling the impact of having to rent an apartment and not owning anything at all. In some ways this makes it incredibly easy to move and start over, but there's so much red tape and stuff to deal with now and really nobody has any idea how this is all going to play out.

My brother and his wife and son were living in her great grandmother's home (1940's) that had never flooded; it didn't flood this time until the levees broke. Currently the insurance company and aerial photos have confirmed that they're up to the roof in standing water (or sewage or whatever you want to call that stuff). They were underinsured because they were remodeling and they will likely end up owing the bank $50-60,000 for a home that is ruined and property that's worthless, and they'll still be starting at zero in terms of possessions, jobs, and relocating.

I have so many nightmare stories that I'll share eventually. I'm planning to write a group email at some point--maybe I'll have a chance later tonight. I'm doing well in spite of everything. It helps that so many people have been incredibly gracious and compassionate through all of this. I'm including you and Amanda in this list. It's an odd experience. There are those who need food and medical attention and shelter now. The next phase will probably include all of us who are sheltered and eating and trying to work but who are withouteverything else. It makes me feel ashamed of wanting anything since somany of us are in this same position and many are worse off, but trulythe next wave will be to have patience for all of us who are starting over, especially people with children or elderly people. I think a decent percentage of people who were employed are still getting paid.

Unfortunately, my brother and I were both unemployed so neither of us gets any check or unemployment. My job was to have started the Tues after Katrina hit on Mon. My brother had a part-time contract website development job with a company that is only paying full-time people. He was also enrolled in school.I know people need medical care and prescriptions and dental care and pet care and I wish that could be provided for everyone in this country but certainly for victims from this. Those things are not the first things you pay for necessarily and they're costly. There's red tape involved with it now and from what I hear, people are only getting a 30-day supply of medications. I wonder what happens next month.

Thanks again for your offer. I don't know what to say in terms of what else you or anybody can do. It's mind boggling. I'm at a loss myself at this stage. I think that offering housing is crucial. It may just take a while before anyone is able to avail herself of making such a move at this time.



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