Monday, August 28, 2006


During my visit to New Orleans this weekend, I finally met up with the security guard from my old school. He was safe. He had evacuated to I don't remember where, but he and his daughter were safe. His wife had left him a note on the bed stand weeks before and the she packed her things and moved out. His house on Painters St. was flooded 11 and 1/2 feet. But his flag football cleats are still safe in the attic. Everything else is gone. He looks broken on the inside, and, while I know that many people who read this may already feel like this or know people who look like this, I don't get to see it. It is agonizing. And it is a miracle that he continues on.

One of the other things that he told me is that the school did a good job taking care of him after the levees broke. He said that he cleaned the refrigerator out and took out all the rotting furniture and stuff, but he hasn't gutted the thing yet. He probably told me why, but I can't remember because I was so stunned to see him. He is on the list for the Catholic Charities to provide help. I asked my mom, who works for Catholic Charities, if there was anything she could do. I don't know if there is, but it can't hurt to ask. Then I called my brother the contractor and asked him to give my friend an estimate. They know each other.

My friend said he bought his house with the insurance money and is living in a trailer. Neither neighbor has returned, but he mows his grass regularly. It's got to feel like home, he said. He is a huge Saints fan, and I don't think he is going to be leaving New Orleans. Thank God.

One of the more bizarre stories that he told me is that some parents at the school saw a picture or a video of the police officer who used to patrol during after school carpool pick-up. In the video, at the height of the chaos and looting, there she was. She didn't have anything in her hands, but she wasn't stopping anyone either. She was trying to keep the situation from getting out of control. Nonetheless, when this parent reported this to the school administration, she was summarily released from her duties - no questions asked. Never mind that this woman had a stellar record and years of service. Never mind that the children loved her. Never mind that she was dealing with the largest MAN-MADE DISASTER to befall an American city. Done. Is that how we build community these days?

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