gwynhefar: (Hurricane Warning)
Please keep the folks of South Louisiana in your thoughts as Isaac pounds New Orleans on this the 7th anniversary of Katrina.
gwynhefar: (louisiana 1927)
I'm trying to put together a playlist of songs that directly reference Hurricane Katrina. I have a handful, but I'm hoping y'all can think of others. Ones I already have:

"All I Need": Mat Kearney

A pool is running for miles on the concrete ground

We're eight feet deep and the rain is still coming down

The TV's playing it all out of town

We're grabbing at the fray for something that won't drown.

"Pontchartrain": Vienna Teng

Lake Pontchartrain is haunted:

Bones without names, photographs framed in reeds.

"People Look Around": Catie Curtis

When the water is rising and there is no higher ground,

You can wave your hands up on the roof,

But you might be left to drown.

In the streets of New Orleans; a makeshift funeral pall,

Here lies Vera, God help us all.

"Louisiana 1927": Randy Newman (technically about the 1927 Mississippi flood, not Katrina, but became an anthem in the aftermath.)

Louisiana, Louisiana

They're tyrin' to wash us away

They're tryin' to wash us away

Any others y'all can think of?

gwynhefar: (Louisiana)
In Louisiana, those territorial divisions within a state that are usually called "counties" are instead called "parishes". For example, I live in East Baton Rouge Parish. The metropolitan area of New Orleans is actually split between two parishes -- Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish.

As I read all these books written about Katrina, specifically the ones written by non-Louisianans, I keep coming across references to such-and-such *county* in Louisiana. Now I'm not sure if the people writing the books really *don't* know that counties are called parishes in Louisiana (in which case they clearly didn't do their research) or if they know, but figure the term would be confusing for anyone outside Louisiana and thus choose to replace it with the more universally understood "county".

If the latter, I can understand the motivations, but it doesn't change the fact that it's just plain *wrong*. There is no such place as "Jefferson County" in Louisiana. And really, how difficult is it to explain? A simple parenthetical note would work, i.e. "Officials in Jefferson Parish ('parish' is the local term for a county) said Monday . . ."

That wasn't so hard, now was it? Because otherwise people are going to read these books, thinking the authors know what they're talking about, and then they're going to come down to Louisiana and talk about this or that county and we're all going to laugh at them. Or worse, someone who *does* know about the parishes is going to read the book and assume the author *doesn't* know what he or she is talking about and dismiss what might otherwise be a good book.
gwynhefar: (New Orleans)
So I'm reading this memoir written by one of the French Quarter holdouts during Katrina, and he's talking about how he and some of his friends dubbed themselves the Krewe of Nagin after hearing the mayor's tirade on the radio. He immediately explains in the next sentence that they were making reference to the groups that put on the Mardi Gras parades, who call themselves 'krewes' and in the back of my head I'm going "Thank you, Captain Obvious" when it hits me that he's writing this book for people who don't live in Louisiana and *of course* he has to explain "krewe" because they won't know what it means and three years ago *I* didn't know what it means and holy crap I've gone Native.
gwynhefar: (louisiana 1927)
When I first heard about it two days ago, it was still a tropical storm and wasn't even to Haiti yet. Yesterday, folks were talking about it, and this morning I get an email reminder to sign up for the university's emergency text messaging system. Yes, folks, it's official. A hurricane is in the Gulf and Louisiana is on alert. It would be almost funny if it weren't so serious.

Years of having the Big One pass them by had made Louisianans rather blasé about hurricanes. They happened every year, after all. Then Katrina hit, and so many were unprepared, myself included. The first I heard about Katrina was when my parents called me on Saturday morning. Ok, so I'm not much of a news person or I would have heard earlier, but the point is, no one was even really talking about it on Friday. Then Saturday came and folks started to realise it might actually hit us this time. I got about four or five calls Saturday from friends and family, so I would have figured it out by then, but of course, when you're talking real preparation, that was way too late. Saturday afternoon I went out and bought a case of bottled water and some batteries and that was about the extent of my preparation (it was significant, I think, that I obtained both those items rather easily and without fuss). Of course, Baton Rouge is far enough from the coast to be pretty much safe from major flooding of the type seen in the lower parishes. I'd like to think that those in New Orleans and along the coast were paying more attention to Katrina than I was, but we all know how that turned out.

The point is, if nothing else, we've learned from our mistakes. We've been lucky in the past few years in that only a handful of hurricanes have made it into the Gulf at all and those that did hit far enough away to not be an issue. I mean, I feel sorry for Mexico and Texas and West Florida, but at least it wasn't here. And I knew about each one well in advance. Because we pay attention now. Every time a named storm rounds the Florida Peninsula, Louisianans keep a weather eye on the Gulf. Because you never know.

As for me, I still have that case of bottled water. I'll actually be in Birmingham this weekend, but I'll be keeping an eye on the news.
gwynhefar: (louisiana 1927)
Book #58 -- Andreé M Maduell, 9/18-EBR-ZERO: Hauntings of Katrina, 83 pages.

This is a memoir of one person's experience living through Katrina, and the way it made her look differently on her life. Maduell lives on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and her extended family all lived in the Metairie/New Orleans area. The book is written in an unsophisticated, conversational tone that makes the tale all the more intimate, as if you were just hanging out on her front porch listening to her tell her story. The narrative has a tendency to the rambling, stream-of-consciousness style that can be annoying at times, but feels more authentic than more polished narratives. Moreso than any other Katrina book I've read so far, this gives you a feel for the experience of the 'common person' during Katrina.

Progress toward goals: 167/366 = 45.6%

Books: 58/150 = 38.7%

Pages: 15745/50000 = 31.5%

2008 Book List

cross-posted to [ profile] 15000pages, [ profile] 50bookchallenge, and [ profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (louisiana 1927)
I'm reading this book, a mystery that's set in a small town in Louisiana. This fictional town is in the process of recovering from the devastating fictional hurricane Bernardine. It is quite clear that Bernardine is a stand-in for Katrina.

For some inexplicable reason, this fictionalisation really bothers me. If there were any differences between the two that were important to the plot that would be one thing. But there aren't. So why doesn't the author just *say* Katrina? Katrina was real. Katrina was devastatingly real. I may not have been in New Orleans, but I was close enough, and I saw all the destruction and pain and loss and recovery first hand. Katrina *means* something to me, and to the people of this state. The very name itself is emotionally charged, so much so that I feel sorry for anyone living here actually named Katrina, because they'll never get past that. Taking that very real catastrophe and turning it into something fictional, with a meaningless fictional name, feels disrespectful. Turning something that was all too real into not-real, like a big game of 'let's pretend'. It feels to me that if you're going to set a story in post-Katrina Louisiana, you need to acknowledge that difference. And there *is* a difference. Something happened that changed the way the people in this state think and function on a very basic level, and that something was Katrina, not Bernardine, or Gretchen, or Falstaff, or any other imaginary name you want to come up with. Acknowledging that difference without acknowledging the real source feels as bad or worse as not acknowledging it at all.

Perhaps I'm overreacting. Perhaps I'm the only one that feels that way. You can say it's just a name, but to me it's *not* just a name. It's Katrina.
gwynhefar: (louisiana 1927)
A soldier stationed in Mississippi, about Katrina: "This hurricane was like God and the Devil fighting it out here with Godzilla as the referee."
gwynhefar: (louisiana 1927)
So I'm reading another book on Katrina. That's what I get for starting a project like this. Anyway, they're talking about the conference call that was held the day before Katrina hit, in which a hurricane specialist spoke to the President. People have asked how the President could not have known there was the potential for the levees to breach and his people's response has always been that the hurricane specialist talked about the possibility of the levees 'topping' not 'breaching'. The book concedes that the specialist never used the word "breach". It then goes on to say: "But he did speak of inundation, and that ought to have been enough to indicate the deadly nature of the threat."

My first thought on reading this? 'Yeah, but 'inundation' is one o' them big words George W. don't know'

I'm so mean. But probably right.
gwynhefar: (louisiana 1927)
Da Mayor in Your Pocket

Hee! Everyone in Louisiana should have one of these.
gwynhefar: (Cranes for Katrina)
Book #54 -- Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic, 154 pages.

This book is a gem -- a collection of essays written by Chris Rose, a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, about his experiences in post-Katrina New Orleans. It is a tribute to both his writing ability and to the spirit of New Orleans that the book makes you want to laugh more often than it makes you want to cry. Perhaps it's just me, living so close to New Orleans, the dark humour of the region has rubbed off on me. Either way, it's an incredible book. Highly recommended.

Progress toward goals:
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
253 / 365

Zokutou word meter
54 / 50

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12,737 / 15,000

2006 Book List

cross-posted to [ profile] 50bookchallenge, [ profile] 15000pages, and [ profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (Cranes for Katrina)
So I'm reading a book about life in New Orleans after Katrina. The stories run the gamut from the utterly despondant to hilarious, but with true New Orleansian humour, the author makes you laugh more than he makes you cry. Still . . .

He tells one story of a neighbour of his. She was from New Orleans, but her fiancé was from Atlanta. That's where they fled when the hurricane came. They'd had their wedding planned for the week after Katrina, in New Orleans. Obviously it was cancelled. A few weeks later they were back. He'd wanted to stay in Atlanta with his folks, but she was insistent that they come home. Several times he tried to convince her to leave New Orleans, but it was her home city and she loved it. She wanted to stay. Once he left her after she refused to move to Atlanta, but he came back because he loved her. And then he killed himself.
Can you imagine what that poor girl felt? After the hell of Katrina and its aftermath and losing everything and then her fiancé on top of it all. He stayed because she asked him to and he loved her but he couldn't handle it. She's got to be feeling that his death was her fault . . .
gwynhefar: (Chaos Theory) -- a blog by a group of students who went to New Orleans to help with the clean up effort.
gwynhefar: (Cranes for Katrina)
Ok, so the money has been sent to the Red Cross. Total came out to a little over $425. That is way beyond my initial expectations, so good job folks.

Cranes for those who donated will go out this week. If you haven't given me your address and you want one email me at gwynhefar @ gmail . com.
gwynhefar: (poe's raven)
New study links levee failures in New Orleans to basic design flaws

They're saying Katrina was only a category 3 when it hit. This wasn't even The Big One. I hope they pay attention and rebuild them much much better. And get rid of MRGO while they're at it.
gwynhefar: (I must go down to the sea again)
Katrina pictures )

Ok, so apparently the pictures aren't Katrina. The sentiment still applies.


Oct. 9th, 2005 02:57 pm
gwynhefar: (Cranes for Katrina)
There are still a few people who pledged who haven't yet paid. If circumstances have changed and you can't pay what you pledged, that's fine, just let me know, so I'm not waiting for you. I'd like to cut the check well before the end of this month, if I can.

Paypal email is Or you can click the shiny button. If you want to pay by check , email me at for my address. Also to give me your address so I can send you your crane.

Cranes are still for sale as well at the low price of $2. Proceeds go to Noah's Wish. Cranes will be sent out when all the money is collected and the check sent, so if you've already paid, don't worry, I havent' forgotten you.

Shiny button:

gwynhefar: (Cranes for Katrina)
For those of you who wondered what 1000 cranes looked like, a picture of the 1000 (in two large bins) is behind the cut, along with a picture of the 1000th crane.

A reminder for those who haven't sent me their money yet -- the paypal address is, or you can click on the button below. Alternatively, you can email me and I'll send you my postal address if you'd rather send a check.

Also, don't forget to email me your address and the type of crane you want. I'll be sending them all out at once when I've done collecting pledges, so if you've already sent me the information, don't worry, it's coming.

There's still an opportunity for those of you who couldn't pledge to help out. $2 buys you a crane and a certificate of authenticity, with the proceeds going to Noah's Wish (for the animal victims of Katrina). $2 isn't all that much folks, and you get a neat keepsake of the project.

pictures )
gwynhefar: (Default)
Crane count as of this weekend: 1000!!!!!!!

Yes, indeed, the project is finished. Thank you very much to everyone who pledged. The pledge total comes to $590, much more than I was anticipating.

For those who pledged, the paypal address for the project is I've also included a button at the bottom of the screen. I'm cutting the check on October 10th, so please pay before then.

Also, for those of you who couldn't afford to pledge per crane, I'm selling off the finished cranes to raise money for Noah's Wish. $2 buys you a crane and a certificate stating that your crane was one of 1000 folded for the victims of Katrina. I'll honour colour and pattern requests as I can.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated or will participate. I had a lot of fun doing this, and I'm almost sad to see it end.

Edit: Those who pledged automatically get a crane. Email me your address and colour/pattern request at
gwynhefar: (Default)
I've got about 40 cranes left to fold to make 1000. I'm going to save them for tomorrow night, while waiting for Rita to hit. This project began with a hurricane, and it'll end with one. I figure that's appropriate.

And who knows, depending on what happens maybe I'll start folding another 1000 for Rita.

Scary to think we've still got more than two months of hurricane season left.


gwynhefar: (Default)

August 2014

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