Friday, September 09, 2005

Green Andrea Garland Reports from Front Line

Dear Friends:

Apologies for the lack of communication the past couple of days - we've been very busy with hands-on work on the ground here, and also had a few technical issues to sort out with the internet connection. Cell phone coverage is also rather touch and go, so apologies if you've had
trouble reaching us by phone.

We've been in Covington, LA, 24 miles north of New Orleans, for the past 3 days, at the Pine View Middle School. There is a Red Cross Shelter here we have been helping provide with assistance, along with the Vets for Peace. The past few days have been long and emotional. It is good to be back amongst friends - we have met several of our neighbors from the 9th Ward, and made many new friends. The spirit here is amazing - between the many wonderful volunteers arriving daily to help out and the increcibly strong spirit of our fellow evacuees - most of whom have lost far more than we have.

Though some people here have made it in and out of the city, we have determined that it would be next to impossible and possibly quite dangerous to try to enter the city. Not to mention that there are few people left to help now that the entire city is under forced evacuation. The
headline of today's Times-Picayune (New Orleans' newspaper) screams "Leave Now Or Else." Apparently a last sweep of voluntary evacuations is being made, after which the remainder of the people left will be forced to leave, possibly at gunpoint. Stories from people evacuated after the storm are mostly horrendous - a woman who walked through chest high waters with her child to the Superdome, only to be subjected to not just one, but two full body searches before being allowed to board the airlift.

The people of New Orleans are being treated as criminals, as if we have done something wrong. A friend saw a 6 year old girl handcuffed for having a bag of diapers in her hand, taken from a store. I refuse to use the word looting for any situation in which people were merely trying to
procur the goods needed to survive. A 6 year old girl, handcuffed.

The last few days have found me close to numb - now that we are here and talking to other evacuees, people that survived the storm but still looking for family and friends - so many from the loweer 9th ward and of course you know how great the chances are that they are dead. Still, the spirit of New Orleans prevails - a spirit born of hardship in the first place - and so we continue to go on.

We will get the real stories and pictures to you tomorrow - it's very late now and we've got an early run to do in the morning, so I'm just going to describe a bit more about what we are actually doing at this point and then get some sleep (something we have had very little of lately.)

At the moment, Get Your Act On has taken on the role of "tell us what you need and we will get it for you." The Red Cross is not allowed to provide anything more than shelter and food, and while the shelter is run by some wonderful people, there are many things the evacuees need that are not being provided. So we have set up a tent where we hand out basic necessities - soap, shampoo, deoderant, aspirin, vitamins, baby food, diapers, toilet paper, toothpaste, tampons, baby bottles. you get the idea. There are showers set up here, but there was no soap for people to wash. We have made two supply runs in the past two days getting these items and more for the people here - these daily necessities make a huge difference, allowing everyone at least the human dignity of "keeping up appearances."

Tomorrow we will make our first attempt to get into the city - not into New Orleans itself, but into Algiers, a neighborhood on the Westbank, across the Mississippi from New Orleans. A good friend of mine and increcible activist, Malik Rahim, lives there, and is starting a community rebuilding project. Algiers was hit pretty hard, but did not flood like New Orleans. However, they are also not receiving any assistance, and are still without power, running water, or food. The Vets for Peace brought them food and water today. Gaining entrance even to that part of the city is still touch and go, but we will keep trying until we get in, to bring them two generators, chain saws and other tools to begin rebuilding their neighborhood. Until we can gain access to New Orleans itself and return to our home and help the others returning, we will be assisting other nearby communities in their efforts to rebuild, as well as helping fill the needs of the evacuees here and in other shelters and outlying towns. The Vets for Peace and some other groups here (I apologize for spacing their names right now, but will fill you in tomorrow) have been making runs out to outlying towns still without water and food and making supply drops. It appears that we will largely act as a distribution center - the Vets have arranged another spot in town to receive supplies and redistribute them out to places that need them. Longer term plans are being discussed for contiuing relief efforts until and after people are finally allowed to return to New Orleans.

I can barely speak about the horror that New Orleans is these days - dead bodies floating through the streets, buildings on fire, still people stranded and others holding out in areas less damaged. There is much fear as to what the intentions are for the poorer neighborhoods - are
there plans to simply bulldoze them to the ground so that a newer, cleaner, disneyfied New Orleans can be established in its place now that poor have been either killed off or forced to leave? Tomorrow I will start transcribing my friend Daniel's stories and others'. it is simply too
much right now, I have almost reached my limit, and I have heard and seen so many things in the last few days it is mostly a big jumble in my head.

Everyone here is so thankful for everyone's generosity and support - they send you their thanks and their blessings.

Please check back tomorrow for more updates and pictures and more. Now I am going to get some sleep so we can make our run to Algiers in the morning.

Peace and love -


LOUISIANA GREEN RELEASE LA. Greens express outrage, call to action

The Green Party of Louisiana

Monday, September 5, 2005

Leenie Halbert, Coordinating Committee, Green Party of
Louisiana, 504-343-1273,
Malik Rahim, 504-368-6897,

Louisiana Greens Express Outrage at Katrina "Planning"

War, Racism, Coastal Mismanagement Exacerbate Devastation

As the devastation in New Orleans from hurricane
Katrina grows more and more deadly, disgraceful, and
surreal-we find ourselves in a state of 'shock and
awe' at the appalling carelessness to the rescue
effort, the racist neglect of New Orleans' most
vulnerable people, and the devastating mismanagement
of our regional ecosystem which hastened and
exacerbated the devastation.

Greens are committed to rebuilding Louisiana
sustainably and equitably!


Fully one-third of the Louisiana National Guard, whose
mission is to assist in rescue and relief operations
during peacetime, have instead been sent to Iraq to
fight for George Bush's war, based on lies and
deception. This includes many troops who were trained
specifically for high-water rescue operations. Yet
four days after the hurricane hit, there's no National
Guard in sight. Tens of thousands of New
Orleanians-most poor and African-American-have been
without food, water and medicines for almost a week
while the president cobbles together a hodgepodge of
disaster relief teams from under-staffed and
under-funded local authorities.

Here's what stranded New Orleanians are saying about
the rescue efforts:

"It's unbelievable but its for real. That man [Bush]
can spend all that money and send all those troops to
Iraq but he can't do nothing for us right here!"

"You mean to tell me they couldn't just drop some
water and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from all
those helicopters?" (responding to the reasoning that
no relief could be delivered because of the high

Damage estimates for New Orleans and the Gulf South
are already reaching the tens of billions. The
Republican-Democrat consensus on appropriating
hundreds of billions of dollars to fight the illegal
and immoral war in Iraq have taken funds which could
have been rightly used to address domestic needs such
as health care, education, and local projects such as
improving levee and drainage systems in New Orleans
and other American cities.

As Greens living in a city whose destruction has been
exacerbated by the outrageous negligence and outright
madness of the Bush Administration and it's pliant
Democratic "opposition," we reiterate our demand that
all US troops are brought home now, that the costly
war budget be transformed into a prosperous peacetime
budget, and that the Bush Administration apologize in
full for its role in intensifying this absolute


One of the most striking images from the ongoing
hurricane disaster is the ubiquitous poverty of the
mostly-black victims, which underscore the existing
race and class inequalities in our city-a microcosm of
the national inequalities that confront people of
color and the working poor.

Disaster planning officials know that 112,000 people
in New Orleans have no access to a car-the only way to
get out of the city. And a staggering 61% of
single-mom families in New Orleans are living in

The working-class Plaquemines and St. Bernard
parishes-home to factory workers, commercial fishermen
and shrimpers-were also hit very hard, particularly
St. Bernard. The awesome reality of the hurricane is
that it starkly sharpened the existing class and race

Greens have been working to address these disparities
in New Orleans, and we reiterate our calls for social
justice: raise the poverty-level 'minimum' wage to a
living wage; restore all funding to the Charity
Hospital system; investing in education-not
incarceration-for our young people.

As New Orleanians committed to systematic change in
our economic and political systems for social justice
and environmental sustainability, we are both angered
by the culmination of a century of irresponsible
planning, yet heartened by the resilience and
determination of our brothers and sisters who are
battling through the challenges of this disaster with
the same dignity and resolve that they have battled
the ongoing challenges of the daily lives under a
system which has been designed to disregard them.


If you had asked anyone in Louisiana just two weeks
ago what was the biggest environmental crisis-nearly
every person would have said "costal erosion." Losing
our coastal areas-at a rate of a football fields every
20 minutes-has destroyed not only a rich source of
wildlife but also crippled our natural defenses
against storms and flooding. In fact, until the
canals and levees were built, the coastline was
actually growing-strengthening our regions defenses
against storms and hurricane.

The truth is that the environmental planning in our
region has systematically wiped out our precious and
protective coastal wetlands which, if not weakened to
their current state, could have provided defense
against the deadly storm surges which broke the levees
and caused the most damage. Shortsighted and
politically-connected oil and gas companies wrecked
coastal areas with impunity with an elaborate and
destructive system of canals to facilitate the
extraction of 'resources.'

Our system of irresponsibly-built canals and levees-as
well as the laissez-faire complicity in allowing oil
and gas industry to build destructive canals through
the wetlands- act as giant straws, sucking saltwater
from the Gulf inland and destroying the freshwater
wetland habitats.

In addition to the mismanaged regional ecosystem,
global environmental issues such as rising ocean
levels from global warming are adding fuel to the
fire. In fact, since FEMA was founded in 1979, New
Orleans has been consistently at the top of the list
of most disaster-prone areas in the country. And in
1995, the International Panel on Climate Change of the
United Nations identified New Orleans as the most
vulnerable North American city to global climate
change, because sea-level rise and elevating
temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico intensify the
frequency and power of hurricanes.

As Greens committed to environmental sustainability
and proper management of our regional ecosystems for
the benefit of recreation, human habitat, and natural
disaster protection, we reiterate our call to reduce
emissions which are causing global warming, as well as
for a sustainable system of drainage and storm
prevention in Southeast Louisiana.

For information about the Green Party of Louisiana,

Green Party of the United States


Green Party web page with information on aid for
victims of the hurricane

Web page with information on relief efforts, set up by
New Orleans Greens Andrea Garland and Jeffrey Holmes

Discussion list set up by Green Party member Bart
Everson from New Orleans, for exchange of information
(advice, requests for help and offers of direct
material, other assistance)


Fuck FEMA!


FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations

FEMA turns away experienced firefighters

FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks

FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel

FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food

FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans

FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid

FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board,1,4144825.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck

FEMA turns away generators

FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Brother's and Sister's Keepers

So I have been away working on Katrina Relief and will give a full update once I get a chance to breathe and think it all through. In the meantime I will be sharing info on other Greens who doing the same.

Various Green Relief Projects and other Katrina Related info is below:

Just wanted to let you know that I'm coordinating with folks all over the country--community
organizers and peace groups, primarily--and with organizers on the ground in the Katrina disaster area to send buses full of supplies to local groups in the disaster area and relocation areas, bringing back full buses of folks for whom we have long-term temporary housing and support volunteered. The first bus load rolled out of Minnesota, bound for Houston, on Saturday night.

By working with individual community groups and local organizers, we are hoping to address the needs that are not understood or addressed by the "corporate" aid organizations and government agencies.

Right now we need to hear from:
a.. folks and organizations who have buses that could make the trip--or who have contacts with
bus companies... (wouldn't it be great if all the casino buses were "re-purposed" for disaster

b.. folks with valid licenses to drive buses

c.. folks and organizations who are willing to organize drops of needed supplies

d.. folks who have specialized skills (medical, psychological, infrastructure reconstruction,
other logistical) who are willing to spend some time in the disaster area

e.. folks who can provide housing and other support locally including liaison with schools
and social services. In addition, we can use donations of money for gas and expenses and
donations of gas and phone cards.

If you are in contact with community organizers in the affected areas and are aware of specific
needs, please let us know so we can target those needs.

To learn more and to donate money, go to <>. To volunteer as an
organizer or to donate "in kind" or to share information about relief needs and contacts,
please go to

(This is a temporary site until we can set up a web domain specifically for this purpose.) If you are organizing relief for other organizations, please let us know so that we can coordinate activities.

Jane Hunter
Green Party of NJ
732-310-8829 (mobile)

From: "Gwen Wages" <>,
Mississippi Green Party member and national co-chair of the Green Party:

"The Green Party of Lee County (MS) is in NE MS and is stable. We are discussing being the Green Clearing house for information and humanitarian aid. We have a bank account, website, gasoline, even offers of homes (from Greens) for the displaced from around the US. We can mobilize readily being in the center, 5 hours to 1 day drive from New Orleans, and MS, AL , and Fl coast. We also know a few back roads [that] FEMA and other non locals seem to be ignoring...."

Rebuild Green

Malik Rahim, a Black Panthers veteran and Green who recently ran for New Orleans City Council, stayed at his home in the Algiers neighborhood (one of the few areas not flooded) and did several radio interviews (listen to one at <>).
His article "This is criminal" has been widely published and can be read at

Rahim is organizing 'Rebuild Green' to coordinate Green relief & help get supplies and other aid to people; donations are urgently needed. Call 415-575-5555; a website will be up soon.

(Mike Howell is a New Orleans Green and resident of the French Quarter)

from Marty Rowland of New Orleans C3, Concern, Community, Compassion
Forwarded Message

Date: Tue, 6 Sep 2005 18:50:18 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
Subject: [NOLA_C3_Discussion] importance of
political stand to remain in city


Please pass this around. C3 member Mike Howells wanted the blogosphere to know the political
importance of having residents stay in the city during martial law. There are many jobs during
the current rebuilding effort that could be worked by people like Mike and others who are still there. There's no reason to move everyone out. In fact, others should be allowed in preferentially for just that purpose.

We cannot allow our city to be sterilized by a foreign culture of Halliburton contract help.

As long as C3 has a member in the city, C3 has standing in the issuance of demands such as
guaranteeing that elections in the spring of 2006 go as planned, with the entire New Orleans
diaspora voting with their drivers licenses, or the fact they have been processed in the many
shelters around the country.

We cannot allow the post-Katrina New Orleans government to go back to business as usual, where the poor were being systematically driven from their homes, black youth killed by police, and our educational system driven into mayhem through sinister political operatives. We have to rip off the ugly face of racist / classist New Orleans....dead bodies floating in canals is nothing to what was going on every day in pre-Katrina New Orleans, and THAT New Orleans HAS to change.


Useful info forwarded from Vicki Santa, station manager of WMNF, 88.5FM community radio (greater Tampa Bay, Florida):

Subj: WWOZ-in-Exile and Astrodome Radio

Great news that WWOZ is up and running online -- WWOZ-in_Exile at their website address

Their website is filled with info, including aid links for new orleans artists, and some harrowing
first-person tales from our friends at the station.

Community radio--an online version--is back up and running for the people of New Orleans.

On another note, the FCC gave permission for immediate launch of an temporary emergency LPFM signal in and around the Astrodome in Houston--and equipment and knowledgable persons were headed there over the weekend.

Will keep you updated as more (and more) info pours in.


Vicki Santa
WMNF 88.5 FM Community Radio [Tampa, Florida]

Help Needed please respond.

Hey Now,
Rebecca has forwarded this message and call to help from Brittney. Do what you can.


Brittney is from NY and has been maintaining contact with a number of elderly
people who are stuck in different areas. Please help! -rebecca wrote: Please distribute to anyone you think may be
interested in assisting.

As many of you know, I've been maintaining contact with an
extraordinary woman named Valerie Huffman. Valerie was born and raised
in New Orleans, and then moved to Gulfport, MS, where she has worked
construction for many years, constructing water front high rises and
the casinos that brought much needed revenue to the area. Valerie has
worked on hurricane relief multiple times, most recently assisting with
clean-up and reconstruction after Hurricane Opal. Valerie was in
Gulfport when Hurricane Katrina hit. Her trailer was demolished around
her, and she recovered personal posessions from trees while she was
evacuating. While leaving, she saw the very casions she helped to
construct strewn about the landscape like a careless child's toys. She
passed the homes of friends and neighbors, only to see their lifeless
bodies removed from windows of the higher stories where they huddled
for safety. While grateful for her life, Valerie could not find peace
knowing that her 74 year old mother was trapped in New Orleans, and she
had not had word on the safety of her son or grandchildren.

I began speaking with Valerie Huffman only a few days ago, after seeing
a message posted by a friend regarding the safety of Valerie's mother.
Living in the same home since 1950, Barbara Rose was afraid to leave
behind her 30 cats, dog and parrot during the storm. She remained in
the home, where she became trapped due to physical conditions and some
flooding that prevented her from leaving the area. Through the help of
Aaron, a minister living in the area, we were able to rescue Barbara
after she had been stranded for days with no food or water, her walker
having blown away and her medications dwindling to a critical level.
When he found her, she was beginning to turn blue. After finding a
truck that would aid in their escape from the city, Aaron drove himself
and Barbara to the shelter in San Antonio, TX. Valerie, at this time,
was miles away in Florida, unaware of the successful rescue of her mom.

In subsequent days, Valerie received the good news about her mother's
safety, as well as word that her son and grandchildren had all
weathered the storm and were thankfully safe. All of their homes were
either destryoed or in serious disrepair, but family was the most
important thing to Valerie Huffman. The change in her voice and
demeanor after the wonderful news was something inspiring. She went
from a terrified and despondant woman, who believed she had lost all
she had in the world, to someone grateful and overjoyed that her family
had been spared from Katrina's wrath.

When I offered a shipment of food, clothing, and material posessions,
Valerie politely refused. She emphasized that the only thing she
wanted in this world was to have her family reunited and safe. Even
though she has lost everything she owned, including her truck and
equipment, Valerie was only eager for the opportunity to see her loved
ones once more. Unable to return to Gulfport, the city she helped
build, due to the emotional strain, she began making arrangements to
relocate herself in Florida.

I spoke with Valerie just moments ago. Once we have word from the SPCA
regarding the fate of her mother's beloved pets, she would like to pick
up her mother at the shelter and bring her to the place where they must
start again, finding new housing in an entirely new community. If the
pets were unable to survive, Valerie wants to visit her mother's home
in NOLA to bury the pets in the family's pet graveyard, so that her
mother does not need to experience any additional anguish. She is also
adament that the two guns present in the home must be removed and
destroyed, for fear that someone may find them and use them to endanger
any of the volunteers working to salvage what's left of NOLA.

Valerie needs assistance in reaching these goals. Primarily, she
requires an old camper or truck that will allow her to make the 18 hour
drive to San Antonio, and back, where she can pick up her mother. True
to her gracious nature, she adamently reminded me that she would have
friends take her wherever she needed to pick up the truck or camper,
and that every cent given to her would be paid back in time. I
reminded her that these measures would certainly be unnecessary, but
she persisted. Valerie is a true survivor, and this comes through in
every interaction we had. Her only other request is that someday in
the future, she would have an opportunity to meet and personally thank
all who helped her during this difficult time. "Thank God for
America," she said to me. Why? "We Americans sure do know how to
stick together." I, for one, am honored and proud to stand by Ms.

Valerie needs:
- a camper or truck to travel to San Antonio to finally reunite with
her mother
- money for gas

The gas was my suggestion -- she is so desperate to move onto a new
life with her family, and still so shocked by the ordeal she's just
experienced, that logistics are an afterthought. In addition to these
requests, please be mindful that she has lost every material belonging
that she has ever had. Please let me know if you have items you
believe may be useful to her.

Also, she informed me that today with her last $100 she was able to
open a bank account and PO box. Any financial contributions or gift
cards you would like to offer can be sent to the addresses below.
Leave a return address, and expect a personal and heartfelt thanks, as
well as pictures, in the future -- because that's just the kind of
woman she is. :)

Bank information -- no routing or account number, just send c/o Valerie

Regions Bank
c/o Valerie Huffman
PO Box 610
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435-0610
phone - 850-892-3161 x. 228
fax - 850-892-4399

Valerie's mailing address:
Valerie Huffman
PO Box 972
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435