My writing for this blog has been lighter for a little while now. That's not the reason for my title, but in case you were wondering, these are some of the things I've been doing instead of writing lengthy posts:
- three weeks of work on that article in In These Times
- a follow up piece, currently in the works
- a contract research job
- a flurry of job applications and interviews
- shepherding a special issue of Dollars & Sense
Writing less means that though I'm still reading a lot of blogs, many things slip by that under other circumstances I'd be blogging as I saw them. One such thing was yet another amazing blog post by Clayton Cubitt, this one about going back to McKain Street in New Orleans, the spot now nestled under the I-10 highway ramp that is still home to the shotgun shack where his grandmother lived almost her whole life and where she raised his mother and his aunt. I'm not going to quote it, just go read it and check out the photograph. It's heartbreaking, but it is also gorgeously elegiac. The post is about a month old, but as far as I can see, only two other people have linked to it. It's got the timelessness of art, which means that telling you about it now is still timely.
There isn't really a neat way to write about the other kind of heartbreak my title refers to. I don't know how many people check the comments over here, but one byproduct of my urge to document underpublicized injustices is that others who are suffering similar circumstances occasionally write in with own experiences, sometimes because they are desperate for help or even just because no one else seems to care.
The single post that's gotten the most of these kinds of comments is More On The Prisoners From Orleans Parish Prison, posted at the end of September. In October, I got two comments from people who had loved ones in Orleans Parish Prison at the onset of Katrina. And then last night, I received three more comments (from two people).
It has been more frequent than not that when I've known small ways to help Katrina survivors who contact me here, it's been impossible to reach them with the information they might need. In one case, for example, Juana Bourgeois said she was looking for her friend Byron Joshua. Angela Wessels from the Southern Center for Human Rights helped me determine what prison Mr. Joshua was relocated to (turns out he is one of the Coleman 900), but I was not able to reach Juana to give her the information.
On one of my posts, about the the class action suit brought by Katrina survivors against FEMA, got this wrenching comment from JeanMarie Arend:
I was filing for disability in La. at time of hurricanes Rita and Katrina. I relocated to MN. I still haven't got any housing or financial assistance. On Nov. 2 2005 it was inperative that I have a anterior cervical dysectamy and fushion with them putting in a steel rod. The vertabra affected are c-4,c=5,c=6. I suffer from partial paralysis in my arms and hands, as well as suffer from extreme headaches. Yet I am still homeless and penniless. The medical assistance I get from the state of MN. does not cover my teeth which due to the injury are broken off and abcessed. And the state of MN. allowed me 203.00$ per month which they are now taking away as of Dec. 2005, although just the healing on the surgery will be 1 and 1/2 years. I can not work and I can not get help from anywere. And yes I am filed with FEMA. They are sending me mail with my astranged husbands number on it although I have my own FEMA number I must use to refer to my case.I call them weekly and have been told 3x now to fax certian papers in which I do and yet they never get to my file.HELP ME PLEASE DISABLED IN MN> P.S. yes I refiled here in MN for my disability.
I emailed JeanMarie back immediately, but my message bounced. I think her comment is for real, since my sitemeter showed that she was writing from Minnesota and that she found HungryBlues by googling "free disaster relief for katrina victims with disabilities." I wanted to tell her that I have a friend in Minnesota who has formed a People's Hurricane Relief Fund Solidarity Group. One of the things that PHRF Solidarity Groups do is locate evacuees in their area and help them organize and obtain resources that they need.
Last night's messages were from Anicia Chatters, who is looking for a friend of hers who was in Orleans Parish Prison before Katrina, and Sherre Boteler, whose husband has been stuck in jail for 125 days, waiting for a trial for a crime she does not believe he committed.
my husband was in orleans parish jail also on a rape charge that he didnt do.....i have evidence that he was lied on and falsely arrested and still cant get help for him.....also my husband is very ill and they knew that and still left him there to die. he was also left out in the rain on the field at hunts [info]. it is all true! he has been to 3 prisons since hurricane and has been incarcrated now for 125 days just waiting to go to court.
The heartbreak is not that Ben Greenberg feels helpless to do anything for individuals who've contacted him. Rather, it's that these glimpses of individual tragedies is most of what we get to know about the lives of those worst affected by Hurricane Katrina and that each fragment of a story that we hear can be multiplied by thousands.
Sherre Boteler gets the last word:
you know what i dont understand about our "great mayor"...lol ray nagin....he's more worried about the city having mardi gras and hearing people parting in the streets than geting help for these men and women that they left to die in the wake of a cat. 5 hurricane. what a joke he is!! who gives a damn about mardi gras? and the city rebuilding for the partiers.... we want out family members back ! i have not sen my husband in 4 months. it took me 8 days to even find out that he was still alive after the hurricane. i lived from shelter to shelter all alone for 8 weeks with not even help from fema....because they are a joke too. the entire government is a joke! the "declartion of independence" says all men and women are to created equally. DOSENT THAT COUNT FOR THE ONES IN JAIL ALSO.....THEY SAVED THE ANIMALS BUT TREATED OUR HUSBANDS, MOTHERS, FATHERS, BROTHERS, AND SISTERS WORSE. WHO IS GONNA STAND UP AND BE MEN AND SAY THEY WERE WRONG....and now they are saying it may be another 6 months to a year before anyone even sees a court room. they say they lost their evidence on the cases they had well, i have proof of my husbands innocense and they still dont care. but they gonna have mardi gras! WHAT A JOKE! "I'LL NEVER GO BACK!"