Remember New Orleans 8 29 2005 Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina: 4 Years Ago 8-29-2005 Video Remembrance

Hurricane Katrina: Rain to Renaissance – YouTube Video

I couldn’t let August 29th go by without posting some remembrance for our many friends in New Orleans. Four years ago today Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and devastated New Orleans. I went down and volunteered with Project417, staying until August ’06 working in relief centers and hosting volunteers helping gut out and repair flood ravaged homes in the Lower 9th. I put the video together from photos we took, news shots, NASA photos and other YouTube videographers. It still needs an ending that shows the spirit of revival and community caring that continues to grow today. Worth watching? You tell me – I will never forget New Orleans.

Re-tweet it @canayjun to let me know you watched. Thx!

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The Old Man and the Storm – Hurricane Katrina documentary – Jan 6th on PBS

Mr. Herbert Gettridge

Mr. Herbert Gettridge

About a true hero of  Hurricane Katrina: Mr. Herbert Gettridge – airing January 6, 2009 and online. Six months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, producer June Cross came across 82-year-old Herbert Gettridge working alone on his home in the lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood devastated when the levees broke in 2005. Over the next two years, Cross documented the Gettridge family’s story. After a long wait, the film  – The Old Man and the Storm – will air on PBS to tell the story of perseverance against all odds, not the least of which is the bungling of recovery efforts by state and federal agencies.

Project417’s Andy Coates came across Mr. Gettridge in the Lower Ninth ward in April of 2006, eight months after the storm hit. Like Cross he found Mr. G, as he became affectionately known, working by himself – the only home-owner for blocks around struggling to clean-up his property and repair his hurricane ravaged home.  I visited him at his home last month returning from our Texas Hurricane Ike relief trip.

I first visited New Orleans in March 2006, eight months after Katrina, to volunteer for two weeks with the Salvation Army. Our director Joe Elkerton had been a first responder in September of ’05 just after the storm. When I saw the devastation of the city and the snail’s pace at which recovery was taking place, I decided to stay for the next six months and organize volunteer teams through Project417 to help with the clean-up. Over the course of that stay, Mr. Herbert Gettridge, Andy and Paul, July 2006almost a hundred volunteers came down to work on projects with me – three of the work sites were properties owned by the Gettridge family in the Lower Ninth Ward of Orleans Parish, New Orleans.  Everyone who met Mr. Herbert Gettridge realized he was no victim  – 82 years old, he was one of the first returning residents of the Lower 9th – and was working single-handed to fix his home. His mission, to rebuild it so his wife, staying with family in Madison, Wisconsin, could rejoin him in the home they had built together more than fifty years ago.  Many faith based volunteer teams pitched in to help Mr. Gettridge re-build – and that story is told in June Cross’ film on PBS . (It was so wonderful to be able to visit with both Mr. and Mrs. Gettridge in their renovated home last month – what he’d been wishing and working for so long).

Almost without exception, everywhere in New Orleans re-building was taking place, hard working church volunteers were making a difference.  Of course there were a multitude of recovery teams, not just faith-based, that came to New Orleans to fill the vacuum left by the total absence of any organized government efforts – including groups like the local Common Ground who adopted the Lower Ninth,  and young hard-working AmeriCorps youth were sweating it out all across the gulf. (Project417 hosted AmeriCorps teams at two Lower Ninth sites).

Be sure to watch the story of a true American hero – The Old Man and the Storm – on PBS January 6th at 9pm (check local listings).  And when you’re done, consider coming with Project417 back to the Gulf and continue the re-building that is still going on. We want to get a fund set up to build new homes on two properties owned by Mr. Gettridge in the Lower Ninth. All across the Lower Ninth are still homes that have not been touched since Katrina 3 1/2 years ago. In Mississippi, from Waveland to Biloxi, re-construction continues – house foundations still lay bare.  Following Hurricane’s Gustav and Ike this fall, Project417 is hosting teams in Galveston County, Texas – the devastation is on the scale of that visited by Katrina.  The people of the Gulf coast need you, their neighbors, to come and help them.

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Gulf Coast New Orleans Spared as Gustav Downgraded and Passes Through

Hurricane Gustav moves inland, Hannah, Ike and Josephine move in.

Hurricane Gustav moves inland, Hannah, Ike and Josephine move in.

Thankfully, Hurricane Gustav weakened before striking the gulf coast and passing New Orleans. According to news reports, Hurricane Gustav was downgraded to Category 2 hurricane before making landfall about a hundred miles to the south west of New Orleans in the Cajun bayou country of coastal Louisiana. Although Gustav packed a punch, with strong winds up to 170 kmh, the recently repaired and improved levees in New Orleans held back the storm surge – which was about three metres less than that during Katrina. The levees held, and the newly constructed storm gates were effective. The main levee along the New Orleans Industrial Canal was tested by Hurricane Gustav though, with the waters rising to the brim of the levee walls and storm blown waters cresting the top and cascading down into residential neighborhoods. The Industrial Canal was one of the levees to fail catastrophically during Katrina and cause the devastating flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward resulting in almost total destruction of the community.

The Lower 9th of Orleans Parish was where Project417 provided relief and reconstruction on three homes for the family of Mr. Herbert Gettridge in 2006 following Hurricane Katrina. As of Monday during the passing of Gustav, there were reports of flooding in Orleans Parish streets from ankle to knee depth due to the water flowing over the tops of the levee. There were widespread power blackouts as Gustav’s hurricane winds shredded electrical power lines and toppled poles and towers with more than a million homes affected. Thank God so far the Industrial Canal levee, strengthened and upgraded in the past three years has held. In addition, the water pumps which are critical to pumping all storm drain and sewage from below-sea-level New Orleans, continued working – during Katrina, they were the first to fail. New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, had earlier in the week ordered the mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, which went smoothly aided by contraflow traffic on the interstates and a well ordered parish by parish exodus, and is expected to issue the return home notices soon. Many New Orleans residents still chose to ride out the storm and hospitals were operating with skeleton staffing crews and back-up power. Reports are still coming in from southwest Louisiana where the brunt of the hurricane hit first. In addition, Bay St. Louis and Biloxi, Mississippi, both heavily damaged during Katrina, were also reporting heavy wind damage and surge flooding from Gustav.

As the Accuweather satellite photo depicts above, there is still a triple threat of hurricanes in the Atlantic from tropical storms Hannah, Ike and Josephine.

Project417 is heading to New Orleans in November, 2008 to continue re-construction in the Lower Ninth Ward. Outreach worker Andy Coats had been scheduled to visit New Orleans over the Labor Day weekend, but the news of Gustav has postponed that preparatory trip. Visit Project417 here to volunteer and donate to the recovery efforts.

[with notes from Toronto Sun, and Accuweather]

Paris Hilton and Project417 – Unconfirmed Connections

Do you see Paris Hilton in the photo?

Do you see Paris Hilton in the photo?

Paris Hilton did not announce today her intentions to leave the USA and join the non-profit organization Project417 located in Toronto. The celebrity heiress, oft noted as being famous for being famous, is unlikely to confirm the unfounded rumors, first published on Facebook, that she would leave the media spotlight behind to join Project417 to help the homeless. A spokesperson for Project417, Andy Coates, would neither confirm nor deny the reports, but is quoted as saying, ” Paris Hilton?“. It is uncertain at this time as to the impact this may or may not have on the U.S. Presidential race, global warming, or the price of a barrel of crude oil.

The reports may be linked to the upcoming visit by Andy Coates of Project417 to New Orleans. Andy is visiting New Orleans at the end of August 2008 to take part in ceremonies commemorating Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the U.S. gulf coast on August 29th, 2005. Andy as part of a Project417 team volunteered for New Orleans relief and disaster recovery efforts from April to October of 2006 and worked on re-building projects in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Lakeview and Gretna. Andy headed up several volunteer teams from the Salvation Army Louisiana Recovery Command and Americorps as well as teams from Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton.

The re-building projects consisted primarily of helping the extended family of Mr. Herbert Gettridge renovate three homes in the almost totally destroyed Lower 9th Ward of Orleans Parish. He also lead teams working on renovating the home of Mr. Lionel Worthy in the Lower 9th (situated directly across the street from the Katrina Memorial erected in 2006), as well as a house in Lakeview adjacent to the breached 17th Street Canal owned by the elderly Mrs. Aline Dastague.

During the upcoming visit, in addition to taking part in the city’s memorial events, Andy will visit with the people he and the other volunteers helped to see the changes two more years have brought to the still recovering communities. Andy has learned that there is still work needed at a home owned Mr. Gettridge. The property has historical heritage site status as the former home of Sister Gertrude, a local artist and musician, and still needs to be placed back on its foundations. In addition, he will visit with the local New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity worksites and communicate with the Fuller Center for Housing (Millard Fuller is the founder of Habitat). The end purpose of the visit is to decide upon a worksite for a Project417 volunteer team who will head down to New Orleans later this fall (November).

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Ok, so this had nothing to do with Paris Hilton, but at least you read the note. You can help by making a donation today to Project417. Visit the Project417 Page here on Facebook or go to http://www.project417.com

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