SUMMER INTO AN UNCERTAIN FALL: NEW ORLEANS AND MORE  [HUNTER GRAY   9/03/05]  UPDATED 12/18/05

 

From John Salter [Beba]  8/31/05

At what point should victims--of oppression, weather, etc--be expected to
fight and not wait for help?  The hurricane, for example.  Even the poorest
can start walking when they hear the news--plenty of time in advance--and
keep on walking until they get somewhere safe.  I don't want to sound
heartless but have we created a society in which we simply enable
victimology and don't teach the lessons of survival?  Big Bill Haywood had a
sack of pistols and didn't whine for the guys in white hats to save his ass
when trouble was coming.  He took care of himself and his.    JS

From Hunter Bear:  8/31/05

At least a big part of the problem is the arrogance of urban/industrial
society and culture which assume across class lines that Nature can be
"conquered" and "suppressed" and forever repressed.  The concept of
adjusting to Nature is alien to the urban Euro-American perspective.  When a
massive forest fire, decades ago, threatened Flagstaff, Arizona, people
turned out en masse -- across ethnic and social class lines -- and
successfully defended the town.  They [we] were prepared, not surprised.  A
few years later, elk hunters from Phoenix and Tucson failed to heed
continual weather warnings and at least 19 died in the snow-drenched yellow
pine forests. John [Beba] and I were in New Orleans together years ago and
both of us noted the unreality of the city's below-level relationship to the
Gulf. [I had been there earlier on various occasions and it had always
troubled me.]

In 1991, living in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I sensed that the Red River of
the North could easily do something wild and destructive.  Although some
people ridiculed us, I moved my family far out to the west of town.  As the
hideous blizzard-ridden winter of 1996-97 built up, we smelled Flood and
began to stockpile food.  When ice storms struck down hundreds and hundreds
and hundreds of power poles, we stockpiled water.  As high water began to
come down the Red, flood warnings were issued which many ignored.  At one
point, talking with an Anglo friend in town -- himself usually very savvy --
I was surprised when he failed to recognize or respond to my discreet query
about his flood protection plans.  When the Flood struck two days later and
the dikes broke, the whole setting was inundated with high water and
sweeping fires and more than 50,000 people [almost all of the city's
population] were forced out: to the hinterland and into the adjacent
Canadian provinces and Montana and South Dakota and the Twin Cities of
Minnesota. [Most did not have flood insurance.]

The massive Flood came within 300 yards of our home.  Electricity and
plumbing were gone.  We had gotten Coleman lanterns long before, burned some
wood, used water from a neighbor's Sump Pump for latrine and flushing
purposes, and eventually got more drinking water -- from the Buffalo Farm to
the west.  Then the Army finally came.  Our house served as one of the
command posts and we tried to help everyone that we could.  The town itself
has never really recovered.

Here in Idaho, we are among the relatively few who have earthquake insurance
and an escape plan.

Beba is a compassionate soul and I may be -- but it is not being heartless
or oblivious to hideous tragedy to suggest that people learn to take care of
themselves and their families.


Note from Hunter Bear:  8/31/05

John [Beba] may not always necessarily appreciate me [his father] riding to
his side -- but I have always been a cheeky sort.  He, our oldest son, was
born right in the middle of the Klan Wars in the South and, along with all
of us, has had a wide range of challenging, up-close and often very
dangerous experiences.  Our family/clan sticks together, knows how to "kill
our own snakes" [with apologies to our Rattlesnake friends], and whenever
possible we work with our good neighbors for the common good.

Semper Fi,  H



From Hunter Bear:  9/01/05

I was glad to have gotten up at an unusually early morning hour even for
me -- because I picked up The Grapes of Wrath at its onset -- a quite
appropriate film at this point in the history of this  long suffering
country.  Hadn't seen it for a long time indeed -- and was impressed yet
once again with its inherent and also explicit radicalism.

After that it was dawn in Eastern Idaho and now-up Eldri and I coffee-ed.
And then I pushed, uncharacteristically, for an early morning visit to our
Phillips 66 station. Eldri was game for such an off-hours jaunt.  Obviously
I figured gasoline was going up -- and, despite virtually no traveling
anywhere much anymore, our Jeep was down to a quarter tank.  The station was
open but its traffic was minimal.  It cost me an unbelievably staggering
$33.00 to fill  3/4s with Premium.  AND THEN -- almost as soon as I had
finished, a man with a long pole was coming out to change [boost] the
prices.  Inside, Eldri with our credit card, and a lady waiting behind her
to pay, were told cheerfully, "You're the last two to get in before the
Jump."  The Jump looked to me to be about twenty cents a gallon.  We took
our difference saved and bought sausage biscuits for the family at
McDonald's where at least the prices were still static.

H


Note by Hunter Bear:  9/02/05

Attached is a response of mine to a Finnish friend whose message is
attached. Sandwiched in-between is my post of two days ago.  It's generally
understood by everyone, I should think, that massive assistance -- Federal and state
and private sector -- is needed immediately at the appropriate Gulf Coast
settings.  H


Dear J.

Thanks much for your good note.  Attached is something I wrote and posted
two days ago in connection with a friendly debate my son John [Beba] and I
had with some other people.  It's become increasingly clear that the US
government was unprepared for this really not unexpected catastrophe.  Too,
the Bush administration months ago had cut funds which were earmarked for
bolstering the defenses of in-danger cities, using those and other domestic
monies for Iraq adventures. It's also clear, at least to me, that a great
many people could have left the Gulf Coast region in the period before the
storm struck. [Some certainly did, but many did not -- possibly feeling
that, in the end, "it could not happen here" and/or reluctant to leave their
homes.] Many of those people have relatives in the region and, in any case,
there are various safe-turf places to which they could have gone.  Most
people in the United States, even a great many of the very urban poor, have
access to some kind of car.  [However, many elderly and sick people do not.]
Although not surprised at the [interracial] looting, some of which has been
seeking subsistence and much of which strikes me as opportunistic thievery,
I am surprised at the apparent or at least relative absence of the emergence
of "indigenous take-charge" grassroots leadership.  Restoring some sort of
functional order is critical -- and it appears now to fall to the law
enforcement and military dimensions.  I do believe that most people in the
United States -- and most people generally -- are good folk.   Long-term
grassroots community organizing, and systemic socio-economic changes, are
obviously needed.  But much responsibility remains always with local people
themselves [ourselves].  Best, H

From Hunter Bear [9/02/05]

Dear Bill:

I smoked from the time I was nine years old [1943] until I was 55 [1989] --
when I stopped cold turkey.  My parents, who smoked for most of their adult
lives, were functionally permissive.  No amount of torture at the hands of
grade school and high school bosses could stop me.  Starting with Bull
Durham, I went through decades of four packs of Pall Malls per day and ended
on a pound of Borkum Riff pipe tobacco each week.  And when I got a "dread
disease," it's the worst version of unrelated-to-tobacco SLE but  not cancer
[and I have had lots of tests].  Traditionally, many Navajo Indians start
smoking at around nine or ten but lung cancer was very rare in that setting
until the onset of  the hideous effects of uranium mining/milling/refining.
Even now, air is relatively pure in Northern Arizona and Northern New Mexico
and that obviously would make a difference.  As you have probably gathered,
I am not really into most pc things -- so I have no difficulty supporting
smokers' rights.

And to Beba:  I support SUVs with 4WD -- especially in rural America.

All best -- H  [feeling good enough to be cantankerous]

From John Salter [Beba]  9/02/05

I love my ciggies and to be frank, if smoking them means I'll die at 65
instead of 75, so be it.  BTW, I recently had a lung function test so I
could be fitted with a respirator for my job handling hazardous waste.  The
doctor reluctantly told me he could find no indication from the tests that I
ever smoked.  Been doing it merrily for over 20 years.  So go figure.  As
with everything, I believe it is a matter primarily of genetics unless there
is a radical exposure to carcinogens.  This also means I might get Lupus
from Hunter, so you can bet I'll be engaging in every available vice while I
still can.  Rationalization?  Maybe!  I don't care!

ONE MORE NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR [9/03/05]

After I got out of the little Pocatello mountain hospital during one of the
several times I'd been jailed therein in the latter part of 2003 [this is
literally the 2nd anniversary of my first incarceration], I remembered my
Mother, who smoked for most of her adult life saying, several times, "If I
learned I had a terminal illness, the first thing I'd do would be to buy a
carton of cigarettes."  [She lived to be 95.]  My father, who rolled his own
on a life long basis [in front of his ASC/NAU Art classes and almost
everywhere else except in Church], lived to be only 80.  But he had put away
a full quart of 100 proof Old Crow on a daily basis for a few decades --
sipping -- right to the point he had two massive strokes within a few hours.
[Mother didn't do badly on alcohol, herself.] I stopped any drinking a long,
long time ago --  we like it 'way too much in our family -- and have never
been heavily tempted on that score [though I still think fondly of JW Red.]

But I did, after one of those awful hospitalizations a couple of years ago,
when docs told me I had within me "a ravaging wolf" and suggested to both
Eldri and me that we begin divesting ourselves of our possessions [we
haven't],  go out and buy a pipe and lots of Borkum Riff, pipe cleaners, and
several other ritual sacramentals.

I sat in my big chair and smoked a pipeful.  Thomas, who hates smoking, was
quietly aghast but tolerant.  Josie, who doesn't smoke, was understanding.
[She did drive me to the tobacco shop.]

But after that pipeful, I haven't smoked again.  Just didn't taste quite
right.  The pipe et al does sit hopefully close to me in my little office
but the tobacco is getting dry.

BTW -- After several days of obviously discouraging television news fare, I
went to something comparatively cheerful: not my pipe -- not yet, of
course -- but the last few minutes of On the Beach [1959.]

Best, H

BOB GATELY TO HUNTER BEAR  [9/03/05]

Ah, HunterBadBear, you've done it again...Regaled us with a bit of informative/instructive family history into the mystery of what keeps the spirit alive and functioning...My ole man's FBI file ends in 1962 with the agents next to last report to the Director,JEH, "Gately has a bad stomach due to excessive drinking, verified by (redacted) of known reliability". He passed away on 10/25/62
and his Security Index card was canceled by the Bureau.
 
As I sit with my Old Crow highball (with lots of ice) and Pall Mall burning in the ash tray, reading of your father and mothers spirits and the majority age they ascended to, I am encouraged to continue, until death do us part, to seek succor from the pressing problems of
the times through the sacraments passed along to us by our Irish ancestors. To quote Joseph Campbell, "The mystic swims in the waters the psychotic drowns in ".
 
Indeed, HunterBear, that Lupus dictates your diet today, I assure you that all the pleasures
and passions of yesteryear's will live on in the spirit of these times through all those that you and yours have taught and directed in your astounding lives. Blessings to us all, thoughts eternal.  Eh ?
 
My friend and mentor ,the writer, Ray Bradbury was asked where his creativity came from and he replied, "Sometimes the gods make insanity a calling". God bless, we can do that. In the Sixties we said, "Drugs are for people who can't handle reality, reality is for those who can't handle drugs". Jung said, "Bring me a sane man and I can cure him".
 
Our hearts and minds are bewildered by the implications of Naw Orleans, we are reeling after the effects of this Natural Law reordering
of all things national and personal...Wherefore goes the salt when it has lost its savor...I am convinced that salvation will only come through the tribal values that have informed all of humanity through history. When civilizations are in decline and all politics are corrupted, people must turn to their tribal values for survival. Eh ? I have heard through your writings the respect you have for those tribal values. That you are alive and functioning through your personal strength & support from your "tribe" is inspiring, your family, your friends and indeed even your foes are a life force that keeps the clock ticking and you thinking. Blessings on your House.
 
"Wherever particular people congregate" says the pack of Pall Malls...What happens ?
 
With thanks for the thoughts,
 
Bob Gately

 

cowboysonmars.com is coming back to earth at the speed of light...Welcome aboard !

 

HUNTER BEAR TO BOB GATELY   [9/03/05]

Dear Bob:
 
That has to be -- absolutely -- one of the most stirring, vibrant and vital pronouncement that I have ever received.  From the depthy mysteries of the Creative Canyon, it jumps to the high-up cliffs, travels with the Spirits on the Sunbeams to the Rainbow where it gathers feathers of all colors.  And then with straight-shot resonance it pervades one's heart and soul to provide radiant nurture unequaled in splendid and encouraging quality by any conventional food or even drink. [You must have known, through special Celtic intuition, that this was one of the medical weeks I would rather forget.]  Speaking as someone who was also on various FBI Indexes [Section A of Reserve Index/Security Index and something called the Rabble Rouser Index [Me!], I say that, if your sainted father had not been such a grandiose Red, you might have had a priestly career that transcended Bishop Sheen.
 
But you are doing mighty damn well yourself, amigo.
 
With great appreciation,  Hunter Bear

 

FROM HUNTER BEAR   9/04/05
 
Michael Marino writes:

"On FEMA: True, but beside the point -- FEMA has long
> ago "determined" that the worst disaster it could face
> is an uprising among the people, so it has already
> spent most of the money it go by transferring that
> money to the national Guard, and they were mostly
> transferred to Iraq

I haven't kept up with FEMA lately -- but it did do a good job back in '97
in the horrific Red River flood that engulfed and destroyed much of Grand
Forks, ND [and a large part of East Grand Forks, MN]. Maria and I met at
length with one of their people following her eventual return to her in-town
apartment where everything had been lost. Our own
far-out-on-the-western-frontier house remained "dry" [barely] -- one of a
tiny, tiny handful that escaped -- but I had rescued Maria and Samantha and
Thomas and their two cats just before the Flood struck and they had been
with us ever since and they still are -- although Thomas, now married, is in
Minnesota.  The FEMA rep was just fine. Most people in the Forks would give
them all a high rating.

As I've noted before, the flood and  resultant fires forced over 50,000
people into varying distances of exile. Then, slowly, many returned -- to a
purely horrible mess. But Red Cross was solid and a great many private
relief and volunteer groups came from all over the United States. Soon
enough, there were massive quantities of Federal and private sector food and
good water. US Public Health, rolling in from Spokane, gave us all
vaccinations.  Animal rescue groups arrived in full force.  McDonald's key
owner [the late Mrs Ray Krock], sent several million dollars to be divided
up among the most needy.  The military was just fine.  Bill Clinton came,
gave a wonderful press conference in the opinion of those who trusted him,
and pledged the Feds would "fix things 100%".  Whatever he actually meant,
that certainly  didn't happen in any sense -- but, again, FEMA itself
certainly did OK.

While much of the Bush administration has been obviously quite derelict,
it's a fact that in physical and human chaos things just don't come smoothly
together in an erector set sense.  Let's see what happens on the Gulf and
wish those who are doing their best, our best.

Law enforcement has just called us here in Poky, indicating a forest/grass
fire is not far. [We are up on the far edge here, as well.]  Maria and I
have just reconnoitered in the Jeep and it is not a danger to us.  But any
fire is really sad.  We have had a good deal of fairly "dry" lightning in
the last few days.

Best, H
 
 
FROM BILL MANDEL    9/05/05
 
What was the ratio of whites to non-whites in Grand Forks?
New Orleans was Black by a large majority, and the
difference in non-possession of cars was 35% among Blacks
and 15% among whites. So those whites who didn't live in
suburbs above the possible floodline were able to get away,
but for the poorest, sickest, oldest. Blacks weren't. The
3-star general now in charge expects to find lots of bodies
as they go house-by-house through the city proper. The mayor
calculates that there will be thousands, inasmuch as 100,000
were unable to leave the city. After subtracting those in
the Astrodome and the other dome, he figures 30,000
unaccounted for as of now.


FROM HUNTER BEAR  9/05/05
 
Thanks much for your comments, Bill.

First, I am not, at least beyond a certain point, comparing Grand Forks and
environs and the current Gulf situation.  I'm talking, as I am usually
inclined to do, about something of which I at least know a fair amount
first-hand in the direct, experiential sense [and in this case, a good deal]
and where public and private relief efforts went pretty well on all fronts.
Grand Forks is predominately -- but far from completely -- Anglo.  It is
certainly not an affluent place by any stretch, has plenty of grinding
functional poverty, and some significant dimensions of rock bottom poverty.
And it is also a city in an extremely sparsely populated state where small
towns are dying constantly. North Dakota has no ready positive recognition
in most United States quarters -- is often subject to cruel ridicule -- and
it has very little national political clout.  [East Grand Forks, MN, is much
smaller and is often viewed in that state as an obscure, far corner.]  In
the winter and early spring weeks preceding the Flood, the Grand Forks
region was struck by at least a dozen terrible blizzards and temps which, as
is often the case, dropped to a flat 30 or 40 below zero and a wind-chill of
90 to 100 below.  And then came the Snow Melt and disaster.

Most people in the Forks setting, like almost all parts of the United
States, do have access to a car or cars of some kind -- if not one in their
nuclear family, then in their localized extended family which is frequently
found in the urban South.  [After helping produce various children and older
grandchildren, I know that in those age contexts, cars appear "come Hell or
high water."]  If you are using New Orleans as an example, much of its
economic and political power structure is Black and has been for
generations.  Granted that poverty is rife there -- as it is in many other
places -- but, back in the 60s, it was never seen as a racist bastion in the
sense of Shreveport or Baton Rouge, Jackson or Birmingham. I was in New
Orleans at various times during that era since our SCEF national office was
located at 822 Perdido [Lost and Nowhere]  Street.  As I certainly said at
one point, the old and infirm could have difficulties getting out of that
city.  But again, I suspect there would be family members nearby in many
cases indeed.  I think many people did not leave the targeted Gulf setting
because they either felt it "can't happen here" and/or were reluctant to
leave their homes and possessions -- a very common reaction in any
disaster-prone area.  Many on the Gulf, including New Orleans, have
relatives in the hinterland.  [If nothing more, people could camp on the
Natchez Trace, the Federal parkway that runs from around Natchez, in
southwestern Mississippi far up into northeast Magnolialand.]

I continue to be surprised that so relatively little indigenous local
leadership has emerged among the angry people displayed in the national
media.

Questions abound, there is blame enough to pass far around -- but there is,
of course, an immediate need for massive private and public sector
assistance of all kinds over a vast area. Let's keep our focus on the
basics.

Yours, H

FROM HUNTER BEAR:  FLOOD OBSERVATIONS FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 

[9/06/05]

These are some more and essentially final flood thoughts from me.  I assume
a few at least may have some interest in these which stem from the 1997 Red
River catastrophe in the Grand Forks, N.D. region.  Much of this applies to
other flood situations as well.

First, this excerpt from a post I made a few days ago:

[In 1991, living in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I sensed that the Red River
of
the North could easily do something wild and destructive.  Although some
people ridiculed us, I moved my family far out to the west of town.  As the
hideous blizzard-ridden winter of 1996-97 built up, we smelled Flood and
began to stockpile food.  When ice storms struck down hundreds and hundreds
and hundreds of power poles, we stockpiled water.  As high water began to
come down the Red, flood warnings were issued which many ignored.  At one
point, talking with an Anglo friend in town -- himself usually very savvy --
I was surprised when he failed to recognize or respond to my discreet query
about his flood protection plans.  When the Flood struck two days later and
the dikes broke, the whole setting was inundated with high water and
sweeping fires and more than 50,000 people [almost all of the city's
population] were forced out: to the hinterland and into the adjacent
Canadian provinces and Montana and South Dakota and the Twin Cities of
Minnesota. [Most did not have flood insurance.]

The massive Flood came within 300 yards of our home.  Electricity and
plumbing were gone.  We had gotten Coleman lanterns long before, burned some
wood, used water from a neighbor's Sump Pump for latrine and flushing
purposes, and eventually got more drinking water -- from the Buffalo Farm to
the west.  Then the Army finally came.  Our house served as one of the
command posts and we tried to help everyone that we could.  The town itself
has never really recovered.

Here in Idaho, we are among the relatively few who have earthquake insurance
and an escape plan.]
----------------------------------

I want to especially note that, during the "exploding" flood, we had an
important and very reassuring back-up plan.  A long-time student of mine and
always a fine friend, Ms Alta Bruce, was quick to offer us housing on the
Turtle Mountain Chippewa [Ojibwe] reservation.

 Security is always critical in these situations.  In the Grand Forks
experience, there was some pillaging -- although not much -- and the speedy
arrival of public and private sector relief agencies which camped around the
edges served the material interests of those people who, for whatever
reasons, did not evacuate to the Four Directions. And those relief efforts
continued, in many cases, for several months.  By the time the water was
receding and many of the exiled 50,000 plus began to slowly return, a couple
of grocery stores -- on the edges -- had re-opened.  With the military right
around, things were reasonably safe during the day. It took awhile for
conventional law enforcement to regain its effectiveness.  But most people
who remained in the region -- and those who came back later -- had firearms.
[I had and have a fair number of firearms.] In the early period, when I
drove out several times a day to scout for any signs of flood resurgence and
expansion, and later when I traveled in the area at night for various
reasons, I always had a loaded rifle in my pickup gun-rack. [That in itself
is not considered unusual in the Plains states and the West [and some other
places.]

We noticed early on a mental phenomenon:  "flood brain" as it came to be
known.  People who had been hit by the flood, whether or not they evacuated
[as most did], often came down with this variant of shell-shock.  Walking
stiffly with almost blank expressions, they frequently failed to recognize
old acquaintences and had general difficulty coping with anything
demanding.  Those who had lost everything in the sense of home and
possessions, were devastated for at least months to come.  Another
interesting reaction was to sometimes "blame" the very, very few locals who
had escaped the literal horror of The Flood.  A young woman who had clerked
at a bookstore let loose a stream of bitterness in my direction and then
immediately apologized too much when I told her that we had rescued Maria
and her two children [and cats, and a turtle] right before the flood hit and
they were all staying with us.

While a few homes and other buildings turned out to be affected only
minimally,  others had been completely destroyed in the physical sense.  In
between were a large number of places which had been hit profoundly and
deeply: structures, contaminants, etc.  In the case of these, cosmetic or
minor repairs sufficed superficially -- but these were generally not homes
any savvy person would ever buy.  Maria gave some thought to returning to
her apartment but, before any electricity could be restored, several of us
spent almost a full day cleaning out the basement and parts of the first
floor.  The basement, of course, had been totally filled with dirty water
and backup sewage. When the water receded, layers of mud and general filth
covered the floors and the walls.   I emerged from the basement covered with
things-not-nice and looking like a survivor from a mine disaster.  Back at
our home, we threw away some of our clothing [I tossed everything I'd been
wearing] and took super long showers.  A few days later, checking back at
her apartment, we found fast spreading Black Mold.  That and the whole
situation led Maria and family to remain at our house and they remain with
us to this very day.

Black Mold is a serious fungoid which spreads rapidly in flood situations
and presents serious respiratory difficulties. In addition to clinging to
walls and floors, it can stick to books and toys and furniture. Because of
our own dry setting, we did not contract it but many did and, in some cases,
the dangerously ill effects persisted for years and may well have hastened
some deaths.  Black Mold can only be eradicated by chemicals which,
themselves, are dangerous.

In time, as most [not all] people returned, Grand Forks was filled with
several thousand piles of junk and ill-smelling debris.  It was a very long
time before this was slowly picked up by the city and dumped.

FEMA provided some compensation to renters and private homeowners for major
household items lost:  stoves, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers,
electrical panels.  For private homeowners whose homes had been lost, it
provided compensation.  For landlords of various kinds and other businesses
of all sorts, whose buildings had been lost, FEMA greased the process of
getting low-interest long-term loans thru the Small Business Association.

FEMA also provided temporary housing.

But in cases involving "lost"  rental property and other businesses and
private homes, FEMA was bound formula-wise by the City's respective tax
assessments which were always lower than accepted real estate values -- to
say nothing of those expectations of the owners themselves.  This gap
produced considerable tension and bitterness.  FEMA also provided some grant
help to private homeowners in renovation and facilitated SBA loans to
landlords and business owners.  Here, FEMA had more latitude and always fell
out on the generous side.  [Again, our assessment of FEMA during this period
is quite positive.  And, even with the current negative leadership and lower
status and seriously negative funding changes, I am certain that many FEMA
line staff are fine, dedicated people.]

The daily paper in the Grand Forks region has always been, as long as I can
remember, problematic as hell on social justice issues.  When the flood was
raging, however, it provided reasonably accurate accounts and called
militantly for public sector assistance.  Soon, it provided historical/photo
booklets on the flood and the often dangerous and always bitter aftermath.
It consistently predicted a full scale come-back for Grand Forks and
downplayed any possibility of much of a non-return by exiles or a later
exodus.  But it soon turned out that Grand Forks had lost about 5,000 people
forever -- and, when this was reflected in 2000 census data, the town
basically lost its status as a Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area.  It
has not been able to attract much new business.  The city has never really
recovered and has never been the same again as witnessed, by among many
other signs, the decline of socially sensitive law enforcement and the
deterioration of race relations.  Across the Red River, East Grand Forks,
Minnesota, much smaller and even with some protective hills, was still hard
hit. The Grand Forks Herald continues to try to lure new business -- but, in
the region, Fargo and Bismarck and Minot are more attractive.

When we decided to sell our home and return to the Mountain West, the
realtor we called initially did not believe we had a truly dry house.  Upon
learning our address, she grabbed us happily. There was a delay in motion
since FEMA grant money had not yet arrived in the Forks.  A battered, middle
aged couple came forward as prospective buyers.  A City worker, the man was
able to secure a temporary conventional loan.  It did not meet our fiscal
expectations.  They really wanted our house.  Quietly, I drove down to the
now receded Red River and found what was left of their old house -- still a
proud little place which had obviously been well cared for.  That did it for
us and we immediately sold our home to them at their [pre-flood] price and
they remain happily with it to this day.  For our part, we came to Idaho and
secured our present and very satisfactory 'way-up-high-on-the-edge home at a
relatively low price [the housing market here at that time was a buyer's
market since Union Pacific and its Southern Pacific merger had resulted in
almost 500 railroad workers and their families being relocated to far off
states.]  This home has been climbing in value very rapidly.

When I saw our first snowfall here, in the late autumn of 1997, I felt a
sudden if transitory wave of anxiety.  But, as a visiting friend pointed
out, we are so high here that, should a flood make it up to us, the entire
world will be overcome with water.

As Ever, H

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:  9/07/05

This is an excerpt from a letter to me from my youngest son, Peter [Mack], a
key editor for Lee Enterprises and now based at the Lincoln Journal Star.  At the time of the
'97 calamity, he was State Editor for the wide-ranging Bismarck Tribune
[also a Lee paper], came to the Forks to cover the situation, and used our
home as his base.  He traveled extensively each day in the flood region, by
vehicle and also by boat.  John [Beba] was often around during that period.
H
----------------------------------------------------------


I'm reading every word of your flood observations. They make sense to me.

You can't directly compare what's happening in the Gulf with what happened
in Grand Forks -- or anywhere. This is off the charts.

But there are plenty of parallels. And you're drawing on those well to help
make sense of all of this.

In Grand Forks, like New Orleans, there was a mandatory evacuation order for
most of the town. But for whatever reason -- distrust of the man, a need to
protect their homes, a fear of living in a germ-infested cot city -- they
stayed.

When I covered the flood, I struck a deal with a FEMA guy. He would let me
in (and he would drive his government truck) if I showed him around my
hometown. At one point, on the north end, I saw movement. A guy in his front
yard in an evacuated neighborhood. He had beans to eat and eight-track tapes
to protect. It didn't matter that he had no power or running water.

And driving around I would see movement in windows, curtains  being moved
aside, signs of life. But not as much as we're seeing in New Orleans. Maybe
North Dakotans are more trusting, more prone to taking orders, better
equipped to move on short notice. And maybe they have stronger, closer
networks of families and friends who live on higher ground.

I think the government response was swifter and more effective. Forks is
smaller, more self contained; not as much ground to cover. Still, there
didn't seem to be any hesitation; I had a front-row seat to the official
response, and the morning press briefings got more crowded with government
officials every day.

You're absolutely right about flood brain. My friend at the Fargo Forum did
a story on that a year later. When there were no more sandbags to fill, no
more evacuation orders, no more cleaning and scrubbing and standing in line
and filling out paperwork, people realized what had happened to them. And
they didn't smile as much, they drove more aggressively, they created victim
hierarchies: How many sand bags did you fill? How deep was your water? What
did you lose?

Sorry for going on so long. I've thought about the flood a lot lately. And
I've realized how much fun I had staying at your house in the Bismarck
Tribune's temporary eastern bureau.

Peter

TAKING POSITIVE CONTROL OF LIVES AND THE SITUATION [HUNTER BEAR  9/16/05]

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:


When this article appeared yesterday in the New York Times on-line, it
struck a note of resonance within me vis-a-vis our own Dakota flood disaster
experiences.  I didn't save the piece since I assumed those who,
individually and collectively, routinely post numerous relevant articles
would do so.  But, in my range of lists and related resources, none have.
So I retrieved it from Times Archive and am posting it in a few places where
several of us have participated in at least a few interesting exchanges on
such matters as Government and Grassroots.

The communities indicated all include substantial Black and White [and, on
the Gulf itself, a significant number of Others as well] and a great many of
these folks are economically marginal, even downright poor.  The contrast
with the New Orleans tragedy is striking.  True, the people indicated here
were not [as far as I know] hit by major and relatively pervasive flooding.
True, again, that they are rural/semi-rural people not caught up in
urban/industrial interpersonal and [sometimes] value alienation.  In the Old
Days, a great many of these Mississippi and Louisiana towns were Klan
strongholds -- far more explicitly and overtly racist than New Orleans
itself.  But these people, often ignored by the media, have been hit hard --
and, in the wake of hideous disaster, are fighting hard to take control of
their lives and the general situation.  Many [if not most], I am quite sure,
took preparatory steps before the maelstrom struck.

[Locally, I should mention, Josie -- my youngest -- and Cameron have their
own responsibilities.  But Cameron's feisty Labor grandfather, Lin
Whitworth, who is 71 and his brother, have left here by car for Pascagoula
Miss., to assist a daughter and her family in rebuilding their totally
destroyed home.]

What's been missing in New Orleans [in my opinion] has been the notable
absence of indigenous leadership across racial lines among the quite
justifiably angry and bitter and often alienated people.  Has there been any
really enduring grassroots community organization in New Orleans itself?
I'd say damn little at this point.   That kind of organizing, as I have keep
saying, is the hardest work I know -- and it's extremely tough in big
cities. But it's absolutely critical and it's Genesis. Once again, see my
website page on our several years of grassroots organizing in the
oft-sanguinary South/Southwest Side of Chicago:  about 300 block clubs and
some related groups in two large umbrella organizations.
http://www.hunterbear.org/chicago_organizing.htm

Posting endlessly on the sins of omission and commission by the Third Rate
Pirate Ship of Bush et al. [I shall take Long John Silver any day, any year]
often no longer tells us anything really all that new.

Looks like it's high time to start working in New Orleans -- and a whole lot
of other urban settings and the whole country as well. Getting and keeping
people together for multi-issue action. Time to fight. No dearth of hot
issues -- Always and Now.

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
www.hunterbear.org
In the mountains of Eastern Idaho


September 15, 2005
Areas Isolated After Storm Make Do
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER and CAMPBELL ROBERTSON

BROOKLYN, Miss., Sept. 14 - Hours after the wind stopped howling but days
before outsiders showed up, Amanda Williams had cooked up the 300 pounds of
venison that was stored in her deep freezer, scavenged some paper plates
from the store across the street and set up a table in her front yard to
begin feeding this town just north of Gulfport.

Before long, a Red Cross worker sheepishly joined in on the feast of venison
sausage, venison chili and venison sandwiches at the new town "restaurant."

"I said, 'You're supposed to be feeding us,' " Ms. Williams said with a
chuckle.

In McComb, a 70-year-old man wobbled up a ladder to the roof of his house
and tried to remove a 4,000-pound tree, to the alarm of Edward Hager, a
contractor from Kentucky who finished removing the tree's stump, so heavy it
snapped a cable on his crane.

Not far from the Mississippi border, the residents of Franklinton, La., used
chain saws and sheer brawn to chop through the twisting, perilous pile of
trees that had turned their streets into impenetrable mazes and trapped
residents in their homes.

In the most far-flung hamlets throughout the devastated regions of
Mississippi and Louisiana, thousands of residents neither waited for
government nor lamented its absence after the hurricane. They put on their
boots, pulled out their tarps and chain saws and got busy.

Isolated, experienced in working outdoors and fully equipped with the
accoutrements of rural life, these people are quite accustomed to being
their own sanitation, social service and utility bureaus.

"People here are used to doing for themselves," said Faye Boyd,
Franklinton's town clerk. "They didn't wait for FEMA or the parish to do it
for them."

Hurricane Katrina left some of these towns so cut off from the rest of the
nation that they still do not even know what is happening 20 miles away.
While it accentuated the area's remoteness, it also showcased its coping
abilities.

"You're dealing with a different kind of person in the country," said Mr.
Hager, who has been traveling throughout the two states over the last few
weeks removing debris. "They're used to hard physical labor, they've used
chain saws all their lives and they're not going to sit around and say, 'Oh
I can't do this.' "

Franklinton, like Brooklyn and all the small towns in the southern corner
where Louisiana and Mississippi meet, suffered extensive damage and loss of
electricity and phone service. Because of the remoteness of these areas,
officials are still trying to determine the extent of the loss of life.

In the areas north of the coastline, fallen trees wreaked the most immediate
and dangerous havoc. Houses, city buildings and hospitals were enclosed by
fallen branches and upturned stumps, making escape by foot, let alone car,
impossible.

"So all the neighborhood husbands just got the chain saws out," said Regina
Runfalo, a hospital administrator in Bogalusa, La.

In many areas, the chain saw is to the trunks of cars as the MetroCard is to
the wallets of Brooklynites. (The other Brooklynites.)

Robert McNabb, a sheriff's deputy in Magnolia, Miss., was driving in his
patrol car when trees began to fall around him. After the wind stopped, he
took his chain saw out and cut himself free.

"I changed my uniform and started clearing the road," he explained. "I used
my tractor." I've got cows. For the most part, we like do things ourselves
around here. I do hope to get reimbursed on the gas I have been using for
the generators."

Franklinton's jumble of gnarled trees required a platoon of saws. "Some
people were cutting one way, and some were cutting the other, and you'd meet
them at the corner," said Roland Carter, whose subdivision was devastated by
the gusting winds.

The chain saw brigade got some reinforcement to speed the recovery.

"My son's house had 68 trees across his drive," said Richard Knight, who
owns the Ace Hardware store in Franklinton. "So the dairy farmer Rickie
brought his tractor with the front-end loader over, and my son would cut the
tree and then he would load them in."

Ace Hardware has made a brisk sale of generators, used to cool homes, heat
showers and cook, as well as tarps for damaged roofs and electric wires to
rewire appliances.

"You've heard of the FEMA blue-roof program?" asked Ms. Runfalo, referring
to the federal government program of placing blue tarps on the roofs of
homes that are badly damaged. "We've got our own blue-roof program right
here."

In places that are extremely rural and that have many elderly residents, the
do-it-yourself model is more limited, and limiting.

Anne Lambert, who lives in a shotgun house along a remote highway in the
unincorporated town of Wilmer, La., has no chain saw, no backhoe or tractor.
She has gone at the formidable pile of branches in her yard with rakes and
pitchforks.

"Me and him picked up thems we could," said Ms. Lambert, 75, referring to
her 88-year-old neighbor, Percy Gill.

The work outside can be daunting. Temperatures throughout the region have
hovered well above 90 degrees most days since the storm, and the cleanup
coincides with the two-week infestation of so-called love bugs - black
winged things that seem to exist only to procreate and commit suicide
against car windows - which are swarming all the more thanks to the storm,
which blew them inland.

Things do not always go perfectly.

Buster Bickham, 53, who works for the telephone company in Franklinton,
heard a neighbor calling to him from his roof.

"He was trying to put a tarp up there and he was afraid to move, because it
was too steep for him, so I got the bucket truck and I went up there and got
him," Mr. Bickham said.

Some other do-it-yourself approaches bumped up against the role of the
authorities.

For example, E. G. Warren, a State Farm insurance agent, arrived in Gulfport
with his family the Tuesday after the storm and took shelter in a trailer
with his family. Late one night, he said, a person covered in blood started
banging on the door.

So he asked his son's three firefighter friends who were coming to help from
Georgia to bring 9-millimeter guns to Gulfport.

How many guns?

"Let me put it this way," said his son, Eric Warren, "there are enough to go
around."

 

FROM HUNTER BEAR  12/18/05

Several months ago, our RedBadBear list went through an interesting and, for
a time, an increasingly sparky discussion on Katrina, New Orleans, and the
question:  could  many who were caught there have gotten out if they had
actually wished to do so?  A small minority of our respondents on the RBB
list , myself included [drawing on some of our own experiences elsewhere],
said they could have.  This current article, based on something of an
in-depth study by  NYT staff, indicates, among other things, that many could
have made their getaway.  [The article has, of course, much more to offer
than simply that and is generally worth a careful read.]

But, soon after Katrina's fury, an interesting Times piece appeared that
talked in some detail about Blacks and Whites in the smaller south Louisiana
and south Mississippi towns who were returning to their homes early on and
working effectively together in the context of Disaster -- via their own
neighborly sense of community.  The fact that some of these towns were
former Klan strongholds made the story especially intriguing -- but the
compelling lesson of grass roots initiative came through loud and clearly. I
reprinted it on RBB but, as far as I know, none of the other inveterate
reprint programs [on the Left or otherwise] ever picked the article up.

No rational and sensitive person can ignore The General Horror or the Sins
of Omission and Commission by the Bush administration and, to state it
kindly, oft-disastrous confusion in the various Louisiana [and other Gulf]
bureaucracies. Post-disaster community organizing -- some of it commendably
activist -- has been going on in New Orleans metro and comparable settings
for several weeks now.  It's important, critical, but it's still after the
fact.

And the fact remains that many in the New Orleans setting could have gotten
out. Why didn't they?  For a number, good reasons for sure: old age,
infirmity, and in some instances, lack of a car or a ride.  But in many,
many instances, these are among the reasons, familiar to anyone who has
really done bona fide tedious grassroots organizing in The City [wherever
that may be]: fear -- real and imagined -- of going too far afield from the
neighborhood; fear that one's home will be robbed; a lack of personal
awareness of the potential of Nature's fury; and a profound sense of
apathetic futility. These are basic negative human forces that lead people
to freeze as the axe descends.

And the basic answer, as ever:  getting and keeping people together for
personal and community security and action. That adds up to preventative
measures and ultimately can lead to significant radical change.  Takes more
than Jaw-Smithing and it's very hard work but it is Genesis.
-----------------------------------

"Of those who failed to heed evacuation orders, many were offered a ride or
could have driven themselves out of danger - a finding that contrasts with
earlier reports that victims were trapped by a lack of transportation. Most
victims were 65 or older, but of those below that age, more than a quarter
were ill or disabled."  NEW YORK TIMES  12/18/05
 

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
 Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
 www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

Check out Surprise Tribute:
http://www.hunterbear.org/special_tribute_page_for_hunter.htm

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]

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