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Thriving During Katrina, or, How We Learned to Love Some Cops

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posted on Jan, 10 2013 @ 02:32 PM
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We were "preppers" long before we ever heard the word. Not because we thought the world would end, but because we are trail geeks. We can put 35-40 pounds on our backs and hike for 10 days without resupply. We do it for fun, at least once a year.

When Hurricane Karina was bearing down on New Orleans, we expected a few days without power, maybe some minor flooding, no big deal. We've been through many seasons in New Orleans.

We were living in the heart of the French Quarter in a second floor apt. By midnight Sunday Aug. 28, we had our kayaks on the balcony, we had our lanterns and batteries etc. By three o'clock, all of our building's occupants were in our apt. celebrating the fact that non of us would have to be at work the next day. We had a front row view because we had a balcony that faced the downtown cluster and we had a view of the river.

We took turns playing storm related songs on the stereo and watching the radar until the power went out at 5:26 am. When the winds finally died down, around one 1:30 pm, we all walked around the French Quarter, assesed the damage, and felt confident that the city had dodged a bullet and we would be back to normal in a day or two. Of course, you all know how that turned out. It would be 28 days before there was power, and 7 weeks before the water and gas would return.

The first night without power was amazing. It was the first time any of us had seen the city in total darkness, with clear skies, during a darkening moon and during a time of year when the Milkyway is in full view. It was beautiful. Rather than have food spoil, everyone was cooking in the streets and offering it to any one who passed.

By the second night the atmosphere had changed. There was constant gunfire in the distance and most people were gone or leaving. We saw things that made us afraid of the bad guys, and we saw things that made us afraid of the good guys. By this time, our home had become a community center for our block. As neigbors left, they dropped off food and supplies. Other neighbors declared their determination to stay and set up camp in our building. Our extensive camping gear caused people to gravitate to us, plus we all instinctivley knew we needed to band together as a group.

By the next day, things were so chaotic and dangerous, Mrs. tanda and I were seriously worried about the saftey of our group. We had members who were drinking too much and attracting the wrong kind of attention. We had members who were young and bored. It was getting hard to control. My worse fear was that we would be forced into the "Super Dome of Death" or the "Convention Center of Doom". I rounded up the most troublesome of the group and gave them my car plus $100 bucks, and made them leave, (we never saw that car again). The few that remained, I sat them down and hatched a plan.

Between us, we found enough red t-shirts to go around, we turned them inside-out so we all matched, we made name tags for ourselves using our drivers licenses, and armed ourselves with brooms and shovels and garbage bags. Then, we took to the streets and started cleaning. It is true we really wanted things cleaned up, but mainly it was survival instincts

The thugs and looters avoided us because we looked official, the cops gave us the nod of approval because we were clearing streets and, we looked official. By the second day of this, the cops recognized us as a group. They never asked us who we worked for, but they treated us like we were on the same team.



Some cops were camping at, and securing, the local pharmacy. The ladies from our group approached this fortress and soon they were giving these cops haircuts in exchange for feminine supplies. Strange but true.

One thing led to another and soon we developed a network of LEO friends who had various problems that we volunteered to help with. Such as, an aunt who has cats that need to be fed, or a sister with a tree on the roof that needs to be removed. (believe it or not, I own a chain saw, in the French Quarter).



Before long, we had ambulance drivers dropping off bags of ice on our balcony, and cops giving us a ride uptown to retrieve a pair of glasses so a member of our group could see. Plus many other things we would elaborate on if anyone is interested.

My point is this, we thrived during this catastrophe because we presented ourselves as part of the solution.

It's true, initially I sought to disguise my group purely out of self preservation, but we became a force. We were invited to a meeting with utilities engineers who wanted us to serve as messengers (we had bikes and we knew our way around better than they did). We were interviewed by several publications. We even invited reporters who had been sleeping in their cars, into our "camp" to spend the night and enjoy a real meal. Eventually we ended up at the Tribeca center in New York representing the French Quarter during a political event. Some of our stories sound unbelievable, (we were given a retired ambulance for example).

We got this;


and turned it into this;


If some of you out there are thinking, "hey, I read about this in a book" well, that part of the book is about us.

I've never been at odds with the cops, but I used to have a healthy fear of them. I remember when I used to get nervous when a cop was driving behind me. Now I just smile, because I probably know them. To this day they still invite us to their craw fish boils and their weddings. Believe me, I'm not one of them, and they know that, but they also know we are not the problem. It's shameful that they let a few bad elements determine their public image just because of some misplaced sense of fraternity, but the cops we know are people, like us. We no longer automatically consider them the enemy.

I read the doom porn on this site and discuss it with my cop friends and they assure me, they are not mindless drones that live to do the bidding of their masters.

Here's Mrs. tanda7 chatting it up with Ray Nagin;


Many of you have heard about the problems that occurred within the police force here during the crisis, and it's true. But I've discussed these stories with men who were there. You may be surprised at the gulf between what has been reported and what really happened.

We learned a lot from that experience. Things we never thought about before. Like how to find clean water for 7 weeks, and what sort of supplies really matter. In a way it suited us. We knew exactly what must be done. We had a clarity of mind that we have not experienced since.

We don't know about your hometown, but if/when TSHF here, (again), we're running toward the cops, not to ask for help, but to offer it.




posted on Jan, 10 2013 @ 04:36 PM
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Brought a tear to my eye! Good job for sticking to your guns, and doing the right thing, when it is so easy to do wrong. Yes, disasters bring out the worst in people, but, the news is never about people doing wright.



posted on Jan, 10 2013 @ 04:38 PM
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man, what an awesome story! thanks so much for the inspiration, really great work. i'm impressed at all your abilities to remain level headed in what im sure was definitely a stressful experience. thanks again...



posted on Jan, 10 2013 @ 04:51 PM
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reply to post by tanda7
 


Very cool!

Thanks for sharing.

My favorite was the idea with the red shirts and name tags.



posted on Jan, 10 2013 @ 08:11 PM
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Awesome post. Glad your put your resources to work for you and made the right things happen.

I am in KY, and was working at a call center for the cable internet and tv network. I got a call from a guy who was not able to leave. He had a few dogs to care for. His wife and kids were taken to Houston or she would loose her job. He had 3-4 women who were unable to leave as well, on his street he was the only man left in his area. He patrolled during the overnight to assure the safety of his neighbors. He said the women would leave meals and supplies for him during the day while he slept in exchange for the assurance of safety during the overnight. He knew it would be a while before the services would be back on, but said he needed to talk to someone, so he called "to check" in case we knew any info. We had to meet a time minimum for our calls, but I told my supervisor, this guy needed to bend my ear, and if talking to him as long as he needed, I was going to take the hit. It did wreck it, but was so worth it. I talked to that guy for 2 hrs!
Glad you shared. And thanks in advance for letting me share where I was, too.



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 01:06 AM
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Great Post! It's a breath of fresh air to see a great story about "preppers" in positive light. Today's world labels all preppers/survivalists as lunatics or horrible investors.

It's motivating to see a group of people take the initiative to make a difference rather than sit back and get angry waiting for the government to send help, be it local, State, or the Federal government.

You're story is an inspiration!



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 06:43 AM
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reply to post by tanda7
 


That was a most inspirational story and a great testament to the power of positive thinking/doing/action. S&F



I well remember hurricane Katrina and how angry I was that it's victims, Mississippi included, were not being helped by our government
( It was a shame on this country, no doubt ) news crews were getting in, but no help could get in, yeah right. I remember being very angry. I was affected too, couldn't use my home for two weeks, power was gone and I could only imagine how New Orleans was feeling, I felt your frustration also right along with you. But, it didn't compare to what those closest to the disaster were going through.

Little story I found out later from a friend of my mom's from Scotland, who is retired from the British Royal Army and came to stay for 3 days, he said that Scotland tried to send a plane full of relief supplies for the victims of Katrina but AMERICA turned them back mid air, I believe he said. Would not allow them to send anything. I thought, disgusting. Yeah, Scotland might be a terrorist. Point is, anyone who tried to help was turned away. Why? We'll never know.

What are your thoughts on Mayor Ray Nagin and how he handled the situation? I thought he could have done way more preparation before it hit, just MHO of course. Your thoughts from being there in it?

Greatly put together thread.


ETA: It was refreshing to see the police were helping, they're not always so bad, this story taught us that. Thanks for bringing a real world perspective and putting doom porn in it's place.

edit on 11-1-2013 by DaphneApollo because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 09:38 AM
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Originally posted by SunflowerStar
Awesome post. Glad your put your resources to work for you and made the right things happen.

I am in KY, and was working at a call center for the cable internet and tv network. I got a call from a guy who was not able to leave. He had a few dogs to care for. His wife and kids were taken to Houston or she would loose her job. He had 3-4 women who were unable to leave as well, on his street he was the only man left in his area. He patrolled during the overnight to assure the safety of his neighbors. He said the women would leave meals and supplies for him during the day while he slept in exchange for the assurance of safety during the overnight. He knew it would be a while before the services would be back on, but said he needed to talk to someone, so he called "to check" in case we knew any info. We had to meet a time minimum for our calls, but I told my supervisor, this guy needed to bend my ear, and if talking to him as long as he needed, I was going to take the hit. It did wreck it, but was so worth it. I talked to that guy for 2 hrs!
Glad you shared. And thanks in advance for letting me share where I was, too.

You probably saved that guy's sanity.

One of our neighbors had a land-line phone that still worked. When they evacuated, they left me their keys so we could use the phone if we needed to. Whenever we met people who were on the verge of mental breakdown, we invited them to come use this phone so they could call family or friends or anyone they needed to talk to. It had a calming effect that helped them carry on.

Nice job, unselfish altruism at it's finest, thanks for sharing.



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 09:52 AM
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That's how I believe the "unorganized" militia is supposed to work.

Be organized and help out in a crisis. Take the lead to clear the way for and to help the "officials".

I wonder though, was any in your group armed with something other than shovels, brooms and the like?

Thanks.

MSB
edit on 11-1-2013 by MichiganSwampBuck because: For Clairity
edit on 11-1-2013 by MichiganSwampBuck because: Added punctuation



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 10:03 AM
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reply to post by SunflowerStar
 


I would have used the "spin" that the long customer call was good PR for the company. You wanted to assure the customer and show that your business cared and would do what it could to help. This ensures loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising while giving the best impression possible.

I hope that hit wasn't too hard on you.



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 03:04 PM
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reply to post by DaphneApollo
 

In New Orleans, the hurricane was not the main problem. Sure we had some down trees and some structural damage, but if the levees had not failed our problems would have been on an entirely different scale.

One levee failed in Lake View, a pretty nice area, these people just got in their cars and left. Another failed in the 9th ward, one of our poorest neighborhoods. When this happened it created a mass exodus of people migrating toward the Super Dome/Convention Center. Once you were invited into those places, no one was allowed to leave, except to be herded onto a bus, bound for who-knows-where. A nightmare situation.

Another disaster we experienced was the human factor. We saw behavior that made us ashamed for the human race. We are now fully aware of how some people act when there's no one to police them. It was this sort of behavior that hampered the relief effort, at least in New Orleans. People shooting at helicopters and police cars, people abusing the weak, absolutely shameful.


news crews were getting in, but no help could get in, yeah right.


Reporters are given some freedom to make their own decisions but officials have to follow a different protocol. There are liability issues. I'm not defending these policies, just repeating what we were told.

We were also told that withholding relief supplies was a way to encourage evacuation. A questionable tactic to say the least. Officials stacked water and ice out in front of Harrah's casino and invited anyone who wanted some to come on down. When you got there they had paramedics standing by that could declare you unable to take care of yourself. Once this happened you got a free ride to the convention center. We avoided this area like the plague.


What are your thoughts on Mayor Ray Nagin and how he handled the situation? I thought he could have done way more preparation before it hit, just MHO of course. Your thoughts from being there in it?


Let me start by saying this. We've been in the same room with Ray a number of times, he is a very charismatic man. It's easy to see how he got elected, twice. We've seen him comfort people in such a way that made us tear-up. But his background is in business, and from all accounts he's quite savey, but there is no question that he was unprepared for what happened. However, he's not the only one.

There were failures on the local, state, and federal levels.The first people we point the finger at is the corp of engineers who cheated on the construction of the levees. This occured long before Nagin's administration.

We would like to think TPTB have learned something from all of this.

Photos I took in the 9th ward after the water receded;

Some of the houses floated!
And then settled on top of cars.

Other houses did not float. This shows how deep the water was;





edit on 11-1-2013 by tanda7 because: spelling



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 03:59 PM
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More stories, please!

I'd like to hear some more about how you (or others) got creative when there was a lack of supplies too. Any MacGuyver-type solutions to things, for instance.



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 04:36 PM
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The tree company my son works for sent some crews down to New Orleans after Katrina to help with clean up. They were camped inside a chain link fenced area for their safety (?). They were protected with armed guards (not their own). One of the boys heard a man begging for a bottle of water, the boy headed toward the fence to give it to him, the man started climbing the fence and security shot him down.
This particular crew will never go down there again.



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 05:10 PM
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Originally posted by DigitalRemnant
More stories, please!

I'd like to hear some more about how you (or others) got creative when there was a lack of supplies too. Any MacGuyver-type solutions to things, for instance.


Sure,
One of the most important things is water. While we were sweeping streets, we often saw people packing their cars and preparing to leave. We approached these people and asked if we could empty their water heaters. We gathered 5 gallon water jugs from where we worked (or where ever we could find them) and brought them to peoples homes. It's just a matter of attaching a hose and draining the water heater into the jugs. We ended up with a surplus of water.

One day a man approached us and asked if we could spare some paper towels and antibiotic cream. He said he would trade us tattoos for the supplies. We thought, tattoos? in this environment? At first we declined the tattoos but told him we would see what we could do for him. He told us we could bring the supplies to a hotel that was not too far away.

A few hours later we had found what he was looking for and headed over to the hotel. When we got there, the scene was surreal. A group of guys who worked at the hotel had completely turned this place into a fortress. There were layers of security and the entire operation was under the command of one of the janitors who worked there.

We went up to the room where the tattoo artist had set up and it was amazing. This hotel had valet parking so the gated parking lot was on the ground floor and had at least twenty cars parked there, and they had the keys to all of them. They were using the cars for electricity. They had power inverters hooked up to cars and ran extension cords into the hotel for power. It was just a matter of letting the cars run long enough to charge the batteries. We were so impressed, we took the tattoos.





Thanks for asking your question, I've been dying to tell that story.



posted on Jan, 11 2013 @ 05:41 PM
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These are all truly amazing stories! I am so impressed with the creativity used and the foresight that you all had to have on how to handle the situations you were in. The water heater idea was an excellent one! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

This is why I love this site, the sharing of knowledge and past experiences that we can all learn from. S&F!



posted on Jan, 12 2013 @ 03:56 AM
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reply to post by tanda7
 


Thank you for these wonderful stories
. Best read in a while on ATS.

Katrina is near and dear to my heart as well, I volunteered with the Red Cross and was sent down to Biloxi Ms, and Gulfport for three weeks. My experiences down there were life changing. The people I meet in the red cross were wonderful people.

But the residents of biloxi/ gulfport were the truly amazing people. We became part of the social networks down there using info from the friends we had to get food, tents and water to areas we would have otherwise skipped over. I truly understand the term southern hospitality because each and ever person and family that we became friends with treated us as family. I have life long friends now down there and hope I can visit them again sometime in the future.

Thank you for these stories they brought alot of good memories back.



posted on Jan, 12 2013 @ 09:33 AM
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reply to post by MichiganSwampBuck
 


That's how I believe the "unorganized" militia is supposed to work.

Be organized and help out in a crisis. Take the lead to clear the way for and to help the "officials".


We could not possibly agree more. We never thought about the term, "unorganized militia". We think of it as responsible citizens trying to help take care of business. Imagine if every single able-bodied citizen had gone out and picked up debris, or moved a tree from the road. From what I heard, this is very much like what you would have seen In MS.


I wonder though, was any in your group armed with something other than shovels, brooms and the like?


We hesitated to answer this question because we had not thought about this thread leading to a discussion about firearms. But this being the survival forum, that is a valid question.
But no, no one in our group carried a firearm (or any weapons). Some had them at home but that is where they stayed. If you had been caught with a firearm by the police your problems would have only gotten worse. As soon as the 82nd Airborne and I.C.E. guys arrived, security was no longer a concern for us. Those guys took care of business.

Through out the experience there were 6-10 of us. Groups are generally safe from thugs. We never moved toward gunfire, we did not move around after dark, and when we saw shady people, we always asked them if they were okay and asked if they needed anything, medical, food, etc. You would be amazed the effect this can have on people, even bad people.



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 09:52 AM
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reply to post by tanda7
 


I wasn't suggesting that your group was carrying firearms, but I wondered if you had some form of personal protection and/or protection for the group at your center of operations. Personally, a large can of high potency pepper spray would have made me feel better about working outdoors with the roaming survivors around the area.



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 11:24 AM
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Originally posted by MichiganSwampBuck
reply to post by tanda7
 


I wasn't suggesting that your group was carrying firearms, but I wondered if you had some form of personal protection and/or protection for the group at your center of operations. Personally, a large can of high potency pepper spray would have made me feel better about working outdoors with the roaming survivors around the area.


Oh, sorry about the confusion.
In the French Quarter the scene was very different than in other areas. I suppose the authorities place a great deal of importance on protecting this area because of it's economic importance.
For the first several days we never left this area. While it is true there was tight security, the police were more scary than the criminals. This is why we were trying to disguise ourselves as an official group of relief volunteers. There were rumors of forced evacuations and that is what really frightened us. (We had already heard about the situation at the convention center).

Once the military and feds arrived, they systematically secured the surrounding areas. At this point we began to venture out into other neighborhoods mainly for the purpose of feeding pets and cutting downed trees. Every once in a while we would happen upon a group of looters. We just turned around and went the other way. Not just because we were afraid of them, but because we did not want to be anywhere near them if the cops showed up. It was like that.

We had two females in our group and if I remember correctly, one of them did carry pepper spray, but we never really found ourselves being threatened.

As far as our base goes, being in the French Quarter, we were pretty safe for the most part. One night, early on, before the place was secured, we were sitting on our balcony with some really powerful spot lights. Whenever we heard someone coming down the street we lit them up. If they looked friendly we said hello and lit up the street in front of them. At one point around 2 am, a group of about twenty guys came down the street carrying pipes and baseball bats. When we lit them up, they all shouted "turn that light off or we will kill you" We kept the lights shining directly into their eyes and assured them that they would be shot if they did not keep moving.
It was a bluff but it worked.

edit on 13-1-2013 by tanda7 because: spelling





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