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
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
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
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.