katrina v. katrina

Thursday, September 08, 2005

 • Thank You, Clarification, Update

From Katrina

Well, as you have seen, we are safe and sound. I returned to a regular full day of work today. I can't even begin to say "Thank you" to the wonderful people with whom I work, the friends and family that had us in their prayers, and all of the 'perfect strangers' that contributed to us in deed and thought. Just thank you.

You have read about our visit to the Red Cross, and I have a couple of points that I would like to qualify:
  1. It isn't that my mother was "denied aid", it was quite a bit more than that. My family is blessed, we - and by extension, my mother - have a roof over our heads, running water, food, etc, I am not discounting our good fortune nor denying that there are others in great and terrible need. The other side of that is that she has lost her home, become unemployed, lost access to her bank account, become displaced, lost everything she has ever owned with the exception of some clothes, personal papers, a Rubbermaid tote of pictures and a couple pieces of furniture. Granted, she has 1000% more than many, but devastated is devastated.

  2. Washington Parish, the "county" in which my mother had her home, is one of the parishes / counties that were declared, by President Bush, a Federal Disaster Area. Under that qualification, each and every person that has been affected or displaced from that area is 100% eligible for aid and assistance. Aid and assistance doesn't necessarily mean cash, it can mean an offer of counseling, making phone calls to the local hospital / VA to arrange care, etc. As my mother (and other displaced persons) sat at the interview tables at the Red Cross, she was offered a cookie, a brownie, and a pack of cheese crackers. I don't feel that any of those items, at that time or in that place, qualify as aid or assistance.

  3. We were told at the disaster relief center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (the one at the Mercedes Benz factory, not the college), that we were to immediately report to the Red Cross closest to our final destination and register. The registration process, we were told, would put my mother in the database that allows other people to search for her by name and / or location, would qualify her for counseling and care related to having survived a natural disaster, would allow her to begin the paperwork that would let the government know where she was, and would start the paperwork for any disaster relief aid. When directly asked if there was any paperwork that my mom should fill out so that people that might be looking for her could find her, the reply was "No. We don't have time for that. I can't imagine how many phone calls we'd be getting. We'd be swamped." The entire time we were there, my mother was never asked her name and never asked to present her driver's license or any other form of ID.

  4. When asked point blank why my mother was not being considered for assistance of any kind, we were told that assistance was only for those with "extenuating circumstances." I believe that most reasonable people would consider losing your home and fleeing a Federal Disaster Area as "extenuating".

We did get mother registered for unemployment yesterday. WorkforceOne will be mailing the claim to mom's former employer. I'm not sure how that is going to work. Something like this has never really happened before and there is no plan in place to verify benefits for people whose former employer can't be contacted or may no longer exist. My mother is fortunate -- she was a state employee. It might feel like the entire state of Louisiana is gone, but it really isn't.

I completed the online FEMA registration yesterday as well. The form was straightforward and user friendly. It also concluded with a statement saying that an inspection of mother's property would be scheduled and that she would need to be present for it. Not really sure how that is going to work out, either.

Today my mom went and applied for general public assistance (food stamps). Yes, we can feed my mom and our family right now. We have become a family of seven and have never been above the line of "comfortable". My mother has never been on public assistance in her 55 years of life.

I am calling the VA today to find out about the center in Fort Wayne; my mom is a thirteen-year veteran of the US Army and receives veteran medical care for her annual physical.

We are a family and we will make it. We have so much to be thankful for: a safe trip, my family's safe weathering of the storm, my mother coming to join us here. We are thankful that none of our friends or family are missing or dead or unaccounted for. We are thankful for the love and support and prayers and assistance of our friends and co-workers and the kindness of strangers.

We are counting our blessings.


At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't understand the unemployee thing. On the WWLTV web site. The Washington Parish Prison is still up and running. So she had a job. Just had to wait for the power and light to back on.

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you got what you wanted and now there are no updates. Wow... regular posts while asking for money and now you got it and nothing....

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Ric said...


The crisis is over. The money went for a good cause. What more is there?


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