Monday, September 05, 2005

Greek Orthodox Forum On Hurricane Victims

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOARCH) now has a message board for updates and news on the conditions of parishes and parishioners in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Blogger fultonphishmonger said...

For those asking why God would allow what has happened in New Orleans, here is some food for thought.

Katrina doesn't cancel Southern Decadence parade
Web Posted: 09/05/2005 12:00 AM CDT

Rod Davis
Express-News Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS — You know a city has legs when three or four dozen of them are parading down Bourbon Street — some clad in tutus and grass skirts — six days after the most damaging hurricane in American history.

But the annual Southern Decadence parade through the heart of the French Quarter stops for nothing — not even Katrina.

"Hey, we've got to keep our morale up, too," said Jill Sandars, aka "Jelly Sandwich," her "Quarter" name.

Resplendent in a fluffy red skirt, dark hat and small black umbrella, she strutted and sang with 15 to 20 other storm survivors who'd hunkered down in battered but not beaten streets normally associated with bead-throwing at Mardi Gras.

The event always manages to be held the Sunday before Labor Day. This time, of course, the circumstances were different.

Water covered the upper northwest quadrant of the Quarter, roughly from Conti to Canal streets, between Bourbon and North Rampart.

There was no power or water, and only hints of the kinds of food made legendary at venues such as Brennan's or Galatoire's. Both of those restaurants seemed relatively unscathed, as did many of the structures on the riverside end of the district, its highest elevation.

But the Quarter was far from its famously lively and carefree self. National Guard and police were everywhere to keep the peace and stop looting. Helicopters buzzed overhead as the evacuation of the city proceeded.

But as the parade assembled at Orleans and Bourbon, outside Johnny White's Sports Bar & Grill, where the motto, "We never close," is strictly enforced, the mood was old-school Vieux Carré at its finest.

"I survived Hurricane Katrina and all I got was this lousy T-shirt," was handwritten on the shirt of a young woman who was wearing a tutu and pulling a bead-laden wagon. Alongside her, marched — ambled actually — a shirtless young man in cut-off shorts, boots and hardhat. The sign he carried read, "Life goes on?"

As the parade moved along, people came out on balconies and threw down beads. On at least one balcony, birthday suits were the uniform of the day.

For Marvin Allen, bartender at the famous revolving Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone, even the lack of meals could be turned into celebration. He and a group of survivors who live near the Ursulines Convent on Chartres combine provisions each evening for dishes such as "Wienie Jambalaya."

"In some ways, it sounds strange, but we're actually doing better than we normally are," Allen said.

It's a brave face, but it's working. Still, Allen hopes to evacuate to Dallas later this week.

The future of New Orleans may be problematic, and time lines for recovery mostly are educated guesses. But the same forces of fate — or the mercy of the African voodoo goddess of the winds, Oya — that deflected Katrina's destructive winds at the 11th hour seem to have spared this legendary part of the American cultural experience.

The northwestern quadrant, as well as outlying landmarks such as the historic Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on North Rampart at Conti, where plague victims were taken in the 1830s, were underwater anywhere from a few inches to several feet.

But most of the landmarks in the Quarter theoretically could reopen whenever power and water are restored — by November, optimistically. There's no talk of canceling Mardi Gras.

As the Southern Decadence parade meandered past the corner of Orleans and Royal, it passed the fenced garden behind St. Louis Cathedral. A giant oak and magnolia both lay uprooted. It was the largest single scene of devastation in the Quarter.

In the center of the tangle of limbs and broken trunks stood the garden's statue of Jesus, the one with outstretched arms affectionately known to locals as "Touchdown Jesus."

The statue was completely unscathed, except for a broken finger and two broken thumbs. "J'ai confiance en vouz," says the inscription, "I have confidence in you."

At that intersection, a New Orleans cop appeared, held up his own arms and stopped the parade.

"I didn't know Decadence was still on," he said. Parade-goers politely assured him it was.

"Keep your spirits up," he said, and drove away.

His lack of knowledge could easily be forgiven. It's not like phones, TVs or much of anything facilitates conversation. As one habitué of the sports bar said, drinking a warm beer on the sidewalk, "We just can't get any information."

"Yeah," said Ride Hamilton, a longhaired screenwriter who keeps water and medical supplies for the stranded. "And we can't get any strippers, either."

9:16 PM  

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