. REMA - Rainbow Emergency Management Assembly

REMA - Rainbow Emergency Management Assembly

This web site has been superseeded by the new version, which is at www.remarelief.net

[Blogs & Photos]   [Print Media]   [Radio Interviews]   [Supporters]   [My Daily Updates]

This page is an attempt to collect information on the the various Katrina relief activities with Rainbow Family folks involved.

Since the Rainbow Family is not an organization, all of these activities was done by individuals that know each other from attending Rainbow Gatherings. There many of us have gained much experience at making do with little supplies under primitive conditions. Katrina seemed a good time as any to put skills learned over the decades to work feeding thousands every day with what ever was at hand.

The idea was to setup a self-sufficient camp with food, medical, and security much like a small Rainbow gathering would be. This way there was no dependency on anyone else. This was felt to be the best way to truly help.

Well, it worked pretty good. The newly titled "Waveland Cafe" has been serving upwards of 5,000 people, 3 fresh hot meals a day now for weeks by working with the Bastrop Christian Outreach Center folks that had arrived early on the scene as well. Their ability to fund raise and get supplies combined to make this the largest relief and distribution center anywhere. (sorry if I left out any other groups that helped)

The shipping address for the best chow on the Mississippi coast is:
New Waveland Cafe at Fred's
790 Hwy 90
across from the water tank and police dept.
Waveland, MS 39576-2410

We now have a medical clinic and free food kitchen up and running here in Washington Square Playground. This park had massive wind damage, but didn't get flooded. A few blocks away is the hard-hit areas of the city. We had to spend several days cutting out a space amongst all the fallen trees and branches. Now that people are returning home, we're here to welcome them. We're calling this relief center the "Welcome Home Cafe", and we're the only one actually setup in the heart of the city.

The new mailing address for the Welcome Home Cafe is:
Welcome Home Cafe
PO Box 330 828 Royal St
New Orleans, LA 70116-3199

A page listing info on how to donate is here.

A longer overview of REMA, with photos, is here. You can get more information on the Rainbow Family on my Unofficial Rainbow Family Website

Blogs & Photo Galleries

Several people working at the Waveland or Welcome Home Cafes have created blogs and photo galleries. I'm not sure if the photos can convey the mass destruction, but it's a small view on what life is like down there.

Print Media Coverage

Radio Media Coverage

You'll have to right-click to download these, but here's a colllection of radio interviews about the Waveland Cafe and the Welcome Home Cafe. The Indymedia interviews also have music mixed in.

Our Supporters

There are many groups helping with Katrina flood relief. I'm only listing the folks that helped with our own two relief centers, but wish to offer thanks to anyone not mentioned here that is helping elsewhere. It's the support these diverse groups gave each other to help the Katrina survivors that was truly amazing. If we could all function together like this all the time, the world would be a better place.

Nov 26: Update from Arjay

Greetings from Waveland! There is so much to be grateful about today. Let me count just a few of the blessings that allowed the New Waveland Cafe and Market to happen with such beauty:

Organic Valley, who provided us with regular shipments of organic produce, milk, cheese, butter, and other good stuff we were able to serve to the good people of Waveland. In addition to helping exhausted crew with R & R in Florida, they contributed one of their old fleet vans to Levitikus and Theodora. That's all, of course, on top of them sending Clovis down here in the first place! Oh, yeah, and 173 homemade pies. OV just freakin' rocks!

All those groovy church folks from the Bastrop group, especially Jim (actually from TN), Pete, Fay, Steve, and Shaun, not to mention a cast of thousands of Texans and others we know contributed to the success of the New Waveland Cafe and Market. Let's start with The Big Miraculous Generator That Changed Everything, the red and white tent covering the kitchen that shows up in all the pictures, the innovative sink setup that encompasses the soapy seas sailed upon by our merry dish pirates in our dish pit, lots of other sundry equipment. But we'd be no less thankful for our neighbors if they had brought nothing. Their committment to and faith in the Cafe and crew, regardless of how weird, never wavered. We have made new friends for life.

Youth Initiative High School in Viroqua, WI, for sending us many wonderful teenagers to cook us breakfast every day. They taught us a thing or two about hard work and our own process. We also love them all very much!

Sanderson Farms, for leaving a reefer truck full of chicken and ice for the past six weeks.

The Generosity of the American People, without which, we would not have experienced such bounty.

The Hancock County EOC and especially Mike Sweeney, who was able to fit this round peg into a square hole.

FEMA, who ultimately pays for all of this (out of your pocket, I would add) and the Red Cross, who made sure we never ran out of cutlery and saved us a couple of times in our early days.

Everyone who kept us in their prayers, sent us donations of food, stuff, cash, whatever.

All of the magnificent people who put their lives on hold, volunteered, and made this place so special. Specfically:

It's a time for celebration here in Waveland. Thanksgiving for two days followed by the Thanks for Giving Parade on Saturday. Then it all disappears. I miss everyone already.

Gobble Gobble!
Thanks for Your Loving Support
Arjay Sutton
New Waveland Cafe

Nov 26: Update from Turtle

Family and Friends,
The time has come, the last meal has been served and all the mardi gras beads are being taken down. The relief station has closed it doors as of yesterday, Nov. 25, due to not finding a suitable spot to re-locate to.

We had an awesome Thanksgiving feed, with a beautiful sit down dinner for over 300 people. It was a fabulous run and everyone who participated in the volunteering, the local residence of the Folberg and Marigny districts of New Orleans, all the generous people who donated food, time and money to the relief station and, most importantly, to all those folks who were effected by the hurricane, we love you all and wish nothing but health, peace and abundance for everyone!

Special thanks to Deanne and Felipe (without whom there would have been no relief station), Lynne, Sharon, Rex, Richard, Dave, Rob, Patty, Dino, Matt, Krystal, Katherine, Rumi, Steph, Stepho (Team Staphanie), Jimbo, Joey, Coral, Foxfire, Drake, Bam, Diamond D, all the Food not Bombs folks, Ross, Maria, Saxaphone Joe, Tangela, Frank, Eric, Mark, Leo, Alonzo, Theresa, Suzan, Penny, all the mid wives, all the acupuncturists, massage therepists, musicians and circus performers, and EVERYONE ELSE who I forgot (you know who I'm talking to)! Also, many thanks to New Waveland Cafe for all the help and love (we are family), Common Ground for all the support, solidarity and continuing on in the relief and support, Mama D's, Shut up and Eat it Kitchen, the National Guard, firefighters, and the local teamsters union.

So, as you all my be guessing, we will be needing no more volunteers, but, Waveland is setting up a relief station in Bernard parish, so they will need volunteers.

Love to everyone and above all, peace, peace, peace.
Welcome Home New Orleans Relief Station

Nov 11: Update from Turtle

Greetings comrads!
Jeez! What a whirlwind of a week this has been for the ol' relief station! Earlier in the week, the city, the Dept. of Parks and Parkways and the Mayor's office, proceeded to give the relief station it's walking papers by declaring that we had to be packing by Wed. or they were going to evict us. Well, they obviously did not know who they were dealing with, and in less than 24 hrs, we had flyers all over the 3 districts around us, a petition going around, a protest going from the temp. city hall and all through the french quarter, hundreds of residents calling city hall and our district rep. voicing their distress and anger, media from all thru the city interviewing us and putting uson the news as well as a cohesive solidarity group of local residents ready to whip up serious dessent, should the need arise. After 3 days of this, the city has backed the NOPD off of us and are starting to proceed w/ negotiations for amore dulcit tranfer of the relief station from Washington Sq. park to other possible grounds. So, bottom line, we've gained time and begrudging respect from the city as we proceed to settle the station into a more permanent+home in N.O. where the station will evolve on into an even more community run station than now.

Spirits are high, morale is strong and the visions of the station's future have grown in powerful ways. The crew is rockin and rollin like the professionals they are, even though we are understaffed and physically taxed. We would love to hear from the family, so e mail and boost our energy!

We have been also been interviewed by the Washington Post, L.A. Times, Free Speech Radio(Democracy Now), NPR (All Things Considered: we will be on the air today, maybe tomorrow), and several European, Indian and British newspapers. If you are interested in supporting this solidarity movement, please send a donation to us, care of Barefoot Doctors Academy.

Our love and hearts are yours as we help our family in New Orleans.


Nov 8: Update from Jenka

The only kitchen serving fresh, nutritious meals to the people of New Orleans east of Canal St. is being threatened with closure by city officials.

The loose-knit coalition of groups known as 'the Rainbow Family of Living Light', best known for their yearly 4th of July Rainbow Gatherings at rotating locations throughout the country, have been instrumental in the relief effort following Hurricane Katrina. The mobile kitchen they founded in Waveland, Mississippi, the area hardest hit by the storm, has been consistently serving 2,000 people a day since its inception in early September.

In New Orleans, the Rainbow Family established a kitchen over a month ago serving three meals a day to the homeless, nearly homeless, and underserved people of New Orleans. A half mile away is a facility with huge tents and serving areas set up by FEMA, but it is for FEMA contractors only, and large signs posted outside say "No public services available". In fact, FEMA has been very visibly absent in the city of New Orleans, from their initial arrival five days late to their inexplicable lack of public centers in the city itself.

The "Welcome Home Kitchen", as the Rainbow Family's Kitchen is known, has been serving well over 700 people each day for three meals a day, as well as providing free medical care, a distribution center of clothing and supplies, a community bulletin board and information table, and a sense of camaraderie that has brought smiles and hugs from people in the most desperate of circumstances.

But now the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of the New Orleans Emergency Operations Center, Ms. Cynthia Lear, has declared that the city will unilaterally shut the kitchen down on Wednesday, providing no alternative and no resources for the underserved in New Orleans. Ms. Lear has stated that there is no appeals process for this decision, even though community members at the Fauberg-Marigny neighborhood council meeting on Monday gave virtually unanimous support to the ongoing work of the kitchen.

Please call ms. cynthia sylvan lear, the deputy chief administrative officer of the new orleans emergency operations center at 504-658-2180 and Mayor Nagin at (504) 658-4924, Fax: (504) 658-4938 to express your dismay that such a resource would be unilaterally dismantled by the government while it is providing such an important resource for the community.

Sing and Dance

Nov 3: Update from Turtle

Hey all!
As Rainbow Family, I'm emailing you because there is a serious need on the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Katrina and we need your help! Make no mistake, this disaster is FAR from over and the hurricane victims need our support more than ever.

If you don't already know, several kitchens, the CALM/MASH unit from the gatherings and dedicated, focused brothers and sisters came down to Waveland, MS and shortly after, New Orleans, to set up a rainbow emergency management assembly to give support and relief.

There have been thousands and thousands of people helped, and even more are on their way (in the case of New orleans). However, the work is intense and constant and our crew people can only go on for so long. So, as a result, we are putting a CALL out to you, our Family, for SEASONED, DEDICATED,HEALTHY, RAINBOW SAAVY brothers and sisters, AND, functional, MOBILE KITCHENS, to come down and HELP! The time is NOW to take what we've learned from all those years of Gatherings and put it into practise in Waveland and, especially, New Orleans.

If you are one of those brave individuals who wish to plug in, please R.S.V.P. at this email turtlebambam@yahoo.com or call this number 208 602 0909.

The need for mobile kitchens is solely for New Orleans, as more people are returning to the city, only to find that they don't have utilities, or simply can't even live in their own home. So, they are turning to us.

We need to set up several sattelite relief stations thruout the hardest hit neighborhoods. SOOOO, if you are wise in the ways of focalizing a hygenic, large community kitchen, people who have the ability to work people thru post traumatic stress disorder, psychological councelors, social workers,working at dessiminating and gathering information (INFO. at the gatherings), have knowledge about focalizing main supply at gatherings (i.e. ordering and acquiring large amounts of supplies, or are simply one of those kind, family members who just knows how to plug in and fill in the holes when needed, PLEASE CALL OR E MAIL! We can provide a place to stay and food, if you are dedicated to being a full time volunteer while you are down here. Please remember that one of our greatest threats to a peaceful and unified future being made for these victims, indeed all of us, is apathy and complacency. The time to exercize what we have learned from the gatherings and the Earth is NOW!

Love and strength,
New Waveland and Welcome Home Relief Stations
Waveland, MS & New Orleans, LA

Nov 2: Update from Turtle

Greetings from New Orleans! Life is beautifull. We're busy as always, and growing. Meal attendance is slowly rising as more and more come home. We are asking for seasoned helpers for the kitchen and camp. Please respond so that we know you are coming. There is limited space for tents in this park for full time volunteers. We have also begun pulling all night security shifts and need help there as well. Politically, there are many things going on. A phone drive to call city hall in support was started. I get the impression we out number the hecklers by far. Ani Difranco even showed up to sign our petition! the parks department showed to check us out; they were initially sceptical but came around by the end- we need to provide a proposal for our set up. local city meetings have brought a few citizens who perceive us up in negative way, but the locals continue to say, "if the welcome home cafe leaves, what will you set up in place"? that seems to stop them in their tracks so far.

Much love. Local musicians and artists are trickling in to give back and keep up the morale. this last week has brought support from orgs. such as red cross and local religious groups, in the form of donations. red cross volunteers continue to ask about transferring to where the help is really being addressed! but thats a whole nother letter.... our wish list grows so please ask in your contact, in case you are coming down, what you you might have on hand to bring. thank you all. much love.
Welcome Home

Oct 31: Update from Turtle

Howdy all!
Hope all is well on your end. Down here in New Orleans we at the Welcome Home Relief Station are having a bit of opposition. You see, there are some folks who own houses around the park. Nice, big, rich houses. They don't like our relief station. They say we are dirty homeless people and out of state folks who ned to go home or get jobs. They don't like having to look out off their second story balcony and see their picture perfect world marred w/ the reality of people needing to be fed and clothed. So, their trying to oust us. However, we have PLENTY of resident supporters who are rallying in response. If you are so inclined to call in support, here are a few numbers to call:

MAYORS OFFICE 504 658 4900
DISTRICT C REP. Jaquelyn Clarkson 504 658 1030

We need your help and support now. Please call and forward on so that others may call.
Thank you,
Welcome Home Relief Station

Oct 27: Update from Turtle

Good evening family. Always busy, from sun up to sun down. It's just one need after another.

Everyday, more folks come seeking assistance. Soon, this relief station is gonna outgrow this one square block of park. It would be wonderful if other mobile kitchens came down to New Orleans, cuz there is a great need of satelite relief stations to be started around other parts of the city. If there are some mobile kitchens out there who are willing to come down, please contact me at my e mail address. There is a great need for tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats down here. Alot of people who are suddenly finding themselves homeless when they return to town.

Also, we need $$ donations in order to deal w/ one on one cases concerning hurricane victims. Many need to travel out in order to reunite w/ their displaced families. Some need $$ to get their loved ones BACK to New Orleans. Many need to get their medication prescriptions filled. Things like this. Please donate to the paypal link below. http://tinyurl.com/7hnpp

Today was a difficult day for me. It started out at breakfast when a young lady came in crying. She said she was just released from jail and needed to get to CO. to re unite w/ her husband and children. As we were preparing to help her, she fell to the ground and proceded to have a series of seizures for about 20 min. Had to call an ambulance, and spent the next 4 hrs. inthe emergency room. Finally got her on her meds, got her prescriptions, got out of there and commenced to hunting down a way to get them filled. Ok, got that covered. Now, we head back to camp after 6 hrs have passed! I'm exhausted! And thats just one person who needed help.

Anyhow, Keep all of us in your prayers. Remember, this
trajedy is far from over.

Oct 24: Update from Turtle

Things are jumpin in Washington Square! More and more come to the station every day. Estimates range from 400-600 a day (more on weekends). There is now an herbal tea stand that will be cranking out herbal tea around the clock.


The relief station desperately needs donations to rent port o potties! The port o potty businesses have raised their prices drastically, today! All of them are raising their prices, and we need 2 port o johns for this station. Sooo, we need DONATIONS! If you would like to donate via the internet, here is our paypal account website http://tinyurl.com/7hnpp. If you would like to send a postal money order (no other substitutions, please), the address is:

Welcome Home Cafe
p.o. box 330
828 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA. 70116-3199

Everyone who donates will get, as a bonus, a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, PLUS, alot of people in New Orleans saying "we love youooooo"!

With many helpers at the station, we no longer need so many people actually coming down here to help, as we need folks donating that same $$ that would take you to get here, and buy a bus ticket or airline ticket, for a displaced New Orleans resident to return to New Orleans. Or, simply donating to the Welcome Home Relief Station would also work.

Update on the vet brother who had seizures in the camp 2 days ago. He is now working around the station, cleaning. He even said a prayer at circle yesterday, and it he thanked God that he was still breathing.

Pretty cool!

Oct 22: Update from Turtle

Buenos Tardes.
Hope all is well w/ everyone. Things are amping up here in Washington square, w/ more people attending meals and requesting help. So, we must tighten our solidarity, while at the same time we must also keep as low a profile as possible.

We finally got the grass in the park cut! First time since the hurricane. Some folks trimmed and pruned around the park and the result is quite pleasing. It's been an uphill climb trying to deal with port o johns and trash. The crew is really starting to get the groove of running this station, and working w/ them is such a fullfilling experience.

The MO. Nat. Guard have started to hang out in the camp and conversing w/ them and sharing space has been a refreshing, eye opening time. They folks are just as concerned w/ supporting this station as we are and there are always many waves and smiles when they come around. Welcome Home Cafe wishes them a safe journey back to MO. while we welcome the LA. and TX. Nat. Guard into New Orleans.

The energy was pretty intense today. First, we had a veteran bro. fall down in a state of seizure. Took alot to get the guy to start to breathe again. 911 was called and responded quickly. He turned out to be alright, although we did find out he was mixing phenolbarbitol w/ alchohol. Bad choice. He's doing alright now and even joined the dinner circle for a prayer. Then, a drum corp. parade came down the street and straight into the square, where they entertained us for dinner. Very rewarding!

The New Orleans Welcome Home Relief Station now has a paypal account set up through The Barefoot Doctors Academy. In 3 days you too may be able to donate to the cause by internet. Simply go to the website that Rob will provide and earmark your donation for whatever part of the Relief Station you wish to support (ie: kitchen, medical, travel, direct donations to victims). We all appreciate ya'lls concern and dedication to helping in whatever way you can.

Well, I'll say good night and don't let the bed bugs bite!

Oct 19: Update from Turtle

It's late on Wed. evening, and it's go, go, go, all the live long day. Get up, crack of dawn, cook breakfast. Clean, pick up, haul water, answer questions, supply runs, etc. I got to be careful not to run myself ragged, there's so much to do! But it is so worth it! And not just me...everyone in the camp has the same attitude.

Today, we acquired 2 port o johns and one mobile hand wash station. This is an accomplishment! Also, we were temporarily loaned 3 kwansit huts to shelter main supply 4 the kitchen, distributions and the medics. These huts are round, longhouses made w/ pvc pipe and tarp (Very useful, as well as clean looking). Awesome, large, cooking dishware and utensils were donated to the kitchen, while we served grilled chicken to a record crowd for dinner. The miltary soldiers are so sweet and love our little station. They plan to drop off some boxes filled w/ stuffed toys. Everyone who has responded to the relief we are doing down here have been such supportive family, and we thank you all for the prayers and wishes for the health and peace of the hurricane survivors. Soon, we will a donation site where those of you who wish to donate via the internet, can. It will be just a few more days. Meanwhile, more people show up every day and it becomes clear that our relief effort here is changing the lives of many folks.

Now, I gotta go to bed.

Oct 18: Update from Turtle

Greetings from Welcome Home Cafe In New Orleans! Recent update; the cafe/relief camp is looking for a refrigerator truck. Can anyone help us?! The donations coming in NEED to be refrigerated, otherwise we cannot keep ice, meat, fresh veggies, etc. If you can fullfill this need, please contact me, Turtle, at 208 602 0909.

Also, we need a couple folks down here who are wise in the ways of building foot pedal, hand wash stations. Perhaps anyone from the Musical Veggie kitchen and camp? Call me!!

All is bumpin at the relief station. Many people being fed, showers are working. We are trying to outreach into the local community in order to find safe temporary housing for the folks who have become houseless due to the hurricane. Deanne, and other people, are communicating with churches all over the city, tyring to persuade them to open their doors to this new "houseless" faction. More on this as the days go on.

Dept. of Health rep. Mabel Pache came though the relief camp and loved what she saw. Gave us the "thumbs up" and even brought a plate of food to her mother. The Dept. of Health can't give us port o johns, since they've sent all of them out, but the idea of renting them is being tossed into the equation.

We had our 1st camp council last night. Alot of heartsongs and visions came forward as we passed the talking stick around. It was beautiful to see everyone speaking, without interuption.

More tomorrow.

Oct 17: Update from Turtle

Howdy family! Greetings from the Welcome Home Camp in beautiful washington square in the 8th ward of New Orleans. The service to the people here is consistant, rewarding and, above all, very necesary! More and more folks are returning to the city, only to realize that they've lost their homes and don't know where to eat or go to the bathroom. So, alot of people are coming to the Welcome Home Cafe, looking for assistance. The kitchen is serving hot meals, three times a day. Yesterday, the general count was 150-200 folks served. The Barefoot Doctors, in alliance w/ alternative medical practitioners, are treating people 24 hours a day. With the hard work of great brothers and M.E.F.U. (mobile emergency field unit), we've just constructed 3 showers on the opposite end of the square that will be suppling hot water and electricity off of a single emergency field vehicle. They should be up and cleaning folks by the end of the day. There are Mardi Gras parade decorations adorning the trees and bushes, brought to us by the ward of St. Ann (and Jamba, the dumpster diving goddess) and a circular tent in the center of the square that serves well as a bandstand. The whole scene is turning out to be quite a refreshing and gala affair. We are hoping to acquire 2 port a johns with in the next few days, but the beauracracy is putting up a fight.

It's clear to see that the people who visit the Welcome Home camp and use the various facilities, are stunned by the efficiency and relaxed atmosphere. Most people have been complaining of having a very difficult time getting assistance from the Red Cross. There is such a mess of red tape to get through in order to have any specific need met that most people simply give up and go looking elsewhere. When folks come into the park and realize they can have almost all of their immediate needs taken care of here, the emotions and gratefullness are overflowing! One brother, Rob, walked by 4 days ago, came in and ate 3 days ago, and told us that when he went to the Red Cross station to find out what had happened to his wife and children (because he had been out of town working), the lady told him that they had perished in the flooding. Needless to say, he was devestated! However, today, he ran in, w/ tears in his eyes, and announced that he has found his family, unharmed, in another state. This is a prime example of the kinds of issues people are dealing w/ on a consistant basis down here. There are alot of people in need, however, there are just as many, if not more, people giving assistance.

There is still no elecricity or running water in manyof the wards, although the cafe has been connected to electricity through the lamp posts in the square. Grocery stores and drug stores, in fact almost all stores, are closed. Finding what you need in New Orleans is a very hard easter egg hunt. But somehow, people are surviving.

Here at the cafe, it's time for lunch, and the folks are lining up for a mess of red beans and rice. Frank says, "it's the best hot meal in town. It's the only hot meal in town,and I love it"!

Tell ya more later.

Oct 16: Update

Now that I'm back in Colorado for a little bit, my updates will have to be second hand. Yesterday after I left the 1000 gallon an hour water filtration system showed up. I had managed to set this equipment loan up the week earlier, and then had to wait for it to arrive. It's being setup by the fire station two block down the street right now because they've got sufficient water. They're psyched, cause nobody trusts the city water even though they've been told they can drink it. Now we can purify the city water, plus the filtration system comes with it's own water testing kit so we can independantly know what's in it.

The amount of people coming by for medical help or food has gone up substantially over the last 24 hours as more and more people try to return. A small cybercafe is brewing now that we have internet access in the park. Another large tent, and hard-working bodies are still needed. One small problem is getting to be our Rainbow friends that are coming just cause they think it's a good scene, but don't actually do any work. I want to emphasize that this is not a Rainbow Gathering. Please don't come to volunteer unless you are ready to work 16+ hour days. Please only come if your own health is good, and you can be mostly self-sufficient. Everyone is working as hard as possible, and it's obvious those who aren't.

Oct 14: Update from New Orleans and Waveland

I'm now currently back in Waveland for a night before having to fly back to Colorado tomorrow afternoon. :-( We had twice as many people today that are trying to return home. Last night Arjay delivered an entire crate of organic apples and some produce from the Waveland Cafe. It was the first real live food we've had for a week. We swarmed on the fresh apples after getting them unloaded, and we're giving them mostly to folks to take with them. Some of the Common Ground folks were here, so we managed to send a care package to the Algiers clinic.

Breakfast and lunch was so much nicer with the addition. Our food has been good, but with not much variety. Now that we're mostly setup in New Orleans, we have more crew coming in over the next few days. We did managed to gain some new crew folks, as quite a few of the neighbors are coming by now to help with the kitchen. More than a few have said they *really* want to check out the Rainbow Gathering next year. Last night Dimond Dave called, so we had fun passing the phone around. Arjay and Richard were jamming out on guitars, and it was very nice and mellow scene. At lunch, some of the local came in with an accordian, a saw, and some other weird instruments, and played for the lunch shift.

Back here in Waveland, things are still cranking at high volumes. There is a nice new medical tent here (they want our trailer :-), and still many people. Somebody donated a "The New Waveland General Hospital" sign, and the distribution center is as huge as always. There's a live electric Rock & Roll band playing, and people are dancing. It's hard to believe I'm still in the middle of a large disaster.

Oct 13: Update from New Orleans

Today our donated medical trailer arrived from Oklahoma. Luckily I had just finished clearing all the fallen branches and trees out of the way so we could bring it in back gate in the park. It barely fit through the gate. There wasn't much room to manuver, so we just had to deal with it where it would go. I hotwired another lampost, so I sit here in air-conditioned bliss typing. :-)

We had easily twice as many people in the kitchen today, all of whom are now coming back home. We've started having to cook in shifts cause we only had two burners. Tonight we managed to get another big propane stove going, so tomorrow should be easier. None of us have seen any green food since we left Waveland, so I'm craving some produce or fruit. The neighbors claim our cooking is better than any of the local restaurants from before the flood, so I guess we must be doing ok anyway. Now that the medical trailer is setup, and the rest of our supplies have shown up, we're ready for business.

We had the local cops (not the ones we dealt with the other day) stop by for dinner tonight, so hopefully our relationship with them is improving. They've been pretty hidden around here since our incident earlier in the week.

Oct 12: Update from New Orleans

I'm sitting outside the medical tent using a wifi spot I found from a local B&B. :-) Last night after my update things got interesting. The local teamsters came by with two truck loads of food. Since there headquarters is across the street, they've adopted us. Today they brought several more trucks loads of supplies, like coolers for food, more food, and a load of Red Cross boxes we can give folks that come back to realize there is nowhere to go. We've been getting a steadily increasing stream of people returning. Today the lower 9th Ward was opened, but they are only letting people in to grab a few things from the house, and then they have to leave.

We've now got our distribution area going, just in time for people coming back. The shelters that were setup around the state are all closing this week, so folks have to come home, assuming they have one still... Now that we cleared the playground of all the debris, we had children playing in the park today. The sounds of laughing children having fun again is nice.

I just heard the teamsters are on their way with a semi-truck of supplies! This small relief center is so different than the one on Waveland. In Waveland, many of the local are pretty traumatized and have nothing left. They really needed the type of support that's been going on there for weeks. Here we're part of the neighborhood, and the neighborood is supporting us so we can support them. We're all in this together. It's an amazing experience.

Tomorrow our 22ft trailer shows up for the clinic, as well as the rest of our medical supplies and staff. At that point we'll feel ready to handle whatever comes our way.

Oct 11: Update from Washington Square

Things are really starting to come together here now. We've got an Info booth setup, banners hung, and "Free Community Kitchen - Free Food" signs everywhere. We fed probably twice as many people as we did yesterday. The National Guard is out hunting for some porta-potties for us, as the ons that were nearby at the Fire Station are now gone. We've become part of the neighborhood around here. The neighbors are helping us with finding the things on our wish list, including a disco ball! :-)

People from the lower 9th Ward are still banned from returning to what's left of their homes, so with noplace to eat, they're all glad we're here. As people bring more and more stuff to distribute, one of the locals is building a box and shelves for a distribution area. We got a real medical area up and running today, although it luckily hasn't ben busy at all. But if it does suddenly, we're ready now. As the city and health dept gave us permission to be here, we have a donated 22 ft trailer showing up in a day or so to use as a larger medical clinic. Especially since our focus here is prenatal and young children care, we needed a clean space. I hotwired the lamp posts in the park for free juice, so we're powered up, without having to listen to the generators all the time like in Waveland.

There's alot of tension now after the incident on Bourdon street from the other night. Cops are more rare, and there seems to be many more National Guard folks around. Course after our little excitement from yesterday, we're glad to see em. Lunch today was amusing as we got a shift of the local contracters working on restoring services and cleaning up. So at one point most of our dining tent area as full of hard hats, which was amusing. They said they've been barely eating since they aren't FEMA or the Red Cross, so they've been on their own.

Oct 10: Update from Washington Square

I'm sitting here in the "Welcome Home Cafe" in the 9th ward of New Orleans. We had a great crew from the Waveland Cafe come down yesterday and helped us get this new relief center going. We served our first meal this morning, and just finished up lunch for everyone. Right now we're being entertained by Saxaphone Joe, from Kiddie Village's, New Orleans style Jazz band the Vipers. It seems appropriate here a few blocks from the French Quarter, especially since the band lives in this area as well. The local teamsters (chapter 270) came through a little while ago with a front end loader and some dump trucks, and we've managed to get enough of the downed trees out of the way to have enough space finally.

We've getting getting a mix of locals, fire-fighters, and national guard folks today here at the kitchen, and have. treated a few people for medical conditions already. We've also been getting a ton of help from Food Not Bombs, and have connected with the Common Ground folks setup in Algiers.

It's a bit unreal being here in New Orleans. Where we are now got mostly only wind damage, so other than that, things look mostly undamaged walking around if you ignore the piles of debris. Yet only a few blocks from here in the lower 9th Ward there is still no power or water as it was underwater. There are still people living on MREs, so they're glad to see a free food kitchen.

We just got a semi-truck load of water and ice, which was really welcome. Unfortunately the local police supervisor just came by to evict us. I can't barely believe that here in a disaster area I'm being harrased for not having a permit! After I got read the riot act, they went after Dee Ann of Barefoot Doctor's Academy,. When they refused to show their ID, and they had taken off their name badges she told them to identify themselves using our PA system or leave!

About this time the local National Guard folks from Missouri that had been by for breakfast and coffee talked to the officer and got him to realize there was nothing he could do, and that he should leave. Which he did! Pretty amazing. The Captain said everything was OK, and they wanted us to feed and do medical care for folks, since nobody else was in this area. Turns out the Red Cross serves only one meal a day, and you better like sandwhiches... the same ones every day... Anyway, our perimeter is now protected by the National Guard. :-)

Then another amazing stroke of luck happened. A semi-truck pulled up driven by the Ohio Teamsters, chapter 20 (sorry if I got the number wrong) full of bottled water! So then we unloaded 16 tons of water with the teamsters and the National Guard. They've got us another truck full of ice parked outside the park we're all setup in. Since most of the restaurants aren't open yet, all the local workers come by to eat lunch.

We also got alot of help today from the Common Ground folks in Algiers. We were a little low on medical supplies after the morning, so they brought me a large care package of boo-boo supplies. Several locals had bad infected cuts that were days and weeks old, and we were the first real care they got. The Common Cause folks also dropped me off a box of 802.11b wireless gear, so tomorrow I'll be scouting out rooftops to setup on and get the new Welcome Home Cafe cybercafe up and online. :-)

Oct 9th: Update from the field...

I'm sitting here in the French Quarter of New Orleans where I found free wifi access. A bunch of us from Waveland Cafe came down with a large care package to help get the Welcome Home Cafe up and going. Now that we've cut most of the trees out of the way and made a space, we've got the beginnings of the Cafe started, and we'll be focusing more tomorrow on the medical part of our new relief camp. Food Not Bombs is also helping out alot at this site.

The drive down rt 11 was depressing... The road was recently bulldozed clear enough to travel, but many of the buildings are destroyed. Until you've seen boatds in trees, cars parked underwater, and people wandering around picking through the debris of their homes, you can't barely imagine this scene.

Tomorrow is opening day of the Cafe, so there is alot to do still. Although he city gave us this park, we already had the chief of police evict us with 24 hours notice. We do have permission to be here, but it's the same ol permit bullshit... Hopefully we can manifest the paperwork he craves... More info later when I get the chance.

Oct 8th: Update from the field...

I'm sitting here in the new Waveland Cafe cybecafe via a Tachyon sat dish. The larger crowds of earlier in the week have shrunk some, I'd guess there were under 1000 people here for dinner right now. I was talking to some Red Cross folks a little while ago that hadn't been here yet, and they were tottally blown away and the efficiency of this relief center. You'd have to be here to really see the destruction from Katrina. Some businesses are trying to to reopen in tents next to ruined buildings. It's a bit unreal to see folks pushing shopping carts around the Wall-less Mart here containing everything they own now, most of which they got after they arrived here with nothing but what was on the backs.

The Kiddie Village crew and Barefoot Doctor's Academy is setting up this weekend in Washington Park in New Orleans. The city is lending this park for a new relief center. The last few days have been mostly cutting all the dead trees out of the way to make room for everything. A crew of more medical and kitchen crew is heading to New Orleans in the morning from here to help them get ready for opening day on Monday. Food Not Bombs and Seeds of Peace is also helping some, and fed the work crew clearing the park today. Everyone's invited to the party if you happen to be in the neighborhood on Monday. (what's left of it) Washington Park is in the upper 9th Ward, which got hit heavily by the flood. Many people are starting to return to their homes, so the new relief center is called the "Welcome Home Cafe". The power and phones, etc... here are all still down, and probably will be for awhile still.

Much of New Orleans and Waveland is pretty toxic from all the pollutants that got released into the water from the refineries and other nasty sources. Many of us are concerned about the long term health effects on ourselves and the folks that live in this area. Many people will obviously never be the same... We're forced to build platforms to stay up out of the worst of it.

On a sad note, Arjay's dog Calvin died today after being very sick for awhile, and after a ceremony, is now buried nearby in the woods. :-(