Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Year Ago Today

The levees broke and life as we know it here in Louisiana and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast changed.

Here are the Louisiana Katrina stats to date:


Number of people who were evacuated because of Katrina: 1.3 million
People who changed addresses by Oct. 5: 900,000
Total economic loss: $50 billion to $70 billion
Initial jobs lost: 220,000
Jobs regained: 50,000

**The Dead**

Total number of deaths in Louisiana attributable to Katrina: 1,464
Number of citizens found alive: 10,746
Total number of citizens still missing: 135
Bodies autopsied as the state morgue at Carville and St. Gabriel: 892
Percentage of blacks identified at state morgue: 56 percent
Percentage of whites at the state morgue: 40 percent
Percentage of Hispanics at the state morgue: 2 percent


New Orleans population before Katrina: 455,000
Estimated New Orleans population as of July: 230,000
Statewide population loss: 266,000

**Insurance losses**

Insurance claims: 727,414
Insurance paid out as of June 30: $14 billion
Federal flood insurance paid out in Louisiana: $13.2 billion
Average federal flood insurance claim: $140,000

**Individual assistance**

FEMA grants to individuals: $5.1 billion
Number of Louisiana individuals receiving FEMA assistance: 1.6 million
Amount of state's share of FEMA's grants to individuals: $450 million
Number of families still living in FEMA-paid hotel rooms: 32
FEMA housing assistance grants: $3.6 billion
Disaster Food Stamp Benefits: $367.5 million
Disaster unemployment paid: $320 million
Louisianans receiving disaster unemployment: 173,000
Disaster unemployment paid: $320 million
Louisianans receiving unemployment benefits on Sept. 24: 252,072
Average weekly statewide employment claims prior to Katrina: 32,800
Average weekly statewide unemployment claims post-Katrina: 173,000
Total statewide non-farm employment, June 2005: 619,000
Total statewide non-farm employment, June 2006: 425,200
U.S. Small Business Administration loans to renters and homeowners: $5 billion
FEMA grants for crisis mental health counseling: $34.7 million


Total of homes affected: 204,500
Owner-occupied homes severely damaged: 63,500
Rental units severely damaged: 43,000
Housing units with severed damaged: 106,500
Number of homes with major flooding: 169,000
Number of homeowners who have applied for the Road Home rebuilding aid: 101,000
Number of FEMA trailers in Louisiana: 95,441
Number of occupied FEMA trailers in Louisiana as of Aug. 16: 81,245
Top three cities in Louisiana where evacuees went: Baton Rouge, Metairie, Lafayette.
Top three cities outside Louisiana where evacuees moved: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio
Number of evacuees who went to Texas: 90,388
Number of evacuees who went to Mississippi: 18,966
Number of evacuees who went to Georgia: 18,229
Number of evacuees who went to Arkansas: 6,309
The Road Home housing grant program: $9.3 billion
Percent of former customers in New Orleans with reconnected electricity: 60 percent
Percent of former customers in New Orleans with reconnected natural gas: 41 percent


Debris estimate: 22 million tons
Estimated remaining debris: 8.7 million tons
Number of times the debris could fill the Superdome: 13
Number of times the debris of the World Trade Center: 25
Units of refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers discarded curbside: 1.5 million
Flooded and abandoned cars: 350,000
Damaged vessels: more than 60,000


Number of businesses impacted: 81,000
Number of businesses reopened: 62,000
U.S. Small Business Administration loans to 13,000 business owners: $1.3 million
State-administered grants to small businesses from federal funds: $350 million
Percentage of New Orleans-area restaurants that have reopened: 33 percent
Number of New Orleans' 38,000 hotel rooms that have reopened: 27,000
Damage to New Orleans International Airport: $30 million
Number of airlines serving New Orleans International: 11
Percentage of available airline seats on departing flights compared to pre-storm: 59 percent
Reduction in gross state product: $7.5 billion
Gross state product four quarters pre-Katrina: $138.2 billion
Gross state product four quarters post-Katrina: $130.8 billion

My prayer today is that we not only remember those in New Orleans that are still suffering from the devastation of Katrina but that we remember those that the media seems to have almost forgotten sometimes - the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, St. Bernard Parish, Plaquemines Parish, St. Tammany Parish, and all the victims of hurricane Rita which devastated the western end of Louisiana following so closely on Katrina's coat tails.

So often all we hear is about the city of New Orleans and yet so many more people outside that city are suffering just as deeply.

I love my state and for the past year my heart has been broken as I've seen what Mother Nature can do to her beauty. Yet I wouldn't trade living here for the world. Louisiana will recover because we are a people who know how to survive.

Thanks to each of you for keeping us all in your thoughts and prayers. Don't ever forget.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This is funny and sad all at the same time.

Ok y'all, this is not a joke.

I picked up a reference to this on BitchPhd's Blog and had to post about it here. The actual website can be found here.

First of all, how glad am I that my mother didn't come up with this idea? Second, how whacked is it that instead of teaching your kid that there's nothing to be afraid of in the dark, you teach her/him that there are scary things but if he/she wears these $39.95 pajamas God's going to keep the boogeymen at bay?

How uncomfortable is that shield going to be when you roll over it in the middle of the night? And what about that smothering sensation that girl is going to get when she wraps her head all up in that veil? Why isn't God protecting those poor kids from that?

You know, one of these days good, real Christians are going to stand up and say, "Enough with you freaks". I'd be willing to bet Jesus has been doing some eye rolling.

The things folks will do for a dollar in God's name never cease to amaze me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


It's called Oceangram. You can find it at www.oceangram.com. It's the internet equivalent of sending a message in a bottle. I was introduced to it Friday. It's worse than crack. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Special Birthday Today

Today is my mom's 70th birthday.

As a young child you always believe your parents are immortal and will somehow permanently stay the age they are forever. As you start to grow up, your life is totally focused on your own aging process - the angst of adolesence, the indecision of early adulthood, the self-discovery of your 30's, and the acceptance of your 40's - rarely noticing that all along the way Mom and Dad have been growing as well.

Somewhere between the battles we had as I rebelled my way through my teens and early 20's and now, Mom and I became friends. I think it had a lot to do with my becoming an adult.

I remember the day when people who were 70 were considered elderly and acted accordingly. Today things are different and my parents are two shining examples. They haven't slowed down a bit and they're in great health. It's easy to believe by looking at them that 70 is definitely the new 60.

Beware if my mom ever asks you to play UNO or Chicken Foot with her because she will kick your ass. But I guarantee you'll have a great time while she does it.

Mama, I love you so very much and hope that you've had a great day today. I know that it sucked that you had a doctor's appointment this afternoon but I hope you and Dad had a good time eating out at your favorite restaurant for dinner.

Thanks for being there when I laughed and when I cried, when I was hurt and when I had the best day ever, when I was sweet and when I was mean, and all the times in between. Thanks for encouraging me to be independent, to learn, and to be a strong woman. I am who I am today because of the lessons you taught me.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Tyler funny

Ty's totally fascinated by snakes and he knows that I'm deathly afraid of them.

Saturday afternoon my phone rings.

Ty: "Nannie! Guess what! We found a ground rattler in the yard today."

Me: "Oh wow, Buddy, how big was he?"

Ty: "Well, he's a ground rattler so he was only about a foot long."

Me: "Oh ok. What did y'all do with him?"

Ty: "Well, my dad got the big shovel..."

Me (thinking): This isn't going to end well....

Ty: "...and picked up the snake. And the snake actually crawled up the handle of the shovel but then he dropped to the ground. Then he went in a hole."

Me: "Aw. So you lost him, huh?"

Ty: "Yeah, but I've got a bait snake (*read rubber snake here) and a plastic frog on a string and I'm going back out there to see if I can get him to come back out."

I'd almost forgotten how much of an adventure life is when you're eight years old.

Later my sister calls me and I told her about Ty's call. She tells me that on Friday she and Ty sat down to watch a show called "Beautiful Snakes" that she'd taped for him off of Animal Planet. It was the first fully digital footage of snakes and the narrator was saying how brilliant the colors would be and that they'd show snakes in various habitats and during mating. My sister said she grabbed the remote thinking she might have to fast forward through the mating parts later. But they didn't make a big deal of it, giving it a matter of fact narration and showing some snakes entertwined.

Fast forward to Saturday when Ty was getting ready to bait the snake hole for the ground rattler. He tells my sister...

"Mom, I'm putting this bait snake out there and maybe the ground rattler will come and mate with it."

At least we know he was paying attention.

Ok. I was trying to make this entry more interesting by adding a nice snake pic to go along with the theme. However, while looking at the pics on my Google search, I creeped myself out so badly I had to pick my feet up off the floor (just in case there was a snake in here) and I'm sure I'll have nightmares all week. After all of that and 48 Google picture pages I didn't find one danged snake pic that I thought went well enough with the theme. And trust me, opening up the thumbnails and seeing the full size photos will not help the lessen the chance of nightmares. Ewwwwww...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Back from vacation

Man, I've been a terrible blogger as of late. I have gotten downright lazy and I have to apologize again to anyone still checking to see if I'm still alive. I do deeply appreciate your coming around and promise to do better.

I spent all of last week in the lovely city of Memphis, Tennessee, with my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew. We were there to celebrate with my nephew Tyler at St. Jude because he received his last chemo treatment for leukemia. Ty was diagnosed on July 1, 2003, at the age of 5, and has spent the last three years receiving treatments both locally here in
Baton Rouge and at St. Jude. I have to tell y'all that St. Jude is the most wonderful place on Earth. Ty's chance of survival is 85% thanks to the research done by St. Jude. When they opened their doors in 1962, the cure rate for ALL was only 15%.

Not only are they the world's leader in researching and curing children's cancers and autoimmune diseases but they also do not bill the families even one cent for treatment. If a child is covered by insurance, St. Jude will bill the insurance company but the family will never see a bill. Everything above what insurance covers is covered by donations made to St. Jude. If a child doesn't have insurance, they are not turned down and the family still never sees a bill. I can't say enough wonderful things about St. Jude. It was opened by actor Danny Thomas in 1962 and now his daughter Marlo has taken over as their spokesperson. All I can say is God bless them.

Ty crossed another milestone today as he had his implanted venous access port removed. For the past three years this is how he's gotten his chemo treatments and it has saved him from having to be "poked" every time they needed to access a vein. He was quite put out by the fact that they made him take off his shirt and pants and put on a hospital gown. But his mom brought him a Coke Icee and the doc told him he could start swimming again next weekend so his mood was improving.

Thanks to the bone density tests showing mild deterioration Ty still can't have a skateboard or play sports. But he's taking his prescribed vitamin D and calcium so that when his bones are strong enough again he can play hard. It's nice to see him getting to be a kid again. :-)