Too much at once!

September 4, 2005

So much is happening here, so fast, it’s hard to take the time to write it all down. Good news first. Judge Winsberg got a call from his brother David this morning and he is alive and well. They rode out the storm in Waveland, MS which is being reported as the hardest hit town on the Gulf Coast. He and his girlfriend are on their way to Houston. Isabel and Judge Winsberg bought a house yesterday at The Bluffs here in St. Francisville (http://www.thebluffs.com). It was the last one left and is the one at 34 Beechgrove pictured for sale on the website. They are so lucky they are able to purchase another home, as there’s nothing left to rent, either here or in Baton Rouge. Both towns are swarming with people. Hardly any gas available, and grocery store shelves keep emptying as quickly as they are filled. The Winsbergs were going to try and drive to Birmingham, Alabama to see their son Michael and his family yesterday and got as far as Natchez, but they turned around and headed back home as they came across gas station after gas station that was out of gas. Michael and Connie’s youngest, Meyer, who is six, has been crying and missing Isabel. Hopefully, when flights resume on September 7th out of Baton Rouge, Isabel will be able to go see him.

Their son Marc and his family are currently in Houston and are planning on moving here to live with Isabel and Jerry at the Bluffs, so that Marc can attempt to practice law with his firm who are in the process of moving their offices to Baton Rouge. We faxed in school applications for the three children this morning. The Winsbergs also heard that their home on St. Charles Avenue is unscathed and has no looters living in it. The friend that called to report this, told them that he had other friends whose homes had “uninvited guests” who have taken up residence.

Last night, local friends Randy Hunter and Janie Simmons, had us over for a wonderful dinner at Harmony House & Melody House, their respective homes that are connected via a wooden walking bridge which spans a sixty foot wooded ravine. Janie’s sister and brother-in-law, Anne & Jimmy Morse from New Orleans, are staying with them. Talk at dinner was all about possible scenarios of trying to return to New Orleans to get some things from home as they’ve been hearing from friends who get armed guards to drive them in to get essentials from their homes and offices.

Isabel and Jerry are on their way to Baton Rouge to pick up a friend and her 84 year old mother who will come stay with us at my house. (By the way, my house is only around 1500 square feet, but has two extra rooms, each with two dutch beds, in addition to my bedroom and Alexandra’s room; so thankfully, I have an office to go to each day which gives them some time alone.) Today, Jamie and I are shooting photos of the office and warehouse requested by Southern Accents Magazine, who is planning on sending a photographer sometime in the fall for an upcoming article. How fortunate to have this excitement in the midst of all this chaos?

Now, for some tragic news I feel I must share. My friend Keith Koppens told me that he’s been getting calls from our friend Olgita, who had been stuck at the New Orleans Convention Center with her elderly mother. She managed to call Keith several times while there and reported over the phone that she was not only staring at dead bodies around her, but that a ten year old girl had been raped and had her throat slit right there amongst all these people! I can’t believe this is happening right here in America. Thank the Lord, Olgita and her mother finally made it to San Antonio (after being turned away at the Astrodome). Soon they will be able to join family in Miami. Olgita, who is now in her fifties and still very beautiful, was the poster girl for Braniff Airlines many years ago. She survived the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, and I’m sure must be suffering even more through this tragedy. There have also been other reports of rapes and murders that have happened, and of course, you know about the looting. Judge Winsberg, who spent over thirty years on the bench in New Orleans listening to these sorts of crimes, said that before Katrina; New Orleans was already like a pressure cooker, so he wasn’t surprised at all that this was happening. We keep getting reports that the crime has spread to Baton Rouge, which is fast becoming the “new New Orleans”.

I spoke with Marion Drennen today, who’s husband Mark is the former Commissioner of Administration for the State of Louisiana. He called up to offer his services, and is now working with the Department of Economic Development to help evaluate which New Orleans businesses can re-open more readily. Like many people, the Drennen’s will have to continue to pay mortgages in New Orleans on homes that were not damaged, in addition to their living expenses here. Now, I realize that my friends and I are unbelievably fortunate compared to all those people who lost everything and have no where to go. I will tell you, though, we are saying our blessings all day long, every day. Please help us by praying and sending love and light to these incredibly unfortunate people and this part of the country. I thank all of my wonderful paint customers who have continued to keep me going by ordering paint and expressing concern over the situation down here.

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