Saturday, March 17, 2007

hurricanes, gators, fema and fun

So, when you heard from us last, we were feeling slightly down and out. We had been wet for multiple days straight and the areas we were going through were slightly depressing. Then we came about the Grand Chanier library. The women there gave us cookies, punch and cheer. When we were getting ready to leave they told us they had called their friend "Miss Frankie". She had an extra FEMA trailor she was willing to lend us for the night. Everything got brighter from there out. We rolled over to Miss Frankie's. She got us set up in the extra trailer and invited us over to visit when we felt comfortable.

Ira and I washed up and went over avisitin. Frankie and her husband Guy immediatly offered us some beer and snacks as we sat down to discuss the pertinent issues; our bike trip and hurricane Rita. Cameron Parish, which is the largest and most sparsly populated parish in Louisana,was totally devistated by hurricane Rita. They complained it didn't get as much press as Catriana, because it affected less people. However, almost everyone in the parish lost almost everything. Total devistation could be seen everywhere. There are barely any buildings left standing. Everyone is living in trailers brought in after the storm. They felt because they recieved less press coverage, they were virtually ignored when it came to federal aid. Beside that no one was recieving any insurance money. It's a real mess down here. There is no overall hurricane insurance, you need flood insurance and wind insurance. No one is recieving any money because when people file a claim with the flood insurance, they're told it isn't covered because it's actually damage caused by the winds. When they try to file for Wind damage, they are told it's water damage. Here the real enemy seems to be the greedy insurance companies. Left to fend for themselves, the people who have money to repair their houses are still working on them, two years later. While most are left trying to finagle more time with Fema to keep the trailers. Frankie joked they were true Cajuns, they owned two boats and no houses.

"Before the storm" is a constant phrase you hear down here. They speak of before in whistful terms. Now they are all force into a reality of rebuilding what little the have left and replacing what was lost to recreate the lives they once had. Everyone down here seems pretty stoic about the whole stituation though. They understand if you live down here, the storms come with the package. The true resentment comes into play when they talk about the betrayal they feel from the insurance companies which was to be their security blanket. Guy spoke of a WWII veteran he was friends with who broke down in tears in a conversation about his insurance situation. He lost his house as well as his business and all his equipment during the storm. When he filed his insurances claims he was turned down on all of them. He said, he would be ok with it, if he could be refunded every premium he had been religously paying over the past 40 years.

While we chatted, Frankie was busy cookin up some fresh shrimp they had just caught in the river behind their house. They spoke of all the amazing seafood which is just within reach of their house, shrimp, crawdads, crabs etc. Guy goes offshore fishing where he catches red snapper and other large fish i can't remember the names of. They bragged before the storm they had multiple chest freezers full of seafood. They have tons of aligators in the river across the street. Frankie was telling us of the pet gator she had when she was a kid. Her dad would go out with the scraps of shrip and crab, "slappin the mud" to get Timmy's attention. They finally had to let him go when he got over 5 ft long, because he was beginning to get a little dangerous.

The next morning, Frankie sent us off not only well rested, but with bags overflowing with foodstuffs she had been given after the storm. We were treated wtih true southern hospitality and generosity.

I feel very well rested and dry after getting rained on in the tent for the past three nights.

Here is Ira and Miss Frankie.

Frankie even called up her mama "Miss Lou" who owned Chateau Vermillian, a bed and breakfast 60 miles up the road and arranged for us to stay the night with her. "I'll just tell her y'all are too poor to pay any money". Miss Lou was as gracious and fun as her daughter. We had fun staying up chatting. She gave us doses of her "medicine", which I was quite happy to partake of since scotch is one of my very favorite drinks.

Miss Lou and myself.

Situations like these are what makes this trip so worth while. I love meeting new people, and meeting local people is the best way to have an authentic experience.

1 comment:

Marcus said...

Miss Lous and Miss Frankie Rock!