John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica



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Sunday, September 04, 2005
Hurricane Katrina - Where's Waldo?



When New Orleans officials issued a mandatory evacuation order, some speculated at the time that about eighty percent of the residents of The Big Easy had already fled ahead of Hurricane Katrina's arrival.  Now as rescue and recovery operations continue, the scale of the displaced evacuee situation is starting to be calculated.  It is estimated that up to one million people are scattered across the country because of Hurricane Katrina.

It's very good news that more Department of Defense (DoD) assets and personnel have arrived on scene.  In New Orleans, many tens of thousands of people have already been rescued and relocated to Red Cross shelters in nineteen states, but twenty thousand more people could still be hunkered down in individual homes and apartments.  Baton Rouge has instantly replaced New Orleans as the most populous city in Louisiana because of Katrina.  Officials in Texas alone report that they have received over 200,000 evacuees.

With about one million evacuess scattered to the wind in the chaotic environment caused by Katrina, finding loved ones is a problem that is now being addressed on a large scale.  While the news outlets poignantly report some feel-good, human interest stories of a few individual families being reunited to raise the mood of their viewers, other private and public organizations are creating real methods for people to reconnect with each other in the aftermath of Katrina.

If you evacuated before Katrina hit and you are somewhere safe, check these sites and register with the Red Cross so people looking for you will know you are okay.  If you are looking for neighbors, friends, and loved ones that may have been evacuated to a shelter, check the list often as the Red Cross is continually updating it.

Red Cross Family Links Registry  or call 1-877-568-3317

Here are some other helpful sites from various organizations in the area where you can read messages, leave messages, and simply get more information about specific areas affected by Hurricane Katrina:

NOLA.COM - Help, evacuee forums, photos and news for New Orleans.
WWL TV - Help, forums, photos, live stream and news for New Orleans.
CNN Safe List - Alphabetical listing with evacuee status.
NOKR.ORG - The National Next Of Kin Registry
WLBT.COM - News, forums, housing and helpful info for Mississippi.
Clarion Ledger - Great section for help and info for Gulf Coast residents.
Sun Herald - News, evacuee forums, helpful info for South Mississippi.

If you find some helpful info on other sites not listed here for the Where's Waldo evacuee situation, please leave a comment with the web address (URL) in the comment form.

Some of the web sites listed above have links concerning long term housing.  Here is an inital list of websites dealing with housing:

Craig's List - Katrina section
Hurricane Housing
Katrina Housing
Home Flood Forums
Open Your Home

If you have housing available or are looking for housing, check those websites.  If you find additional web sites with housing information, please leave a comment with the web address (URL).



I also wanted to mention something of urgent need for the evacuation centers.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has put a call out for medical professionals of all disciplines and relief workers to register and volunteer.  [Secure Volunteer Registration Form]

Also, Noah's Wish has updates and important information concerning pets left behind.








[Headphones] :: Evil Stevie: Activate! - JfZ


Friday, September 02, 2005
Hurricane Katrina - Massive Aid Needed


In response to the hurricane tragedy, NBC will air a live benefit special, "A Concert For Hurricane Relief," in high-definition on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC tonight at 8:00pm (ET), it was announced today by NBC Universal.  The hour-long, music and celebrity driven broadcast will air live.  From Rockefeller Plaza, the special will feature performances by artists with ties to the affected areas, including Tim McGraw, Harry Connick, Jr. and Wynton Marsalis, and an appearance by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Some corporate donations are coming in according to the American Red Cross:

Target has announced a $1.5 million donation to the American Red Cross, with $500,000 going for immediate relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, and an additional $1 million for ongoing disaster relief and preparedness.

In addition to cash contributions, Target is offering much-needed real estate in Louisiana to the Red Cross to establish a central command center supporting the most heavily impacted areas of the storm. Target is also looking into real estate availability in Alabama and Mississippi.

Target is coordinating large-scale distribution of essential products requested by the Red Cross, including such items as water, ice, energy bars and bug spray. Stores in the affected areas have been given additional funds to provide in-kind product donations and grants to local nonprofit organizations. Our teams also will provide volunteer support.  [press release]

Grainger (NYSE: GWW), North America's leading distributor of facilities maintenance supplies, has pledged more than $1 million in cash and emergency supplies such as tarps, gloves, flashlights and batteries to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to help communities and businesses recover following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The company also is encouraging its employees to contribute to the recovery efforts by providing a four-to-one match of employee gifts to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  [press release]

BP Foundation has donated $1 million to the Red Cross and will also match the contributions of BP employees to the disaster relief effort.  [press release]

Chevron Corporation today announced it is making a commitment of $5 million to support recovery efforts in the communities affected by Hurricane Katrina. This includes a $3 million contribution to the American Red Cross in support of disaster relief efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi and other affected areas following further analysis of the devastation. The remaining $2 million will go to local charities and relief efforts near Chevron businesses in affected states, as determined by the Company.   [press release]

These are just a few examples of good corporate citizens stepping up to the plate to aid in the Hurricane Katrina Relief activities.  More are being added daily.  Celebrities like Diddy and Nicholas Cage have made large financial donations.


The most important and valuable person that can give financial aid is you.  Millions of us acting together, just giving a donation that we can afford, can cumulatively eclipse all the financial donations by the large donors.  We can step up and help.

Just this morning, I read a comment on Interdictor's blog about the students at Deland High School, here in Central Florida, who have simply banded together and donated one dollar each to their local Red Cross chapter.  This is how we all band together to make a difference.

The following retailers continue serving as Red Cross Official Cash Donation Sites where members of the public, during their everyday errands, can conveniently make a contribution to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund:
  • Coinstar coin-counting machines, located in 10,000 grocery stores nationwide are accepting donations for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, just as they do 365 days per year as part of a long-time partnership.
  • Lowe's Companies, Inc. introduced a customer donation program in all 1,125 stores nationwide, matching donations up to $1 millions
  • Food Lion, LLC has started a customer donation program
  • Winn-Dixie began a customer donation program in all stores







[Headphones] :: Evil Stevie: Activate! - JfZ


Thursday, September 01, 2005
Hurricane Katrina - Is there hope?


People who've regularly read Thunderstorms or Dark Skies blog over the many months know how political and sarcastic I can be.  Although the coordination of the relief effort by government officials seems woefully bungled as evacuees are stranded and dying, and corpses are floating in flooded streets, and there continues to be looting, raping, and murdering -- you can watch any television news broadcast to see that and the inevitable finger pointing or blame spreading.  I simply can not bring myself to go chasing after the stories of absolute horror being played out in New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama.

That's why I didn't blog anything yesterday.  I needed a psychological break.  Since the weekend, I had slept very little and was suffering from some kind of vicarious anxiety for some reason.  Perhaps, it is because of my experiences last year with the multiple hurricanes here in Florida.  Perhaps, it is because I am a news junkie.  Perhaps, it is because I knew someone in path of the killer hurricane and was genuinely worried.  Perhaps, it is because I am here and not there, and feel totally frustrated to do anything to help.

The last time I felt this way was during the days after September 11th.  I lived hundreds of miles from New York City, but like many Americans, I felt traumatized.  Like many Americans, I was glued to the 24-hour news coverage of that national tragedy.  Ironically, I was saved from the continual news reports of horror that week when I turned my television on one morning and it broke.  Poof.  The damn television died.  Or perhaps, I had literally worn the thing out channel surfing for 72-hours straight and old paint just gave up the ghost.

So, today, I decided to do what I did when my television died during the week of September 11th.  Find something I can do.  When it looked fairly impossible for me to drive to New York, I sent out emails to the corporate offices of various companies, specifically suggesting how they could help.

I remember, because of my job in construction, I emailed the Stihl corporation asking if they could donate their saws, and blades, and equipment parts, and personal protective gear to the rescue and recovery crews who needed to cut the concrete and steel at the World Trade Center.  It was something with which I was familiar, and I knew that a saw blade to cut concrete can cost $300 each because it has saw teeth embedded with diamond.  I knew how fast air filters on the saws get clogged up, etc.  Stihl responded to me, and they sent supplies, including palettes of bottled water.

Similarly, I believe we as a nation need to focus on what we can do to help, rather than focus on blaming inept bureaucrats and politicians at every level of government.  There will be plenty of time for finger pointing later, like during the 2006 election cycle.  Right now, people need help.

The most productive thing any of us can do is donate to the American Red Cross, or any organization working on the relief effort for hurricane Katrina.  I've decided that I would focus on the Red Cross and Noah's Wish.  I will keep a link to these organizations on my web pages, to remind people of the need for continued support in the coming months, and perhaps years, after the news coverage dies down.

I want to do this because I have a particular mental image in my mind.  While attending my best friend's wedding in Cape Coral, FL this past year, we drove past a FEMA village of about 1000 mobile homes visible from I-75.  People were still living in those temporary trailers in the aftermath of hurricane Charley.

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, a hundred thousand people are still being evacuated to shelters in neighboring states.  The majority of people who did evacuate New Orleans now have no home.  They are refugees.  Counting the affected people in Mississippi and Alabama, it's likely there will be one million people who are now instantly homeless, jobless, and likely feeling extremely hopeless.

Online donations are the best way you can help: Red Cross - Noah's Wish.
You can also volunteer at your local Red Cross chapter.







[Headphones] :: Hurricane Jeanne is Gone - JfZ



Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Tag Board Archive - August 2005


Everyone!  Into the pool!!
So ... why?  Well, I go through the TAG board periodically (or when asked) and delete entries.  Mainly I delete your entries because it reloads the page periodically or when you add a new entry for chatting and when it gets too large, it takes up bandwidth loading constantly.  My general rule was this: if you put an annoying little smilie emoticon on the TAG, that entry was the first to go when I cleaned house.

The second rule: if the entry was older.  But the second rule bummed me out because I hate to throw away memories, so, some entries were deemed to be classics and had to be preserved (like Hygelic reading my blog in the bathroom on his cell phone).

Then the first and second rules unfortunately clashed when it came to old school phreeks who might put an ascii emoticon at the end of their sentence, like Skennedy (et al).  These people were violating my first unstated rule through no fault of their own, and, because the programmers of the TAG board must have thought to themselves, "how handy-fucking-dandy would it be if we just translated every ascii emoticon to a different happy little yellow face?"  So, they dropped another few hits of Exstacy, patted each other on the back and went back to coding the TAG board.

So, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing -- I've decided to archive the TAG board here for all to see -- and still be able to delete older entries (and keep the TAG.html small) with a clear conscience.  I normally archive halfway through the month.

Read 2005 Archive: [July][June][May][April][March][February][January]

Read 2004 Archive: [December][November][October][September][August][July]
[Prior to July 2004]


jan&Nikey floods in western new york too
ssprite WoWWWWWWWWWWWWW thats devastaion *sighs - my prayers to all caught up in the diaster
J f Z That's cool, Ant! It looks like you still have phone and electricity and stuff, too.
ssprite just read your current entry over at BW and laughed my ass off - actually i could use loosing somer of it - thanks for the small blurb for spritey - and since i am a pet lover that did strike home
Anthony Well, I made it through the hurricane
JfZ thinks aloud <-- Acquire Buddha toys for Ebay auction.
CM thanks for the comment, j.
J f Z Of course, Kristi. But, I can watch, right? Heh.
J f Z Above a 'Girls Gone Wild' bar?
Kristi/Unknown Hey JFZ! Wanna know what part of Alaska you are living in now? lol
HotRod thanks cool bro thanks agian
HotRod Thanks Bro thats what I was thinking of doing I have been eating alot of that junk. And u are so sooo right about girls and hard working guys. I take it u have some know alot about that huh?
Britt passed through and became obsessed with your blog. thanks for that.
ssprite luvin your weedy entries lately - good to see so many familiar faces there & great reads
HotRod Ooo the blog looks great keep up the great work
Kristi/Unknown Hey snowblind, who are you? I'm unknown from the Imagica board.
J f Z Snowblind! How's it hanging in the 810?
J f Z GUESS WHAT?! I'm friggin' back, baby!
Kristi/Unknown Hello JFZ, haven't been in for awhile, just stopped by to say hi.
Daveman I like the flora & mushroom shots. Its amazing what one can find localized to shoot, in nature. Now lets get the legendary, "Snipe!" Im still looking...
Daveman Jur nature shot(s) was purty geud stuff, deud. Need more!
J f Z I was totally against injecting kids with Ritalin, but, in Bobby's case, I may have to rethink my position on that use of pharmaceuticals. Spunk is a terrible thing to waste on a cartoon.
Halcyon <----- been a while
7one I've been gone for too long but im back now and i have a big surprise on the way!


[^ TOP ^]







[Headphones] :: BaD DoG Karaoke v1.0 - JfZ

Posted at 11:59 pm by John Furie Zacharias
 

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Hurricane Katrina Aftermath Grim


Hurricane Katrina - Coastal buildings wiped clean off their foundations by the massive storm surge
Hurricane Katrina - New Orleans neighborhoods flooded severely
Hurricane Katrina - New Orleans building loses its brick veneer and someone loses their vehicle
Hurricane Katrina - New Orleans Hyatt hotel windows blown out and rooms trashed
From Alabama to Mississippi, coastal communities suffered the wrath of Hurricane Katrina's extreme winds and 20-25 foot storm surge that wiped buildings clean off their foundations and deposited debris a mile inland.  The mayor of Biloxi, MS exclaimed, "This is our tsunami," after seeing what little was left of the city.


In New Orleans, the mood was bittersweet as the initial landfall of Katrina was not a direct hit, but residents soon had to climb onto their roofs as levees were comprised, pumping failed, and the city continues to flood.  Coast Guard helicopter crews who normally pluck people off of sinking ships in the ocean were pulling hundreds of families from the roofs of their homes.  The floodwaters were high enough in some areas that residents could step off of their roofs and right into Fish and Wildlife flatboats.


New Orleans residents and government officials have thought about this ultimate nightmare scenario over the years.  Despite all the brainstorming, theorizing and simulation, the aftermath of hurricane Katrina is turning out to be a disaster beyond imagination.


According to Disaster News Network, "Post-hurricane damage in Mississippi and Louisiana is massive and unprecedented, responders said, even before they could access some of the hardest hit places on Tuesday morning."


With the first light on the day after Katrina, people were able to gawk at the extent of the damage.  Huge 3-story gambling boats, moored along the MS gulf coast were lifted up and the floating casinoes were then deposited far away on top of houses and beach hotels.  The Superdome, where 10,000+ people took shelter last night, had most of its roof membrane ripped off and portions of the dome were compromised.


With the rising flood waters in New Orleans today, people were panicking and some were even looting stores.  With law enforcement so busy with rescue and recovery efforts, much looting had to just be ignored.  People should note that a convicted looter will get twice the normal prison sentence as someone convicted of regular burgarly or theft.  However, in some circumstances, looting to maintain one's life -- grabbing groceries or water to survive -- is often a mitigating circumstance in the eyes of the law.

Gangsta wanna-be thugs looting a jewelry or electronics store probably face 20+ years, if caught.  Looters tempt fate with police, but more so with store owners -- should they see them and just tap two in their chest.  With all of the bodies floating around the city, a dead looter won't be missed, mourned, or be looting again.

Besides the normal dusk-to-dawn curfews enacted in areas affected by hurricanes, New Orleans is now under martial law.  It is also expected that officials will not only order further rescue and recover operations tommorow at first light, but also a full-blown evacuation of the city of New Orleans, including the 10,000+ people already sheltered in the Superdome.  With bridges destroyed and main highways flooded, evacuating people is not an easy task.

Entergy reports that about one million customers are without electrical service.  It will likely be many weeks until electrical service is restored in some areas.  Communication in the hurricane affected areas is also a problem.  Land lines are down and cell towers are damaged or completely destroyed.  Getting word in or out to people is a problem.

Some of the more helpful web sites:

WWL TV parish-by-parish forums
NOLA
Livejournal New Orleans community
New Orleans Metrobloggers
Eye of the Storm blog
Eyes on Katrina blog

If you wish to help victims of hurricane Katrina, donating online is the best way.  Go directly to the Red Cross or Salvation ArmyDisaster News Net also has links to other charitable organizations and how you can help.  I already blogged on Brilliant Weeds about one unique non-profit organization working in the area, Noah's Wish.  I'm sure they would appreciate any donations you could make, too.


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