Survival Guide to Homelessness

No matter where you go, there you are.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Big Easy

Like many of you, I've been watching the news about the New Orleans disaster with sorrow. We knew that New Orleans was vulnerable, and perhaps some people therefore blame those sufferring now for having stayed at all, but each of us lives near to disaster most of our lives. The rich in Malibu regularly slide down the hill when the season of fire, rain, and mud takes their houses, predictably. All of tornado alley is unlivable if your criteria is some kind of storm safety, and that includes quite a few states. Washington is persecuted by a volcano, California by earthquakes, New York by terrorists, Chicago by hard winters, Florida by disease carrying mosquitoes. This world is not safe, and never will be, so we live where there are people and opportunities that make our lives good, regardless of the local dangers. I feel tremendous sadness, loss, and regret that I never visited the Big Easy before it was changed by hurricane Katrina. I hope it somehow recovers.

I don't know if the relief efforts have been competent, or if they've been all they can be. That's for politicians to argue about, news reporters to ask pointedly, petulantly, about. Who cares? For the people in the city, relief efforts have been mostly absent, and people who stay in the stadiums and on the flood free grounds, do so at their peril. There has never been a better example of what not to do in a homeless, refugee situation. Never, ever, ever, head into the central processing areas of a disaster. Don't do it. Remember, "shelters are for someone else" is a principle that applies equally well to disaster shelters and to homeless shelters, run by government, church, or FDNY. No matter how well intentioned, they become hells.

The only thing to do is to leave, and some people have been leaving. They walk out. They swim out. They leave without food, clothes, shoes, half naked, scraps for possessions, with fast friends around them for a little protection. They leave the zone as quickly and carefully as possible, because the only thing that matters is to get out of the disaster alive and unharmed. Work out the rebuilding process from a safe distance.

Good luck to you all.


At 7:16 AM, Blogger Exhomeless-Guy said...

Thanks for linking to my (I added your blog) homeless search engine.

Just wanted to add my latest site which was ispored by the Katrina disaster:

I have made a customized EMERGENCY type search engine that links only to crisis situation type websites (like relief aide, evacuation planning layouts, crisis management setup and others relating to disasters caused by terrorism, natural disasters, poverty, disease and man-made war), see ... This niche portal was made after the Katrina devastation and hopefully it will assist humanity in/during the next disasterous crisis...

At 7:38 AM, Blogger sirbarrett said...

Good advice for the homeless. You don't want to get caught in the clutter, unless you're injured or immobile. With Rita coming in now, what a hurricane year! Hopefully others will be as accomodating as possible. Travel light people!

At 6:14 AM, Blogger Exhomeless-Guy said... is the homelessness search engine & poverty portal where you can find resources by state or custom query. Please give this web address to panhandlers and homeless people (they can use free computer/internet at the library). Also, please submit any homeless related websites/URLs so that others may find the help that they need. is the disaster search engine (sometimes people are left homless after natural disaster, war, poverty or house fires).

At 6:17 AM, Blogger Exhomeless-Guy said...

Oops, sorry for double posting, had you bookmarked. I was just just trying to add something fresh.

I just set up a forum where you can promote your blog ;)

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Six said...

For years, I too, had said I wanted to visit New Orleans. Maybe go to Mardi Gras. I am so sorry that I didn't make the trip back then when I first had the idea.

I am also sorry beyond measure for the incompetence and indifference with which the plight of the New Orleans people are having to live right now.

I know that there are many people helping and organizations helping, but the government should be doing so much more than they are for these people. It's shameful.


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