Monthly Archives: August 2022

Remembering The Storm


It was on this day, 17 years ago, that my beloved New Orleans was torn apart and drowned. More than 1,800 people lost their lives. I was living in Fort Lauderdale then and gazed in horror watching televised reports of the devastation filmed just blocks away from where I had lived.

It wasn’t just New Orleans. St. Bernard Parish, which abuts NOLA to the east and southeast, and where I lived on my shanty boat for almost 3 years, was completely destroyed when the levees there gave up the ghost and a tidal wave from Lake Bourne engulfed the Parish. Depending on which report you choose to believe. less than a half dozen buildings were left undamaged there. 

The area of death and destruction is hard to comprehend. If you got in your car and drove along I-10 at 70 mph you wouldn’t be in the clear after driving 4 hours in either direction from the Big Easy. 

Katrina made landfall in Florida between Hallandale to the north of Miami and Aventura to the south of the city. It passed over Fort Lauderdale on its way to Louisiana. A dozen people died in south Florida including three in Broward Country where I lived who were killed by falling trees. She left a mess. North and south along the turnpike it was a landscape of blue roofs…hundreds of houses covered with polytarps from Home Depot, Walmart, and Lowe’s because the storm had blown away the shingles. 

My roommate and I faired well. We’d bought a generator a few days before and were able to keep the food in our refrigerator cold. We charged our neighbor’s cell phones. We wouldn’t go hungry. Growing up in the hurricane-prone areas of Cape Cod, Louisiana and Florida, at the start of every hurricane season when I’d do my grocery shopping I’d always pick up a little extra. Instead of two cans of tuna I’d buy three and put one aside for when stores would be closed. I also learned to fill the bathtub with water. Not for drinking, but because when the water was shut off because of a storm it you didn’t have all that water you only got to flush the toilet ONCE!

One thing that has always angered me is when I hear someone say that the 26,000 or so people who sought shelter in the Superdome were fools for not evacuating. Most of those people were poor. The majority of them didn’t even own a car with which to flee the oncoming storm. And where would they have gone, anyway? I ran a large yacht in New Orleans for several years. The wealthy owners packed their Lincolns and Mercedes and fled inland. But you know what? They had NOTHING to come back to. Their houses out near Lake Pontchartrain were sitting in water up to the eaves. Were they really better off?

I haven’t been back to the Big Sleazy since the storm. Parts of the city and surrounding areas have not been rebuilt and I recently read that many are STILL living in the FEMA trailers that were trucked in so people would have a place to live while rebuilding. It would break my heart to see that.

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Lists

I don’t like lists. Lists are for sissies. People without a sense of adventure write lists. People who are afraid to wing it write lists. Sometimes in the grocery store I’ll see another geezer, like myself, but peering at a list in his hand. “Wing it,” I tell them. “Put some mystery in your life.” 

Those guys usually say that they’ll forget something. I tell them, “Well, it’s another excuse for gettin out of the house for a while, then.”

My ex wife was a serious list maker. But she had to be. She was the stage manager for the three dinner theaters we ran in Lauderdale By The Sea, North Miami Beach, and Boca Raton. In addition to those three theaters there as always another play in rehearsal as we rotated the shows through the chain. Her job would have been impossible to accomplish without lists. I know that.

I went to do some grocery shopping the other day. No list, of course. When I got home I discovered I hadn’t bought cream cheese for the bagels. No carrots or potatoes for the pot roast though I DID buy the onions. I wanted bacon to add flavor to the chicken livers that were sitting in the fridge, but NOOOOO!

I’ll go get those things when I leave The Swamp off the Saint Johns River in Central Florida tomorrow but I’ll be damned if I’m going to make a list to take with me. 

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I Could Use Your Help

https://www.gofundme.com/f/62bc7b-help-me-breathe

My name is Richard.I am an 80-year-old man who needs your help to keep me alive. 

I’ve been battling COPD, a progressive disease, for over a decade. Once it gets ahold of your lungs, it just keeps getting worse. You can’t stop it. All you can do is cope as best you can. Currently, I am puffing along on 21% lung capacity. 

Working on the computer or lying down reading a book, my breathing is as normal as anyones. When I have to move, I fall off the cliff. 

Right now, I can’t walk a city block without having to stop two or three times to catch my breath. A portable oxygen concentrator would allow me to walk and do light exercise, which would tremendously increase the quality of my life.

Good brands like the Inogen G5, Philips Respironics, and the Invacare Platinum are EXPENSIVE. They easily cost as much as $3,000! And an extra battery for up to 8 hours of working time goes for more than $300. 

I exist solely on SS. The cost of a new machine is nearly 25% of my gross annual income. That leaves me in a real bind.

“Aren’t portable oxygen concentrators covered by Medicare?” The answer is: Sometimes. 

Typically, Medicare won’t pay for a portable oxygen concentrator unless you need oxygen 24/7. Well, right now, I DON’T have a 24/7 need. The doctor also has to provide evidence that alternative measures have failed. Other than medicines like Breztri and Breo Ellipta, no other alternative measures have been suggested. 

I have to foot the bill myself though I’ll go through the Medicare process to see if I can get approved. Your contribution is a breath of fresh air.

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I Need Your Help…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/62bc7b-help-me-breathe

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