VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON HOW YOU CAN HELP
ADDRESSES WHERE YOU
CAN SEND HELP
|Fr. Joseph P. Callipare
St. John Catholic Church
303 So. Navy Blvd
Pensacola, FL 32507
|Abbot Justin Brown
St. Joseph Abby
St. Benedict, LA 70457
|Michael Siu/Orleans Disaster Fund
c/o OFF THE WALL VIDEO
3309 West Esplanade
South Metairie, LA 70002
HURRICANE KATRINA; SEPTEMBER 10TH; AN ADDRESS TO SEND HELP
Dear ones. I've been receiving Emails from all over the world from people expressing love for New Orleans and sympathy for what is happening throughout the South. Some of you want to help. You have donations you can make -- material goods perhaps, cash, whatever. Well I have a key address for you: -- Fr. Joseph P. Callipare; St. John Catholic Church; 303 So. Navy Blvd; Pensacola, Florida 32507. -- Fr. Joe was my pastor during the summers I lived in Florida and he is a great priest and a great man. His school is taking in some 42 children who are part of the evacuation from the storm. I believe most of these kids come from nearby Mississippi which was really slammed, as you know, with massive destruction. -- Fr. Joe will use anything you donate directly to benefit the kids. Don't think any donation is too small. He can use it. -- There are pastors like this working all through the South. This is one I know personally and deeply admire. I urge you to send Fr. Joe whatever you can.
Take care and love, Anne Rice.
ANOTHER ADDRESS TO WHICH HELP CAN BE SENT
Hello guys, and my thanks again for the outpouring of love which has come from all over to embrace the victims of the storm in the south. Here is another address I would like to give you for people I know very well who are taking care of a hundred or more evacuees. I'm sure they can use whatever you can send. I am speaking of the monks of St. Joseph Abby; St. Benedict, Louisiana, 70457. Help can be sent to the attention of Abbot Justin Brown. -- Several years back, when we did one of our largest book signings at St. Elizabeth's Orphanage (a building I owned in New Orleans), two monks from this monastery brought us a harpsichord so that my young friend and brilliant musician Michael Koerber could play for the readers as they waited in line. -- I give you this address in the same spirit that I gave you the address of Fr. Joseph Callipare in Pensacola. These are people who will get whatever you send directly to those in need. --- The New York Times has warned that there are scams on the internet that can mislead people who want to donate. And I know from personal experience that some are reluctant to give to large organizations. And I also know that it sometimes feels very good to experience a direct connection to those who can use help. Thank you for whatever you can do. -- UPDATE ON MISSING RELATIVES: Members of the Murphy clan, whom I mentioned in an early message have been reunited and please see the news on my cousin Manuel Curry of whom I am so proud.
Take care and love.
A THIRD ADDRESS WHERE HELP CAN BE SENT:
As you know, I only give you addresses of which I am one hundred per cent sure. I've recommended you send help to Fr. Joseph Callipare in Pensacola (address is on this site); and I've also recommended help be sent to the Benedictine Monastery in St. Benedict ,Louisiana, an address that is also on this site. -- Now here's another one: Help can get directly to storm victims through Michael Siu/ Orleans Disaster Fund/c/o OFF THE WALL VIDEO/ 3309 West Esplanade/South Metairie, Louisiana, 70002. You can also find a way to donate through Michael at orleansdisaster.org. -- Now let me explain who Michael. Michael is a video and wiring and computer genius whom I've known for about two years. He was in the process of creating the Media Room in the new house I bought in Kenner. It would never have occurred to me to make a media room, but the former owner, a famous football player, had already done the work. I came to know Michael as he perfected the system and helped us learn the house's complex but amazing wiring and lighting arrangements. -- Now just a few days ago Michael emailed me and offered to check on all my properties for me. He and my assistant Sandra went out and visited every storm damaged building I owned and Michael photographed everything. It was thanks to Michael that we discovered Stan's gallery was pretty much in tact with only minor water damage; it was thanks to Michael we discovered that many of the first editions I own of my books, and thousands of other books had not taken water damage; it was thanks to Michael that we got word on other houses as well. Sandra was intrepid in journeying with him. He refused to take any compensation for this. He would not accept anything. Now Michael has always been a perfectly wonderful guy, but I was deeply touched by this. -- Only today did I discover that he had set up orleans/disaster. org to try to raise money for storm victims. I think he is heroic. And I am totally confident that anything you donate to Michael will go to the victims. -- The people of New Orleans have always been a special breed of people; their love for others, their loyalty to others, their compassion, their generosity have always distinguished them; and Michael is an outstanding example of one of many I think who are trying to do something tangible now to help with this disaster. I urge you to send donations to Michael. And don't, please, forget Fr. Joseph Callipare in Pensacola or the Benedictines across the Lake. -- My love to all of you and I will have more news soon.
HELP ST. MARY'S RECOVER FROM HURRICANE KATRINA
St. Mary's Church, the setting for Rowan's wedding in THE WITCHING HOUR and Aunt Queen's funeral in BLOOD CANTICLE, is in need of financial assistance to complete the restoration of the church following Hurricane Katrina. Fr. Greg Schmitt, Pastor of St. Mary's, is in the process of having the roof replaced. There was extensive plaster damage to the walls and ceiling, the interior of the church must be painted, the exterior of the church must be cleaned and sealed. St. Mary's needs a new sound system, the organ needs to be repaired, and some stained glass windows need to be replaced just to name a few things on the long list of repairs.
Click here to see photos of some of the damage and the repairs and restoration underway.
Any donation would be greatly appreciated. Donations can be made payable to St. Mary's Church Restoration Fund, 2030 Constance Street, New Orleans, LA 70130.
OAK ALLEY PLANTATION
December 28th, 2005
Dear Ones -- I'm posting this link to the Oak Alley Plantation site for several reasons. This magnificent plantation was an inspiration to me before I ever wrote any of my published work. When I wrote Feast of All Saints, my second novel, I based Philippe's plantation on Oak Alley. Later in the Witching Hour series, the Talamasca Motherhouse was entirely based on Oak Alley. And this Talamasca Motherhouse figured not only in the three Witching Hour novels but in Blood Canticle as well. Lestat visits the place and has a conversation there with Rowan and Michael, and also with a member of the secret order of the Talamasca. -- When they were filming Interview with the Vampire in Louisiana, I believe they used Oak Alley for Louis' plantation. -- So my creative debt to this outstanding place is here attested. I hope you will be generous with your donations. We can't afford to lose a beautiful place like Oak Alley. There is more I could write on the history of this place, but you can find that history in many ways. Take care and thank you for your concern. All of the South still needs our support and help desperately. Oak Alley is one more vivid example. Anne Rice.
Webmaster's Note: Thanks to Lisa Norton of Tacoma, WA for alerting us to the situation at Oak Alley.
FIRST PERSON ACCOUNTS AND ANNE'S COMMUNICATIONS AFTER THE STORM
Personal testimony from a woman named Angelica, who has survived the devastation.
A young girl describes her New Orleans in this YouTube video.
A first person account of the slow recovery process from Joan Berg.
Teaching a business writing class bought me to New Orleans for the first time a month ago. Although my company's location is across the river in the Petrol-Chemical district, a brief and chance encounter with a fellow traveler a few weeks earlier led me to a wonderful deal at the Hotel Monteleone.
During my drive from the airport to the French Quarter I was encouraged by the progress and recovery I saw from the interstate. That evening when a local colleague offered me a tour of the damaged area in Lakeview, I was eager to accept. That tour has had a profound impact on my life.
We drove for over an hour, saw no one, no lights, no leaves on trees, and not just the ones still laying in peoples houses. I had to keep telling myself, this happened months ago, not last week and I am in the U.S. not Bosnia. Where were all the people who lived in these once very nice homes? Have they been back? Will they ever come back? I still cannot even put into words my horror at seeing all of this?
Anne, I watch the news daily, read newspapers everyday, subscribe and read cover to cover Newsweek Magazine, I had an idea that the recovery was not going well, but I didn't know it wasn't going at all. The people of this country need to know, they need to see this, IT'S NOT BEING TALKED ABOUT ENOUGH! President Bush told everyone on National TV that there would be help for these people and this city. I, and everyone in this country pays taxes, in part, so that people in situations such as these get help.
Please do what you can to enlighten our fellow Americans, it's not that they don't care, they don't know, they would never imagine!
A letter from a fan:
I have been a fan for many years, and have e-mailed you several times in the past few years, most recently about Hurricane Katrina. I hope that all is well with you and your family. My mother drowned in a friend's apartment in Waveland, MS, where she evacuated to in order to feel safe with a friend. They both perished in the storm surge. My brothers, who stayed at the house, were forced to leave when the water came up so high, and in the time it took them to swim 1/2 mile to Hwy 90, they were swimming over the power lines. I think we are all suffering from post-traumatic stress. But it's getting better; still, the other day I watched a rerun of Martha Stewart's show where Mike Cuevas, the mayor of Bay St Louis, was a guest because Martha's hometown of Nutley,NJ, has adopted Bay St Luis in rescue efforts, and broke down in tears. I was in Hancock County the week of November 15 for my mother's memorial service. I took a ride along the beach from St Stanislaus to Laskeshore Road, and was heartbroken at the devastation. I saw the same sightÊeveryone elseÊsaw when we drove back on I-10 to New Orleans Int'l Airport, and it was just surreal: the view of New Orleans East, where we always saw lights from Bullard and Read Road at night, and bustling business by day, was like a battlefield where all had perished.
I have relocated to Asheville, NC now, and hope to get my sister and other family members to join me, but I still yearn for N'awlins... I couldn't resist the siren song of Cafe Du Monde and beignets and cafe au lait when I was leaving to go back after the service in Bay St Louis, and I hope to one day go back and have a sloppy roast beef poboy at Parasol's, just like I did when I lived at 818 Third St as a child attending Live Oak School. It may never happen... but I hope that the opportunity does still exist, even if I can't be there. And I hope all the wounds that you and yours have felt are healing, too.
November 27th, 2005
Dear Ones, I must share with you this heartbreaking description of what has happened and is happening in New Orleans. Please open your hearts as you read this report from an eye witness to the devastation. Love, Anne.
Finally, in late October, after nearly two anxious months sequestered amongst family and friends in the Northeast, we decided to drive down to New Orleans to reconnoiter the situation before fully moving back. My first slim, hopeful sight of the city, still insouciantly poised across Lake Ponchartrain, crashed when I saw, first, the swathes of brown and dying flora rimming the lake, where a bruised ecology had been gently reemerging; and second, the stunning necropolis of St. Bernard and New Orleans East as we passed these neighborhoods on the highway.
We were the only car entering the city. Along St. Charles Ave., debris crackled beneath our tires: we felt as though we were driving over bones. The hurricane damage around us made no sense. Beside a double galleried Greek Revival, completely intact, lay its tumbled neighbor, fascia boards sticking up like elbows and knees. The top floor of a local antiques dealer looked wrecking ball smashed, yet the flower pots in a small public garden across the street sat unperturbed. On Prytania, the second floor bedroom of an old Victorian stood completely exposed with delicate, white, millwork still arching along red walls, a tall armoire closed stiff and proud as a butler, an untouched crystal chandelier turning over a bed covered entirely in black mold. In the sky sat a putty colored haze from the parts of the city that were still burning.
But it was the flooded parts of the city that shocked us senseless. In Lakeview the water mark was well above 10 feet and everything was dead: tended lawns were now neat, dry tracts golden brown in death, as were the bushes and the trees, even the palm trees. Closest to the levee break, structures were actually pushed by the force of the flood and all the detritus one can imagine sat colossally entwined. The silence was awful. No birds, no squirrels, only flies. It smelled like a slaughterhouse and the particulate air clung to the skin, stinging slightly, bitter and acidic upon the lips. Everything was evenly covered in dried, ochre mud, frozen in the moment.
The absolute hardest thing to bear were the dogs. There were dogs seemingly everywhere, some in packs, some alone, wandering listlessly, snuffling through debris, lapping at puddles. They were maddened and unapproachable, yet even as they lowered their heads and snarled us away, in their eyes was a yearning, a yearning to go back and undo the trauma, to be as we all had been before
Driving back north, we saw dozens of virgin FEMA trailers around Pearl River, Mississippi, stout, compact, and white; they put me in mind of the cemeteries we have in New Orleans, of our tombs. I didn‚t expect to see those same trailers still sitting there a few weeks later on our drive back to New Orleans, but there they were. Rows of fresh, ready trailers, unused.
After seeing New Orleans, we were anxious and ready to report to anyone we met, with word and image, the horrible circumstance of the city and our outrage over the feeble response by FEMA, and of the Red Cross, whose presence we did not even see in New Orleans at all.
Except no one cared. No one. People we spoke with treated the demise of New Orleans in the same abstract way they reacted to AIDS in Africa, tsunamis in Indonesia, monsoons in India. I thought at first it was simply a failure of imagination, so I held up my thumb and penned a crescent near the very top. „This,‰ I said, holding out my thumb, „is New Orleans, and this,„ pointing to the white sliver above the pen mark, „is all that is left of New Orleans.‰ Still, it did not matter to them. There was an inscrutable tension whenever I brought up New Orleans. Every offer of sympathy was paired with some kind of accusation: the illogic of the city‚s geography; the sinful nature of the place; anger that New Orleans would be rebuilt with taxpayer money in the same vulnerable location. Rebuild New Orleans somewhere else, they argued, far away from hurricane threat. But New Orleans, like any other great American city, is not the kind of place you can pick up and rebuild just anywhere. Beyond the historic homes and unique culture (these reasons alone worth salvaging the city) there is an ineffable spirituality to the place. It touches everyone who resides here. It is created by the confluence of place and history and the hard march of so many souls bearing difficult lives through time. Tragedy and suffering are great unifiers and New Orleans is proof of this. I have been all over the nation and I have never witnessed such genuine love amongst a single citizenry as I have living here in New Orleans. It is something that canŒt be manufactured somewhere else.
It is now December and we are still just straggling along. More people contributed to the relief effort for Katrina than ever before and yet New Orleanians are still without relief. There is not enough housing in the city to bring residents home, residents who are, in the most pragmatic sense, our vital workforce. Without them our hospitals are closing, our essential services--sanitation, electric, water--are slow in recovering. Emergency responders, some whose own homes had been destroyed by flood or fire, are living in dry municipal buildings, most without amenities, some without earned pay, many without their families near. No one seems capable of solving the conundrum of rebuilding adequate temporary housing at a commutable distance that can house both residents in recovery and recovery workers. When queried about the possibility of creating viable flood protection for the city, senior officials in the Army Corps of Engineers shrugged, and this on national television no less.
There is a terrific despair in the city now. Even the most beautiful parts of the city look neglected; the garbage piling up alone is alarming. There is a sense that our leadership is fatigued, our citizens too traumatized to make critical decisions about their own futures. If ever there were a time when we needed some kind of Congressional intervention, this is it. We need money to maintain the city at a minimal level while we begin the huge task of engineering new levees and rethinking the infrastructure of the city. We need the kind of federal grants and privatization that will attract the best and the brightest minds to our city, as well as some kind of experienced leadership to help direct our recovery. And we need the outrage of America to accomplish this, by petition, or protest, or vote.
From my opened window I once listened for the sound of boats moaning their way up the Mississippi and for the cry of the train and the hush and rattle of the trolley. There was the bergamot scent of old brick and stone mingled with sweet olive and night blooming jasmine and rose. Footsteps echoed and lone walkers hummed, because everyone in New Orleans had some kind of music in his memory. This was the richness of my life from only my bedroom window. Now the trolley is gone and the boats are few and lone walkers even fewer. I want them back. I want my city back.
October 28th, 2005
AND NEW ORLEANS MARCHES ON
The news coming out of my native city, from friends and relatives who have suffered so much in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Rita, is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring.
People record rebuilding their houses in the most wretched conditions, but almost everyone I know wants to carry on. I'm told that very few people have received checks from their insurance companies, even though it is now months since the storm hit. Very few people have received any money from FEMA. And even those who had insurance for business interruption, which they've suffered from the first day of Katrina, have not been paid.
I hear talk of a plague of flies and mosquitoes that defies belief; of shortages in supplies and workmen; of young men making fabulous money hauling trash, and indeed of piles of trash still lying everywhere as people desperately go about their business, banking on their hopes and dreams. It frightens me that so many have been paid nothing though they paid insurance premiums faithfully for the coverage they believed they had. It frightens me that New Orleans is no longer in the news, though people are experiencing deprivation and misery as they remain loyal to the place they call home. I ask you to pray for the people of the South who are enduring so much to reconstruct what they've lost. I ask you to remember that they still need massive assistance and they will need it for some time. More than anything they need insurance companies and appropriate government agencies to work with them in good faith.
I do hear some good stories, of sensitive claims adjusters, of payments made. But right now, it sounds grim in New Orleans; it sounds like the aftermath of a war. My heart goes out to all of you who are experiencing this, and it goes out to all of you, from all over the world, who have helped. We must all continue to help. Take care and love, Anne Rice.
October 6, 2005
PROFOUND THANKS TO PRESIDENT CLINTON FOR HIS WORK IN THE SOUTH
It fills me with relief and hope to see President Clinton working so hard with the survivors of the storm. This man emanates compassion and understanding. Let me express my dream here that he will remain actively involved in helping the gulf coast come back. He is a brilliant and insightful man, full of love for his fellow Americans, and his words are a constant inspiration. Thank you, President Clinton. Please, please stay with the South and help it rebuild.
With love, Anne Rice.
October 6, 2005
NEW ORLEANS STILL NEEDS HELP AND SO DO OTHERS
Hello Everyone --- Reports coming to me out of New Orleans indicate that the obstacles people are facing in rebuilding are dire, to say the least. -- Supplies are short. Workers can't be found, and sometimes those brought in from other areas face shortages in housing. Where are they going to live and sleep? -- Aid is slow in coming from insurance companies. -- People who have returned are facing extreme sacrifice. -- I hope and pray that the news media continue to focus on the realities of what is going on. -- Some of the attitudes I see on television are frightening. -- Let me put this question to the media and to the people who seem reluctant to get help to those trying to rebuild. -- After the San Francisco and Los Angeles earthquakes of recent years, did anyone seriously suggest that these cities not rebuild because they were built near or on faultlines? If not, why are many suggesting New Orleans not rebuild its stricken areas? -- And let me add here that the media is full of heroes and saints. Aaron Brown, Anderson Cooper, Paula Zahn, Larry King -- these are champions of insisting that the hardship and suffering be filmed and talked about and faced. -- Perhaps they can investigate how attitudes towards the gulf south compare with attitudes towards the west coast following disasters. -- I receive more and more reports of building struggling to re-establish life in New Orleans, and more and more reports of how difficult it is for them to argue with insurance adjusters and with Fema about what they so desperately need. --- I hope you will keep us all in your hearts and prayers, and keep us in the minds of our public officials. -- New Orleans people are like the people of Manhattan in that they can't conceive, many of them, of living anyplace else, and they want to do the job themselves of restoring their houses, their neighborhood, their city. But they can not do it if they can not get sheetrock and other goods, if they can not find vehicles in which to move away and bring in, if they do not have basic services like police and firefighters. -- When you see the harried and frantic and exhausted people of New Orleans and all the gulf cities, please keep in mind the stress these people have endured and continue to endure. Keep in mind the reports of the stench of the flooded areas, the dead bodies yet uncollected; and that these people are Americans, too, whether or not they have accents, whether or not their English is perfect, whether they are black or white. Their fathers fought in WWII, their children want to return to school and to college, many of them have fought in our more recents wars, and when they bought insurance, they really thought they were "insured," and when they paid their taxes, they thought the government could help them in times of disaster. -- I ask you too to keep in mind that the gulf coast is a working coast, producing oil and refining it, bringing in sea food for vast areas, and deeply involved in the economic life of this country. -- Thanks again for the outpouring of love and support. In the hundreds of emails I've received, only a very few have been negative. -- But as I see the debate about helping the south go on in the public square, I can't help but fear at times that we are up against an anti-south prejudice that is as old as our country. Please, I beg you, treat the south as you would any other stricken area -- with kindness, and concern, and trust. --- New Orleans will rise from this. New building codes will make for stronger, higher houses. -- The rebuilding provides an opportunity to create systems for power and powerlines which are resistant to wind and weather of all kinds. We have the technology for this, and I know we can do it. --- For the inventive people in construction, in energy management, in the technology of communications, this is a creative and challenging and fruitful time. -- But we must be swift with immediate aid. We must get people the hammers and the nails, and the workers who can do the jobs that need to be done, and if we don't, how will they accomplish it? -- In days to come I hope to post solid individual stories documenting these various issues. For now let me say, they need us down there. We need us down there! From Texas to Florida, people are desperate for a roof over their heads; people want to patch, saw, hammer, secure, and paint; they want to haul off the ruined appliances littering the streets. They want to remove the fallen trees. They want to remake their world. Their ingenuity, their endurance and their capacity for hope are as great as that of all Americans. These people want what all people want: they want their home again.
-- Love and thanks, Anne Rice.
QUESTIONS: WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE THEY?
Do any of you know anything about Fr. Dean and Fr. Curtis of Nativity of Our Lord parish in Kenner? Do you know if they are okay, if the church is okay, if they are evacuated, if they are there? Please let me know by email at email@example.com. We can not get through the 504 area code. --- Does anyone know about Randy and Pat? Are they okay? -- Does anyone have knews on St. Mary's Assumption Church and St. Alphonsus Church in the Irish Channel? These are the churches described in my novels, particularly in The Witching Hour; and I was married in St. Mary's to Stan when I went back to the church. Does anyone know if the fathers and the church and the nuns and the school are okay? My cousin Fr. Gerry LaPorte is one of the priests; also Fr. Byron Miller who runs the Seelos Center was there; and I think Sr. Monica and Sr. Jane were running the school. I'm not sure who else was in residence. News is more than welcome! -- During Hurricane Betsy, the roof of St. Mary's was badly damaged and the church was saved by later reconstruction efforts. I'm very worried about both churches due to their antiquity and their irreplacable art work, and of course I'm terribly worried about my former pastor and my priests there, and the sisters, and the children who went to school, as I did on the corner of Constance and St. Andrew. -- Anyone have word of Sharon and Sue M. please let us know. -- Anyone having word of my neighbors in the new community in Kenner please do send me word. -- What about Michael Koerber, the brilliant musician who played at so many signings in New Orleans? He learned music just for me -- the Chopin Ballade he played at St. Elizabeth's at one of the signings, and the Appasionata by Beethoven. Where is Michael and his mother and father and sister? -- Anxiously, we are praying for word. -- And lastly what about the Sister who was singing at Nativity of Our Lord? I have no word on her. I know that Gerald Stroup our tenor is all right. But I haven't heard about "the little nun," as the elderly ladies, all my friends whom I adore and worry about, used to call her. Thank you so much for any help you can provide. Now please go to the next message for another address where help can be directly sent. Love, Anne.
PRESENT UPDATE ON FAMILY AND STAFF
Dear Ones, because some of you have written to me to ask about various members of the staff, and some of you have written to me to answer my questions about missing people, here is what I know. Forgive me for not putting this in any kind of reasonable order. I'm using first names to protect the privacy of people, but for those of you who are concerned about family and staff, I think the identity will be clear. -- 1) Karen, our beloved receptionist of many years (and inspiration for the character of Jasmine in Blackwood Farm) is safe with her daughter in Houston. 2) Verona and her family, including her mother and stepfather are all safe. 3) My cousins, Sally, Gertrude, Trudy and their other family members evacuated in time and are safe. 4)Sharlene, our long time caregiver who was so close to my stepmother is safe with her family as well. 5)Our head of security, Joe, is safe. He weathered the storm and evacuated afterwards. 6) Sue Quiroz, beloved assistant, founder of the old Vampire Lestat fan club, is safe, but her house was very hard hit. And I don't know if there will be a vampire ball this year. Probably not. 7)Judy, John and Gary and their families are all safe, but some lost everything; 8) Lois and Randy and others are safe. 9) My beloved assistant and "brother," Ross, is still with his family in Florida to which they evacuated early. 10) Fr. Dennis Hayes, my spiritual director, and mentor, and good friend, is safe; however I heard he was trapped on the roof of his church for two days with his dog before he was rescued. 11) The people of Garden District Bookstore are all safe and their families are safe. I don't think they are back in town yet. But they are okay. 12) Sandra and her family are safe and rebuilding valiantly. 13)People some of you might know from the past -- Sue T, and Scott -- are here with me in California. AND LASTLY: MY BELOVED JEROME ROCHE is safe! He is in Texas with members of his family. He was evacuated out of New Orleans, and the people who are helping evacuees there contacted me through my email address and told me Jerome was safe! I tell you the bells rang in every steeple of my imagination the day we got this news! We have been in phone contact with people where he is. Some day when there is time I want to tell you a funny story about Jerome. There are so many. Let me only say now what I've said before: readers all over the country know Jerome. When readers would come to New Orleans and visit the house on First and Chestnut (The Witching Hour House), they sometimes met Jerome at the gate. And often they would take pictures of Jerome and have pictures taken of themselves with him. It wasn't uncommon for me to be signing books somewhere in the north when some one would say: "How's Jerome? And here, look at this picture of us with Jerome." In fact the best picture we ever had of Jerome was one sent in by a reader, which caught his casual manner, his smile and his charm perfectly. Jerome took care of our property with unfailing loyalty. He was the only one ever allowed in my husband's studio (where Stan wrote and painted.) He went in early each day and cleaned before Stan was awake. And often he found gifts for Stan. He knew Stan loved "found objects," or "found art." And when Jerome spotted something of interest and beauty, he brought it to Stan, and more often than not, Stan cherished these objects. --- Please go to the next two messages for questions about those I haven't heard about or from; and for a new address to send help.
Love to all of you, Anne.
Hello guys, I don't think I have to tell you that I didn't plan to be absent from this site for so long. -- Hurricane Rita took us all by surprise, and the news has been coming in so fast and so furious that it is difficult for me to collect my thoughts. -- As you probably have seen on the news, areas of New Orleans, already devastated by Katrina, have now again been flooded. Yet people are going home. From everywhere they are going home. -- And my heart goes out tonight to all those in Texas who were affected by this storm, as well as the folks in southern Louisiana, and all those uprooted and driven to evacuate from all the cities and towns in the path of the hurricane's fury. As far away as Navarre Beach, the second storm did damage. And we don't know the full story yet of what it has done to those on the lower coast. -- Let me assure you again, emails are coming in from all over the world from people expressing their love for America, their love for New Orleans and their sympathy for us in a time of tragedy. -- So many are giving so much. -- I saw Wynton Marsales on TV talking about his efforts to raise money for New Orleans musicians and he was so articulate and so brilliant and so calm, that it was inspiring. -- Also, Sean Penn's heroic efforts to get right into the polluted water and to rescue people helped immensely to draw the attention of the world to the extent of the devastation wrought by the storm. -- I know that Pastor Rick Warren has been to New Orleans. I know that Rev. Franklin Graham is working hard to help people in Mississippi, and I hear great reports of the work of Catholic Charities. -- I am humbled by the courage of those closest to me who have lost their houses and everything they possess including keepsakes, photographs, letters, family heirlooms. It is heartbreaking to hear them cry and inspiring to hear their determination to go on. --- Please see the following reports for more news: Love to all of you, and thank you with all my heart for your generosity and your compassion and your loving attention to the evacuees.
A VIVID DESCRIPTION OF THE STORM FROM BROTHER BEDE ROSELLI, O.S.B.
Let me share with you the following from Brother Bede:
"What happened to me during Katrina
We had just read Virginia Woolf’s The Mark on the Wall before the storm came. We were in a circle sharing thoughts and ideas about possessions and the seeming impermanence of things. It was the end of the week and I had a pile of readings to get through before weekend’s end. School had just begun on Monday at Southeastern Louisiana University and I just started a Graduate degree program in English Literature. I had paid my tuition and fees and had procured a graduate study carrel from the library so I could stash my research materials in one locked place. I had figured out the best commuter route from the house to school and I was even beginning to feel normal in my new routine even though I was a little anxious and nervous at the prospect of my next new adventure; I am planning on getting a degree in English so I can teach at our local seminary college which is run by the Benedictine religious community that I belong to as a professed monastic. We live near Covington, north of Lake Pontchatrain, the behemoth lake that separates us from the fish bowl called New Orleans and the mighty Mississip’. We call our little municipality Saint Benedict. Area code 70457. We have a little post office stuck into an extremity of the Abbey. A romanesque Church and bauhaus looking college are architectural highlights here. Loblolly pines (a few Longleaf) characterize the area flora along with strawberries and bedroom community traffic. Many people who live in the towns and cities that sprinkle Saint Tammany parish work in New Orleans. Slidell. Covington. Mandeville. Madisonville. Folsom. Abita Springs. Reminiscence of convalescence from tuberculosis and insanity populate the urban legend of the area. The northshore was at first home to the mad and the sick. Mandeville is a sanatorium founded by Bernard de Marigny who invented craps and Abita Springs is regionally famous for its beer and spring water, apparently easing body and mind for a century or more in what used to be called the ozone of New Orleans.
On Friday, August 26, I heard murmuring at the coffee bar about a storm system in the Gulf of Mexico. I kept the news in the back of my head but it didn’t strike me at first as something to be afraid of. Living in New Orleans, you always have the fear that a big storm will hit and there always seems to be some sporadic storm system in the gulf, especially during August and September. We’ve escaped many hurricanes here. New Orleans had barely escaped hurricane Ivan, last year and the four most dangerous, recent storms that wracked the Gulf coast hit other states. So, I wasn’t that eager to evacuate. I didn’t want to come back to yet another near miss. Coming back to averted disaster creates anxiety and stress and an unwillingness to evacuate again in the future. Not that we want disaster to strike this city but the financial hardships that the tourist and oil industry endure every time the city evacuates disturbs our already weak economy. The rich and the middle class can get out of the city (but even they are inconvenienced by gas prices and hotel bills) when warning of a hurricane is issued, the poor and disenfranchised are stranded. I know a person who lives on the corner of Bourbon and Esplanade and he doesn’t have a car nor a way out. It seems now, in retrospect, that not having a car in this city is tantamount to exile (the street car or the bus will not be much help). In New Orleans, buses cart the poor to work and cars bring the bourgeoisie back to the suburbs. Public transportation to the north of the city begins to break down until there is nothing except stretch of road without a bus stop. When Katrina came ashore New Orleans was Naxos with thousands of Ariadnes.
Fifty hours before Katrina hit, contraflow began in Southeastern Louisiana and everyone with a car fled and everyone without stayed. Contra flow is extremely organized, one of the most organized things we have in this state. Street lights are turned off, so people don’t stop. Once you get into the flow on the interstate, its like the Pacific current; there’s no turning back. The expressways become one way arteries out of the hub. I have family in Orleans, St. Charles and Jefferson Parishes. Everybody got out. Mom and my Great Aunt came to stay with me. My cousin Linda and her children went to Houston. One of the last people I spoke to on the phone before Katrina knocked out power was her eleven year old son, who is like a brother to me. He said he was afraid that there would be nothing left of his house when he got home. I asked him what valuables did he bring with him. He said he had brought some photographs. I told him that I loved him and for him not to worry about us. I would see him and other family members when the storm blew over. I wasn’t able to get in touch with my dad but I knew he probably fled like everyone else. His house is right next to the 17th street canal which now has a hole in it the size of an eighteen wheeler.
I spoke to my friend Frida on her cell phone hours before we lost connection. She works in the Garden District, a posh, live oak lined neighborhood near the zoo. When I mentioned that there might be nothing to come home to, she dismissed it and said we can’t think like that right now; if it happens it happens. At that point, I was afraid for the city because I didn’t know what would happen. One guy here went to fetch is father from the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, but his dad insisted that he stay, to take care of the dogs. Still, at this writing, we don’t know where his dad is; the last we heard was that his roof was gone and Saint Claude avenue was under twelve feet of water. As the storm crept inland doors were pressured off their hinges. Water pumps failed. Cell towers down. The Hyatt Hotel in the Central Business District looked like Beirut, according to one news anchor. The Super Dome suffered massive holes and its outer skin was peeled off. It looked like someone had peeled it back to reveal a rusty navel orange. At least two breakages in the levee system caused rising water near Canal street, inching toward the French Quarter, which has managed to stay dry, for now. It seems like most of the city is under water and massive relief efforts are underway to rescue people stranded on top of the expressways. I just saw a C-130 carrier plane rumble overhead this morning. They are carting people to the Astro Dome in Houston and there is talk that people will have to board naval carriers to get out of here. Last I heard there were still 30,000 people in need of evacuation. People still on houses. People unattended to even in shelters. On the news, a little girl was crying, “Somebody help us!” A mother was pouring lukewarm water on her son’s back. A husband lost his wife; she couldn’t hold his hand, the flow of the water was too much; the storm had washed her away.
Humanity is supposed to come alive when a storm hits. Even though now, Red Cross shelters and FEMA are distributing food, providing shelter, and caring for the sick and wounded, they came too late. The National Guard, the 82nd Air Borne Division, even ATF agents, are coming in to give relief, four days after the storm. Because so many people were left behind after the storm, relief shelters couldn’t provide for their needs, so people died, babies, the elderly and mental health patients. Dead bodies have been found, slumped in their wheel chairs in the Convention Center. The good news is that even though the Federal Government was slow in responding, most of the humanitarian relief has been by neighbors helping neighbors. My mother has been volunteering at the local high school which has become a local shelter. There was a story about a woman who had a baby by Caesarian section and was trying to get to Baton Rouge for care. She was in front of the Convention Center in New Orleans waiting for a bus to bring her and her baby to a hospital. Looters and thugs were firing gun shots, forcing the woman to start walking. She walked across the Crescent City Connection over the Mississippi river to a car and apparently drove to Baton Rouge. The doctor who received her at Woman’s Hospital, a refugee himself, who was just credentialed to help out, was emotional when he retold the story. Here at my house, stray folks are asking for water and food. Even showers. One family up the road who come to mass here lost their entire house and need a place to take a shower. We have people living in the library, the gym and offices scattered across campus.
I guess there is a secret desire in every one of us to weather the big storm, to see as King Lear sees: the cracked skies and the spit fire of physical evil. But this storm was different. A storm like a category five hurricane has the tendency to shake people to their basic core; either they come alive or curl into the fetal position; a storm like this one should be reassurance that we’re not dead yet! I’ve read articles about hurricane psychology and seen it in action in people, including myself. When Katrina hit, I was on the second floor of our building, watching pine tree after pine tree snap in two, sometimes like a broken toothpick and other times, trees were uprooted and splayed across our walkways, their roots gnarled and exposed to the air. I went crazy. Live Oaks kept their trunks intact but Water Oaks and Cypresses on our property were tossed like a baby’s toy. When you hear a tree, especially trees you’re familiar with, that you walk by every day, that you come to know and love, snap in two, it is a horrible noise, a sound like a crushed spine. I watched most of the storm from the second floor balcony. As the storm barreled its way northward something inside of me, restless and unassuaged, was desperate for air. I needed to release pent up tension. So we went to the first floor to the outside walkways to see the storm at Katrina’s level, to feel the wind and rain. I was soaked and mad. We hooted and hollered at the storm. I flung out Shakespeare: crack you thunderbolts! I’m skinny, so I was afraid that the wind would take me so I hid behind Danny who is a bit heavier than I am. He didn’t appreciate it too much. The wind never picked any of us up but I have a vivid image of the Tulip Poplar crashing to its end. I was mad at God when the Tulip Poplar broke, symbolic of so much further, deeper anger. Something snaps inside of you when a big storm comes. I didn’t feel guilty that I was angry at mother nature; I guess can project all of my frustrations and anxiety on her.
Storms do different things to different people. Some people hunkered in their rooms and didn’t come out. Others couldn’t keep still. Like me. I was raging Shakespeare to the nymphs and dryads while the guy next to me was contemplating running through the yard to the bridge, oblivious to the fact that the wind gusts could actually pick him up and toss him to his death. One guy was already out in the storm, in the middle of the gusts, picking up window frames that had flown off. Even in the midst of the insanity, I knew I was insane, but I couldn’t stop. I had to feel the storm inside of me, the rush of it through my body like blood flow. Only then could I know for sure that it had passed. As trees fell one after another I felt sad and disoriented, as if the trees themselves were us, were me, were those that I love.
When the roof of our dining room experienced a major leak, ten or more guys got the nerve to actually fix the leak in order to save the murals that had been done to decorate our eating area. But, I think some of the cellotex panels were damaged and I came to the realization that not even art is permanent, demoralizing, but true. Watching gobs of water spray into our beautifully done murals made me realize how bad it really was.
Not that we should be surprised. Climatologists and disaster experts have been doing worst case scenarios for years. In 2001 there was a spread in Scientific American about “Drowning New Orleans”. There are four major factors at play here, that isolated don’t do much, but collectively bode badly for our area. The first thing is New Orleans is below sea level. When you look down onto the French Quarter from the levee you look down into Jackson Square. Ships on the river seem to be above the Cathedral steeples. The levee system is ancient. Humans have been warding off the Mississippi river for over a hundred years. It is like a one hundred year old house that has been given periodic attention but is still old and cannot sustain the wear and tear any longer. The Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of the levee system, a network of man made hills that keep the river from cresting into the city. New Orleans is like a bowl, sitting in a tub of water; you tip it a little, either way, and water starts pouring in. The third thing is that the Gulf waters have risen on account of global warming. And our wetlands have disappeared dramatically. When hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans our natural defenses were better equipped to fend off the storm. Now with long droughts that have plagued the region the past few years, New Orleans sits on a dry bed of soil. The spongy swamps won’t protect us like they used to do.
And they didn’t. Katrina hit us in the gut, worse than Betsy and Camille in the 60’s. At first, weather reports were saying that it was good that the storm was moving westerly, supposedly saving us from an even more disastrous hit, but it seems now, judging from the destruction, that it didn’t matter. When the storm died down and we only had tropical force winds blowing, we celebrated the Eucharist in an open room. I was soaked, oddly sad and disappointed that the worst of it was over. There was something about the insanity and chaos of the storm that I loved and also hated. Receiving communion while the winds still blew, I felt my first twinge of sadness and first real conjecture of what this storm did to our way of life. It would take us days to finally realize that this wasn’t just a normal gulf hurricane. I knew it was bad, when later, while watching the news, someone commented, “oh! they only have two feet of water.” and someone else said, “they’re only walking waist deep through the water!”
I knew New Orleans would never be the same again, maybe parts of the city uninhabitable for years; the body count will be in the ten thousand range and it will be difficult to identify all the corpses; missing person reports will go on for years and displaced persons will have to find homes and jobs elsewhere. Entire bridge networks have been washed away and people in cars stuck underneath train trestles and on the roofs of houses. Streets are only navigable in some areas by flat bottom boats where only last week cars were driving down them. I can remember in grammar school, watching historical footage from hurricane Camille’s aftermath, a storm that devastated Pass Christianne, Mississippi. A woman was with police officials and family, looking for her home that existed in a “bombed out” area where apparently everything was lost. But they found her house unscathed and i remember she was ecstatic jumping up and down in disbelief, unable to reconcile her fears with what had actually happened.
I hope stories like hers will be repeated today. New Orleans will be rebuilt, even if the politics is against it. For one: New Orleans represents a cultural heritage that fuels the national psyche. It is also home to millions of people. Louisiana is a model for other cities in the world that are suffering from costal erosion. Louisiana produces one third of the nation’s seafood and one fifth of its oil and one quarter of its natural gas. From New Orleans to Baton Rouge on the Mississippi constitute the United States’ largest port. We have 40 percent of the nation’s wetlands along our coasts and they provide wintering grounds for 70 percent of its migratory waterfowl. I got this information from the Scientific American article that I had read four years ago. If anyone says New Orleans is not worth saving, then I say they really don’t know what they’ll be missing.
I find myself saying little prayers to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the patron of our state. Not that I have a particular devotion, but at times it is the only thing that I can utter in prayer. Slowly but surely it is dawning on me, my family, and my brothers whom I live with, the vastness of the destruction and the affect this disaster will have on our lives. I can only begin know to painfully put all of the pieces together. My friend Bonnie was Hardy’s reddleman today (from Return of the Native), picking up sticks alongside our buildings, she represented apocalypse at bay, keeping the time with each dropped pine, a silence and calm. I am reminded of life and a quote from Woolf: the perpetual waste and repair; all so casual, all so haphazard."
Posted with Permission and Gratitude.
HURRICANE UPDATE! THANK HEAVEN FOR GOOD NEWS.
A ray of sunshine just broke through the gloom here. While watching CNN tonight (Aaron Brown), I saw my beloved cousin, Manuel Curry, alive and well in New Orleans, hanging in there with other policemen from the 6th District of New Orleans at the local Wal Mart. I can't tell you how fabulous this was. There was Manuel, eighty years old, one of the highest decorated policemen in the country, remaining with his fellow policemen as he has all through the horror of Hurricane Katrina. -- There was Manuel, safe and sound. I don't think the report touched on Manuel's military service. Manuel hit the beach in Normandy in the second wave. This cousin is a vibrant part of a huge and loving family, members of which are now scattered all over the Southland. -- When I returned to the Catholic Church, and married my husband of 38 years in the Irish Channel parish church of St. Mary's, only a small group of family attended (it was rather sudden and I made a few calls) and Manuel was there! And now apparently Manuel is sleeping in a huge stretch limousine near the Wal Mart, and apparently there is some mystery, if I understood CNN correctly, as to who is providing the car! Whoever it is, I love you! I completely love you. And love to you, Manuel, from everybody who ever lived in the Sixth District. And love to you, CNN -- Anderson Cooper and Aaron Brown and all of you guys who have reported this catastrophe so diligently and so bravely and so well. Anne Rice.
FAMILY MEMBERS WHO ARE SEPARATED: IMMEDIATE ALERT
DEAREST COUSINS -- IN THE RICE FAMILY, THE OBRIEN FAMILY, THE MURPHY FAMILY AND ALL OTHER RELATED FAMILIES -- If any of you who are presently evacuated from New Orleans and separated from loved ones, please, if you can get to a computer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put your full family names in the subject line. Tell me where you are located -- HOTEL WHERE YOU ARE; PHONE NUMBER WHERE YOU ARE -- OR how other family members can reach you. I will do my best to connect as many of you as I possibly can. Right now, several groups of cousins are separated from others in the Baton Rouge area, and I know similar situations probably exist throughout the South. Email me and I will get back to you as soon as possible with any information about the others. THIS SITUATION IS CRITICAL. I ASK ALL OF YOU WHO KNOW MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY -- IF YOU SEE THIS MESSAGE ON MY WEBSITE -- PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD. Many of us have been keeping track of each other by email since the "504" area code went out. -- I am also deeply concerned about some members of our staff and friends with whom we've had no contact as well. We are looking for Jerome Roche, our beloved Chief of Maintenance, and have had no word of him since Hurricane Ketrina descended on New Orleans. Pass the word. AGAIN: Use the subject line as explicitly as you can, as I am receiving emails from all over the world from wonderful people who are worried about us during this time of crisis. Thank you. and Love to Everyone. My heart goes out to all of you.
--ANNE RICE. (email@example.com).
THANK YOU WITH ALL MY HEART TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE WRITTEN WITH CONCERN
By now the entire world knows of the tragedy that has befallen New Orleans, and the scope of the suffering and the loss is too great for me to attempt to describe. -- I want to assure those of you who have written to me and to the website that I and my sisters and my son, Christopher, and my sisters in law, brother in law, and mother in law are all safe. They and many other family members were able to get out of New Orleans well before the storm; and some of us had already re-located. I myself have been in the San Diego area since March, and have watched this nightmare descend on New Orleans with absolute horror. At this time, I have no news of the house on First and Chestnut, which so many of you know from The Witching Hour and the Vampire Chronicles. I have heard that the Garden District was not flooded, however. And the latest news coming out of New Orleans indicates that help is pouring in from all over the world. Here in California, I and my staff, have spent many many uneasy if not miserable days and nights worried about the survivial of those closest to us. Fortunately, many were able to take their laptops with them out of New Orleans and emails have been flying back and forth since the beginning. Again, I want to thank all of you who have written to inquire as to how we are. We are, for the most part, safe, and dry. We can not measure the extent of our loss. Buildings I own, memorabilia, personal papers, books, first editions of the novels -- all of this may well have been lost in the flooding that followed the hurricane. I simply do not know. But to know that those closest to me are safe has been a precious gift of Providence. -- To those of you who want to donate, THIS IS MY MESSAGE ON DONATION LOUD AND CLEAR. Call your local priest, rabbi, or minister. Ask that person how you can get money or material help to the thousands of displaced persons who are enduring extreme hardship as the result of the storm. There are houses of worship throughout the southern states that are cooperating to get clothings, school supplies, and other goods to those who had to leave behind everything they possessed. I feel strongly that this is the best and surest way to help these people right now. Get on the phone. Connect with the minister, rabbi, or priest whom you trust. If you run up against a blank wall in one church or one parish, seek another until some one gives you a firm connection for what you have to donate. -- I will have more to say about my beloved city and what it is experiencing when I can. Again, my loving thanks to you all for your prayers and your concern.
-- Anne Rice, La Jolla, California, September 8th, 2005.
Since Hurricane Katrina swept through the south destroying not only New Orleans but so many coastal towns, I have been in a state of panic and fear for my native city and for all those I love. I have received many many requests from the press all over the world to respond to the catatrosphe with some statment about New Orleans and what the city means, and what people are experiencing there. My first effort was to write an "op ed" piece for the New York Times, at their invitation, and I am humble and grateful that this was published. Since then I have tried to respond to other media requests, but health reasons, and the extreme anxiety I'm suffering, have prevented me from doing as much as I want to do. Believe me, my heart and soul are in New Orleans; New Orleans has shaped everything that I am. Not only was I born there, my career took its most profound nourishment from there -- and I can not even imagine who or what I would be without my love of New Orleans, and the years of growing up in its rich, sensuous and heartbreakingly beautiful environment -- or without the last fifteen years spent there. I want to do everything in my power to help my city. With regard to material aid, I ask that you seek every responsible means that you can to get supplies, money, whatever you can donate -- no matter how small -- to the evacuees who are displaced throughout the South. In another message I have suggested this but let me say it again: if there is not a national charity that you know or feel comfortable contacting, then call your local minister, rabbi, or priest and ask for the direction of these people as to how to get donations to the evacuees. Houses of worship throughout the south are in a unique position to distribute help, and they have been doing it since the beginning. I also urge all of you to keep up whatever pressure you can on our federal authorities to recognize the magnitude of this catastrophe and to be as prompt and efficient in meeting the demand as possible. This is no time to talk of a "blame game." It is time to get help to people any way that we can or know how. Thank you, my beloved readers, for your calls and your emails and your letters. I will have more to say in the future.
Anne Rice, La Jolla, California, September 8th, 2005
THE PAINTINGS OF STAN RICE ARE SAFE
There are many of you out there who are no doubt concerned about the paintings that were left by my late husband Stan, over three hundred in number, and about the fate of his gallery. Right before Hurricane Katrina hit, we had made the decision as a family to move The Stan Rice Gallery to Dallas, Texas. All of Stan's personal papers, copies of his books of poetry, thousands of unpublished poems, a huge part of his personel library, and 90% of his paintings were moved as well. Of course we had no inkling that a disaster was about to befall New Orleans. We took this step as part of re-location, with Nancy Rice Diamond and Lew Thomas both assisting as we proceeded to seek a new venue -- a gallery family owned and family maintained -- in the city where Stan was born. Though some paintings are still in New Orleans, they are few in number. And they may be undamaged. We do not know. Others are safe with me in my new home on the West Coast. As soon as we can resume anything like "business as usual" the plans for the new Stan Rice Gallery will move ahead.
Take care and love,