Friday, September 02, 2005

From the Mailbag

Lots of stuff coming in from (and about Louisiana). I think I'm going to just shut up and post it here...

(You are reading aren't you? Because if you aren't you might miss a lot of things you should know. Like this.)

Hi, Neil. I'm from Hattiesburg, Mississippi (I've emailed before) and we were hit by the hurricane pretty bad, though not as bad as New Orleans, which is 90 miles away. I just wanted to tell you that, when the power went out, we lit candles and I pulled out an old copy of American Gods. I just wanted you to know that even something as little as that gave us hope. We're just in shock by the disaster. I don't want to keep you, because you're busy, but we were lucky and got out of Hattiesburg to stay with friends for the (possibly) months ahead. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you.


Hey Neil...Im Joe from New Orleans (Luckily in Pensacola at the moment, but probably here indefinately now)...Just wanted to say thanks for the post about us down here...But dont worry...We will bounce back...As a lifelong native Im proud to say New Orleans is one of the greatest cities in the world...The culture, music, and especially the food gives proof of that...And despite what is happening there now...And the fact that in the past three days I have lost pretty much everything I own, I know in my heart we will be back...And I know one day we will be great again...For every one of these thugs causing trouble there are many more great people in that city...And we will pull through this...I keep being reminded of my New Orleans Saints bumper sticker...Every year they do a cheesey sticker that says anything from "Bless You Boys" to "Life is Better With Football" or whatever...This year its a simple black sticker...And in gold letters it just says "FAITH"...Speaks volumes to me...Thanks again



Not a question, just some info. I'm a security guard at the only functional hospital left in N.O. They'd rather I not refer to them by name. I've been here the whole time, helping deal with the sick and injured that come in, as well as keeping the staff and patients safe from the increasingly hostile neighborhood. While I don't have a weblog at the moment, I've been sending out email missives to friends and family. This was the last one, sent on Wednesday. Thought you or any blog readers might like an insider's view.
Hi everyone,

My cell phone is currently dead, as all the local towers have lost power. Although the hospital is still running on emergency power, we've managed to restore AC to most of the building, and have hot running water in places. We are currently the only functional medical facility within the metropolitan area, and this is the most devastating storm to hit the U.S., which means that I am an active witness/participant in a historical event.

The restoration of AC is crucial. It's been so hot over the last three days that people's tempers have been flaring, and my crew and I have had a great deal of peacekeeping to do around the hospital. Stress and anxiety aren't helping either, and on the average most people are getting about 4 hours of sleep for every 24. Last night one of my friends in the ER gave me an IV of fluids to fight off dehydration. The Red Cross, National Guard and Salvation Army are here, distributing food (our stockpiles were getting low) and blankets. A local grocery store has a distribution warehouse across the street, and they gave us permission to raid it at our whim, which means there's all sorts of canned food and dry cereal now. People are kind of on the barter system right now: a can of peaches for a change of scrubs, a tube of toothpaste for a spare blanket. I traded off a spare razor for shower priveledges in the ER.

There have been several shootings in and around town as of last night. Two individuals assaulted a police station with AK47s, and there are reports (which I'm getting from the cops stationed here to help us out) that medivac helicopters and ambulances are being fired upon. Looters downtown are turning on each other, and some of the bodies floating around downtown aren't drowning victims. Other hospitals have been attacked as well. The hospital has issued each member of my team a sidearm.

Last word I heard is that my neighborhood has stayed fairly dry, even with the resultant flood from the levee breaking. Flooding elsewhere has stablized, not really increasing, not really draining. My car is in a different neighborhood, and is probably underwater right now. I haven't spoken directly to Tristyn since Saturday, although word has reached my ears that the town in Miss. she fled to was hit by Katrina but rode it out all right. Which helps me sleep a little better, but....

I'm doing okay. A few nights ago I found a nice, quiet conferance room to camp out in (no more sleeping on an OB/GYN bed for me!), and in my off hours hole up in there to read/write by flashlight. Given that I'm using my Swiss Army knife to open and consume all of this canned food (Vienna Sausages! Campbell's Spaghetti! Del Monte Pears! SPAM!!) it's a lot like Boy Scout Camp. Except without the fun. I'm currently on my last set of clean clothes, but there's talk that the hospital laundry may be functional again, so we can get some stuff washed. The mayor's office is going to allow us to attempt to return to our homes on Monday, and if I can I'll grab some more clothes. As far as civvies go I only have 3 t-shirts and a pair of jeans, and at this point the pants can walk around without me.

Right before the hurricane hit I worked an unbroken week, which means that I am currently on my 12th day straight without a break. The hospital is paying us, so it's going to be a big damn check. All proceeds will be going to the "Get My Ass Back To Cali" (GMABTC) fund. I'll take an earthquake any damn day of the week.

Oh, and thanks to everyone who's been able to call/write. I'm just as tired/nervy/anxious as everyone else, and you're really doing a lot to help keep my spirits up. I'll try and update as often as I can, and apologize for how sporadic it is--I know everyone's on the edge of their seats.



Dear Neil,

My mother (who is part of the Texarkana Humane Society) is running a relief project for animals who are victim to hurricane Katrina. The money is going to help the pet-owners who are currently staying in Texarkana and aren't allowed to have pets in the shelters/hotels.

It would be great if you could post about this on your website so people could help out.

Her name is Lori Anderson and the contact number is 903-838-3040.

Texarkana Humane Society Website:
Texarkana Chamber of Commerce Website:

Thank you,
Sarah Anderson


Hi Neil,
Thanks for the Katrina donation links.
I found this interesting and prophetic article from 2001 warning of a potential catastrophe awaiting New Orleans.


Horribly accurate. Yes.

"I was meant to be in Louisiana in October -- Coraline was voted their favourite book by young readers, and I was going to the book festival. Now I just wonder if there will be a book festival."

My guess is that there probably will be. I'm in Baton Rouge, and while we are at about double population with refugees from New Orleans, the city of Baton Rouge itself wasn't hit too hard. I'm a librarian at LSU and things are slowly getting back to as close to normal as possible here.

I, for one, will be looking forward to seeing you in October. We all need something positive to look forward to :)

Well, if the festival's on, I'll be there.

Dear Mr. Gaiman: In regard to Hurricane Katrina donations I was hoping you could mention the Bendis Board Charity Auction taking place at - This is an auction of items from the comic book community (creators and fans), with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross. I think we could reach a lot of people through your journal, thanks very much.

- Simon

There's an auction currently being organised by Joe Quesada, and I've gone digging in the basement to see what I can find. Probably an original Sandman script or two...

Neil:On the off chance you haven't seen this from Larry Dixon, he's offeringspace and aid to the displaced from Katrina. He's asking for help todistribute the info, and naturally, I thought of your blog.Info's up on


and, finally, one post that has nothing to do with Hurricanes at all...

Hi Neil,

You were wondering whether Douglas Adams would have blogged. He was definitely keen on the idea as a concept (although this would probably have predated the word weblog). When we were building h2g2 ( created at Douglas' company, The Digital Village, and which is now here at the BBC) one of the things we included was a Journal, which is what a blog basically is, specifically because Douglas wanted one. But he never used it for that.

He did answer questions on his website, and you can find a collection of all his contributions here:

Jim Lynn (