Saturday, September 25, 2021
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Third group, the largest, shifted operations to Houma where the need was greater. I did not follow them. The last group was collecting and distributing supplies from a vacant lot adjacent to the home of one of the leaders but the owner of the lot showed up and kicked them off. His right but still a shitty thing to do considering that he never uses or cleans that lot and these folks at least mowed it and picked up all of the accumulated trash so they could work from it. I wasn't there when the guy showed up but I like to think I could have worked something out with him for another day or two. But that's what I do. I talk while others shout.
It was getting to be time to shut down anyway. The power came back on finally on Day 11 and the people showing up for help slowed to a trickle. The last couple of days I couldn't give water or ice away and I couldn't pay folks to take MRE's from me. I got stuck with six cases that were "gifted" to me by the aid group that didn't want them back. They were in demand for about two or three days after the storm and then when regular food started coming available, they just piled up...Meals Rejected by Everyone. Guess I'll be eating them for a while.
Trading was fun and profitable while it lasted and usually benefitted everyone as I shuffled goods from places where is was plentiful to places where it was in demand. Ice, water and food were my primary stock in trade but gasoline was my cash cow, so to speak. We had tons of it at two of the aid stations as it kept coming in, but it was difficult to move unless you has gas cans, which were in great demand. I had several to start with but I quickly doubled my supply by trading gas and other goods for empties and then I used those to take gas to places that needed it but couldn't come to the hub to get it. One in particular was a small coffee shop that stayed open serving the neighborhood by running on a generator. The owner left them one gas can and I supplied them with ten gallons a day in exchange for two gallons of cold brew iced coffee for the hub volunteers, including extra cups and one of their fabulous hot breakfast burritos for me every morning. Another place a couple miles away was selling brats every day the last week and they also got topped off every day in exchange for two brats and a cold beer. And of course my own generator and those of my friends and neighbors stayed full. And while homes were being looted during the last week, my house was always being watched by some of those same neighbors (and three dogs or varying degrees of utility).
Batteries were also in high demand and I distributed hundreds of them around the neighborhood to power lights, fans, radios, etc., I asked nothing for these since they were all donated anyway but a lot of grateful people are likely to remember me, at least for a little while. That has value too.
Others will remember me less fondly. The last day most of the people turning up to "request" items from the hubs were the junkies and local "entrepreneurs" who were trying to get large lots of hygiene and cleaning products in the original unopened packaging so they could resell it. Most of the volunteers were either oblivious to this or too uncomfortable to tell them no, but I had no problem being the mean one and telling one lady that no, she could not take two cases (eight gallons) of bleach. she'd gotten them already and I took them out of her wagon, giving her one and setting the rest aside to go down to Houma where people actually needed it. And boy, did she cuss me. We were also giving out umbrellas and she grabbed four and I grabbed three back. Same for batteries as she tried to clip a whole CASE of Duracells only to have me take them all back and hand her eight of each type before sending her on her way. True we had large quantities of these things but we also had no shortage of people who could use reasonable amounts, and if word got around that no one was going to stop these second-handers, we'd wind up inundated by them. So I made my presence and intention obvious at the two largest hubs and kept outflow to individuals down to fair levels. I also took a quantity of batteries to a small hardware store that was open and traded them to the owner for his stock of pepper spray and then I took those back and gave one to as many of our core volunteers as I could since some of the local junkies and freebooters were starting to get aggressive. One girl did end up having to spray a guy who tried to go behind the table and threatened her. Good for her. Again, I was elsewhere, darn it.
But our best score the last day was when one of the tame junkies (so called because they'd show up every morning and unload my truck and other donor vehicles in exchange for food and miscellaneous whatevers) came around with like a 3-4 week old puppy. He said that he bought it a few blocks away from a trap house (drug den) and that they had more for sale. The pup wasn't weaned yet and the others likely needed saving so I started calling rescues and making arrangements for them while planning how to get that one and the others. This junkie said that he could get all the other pups for $20 each and several of the volunteers, over my objection, quickly pooled their money and gave it to him. I know junkies and I was going to get these pups for trade goods or for free, but they paid him cash. Sighing, I made him take up to where the pups were and there were five more in this house. Our guy when up and paid another junkie $20 for the rest of the pups and pocketed a hundred bucks for himself. No surprise to me. Then he took off, leaving one of our girls to hold "his" puppy until he could return for it. We went in to get the pups and I saw mama dog in the other room, all upset because she wanted her pups. I demanded mama too and the junkie there was reluctant to let her go until I explained that the puppies needed her milk and she needed to be milked because her teats were enormous. He said I could take her for a bit but had to bring her back. Yeah, whatever. I said I would but never intended to as she was clearly starving herself and had a few untended open sores. She needed saving too. She growled at me at first but once she figured out that I was going to take her to her puppies she was sweet as could be. We took all the dogs to a local rescue that will care for them until the pups can be adopted out and then rehome them and mama, who is going to be spayed and medically treated. Truth told, she was so nice I was tempted to offer to take her myself, but I talked myself out of it. This first junkie skated right off to another trap house to score and never came back for "his" puppy, which was just as well because I sent it on with the others. Fuck him.
So we did a lot of good things this last week, but saving those dogs ranks highest on my satisfaction list. and then at the end of the day Thursday everyone shut down or pulled stakes and now I'm just here, somehow with cash in the bank to compensate me for diesel fuel burned. (That stuff was unobtainable for a while as fuel deliveries to area gas stations with power focused on regular gasoline and I only kept running because I'd stored 20 gallons and topped off the tank before the storm.) I also rotated out a lot of my older packaged supplies like bulk food and batteries into the distribution stream and replaced it with fresh stock. So my emergency supplies are replenished and refreshed and even expanded by all of the discarded MRE's that were literally tossed into my truck, unwanted and unappreciated, when the last two hubs broke camp. I'm in a better place now than I was before the storm. but I worked for it too. I delivered goods all over the area for 8-10 hours a day every day, I ran people to the urgent care, ferried volunteers around, ironed out petty disputes, press-ganged random people into "volunteering" to load and unload trucks every day (Hey, if you're standing around our lot when a truck needs to be filled or emptied, I'm going to put you to work, especially if you're there to ask for free stuff.) I also kept supply stocks at each hub evened out, made pharmacy runs and provided security at the hubs and overnight storage of as many supplies as could be shoehorned into my van every evening, in sum, I did lots of work, helped things run smoothly, and I got paid well in goods, cash and good will which one hopes can be parlayed into future favors should a need arise.
And here's the dogs:
And here's some of the supplies that we did give out, now discarded Friday morning on the curb by someone who wanted them a few days ago but not now. These liters of water keep for ten years and the MRE's for at least five but the ones now discarding them apparently don't worry about tomorrow and more than they did before this recent storm with sent them running to us for this very food and water.
Tuesday, September 07, 2021
90’s with high humidity every day and your house never cools down enough to sleep comfortably at night. I’m now making deliveries of ice, food and other supplies around the neighborhoods, so much that everyone in three neighborhoods knows my truck on site and comes out when they here my 60’s rock music blasting like I’m some sort of free ice cream truck, which I am, only I give out ice, batteries, tarps, water, snacks, MRE’s and other goods all day. I’m also now acting as liaison between four different distribution hubs, all within a mile of each other, who refuse to cooperate directly or combine efforts due mainly to ego issues. Ridiculous. So I gotta play Henry-Fucking-Kissinger and make things work smoothly since I’m the sole independent mobile resource that any of them have to get supplies in and out. I leverage this power to make everyone play nice and share and move surpluses to shortage areas so that in the end, everyone in the neighborhoods gets what they need. I’m also the knowledge base of which greedy opportunists are moving from hub to hub, taking large amounts of supplies from all of them every day and doing God-only-knows what with it. We’ve got about a dozen such individuals I’ve had to put on a ban list and educate each of the hubs’ multiple volunteers about. I’m also the rapid response to these hubs for medical issues and disturbances and when not otherwise engaged I scrounge iced coffee by the gallon from the few places that are back open and deliver it to the hubs. All in all, I’m staying pretty busy.
In return, these groups are keeping me supplied with more than enough gasoline, food, batteries and anything else I might need, so I’m not complaining I’ve created a pretty decent paying job for myself here in Barter-land and as much as I’m rooting for the power to come back on here, I’ll also be a bit sorry when it does. I’ve got a good thing going here and I’m actually turning a fair but respectful profit in surplus supplies in addition to having all of my needs met. The ironic thing is that each of these four hubs is openly anti-capitalist, running the gamut from Socialist to Anarchist, but they each have to rely to a large extent on me, a proud Capitalist, to get their work done and I’m making bank off of all of them.
Seems like there should be a lesson there somewhere.
Saturday, September 04, 2021
Power is coming back slowly to the surrounding areas and gas stations are reopening out in the suburbs. I’ve managed to buy and barter for enough that I’m set for the next week or so and power should be back by then. Spent the morning helping friends put a tarp on their ridiculously steep roof and now moving supplies between various aid stations for local distribution. I’m saving my gas for the generator but I’ve got a ton of spare diesel for the van so I’m donating it to the cause.
Things are coming together pretty good here and we’re counting our blessings that we didn’t get hit as hard as communities to the west that really took it on the chin. New Orleans, despite the lessons of Katrina sixteen years ago, was still not ready for another direct hit and so many people that were here then still weren’t prepared for even this. No supplies set aside, no last minute store runs when it was obvious this was coming, no evacuating when they could…sad. Others however are bringing supplies in, distributing them, preparing food for others and filling the gaps that the government can’t cover. In short, we’re getting it done and should be nearly back to normal in a week or so for much of the area.
Friday, September 03, 2021
I'm doing good this morning. I managed to score one of the generators that Lowe’s brought in with a little help from a friend who works there who graciously set one aside for me. There was still a two and a half hour line to get into the store but I grabbed one of the day laborers who congregate in the parking lot and paid him to stand in the line for me while I went and did other things. While he stood in the sun I appropriated a window air conditioner from a long abandoned house in my neighborhood. It had been abandoned since 2015 so I didn’t think they’d mind. I then went back, got my generator and hooked it up. Success! Fridge works now and I have one cool room for me and the dogs courtesy of a long-dormant Frigidaire. Plus cold beer! Gas is a challenge but I stockpiled what I could before the storm and a couple returning friends have dropped some off when they came back to check on their houses. Late night foraging will keep my gas cans filled for a while when my reserve runs low since so many people who evacuated left cars behind. I bought a siphon pump a few years ago and it’s going to serve well now. I’m starting with friends cars first because they’re less likely to be too mad about it and I can easily pay them back afterwards.
So many people still here who should have left but did not even when they had the ability. These people are not prepared at all and they are a huge drain on the remaining network here. The National Guard is handing out Humanitarian ration” MREs daily now, one per person, but the scamming is epic as single people are claiming rations for nonexistent families at home them walking the streets trying to sell them. Apparently about fifty looters have been arrested so far, all trying to steal electronics, liquor, cigarettes, scratch-off lottery tickets, etc. Apparently none of them were hungry enough to take food or water.
Several restaurants in the area have collected perishable food from other restaurants and stores and they are cooking it up and giving it away every night. I’ve been eating well on bbq chicken, salmon and some prime rib last night. I could get fat here. The owners at one place love me dearly since I loaned them some lanterns that I’ve had in storage. I’ll never be hungry so long as they’ve got any spare food.
Currently enjoying the few morning hours when it’s still cool. Expected high today: 90 again with serious humidity. Joy. I’ll nap much of the day in the ac and resume periodic night patrols after dark just to keep an eye on the homes of nearby friends who evacuated.
Send gas and beer please!
Wednesday, September 01, 2021
Three days after Ida and I’m finding connectivity again, at lease during the late hours or when I’m away from city center. I think everyone has been overloading the system streaming videos of the mess but I’m starting to find times and spots where I can connect.
So. No power. Likely won’t have it for weeks. Hats off to antebellum Louisianans for their fortitude because this does suck. Even though I am still blessed with running water and gas to the water heater (and stove), as soon as you put clothes on you start to sweat and soon your sweat-soaked clothing REEKS.. and no washer/dryer so every shower becomes a laundry session too.
I have always maintained a healthy reserve of supplies and I topped it off as the storm was coming, to include spare fuel for both vehicles. But the number of people around me who did not and who are now crying because they want to evacuate but have no fuel…come on people. We all knew this thing was coming with plenty of time to buy gas and batteries and extra groceries. Yet so many did not. And the desperation of the “have nots” is already manifesting itself. Stores are being looted, gunshots are often heard at night, and the local drug addicts are bugging because they can’t score. It’s going to get worse.
I screwed up myself so learn from me here. I offered to help out a handful of friends and neighbors with little things like using my camper’s hot sockets to charge phones and other devices. Well word got around and yesterday I had no end of people knocking on my door asking for a charge or wanting a charged device back. And many of these are not the friends and neighbors I made the offer to but the “gimmedats” from a block or two away, mainly the “we didn’t prepare so you gotta help us” crowd. 11pm, 6am…they don’t care, because it’s just about them. Fortunately I haven’t disclosed what else I have in the house aside from the Glock I now openly carry, and Murphy and Belle are only too happy to stand at the window all day and tell the world that this is still their house and their street.
Morals of the story: be quiet about what you have and get dogs. I’m always happy to help my friends but I am not a community charity and now that I’ve turned off the charging tap people are just mad rather than grateful for what they got for free the last couple of days.
Oh—the suppressed ARs are locked, loaded and staged for those times when the Glock and dogs aren’t persuasive enough.
We’ve got an 8p-6a curfew now, and the National Guard is here riding with the local police, but the knuckleheads are still scurrying around in the dark. I’ve taken to porch-sitting at night both for the peace and quiet and to keep an eye on the block. With an AR of course. Hopefully getting a new generator this morning. Lowe’s has a ton and the line started two hours before the store opens but I grabbed one of the Latino day laborers standing out by the road and am paying him to wait in line while I sit back in my a/c equipped van and wait for him to get to the head of it.
And that’s another thing I’m seeing here. Day laborers abound by the hardware stores, all trying to get clean-up gigs. Meanwhile every major intersection is still plagued by the same able-bodied 20-40 yr old panhandlers asking every driver for money. I tell them that they can go clean for a day’s wage and most of them turn away or scream cursed. Junkies don’t want to work when they can just stand on a corner with a sign saying “I’m hungry but the mostly illegal day laborers will bust ass all day for a few dollars. Personally i think that we should naturalize a lot of these illegals and their hard-working friends and relatives but for each one we take, the Latin American country that they came from has to accept one heavily-tattooed junkie un return. You panhandle or steal or get caught with drugs we trade you to Guatemala for a guy that hangs drywall like a pro.
More updates later as I can. Meanwhile have a cold beer tonight and think of me.
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Heavy rain at times last night. No rain now but wind really picking up. Neighbor's tree not making my happy right now as it looms over my back fence and empty chicken pen. The streets are empty now but I've got a month's worth of non-perishable food and bottled water laid in. as a bonus, a lovely young lady that I know dropped off five packages of Oreo cookies yesterday as hurricane snacks. Worried now that I might need more milk but I got cookies. The gas stations were either empty or had very long lines yesterday but I'd already topped off both of my vehicles and set in plenty of extra gas and diesel. Grocery stores are about empty too but again, I got mine with plenty of lead time. We had days to prep and there was no excuse for not doing so.
Watching the stupid people on-line last night and this morning has been entertaining and frustrating. Some people are just starting to ask where they can get bottled water and batteries. Another is asking someone to drive to her house this morning and drop off a "battery powered phone charger" in case the power goes out for "a couple of days." Power loss is a given and even Entergy, the utility company, is talking 2-3 WEEKS to restore it. And then there's the guy yesterday all over local social media asking if anyone will loan him a generator and gasoline. For free. On the day before. Some people's kids...
The dogs are all visibly nervous this morning. That's interesting in itself as I'm pretty sure they haven't been watching the news. Merida and the guest dog are scrapping constantly because the guest dog is trying to establish dominance and Merida ain't having it.
At least the dishes are done and the laundry is all washed and dried. If nothing else I'm getting a lot of long-deferred cleaning done in between other tasks, so if the house doesn't blow away or flood it should at least be clean.
I'll be wearing a sidearm constantly until things get straight again. Long guns are ready too. If I have to go out for any reason, one will be coming with me. Many people evacuated but most of the knuckleheads are still here. I remember the lawlessness after Katrina. Not playing that here.
And a special shout-out to our incompetent mayor, Latoya Cantrell. She was on the news a couple days ago offering up excuses as to why she hadn't initiated a mandatory evacuation. "There wasn't time" she claims. She managed to evacuate over a thousand jail inmates two days ago though but I guess that was more important than moving out hospital patients, senor citizens or other people who might have been moved to safety by now. Two days not used to move anyone on the plethora of available buses sitting all other the place. Remember flooded post-Katrina bus yards everyone? They learned nothing from that disgrace. I hope no one dies but I wonder how many of those who may could have been moved out has our mayor had her act together.
Eating down the last of the perishable food today and tomorrow. Then it's boxed, canned and dried goods for the duration if need be. And I'll have more updates later as the situation evolves so long as I can still get on-line.
16 years to the day, on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we now have Hurricane Ida getting ready to come ashore tomorrow as a projected Category 4 hurricane.
Most of my friends have left, but a lot haven't. I'm staying for them, and because I could not get away with all of my animals, weapons and ammunition. I won't leave the critters or the guns to the looters. So as of this writing, I have four dogs (my three and a friend's dog) three cats and six chickens in the house, the cats and chickens being crated in one room together. Defense is an FN-FAL, an Uzi and a suppressed AR locked and loaded and a Glock on my hip. I've got food and water for a month and my camper van has a full tank and several reserve jugs of fuel set aside. When the power goes out I move into it and use it's air conditioning. It's a diesel so it can idle forever and run the air and charging ports for the electronics. And we're expecting 2-3 weeks before the power is restored. Great fun, eh?
I'm as ready as I'm going to get and I'm tired. Bring it on and let's get this over with.
Sunday, August 01, 2021
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Back in Mexico. Flew into Cancun and drove down to Bacalar last night. Got jacked around by local Policia in Felipe Carrillo Puerto when we got pulled over for who-knows-what (Gringo in a no-gringo zone probably) and the overly-friendly officer told us that we were speeding even though we were driving most reasonably and his truck lacked radar but it was ok because we could just pay him the 1200 peso “fine” (about $60USD) right there and go on our way. But having learned from past experience, we told him to just write the ticket and we’d come back to take care of it in court. He tried a few times to get us to just hand the cash to him but when we kept insisting that he just write the ticket he finally told us to drive slower and left. No idea how fast he was even pretending that we were going but I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t a 1200 peso fine regardless. And had we given him the cash the court would never have seen even a bit of it.
The corruption is still problematic here but if you stand up to them they usually drop it because if their bosses find out they can get fired now and lose that lucrative income stream.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
So I'm back in the US, but I was almost immediately press-ganged by an animal rescue that I work with to run a small dog from New Orleans to Tallahassee lest it get euthanized because the local shelter is full. So I loaded up me three stooges and this little dog in it's crate and rolled out this morning. I dropped the little guy off, had a late lunch with a friend who lives nearby, and started a long slow roll back along the gulf shore. Sun is setting now and I'm in Parker, Florida, doing some overdue internetting before going to sleep.
On the way, I passed Tyndall AFB and they had what looked like a nice little air park of static display jets just inside their gate but alas, I couldn't get in to see them. I tried to get Merida to jump out of the truck and run past the gate guard so I could chase her to the planes and snap some pics, but she just came out, looked at me, yawned, and jumped back in. Useless mutt. But fortunately I like them.
Nice thing about the camper van tho--I shut down where I want and finish the drive tomorrow at my leisure.