Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Refugee Diary

Still in Cleveland, MS. I was all prepared to be a snob about this place, but every citizen has been exceedingly nice. Examples--a woman at Krogers let us use her discount card because some of the items we were buying were on special for members. The Baptist church put signs up all over the hotel inviting the Katrina refugees to a catfish dinner in their parish hall.

The lobby of this hotel is filled with people from all over New Orleans. Each has a terribly sad story. Many elderly, including one man from Chalmette whose home is under thirteen feet of water. He says he is too old to rebuild. Many people, like us, have small children with them, and they have the strange and difficcult job of entertainging children in a cramped nervous space. We have been swimming several times, tyring to make up ganes with the other kids, make everything seem ok, but look around and it's very sad.

There are pets looking out of some of the hotel windows. There are cars packed down with ice chests, pillows, and atlases. The lobby is constantly busy with people chatting, trying to use each other's cell phones, and constantly watching the news on a big screen TV. We are almost unaffected by these images because of the shock of them. The news is everywhere--echoing in the hall. And in the rooms also, where people with laptops troll the message boards for news of pecific neighborhoods, specific streets. Then we pass the news along. It is never good. This evening I heard that my neighborhood was "devastated" by trees--with large pines, sometimes tw or three, crashing through the living room. I'm afraid to know anything else, but still, I keep looking.