Sunday, October 30, 2005

Excavators and Adjusters: the renovation revisited

So I have met with an adjuster, who was very nice and he told me that we would probably get close to the entire amount of our policy as this was trully destroyed. He then drew up an estimate that was about half of our policy amount. Now, this is not a half destroyed's a totally destroyed home. We did not
pay only half of our premium. We are furious.

This week I lucky enough to get an excavator/salvage guy to come out and tell me what we could and should save. I have to attempt to contact the owners of the 4 other homes the house has fallen on before we can begin work. We need their permission to enter the property and some will need to get tarps on their roofs. This will not be easy. They are not there. Ever. Then I have to get a permit. Then they can begin picking this mess apart.
Someone will buy some of that old wood and later, I suppose I will be buying some of it back.

I have a feeling we will be making some big alterations in the scope of this 'renovation'. I may just do a smaller house without the camelback, I may go with those new metal roofs (pictured) on my friend Meg's down the street. They held up the best in the storm. And they make them in copper! Imagine that ~

Le travail quotidien

Jill and Eva came to town to do some work on their homes. Things went really well ! Jill got
some major things done like cleaning up her yard, getting a new water heater, meeting with an adjuster. It was a very productive 6 days.

We toured the damaged areas of the city and saw the giant debris heap on Ponchartrain Expwy~ whew.

When they first arrived, like most people, they were pretty overwhelmed by what they saw. It was just a matter of days, however, before they were passing thru neighborhoods saying, "oh, this is looking so much better!". I had to laugh at this transition because we all swing very heavily between the emotions that accompany this shift in our perspective and many of us feel like we don't know for sure if we are ok with how we
feel about the city. Good, hopeful one minute, tired, fed-up, disgusted, exhausted, wondering if it's worth all the work, where is everyone?, who are all these people?, proud, indignant to those not here helping to get our services up . . . it's a wide gamut of emotions. With every friend we see again, we feel happy and reassured. I am putting a curse on everyone who bails on us right now. Sissies can just stay away. It's totally doable and it's not infinite and it's not dangerous unless you're stupid.

A fine example of daily life in New Orleans right now happened this morning. First, there are
3 coffee shops open uptown. One has no espresso, he is waiting for a new one to arrive, his
shop was looted. Each day I go to the one near me and I get and iced breve. Today, he has almost no half-n-half. I am tired. I put my head down and just order the espresso and figure I can just go buy some half-n-half at the store. Instead, I went and bought about 5 jugs and brought it back to the coffee shop because I know what it is like from my filling in at La
Crepe don't even have the staff to get supplies sometimes. Turns out that his
dairy man, a local distributor, Brown's Velvet, somehow shorted his shipment. That guy is probably working overtime too, so he's probably exhausted like the rest of us who are really
pitching in to help local businesses get back up and running in addition to our friends and our own homes. It's cars on a cable and some folks don't get it. I do, and I will be getting some free
coffees I am sure, they really appreciated it.

Some guy was giving the manager of CC's on Jefferson such a hard time this morning because they aren't able to be open on Sunday! What a jerk! Grab an apron, asshole. Help them, don't yell at the poor man. He is bringing employees in from Baton Rouge to help have the coffee shop
open 6 days a week and we should be thankful.

I see a lot of people who seem to have the time to sit in the coffee shop and linger. Boy, those were the days!

And those local folks who were always like, "you're not FROM here", meaning you weren't born here. Well, there are some of those "local" people who aren't here either and I can't wait to run into them some night! They can never say that again, I will kick them right back to their silly little high-school.

In an effort to give you a complete picture of the current status of things, another example is that at La Crepe, we can't offer a full menu because the two chefs and the dishwasher are doing all the prep work too. So anything that's high maintenance, like fondue or their signature french onion soup we can't offer. Mussels we are doing with great effort.

One of the owners said perhaps one night we should have only those high maintenance items
and none of the other dishes. I think it would be funny. I am getting a kick out of working there and I learn so much about how they make the dishes and how they make decisions.
I am also surprised how many people ask for alterations to standard offerings, which to me is
somewhat insulting to the chef. Jeff and Son go out of their way to make people happy.

Monday, October 24, 2005

For Becky

Yep, that's Ozzie ! He's was hard to get a photo of but at least Becky can see he's ok. We had not seen him for about 3 days. I posted this for her while she is away, it's like KittyCam!

People In and Out

Many many people are coming back and then having to leave again for obligations and so they are in and out and need to have someone on the ground meet people and check their houses, etc.
That's me.

I am glad to do it but I had to start telling people no as of today. No new 'clients', I am getting too burned out. The restaurant work makes my whole body ache too, I am not used to it so I can't spread myself too thin.

So my friend Becky went to W. VA for her mom's birthday. Her cats were here during the hurricane as she was out for a short trip when it hit and they are outside cats and hard
to get a hold on. The cats were fine, it's a miracle and they don't want to leave.

The neighborhood is a giant construction zone and large machinery drones all day and the cats just stay. So I am feeding them while she is out. You can sort of see the deck is all messed up, it is detached from the house. She had about 5 feet of water. Her place is salvageable, Becky had someone gut the part that was flooded. This is north of Claiborne Ave., uptown. Helping the kitties actually cheers me up a lot. Pet therapy.

Librarian/Dishwasher/Real Estate Broker/Animal Sitter

On Monday I went to see if I could help my friends get their restaurant open. They put me on as a food runner/dishwasher on Tuesday. I was terrified having not done this type of work for about 15 years. We only had 2 original kitchen staff, the chefs. Then we did have some fill in folks with much restaurant experience, like Mike who everyone knows from Dick & Jennie's.
Then we also had a few people like myself who just want to help. It was fun, we actually had a great opening night. The second night, the dishwasher broke. We barely kept up but we did keep up. The teamwork is unbelievable in that place right now.
The owner was washing dishes too. Here's a link to their website !
I need to get a photo up here of Son's AK-47 hanging in the kitchen. He's the Vietnamese chef and he returned to the city really early before many people were back and was there cleaning out the kitchen, he had to bring his own protection.

Brave New World

I arrived one week ago, on Friday, Oct.14th and I was struck by how bad things looked to me again, after being gone for a week. When I returned it was so depressing, I wondered, "Can I do this?"

Well, I am doing IT ! I have been so busy it's hard to impress upon readers that every day in New Orleans right now feels like it's only five hours long. The first thing I did was help out with a great project sponsored by the mayor's office called "Clean Magazine" on Saturday. It was great! Hundreds of residents helped bag leaves and trash along with hundreds of National Guardsmen. Then these guys came behind us with huge trucks and machines to gather bags, piles of debris and appliances.

By the end of the day the entire street was so much more beautiful and they even had a streetcleaner give it a wash. Now businesses are up and running. I also saw a mailman! I still have not received any mail but my friend Emily is getting mail regularly. I am guessing this is because her carrier has returned.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Go New Orleans !

You have to look up sometimes ~ this was great.
All over the city people from all over the world are here putting our city back together again. It's
up to our citizens to get back and help in that effort. I met people from everywhere from the Netherlands to Cuba and people who left their families for long periods to help us. I thanked
everyone I could personally.

New Orleans: In the Quarter

There was plenty of parking in the Quarter, and no meter maids. I might like this smaller city thing.

New Orleans: CBD Fire

This is around the Doubletree hotel in the central business district.
For those who have experienced loss, we share your sorrow citywide. The French Quarter is lucky but they are the ones complaining right now about curfews and fear of code violations.
I went to Harry Anderson's town hall meeting and I've already had it with the quarterites. Jim Monahan, the owner of Molly's is the only one I have heard with any sense. He understands how lucky they are to be able to operate at all and also understands he is part of the larger city.

New Orleans: Bunny Bread Survives

This was not the only loaf of Bunny Bread I spotted in random places around town in piles of rubble.

New Orleans: Uptown Fire at St. Andrew

There were 3 major fires uptown during Katrina and while I was there, another devasted a home
in the most expensive part of uptown, on a private street near Audubon Park. Another fire broke out in the Marigny, so it's a continuing
threat. I spoke to a woman in the neighborhood here who never left. She said these houses were burned by crackheads, she said that they had tons of looted merchandise in there. This fire destroyed 3-5 homes. It even jumped across the street. There was a cat who was still living under one of the half destroyed homes that I fed/watered.

New Orleans: Katrina Damage Lakeview (Ponchartrain Expwy)

Lakeview was pretty much wiped out by heavy flooding because the 17th St. Canal is in their backyard. The lake rushed in the cravasse wiping out everything in it's path. The toxic water killed everything it touched. It was hard to believe even looking at it. I drove through this area regularly because it was a nice 'safe' place that interested many of my clients as possible places to live. Now, it looks creepy. I have always said there's no such thing as a safe place.

New Orleans: Not Alone

This house, uptown, had one too. The damage prevents the front door from even closing.

New Orleans: Gov. Nicholls Photo 3

Any home in New Orleans that is structurally unsafe is tagged with a warning sticker. We thought it was kinda funny that they couldn't even stick it on the house.

New Orleans: Katrina Damage Gov. Nicholls Photo 2

Well, here's what's left of the house ! The photo we've been waiting to post. I feel like I need to change the blog title to neworleansrebuild.

Sigh. Grunt.....head begins to pound, feel kinda

When Emily and Brian and I visited the house,
the neighbors who were around (the city is still sparsely inhabitated) came out to express their sympathy and some reminisced about times they had spent there before it fell into it's neglected state. This sincere response compels one to persevere and rebuild. Another positive fact is that this property was not even close to taking in water because the piers are quite high, so flooding is not a serious threat and rebuilding would not be folly. One man said he heard the house fall. He said it was slow and graceful.

New Orleans: Katrina Damage Gov. Nicholls

I travelled back to the city Oct. 1-6th to survey the damage from Katrina. Here's what's left of the house.

New Orleanians lament the loss of this unique architectural gem, but perhaps the worst thing about it is that it is resting against 3 houses/properties. In the very back, it's difficult to determine if it has damaged the 3rd home or if it's just in pieces on their property. The large building on the corner was not inhabited but the others were. We knew that winds around 100 miles an hour were just too much for this blighted/gutted structure. Our insurance adjusters have contacted us, as well as our
very dedicated architect, James Farr. The house was heavily insured and our ability to rebuild will depend on their assessment.