Sunday, November 06, 2005


The exit off I-49 said "DERRY GOREM." I don't know if that's the name of one town, two towns or a Jewish holiday.

We passed it as we drove three hours to visit a trailer park in Natchitoches. We learned a few things about the town. This is where they filmed the movie Steel Magnolias. We passed the Natchitoches walk of fame. In stead of stars, of course, there are Les Fleurs. John Wayne and Julia Roberts have theirs names enshrined here. So do former professional athletes Joe Dumars and Bobby Hebert.

One thing we did not learn about Natchitoches is why locals pronounce its name "NACK-a-dish" so don't ask me.

We went because a family there has offered use of its property for a mobile home park that will house hurricane evacuees. Anita Dubois (said "Doo-BOYS" not "Doo-BWAH") watched heartbroken as images of desperation in the days following Hurricane Katrina filled her television. One day she noticed a crawl at the bottom of the screen asking people who had resources to contribute to visit FEMA's web site.

Anita is on the left. The other two people are her parents. FEMA is paying Anita to lease her land but she's not sure she'll make a profit because of the the cost of installing the utilities and sewage facilities it needed. The deal does help her eventually because she wanted to turn the space into a mobile home park anyway.

Neighbors aren't thrilled. One who lives across the street has complained to Anita about letting the looting thugs from New Orleans settle near them. Town officials, not informed at the outset, also have reached out helping hands with very short arms. FEMA gets roundly, and often rightly, criticized for its slow action but one of the biggest roadblocks to temporary housing are local officials who don't want "those people" polluting their neighborhoods.

And who are waiting for their kickback. This is Louisiana.

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