I was relieved to learn that author Coleen Salley, whom I met earlier this summer at a conference in Tampa, was in Hawaii when Katrina hit, and not at her French Quarter home in New Orleans. The last thing Coleen said to me as we parted ways in Tampa was, "call me next time you are in town." I had such a great time listening and laughing with this lady that I determined that I would indeed contact her if and when I ever made it back to New Orleans.
In other news: The wife and I worked as volunteers at a makeshift shelter in downtown Austin for New Orleans evacuees. Palmer Events center hosted a shelter for misplaced New Orleans residents with minor health issues. Several venues were converted into shelters including Brakenridge hospital and the Convention Center. We spent our day shopping practically nonstop for items that people might need for their temporary stay. We spent at least — if not over — $5,000 and created such a ruckus in a Target store that people started buying extra items for us, and donating to the cause. Practically everyone we saw walking through the store, including author Liz Garton Scanlon, had carts full of water and items they were obviously donating. It was a good day, although I was a bit grouchy having not eaten until well past 2 p.m. Sorry to those who were with me, and thanks to the city of Austin for their generosity.
In still other news:
An American Statesman reporter and photographer recounts their horrific experience covering this tragic event. My hats off to them. My job pays my bills, but no amount of money would have separated me from my family and sent me to cover this story.