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REMA &The "New Waveland Cafe" fed 6000 in Mississippi today...

New Waveland Cafe
Thursday, September 15, 2005
"You'd Have Done the Same For Us"
New Waveland Cafe
Thursday, September 15, 2005
"You'd Have Done the Same For Us"

I live in a schoolbus converted into a comfy mobile home, so I'm used to the view from my 22 windows changing frequently. But nothing prepared me for this. Forget the television images. The reality is so much worse.

Imagine a community that probably looks a lot like yours, it's banks and grocery stores sitting like hollow ghosts, monuments to nature's destructive power, their insides washed away in the tidal surge. I see the debris that once belonged to the people we serve day after day under the blistering gulf coast sun as they attempt to create some kind of normal life out of all this trash. I try to imagine how I'd feel if this were my hometown, complete with every house on every corner erased, every building demolished, their contents spilled into the streets.

The storm surge reached as high as 30 feet in this part of Mississippi. All the buildings around here were completely submerged in a fetid brew of saltwater, sewage, death, every toxic chemical, and the detritus of the land dwellers. It's hard to imagine this place put back together, except that it looked like so many other places three weeks ago. The place is so toxic we use a case of bleach in the Cafe every day. Children should not be here but many have no choice.

All the strip mall parking lots contain at least one operation like ours: semi-trailers, pallets, boxes full of clothing, diapers, formula, dog food, crackers, toys, juice, everything you see around your house only scattered willy nilly in and around boxes in a strip mall parking lot. Then there are the easy-ups, tents, and the ubiquitous walls made of cases of bottled water complete with some group of dedicated volunteers attempting to get a handle on the piles.

Church groups run most of the distribution points, supported often by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The Waveland Cafe is a synthesis of BCOC, a group from Bastrop, Texas, and folks who met at Rainbow Gatherings and learned there how to feed lots of people in less than ideal conditions.

I come from the Rainbow side of the Cafe. We call ourselves REMA, Rainbow Emergency Management Assembly. We're here to serve, listen, and inspire. We work 16-20 hour days and hope some more good volunteers show up soon. We served about 800 hot breakfasts, 3000 hot luches, and 500 hot dinners today. Someone just left a refer truck full of food for us in the parking lot and FEMA wants us to be a "pod," whatever that means. We just feed whoever shows up, give away everything in our Wall Less Mart (Where Everything is Free), and lend an ear when needed.

We see firsthand the generosity of the American people (as well as some very cruious sorting systems). The strangest item donated: an HP Laserjet 4000. (Thanks, I'm making lots of signs with it!). Some government agency just set up wireless internet here. I fear that if we say anything critical of the federal government using that connection it will be severed. Hopefully, this is mere cynicism based on the pattern to date.

I don't know how long we'll need to stay here; but a lot of folks absolutely depend on us. I'm unaware of any restaurant or grocery store operating within 30 miles of Waveland and no one has electricity or gas to run a refrigerator or cooking appliance anyway. I don't see much hope this situation will change much in the next couple of months, since all the houses were flooded and most will be condemned. Almost no one has a car here as most were drowned in the storm surge.

FEMA's gearing up to get people travel trailers and mobile homes. Hopefully, FEMA will drop one of those nice big diesel generators on our corner. It's hard to run an operation like this on the dozen or so generators we're using, along with the $2.50/gallon gas (I understand we have the cheapest in the US right now) that requires an hours-long wait or drive. I think it's going to get even busier on our corner, especially as Wavelanders tell their neighbors about us.

We're right across the street from what's left of the Waveland Police Department. I watched a bunch of the Waveland Police cars get towed away yesterday because they were destroyed by the flood--right after Governors Bush and Barbour posed for yet another GOP photo-op substituting for government action. We have a great relationship with most of the government agencies: the Florida Highway Patrol, National Guard units from all over the country (haven't met any from Mississippi yet), FEMA (more on that in another post). The whole coast is under Martial Law and a 8pm to 6am curfew, so it's pretty quiet at night.

The world forgot to notice that coastal Mississippi was annihilated by Katrina. The next town to the east of us, Bay St. Louis, lost 70% of its buildings. It looks like everything "below the railroad tracks" will be bulldozed and rebuilt. I'm not the only one here who sees the writing on the wall: Bush plans to give a bunch of sweetheart rebuilding contracts to his political allies who will steal property from poor people then bilk the government for billions while sub-contracting everything a la Halliburton in Iraq. Already, I understand Waveland has prohibited all heavy machinery from entering the area because a large politically-connected local contractor wants all the contracts--even though all his equipment was destroyed in the storm. (More on this in another post).

Folks around here count their blessings, thank God they and their families survived, and move on to the pressing matter of living life. Recovery efforts were well under way by the time FEMA noticed that most of the buildings in coastal Mississippi were missing. We understand turf battles have severely slowed recovery efforts in Louisiana. We're not equipped to deal with politics. But we are equipped to feed and comfort these marvelous, ordinary folks like you and me living in a place not unlike your town, look them in the eye when they thank us, and reply, "You'd have done the same for us."

I see a lot of towns from my 22 windows, each one its own distinct community. We're happy to see the New Waveland Cafe serving to bring the good folks in this community together as they rebuild their town. Because I honestly believe they would have done the same for us.

posted by New Waveland Cafe at 10:30 PM | 6 comments

Grate Job 03.Oct.2005 20:44

Charlie V XNXHED@aol.com

YoHo,A GulfPort shout at y'all,let me know what you can use most,I'll try and make a ride your way in the next day or so with some gas or any other way to throw down,let me know. Also who to make a check out to to support your overwhelming kindness.I aint rich,but maybe can pass a hat around to help out.I can't give you much time volunteer-wise as my hands are full on this end,but will help any other way I can.
Bunch of gawddamn hippies showing up to help us rednecks out...maybe there still is some hope after all eh?
Charlie V

119 24th st. GulfPort MS. 39507

Jessica 11.Oct.2005 17:28

Jessica Howell jhowell@pisgah.us

Hey its jessica!!!
I was just in Waveland a few weeks ago(with Mount Pisgah Academy) and if you don't remember me then you will know me as DISH GODDESS!!! I miss you guys let me see umm Richard, Aaron, umm Hawker, Diamond Dave, Leviticus, Cleo, Juan, and anyone else I can't name...Oh guess what I am going to a Rainbow get together in either Oct 30th or Nov 20th...i am going with my school as a project and I picked there because I loved everyone I met in Mississippi and if I could I would go back down there right now!!!! I miss and love you all!!!

Dish Goddess!!!

WE are not done 02.Dec.2005 13:04

Ivan wavelandivan@hotmail.com

Hello, those of you that were in waveland know me if not hello, I will not go into my story because there are thousands like me. I am now in st. bernard parish setting up a new community aid site they are just now allowing people in do to the oil spill. The church site acroos the street is doing a great job however they are turning 1000 people away per meal with the influx in a couple weeks we are looking to servre 6000 meals daily. We have an offical none profit now, Emergency Communities.org . This place is destoryed with little aid please plug in and help. Peace Ivan, please pass the word these people need it. P.S. the local Air Force wing has been fantastic in helping the parish, some amazing heroes down here.  wavelandivan@hotmail.com

wish i was back 11.Dec.2005 17:25

odd trip

what up? i was there, did what i could, stayed safe and fall in love with all the beautuful people there. it really was the perfect socitey or as colse as possiably. well love you all and see in july. peace

JUST WANTED TO SAY HI 26.Jan.2006 16:42

DAWN H. spritedheart69@cableone.net

I live in Gulfport Mississippi and after big K hit every ones life has changed one way or another . I was one of the lucky ones with very little damage. I want to know more about our way of life because I have always been drawn to it. and a few years ago I meet a couple from our group and they blessed me with their kindness even though they said I was the one giving to them I feed and gave them a placev jst to clean up and chill for a little while and we talked and it was a blessing tomy soul I wanted to leave everything right then and go with them but my kids where still young so I let them leave an as they left a part of myself left with them .I never thought I would ever hear from them or there group again but after the bik K. hit I saw on the new how you where helping out in Waveland. I have not gone to see them because I know if I do I would not come back home ,,amy SPRITED HURTS AND LONGSD TO BE FRE WITH THEM AND DO GOOD AND be apart of a family like you all are. bless you all. I know one day soon when my boys are men (a few more years ) I hope my time has not passed. If it's meant for me to meat you again I will
bless you all.

hi everyone 26.Jan.2006 16:49

DAWN H. spriteheart69@cableone.net

I wolud also like info about your gatherings time and where and if I could come and just meet with you all thanks dawn

13815 three rivers road