What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

FEMA, how would you like your eggs?

by Ana Maria

Clearly the first meaning for the initials A.M. in my blog’s name, A.M. in the Morning! is my own name—Ana Maria. However, the other meaning of AM is Adult Maturity.

“What being an adult means is knowing what you have to do and doing it, even though you may not feel like doing it.”

Robert T. Kiyosaki
Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant
Since publishing my first blog entry on May 1st of this year—Like Walking Through Glue—I have learned that Katrina was a great equalizer bringing out the real character in plenty of folks, bringing out shared core values, and waking up people—myself included—in new ways.

For those that have heard the cries of the hundreds of thousands and are helping through volunteering time, goods, services and money, I say thank you. For those that have contracted their congressional representatives and U.S. Senators to pass the critical pieces of legislation to bring down insurance rates and to bring that industry in alignment with the same rules by which every other industry must abide, I say thank you.

Doing what needs doing because it needs to be done is the mature, adult thing to do. Again, thanks to everyone.

Plenty of church folks have come here doing a ton of hard, dirty work. No fanfare. No banners. No press releases. Just showing up--even today after almost two years. Lots of other, non-affiliated folks have spent plenty of time down here.

Yesterday, two friends told me about another group: the Rainbow people, the hippie tent as locals called it. One friend is a democrat and the other, a Republican. Both were elated with all the volunteer help, but the hippie group was a high point.

Apparently this group got down here within a few days of Katrina, set up shop, and began serving free hot, delicious food. “How would you like your eggs?” Rainbow hippies would ask the beat-all-to-hell-and-back Katrina survivors. They got here before Bush's FEMA.

Yet, when Bush’s FEMA finally got some boots here at ground zero in Waveland, Miss., Bush’s agency tried to get the group thrown out of town.

“WHAT?! Why?” I asked excitedly, and not in a good way.

My friends told me that the hippies were showing up FEMA, and FEMA didn't like it.

Huh? I didn’t quite get it. In an emergency, all hands on deck. Every volunteer embraced. Each new available resource much appreciated.

Uh, no. Not with FEMA.

My friends told me that Bush’s FEMA officials asked Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo to throw the Rainbow hippies off the public land. Longo apparently said that if he was going to throw anybody off the land it would be FEMA. It wasn't FEMA setting up three hot meals a day asking folks how they wanted their eggs cooked. But, it should have been.

When the Rainbow hippies left area, the folks here honored them with a parade. Given how Bush’s FEMA has treated everyone, it would be hell bent to get such treatment. At times, I'm sure folks would rather have run them out of town.

See down here, particularly on the western part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we’ll give you the shirt off of our backs, feed you the best tasting meals you have ever put into your mouths, and dance your feet off under the stars just for the sheer joy of it. It’s in our blood, our collective DNA.

BUT! You mess with us, our baseline survival especially after any kind of disaster like Camille in ’69 or Katrina in ’05, and well, we’re like the best combo of redneck and the Bronx—and our accents often reflect the enormous diversity of those geographical regions.

I believe this story about Mayor Longo, because I recall as a 10 year old girl hearing the story of my own father and a few other men from our neighborhood going to get the rationed gallons of milk after Hurricane Camille devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A couple of truckers were sitting in their cabs when one turned to the other and mentioned something about taking off, that these people didn’t need the milk.

Apparently this was within earshot of my dad and the other men. From what I recall, the men—including my dad—threatened the truckers within an inch of their lives. Commodities were scarce. They had families and neighbors to take care of.

My own family didn’t need the milk. My dad went to get our family’s ration so that we could hand the milk to a neighbor who had toddlers.

We can be a generous lot down here. Just don’t mess with us, particularly when it comes to baseline survival. We will do what needs doing, and if you are in the way, well, at the very least you may experience our own version of verbal jiu jitsu. The skill comes in handy.

Today, we can all use a little practice in the verbal jiu jitsu arena. As I’m writing this, insurance lobbyists are out talking with our congressional representative and two U.S. Senators whispering their corporate propaganda. Fine, let them. This is America. That is their right.

As is often the case, the outcome doesn’t rely on watching them, getting aggravated at what they are doing, examining them under a microscope to talk expertly about their every move. The outcome doesn’t rely on that.

The outcome relies on us. What we do. How well we perform our collective role in this grand experiment in American democracy. Think of it as being one of many thousands of ants at a picnic.

Everyone of those often too numerable to count at a picnic can ruin the most festive of occasions. Well, the insurance industry has picnicked off of us for far too long. This may not be the most appetizing of analogies, but we all get the point.

We have a role to play in the political arena, and playing it faithfully is our right, our responsibility, and, quite frankly, our duty.

We all know what that means. It’s political hell raising time! Yoohooo! What fun! Look for some, exercising our 1st Amendment rights may be the only real exercising we get today. So, let’s do it with gusto!

Today’s fun-filled political hell raising activities
First, we’ll contact our own congressional representatives and tell them that we need one policy for both wind and water. Call and email using these phone scripts and email letters as is a way to easily look up the phone numbers and email addresses for congressional representatives. Or course, edit as you desire. Yes, all of this is provided courtesy of yours truly. The eloquence of our call or email is unimportant to achieving the goal. We need only be certain to make contact.

Secondly we’re going to build the big MO—political momentum. It’s like those tiny ants at the picnic. To ruin a picnic, they seem to automatically multiply all over the place, don’t they? That’s us. We’re going to multiply our efforts through the second of today’s political hell raising activities.

How? We’re going to contact friends, family members, and colleagues to ask them to join us in these at-our-fingertips political hell-raising activities. One way to encourage them is by clicking on the tiny envelop at the end of the full article (online). Type in the email address of a friend, relative, or colleague. Type in a message and click “send email.” A link to this post will be delivered with the charming, encouraging, magnetic email note you’ve written.

With everyone doing just a little bit, we can make this political load light as a feather! A few phone calls here and emails there from all of us around the country will help create the big Mo! We may feel like tiny ants in the big world of politics. However, all we have to remember is how many picnics we’ve attended where ants ruined it for us while having a field day. There’s a picnic before us, and it has our name on it. Eggs anyone?

Broadening Katrina’s Lens: A five Part Series
Part 1: Broadening Katrina's Lens
Part 2: Recovery’s Two Major Impediments: $$$ and the "F" word
Part 3: The "F" Word: FEMA
Part 4: Katrina’s Bigger Picture
Part 5: Katrina’s Karmic Payback: Insurance Reform

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