Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans:
August 31, 2005
I have been watching television for the past three days straight—I believe one would call it being “glued to the TV”—“clinging to hopes” that my home might be spared the flooding that has “claimed” New Orleans. I have a newscaster’s vocabulary. My parents’ home in Atlanta is my “Hurricane Headquarters,” and I’ve heard it might remain that way for “12 to 16 weeks.” This according to CNN tickertape; I have yet to hear from the mayor, himself, except via nola.com or WWLTV.com, where in forums we swap desperate questions about neighborhoods none of us can see, and where a woman offered everything in her home in exchange for the rescue of her cat. My own three cats are asleep with my boyfriend in the bedroom of my parents’ basement where I grew up. I have them, and I have a crate containing my diaries and some of my photos. What I want, though, is everything—all of it, back.
And it is difficult to believe that we won’t have it all back. We strain our eyes to see street signs in the footage of New Orleans, and we recognize familiar landmarks—the Naval Base, Andrew Jackson’s statue at the Square, the hotels in the CBD, the Mother-in-Law Lounge, some of them underwater, some of them not. It appears that our own house may be spared the flooding, but then what? We will have our things: our Sleep-Number bed, our two computers, our stereo, TV, CDs, kitchen equipment, framed paintings, etc., etc. We will have these things to load into our car and to add to my childhood bedroom, our new home.
Other things we see on TV, things we are told by the news, things we read in the paper:
· A story of a woman who lost her elderly mother. She tried to convince her mother to climb to the attic with her, but her mother decided to stay because her Steinway grand piano had already gone under.
· A three-year old child, “exhausted, hot, sick,” “desperate” with his parents on the I-10 overpass, waiting to be told where to go.
· A four hundred pound woman—one of the “difficult rescues” carried from a rooftop to a helicopter.
· People waving from balconies, their “injured” heads “wrapped in towels” that those of us who live in New Orleans know are really doo-rags.
· People looting the stores on Canal Street. “The people here are desperate,” says CNN producer Susan the Giant Bitch, “desperate to get out.” These are the obedient old people, and the nice whiteys, you can hear in her voice. “And then,” she says, “there are the people who are looting the stores for a pair of new shoes.” She, who has likely never known poverty, known desperation, who will make it safely out of here with mo problem. She and others offer their judgment.
· The looting of the Wal-Mart, where law enforcement officers were given “unwritten permission” to take what they needed, including a DVD of Queen Latifah’s “Beauty Shop.”
· People pushing carts, orange construction bins, a baby in a cooler, through the flooded streets of New Orleans, trash bags slung over shoulders, making their way toward the Superdome.
· Buses lining up to take people away from the Superdome, with its “ungodly heat,” its overflowing toilets, its second-level suicide of a man previously engaged in an otherwise ordinary game of dominoes.
· Comparisons to 9/11, to the Asian tsunami, to the dust bowl, to “hell on earth.”
Things we don’t see, aren’t told, don’t read in the paper:
· Where to go.
· Our house.
· How many are dead.
· What will happen next.
· When the breaks in the levee and floodwalls will be plugged.
· What will happen to our jobs.
· What has happened to the animals.
· What has happened to Jackie, who is pregnant and stayed behind, who weathered the storm on the tenth floor of a hotel that I hope is not the one they keep showing photos of, the backdrop of a wind-battered American flag a la 9/11.
· When things are likely to get better.
We wait and see and wait and hear and wait and read and it is the most maddening and frustrating thing ever and I am too wired to cry and too—um, uh, stunned? to act appropriately devastated when all the people who I haven’t heard from in years call to find out how I am, how we are. How are we?
I haven’t cried since this happened, I mean since it actually happened. In the Chicago O’Hare airport, I cried with aplomb! to the CNN broadcast that prophesized New Orleans’ doom. There was a man sitting a safe two seats over, his feet propped up on the chair in front of him, half reading a paper, half-glancing at the broadcast, and I wanted to tell him that I was from New Orleans, that that was why I was crying; to ask if he had been to New Orleans, and had he loved it as much as I do? As much as she deserves to be loved? What is it about airports that makes us so intensely private, and yet so publicly weepy? Travel has always made me nostalgic. And so I cried for New Orleans, either accepting or in denial of her already being gone.
When the plane took off, we were in that ordinary zoom, about to do the lurchy-takeoff bit, when all of a sudden the plane slowed and turned dramatically. The captain told us that it had been “a small warning light”—you know, the ones that are nothing like the big warning lights—which in his captain’s croon seemed both small, yes, nothing at all, and like the elephant in the room, too. Later we were told that planes are sometimes like laptops: they just need to be re-booted and everything’s fine.
But I was ready to go on that plane, and I said my goodbyes as we ascended, romanticized backyard swimming pools and rock quarries and interstates and cried a little more. I was coming to terms with the unknown, I guess.
And so now I know a bit more, and I am that much less weepy, that much less sentimental. It feels counterintuitive, given the TV footage, that I would become more calm rather than less so as I watch the conditions deteriorate, the Mississippi “reclaim” Tangipahoa Parish, the desperate people of New Orleans misbehave and behave and know nothing and know everything. All day they are rescued and all day they are surely dying in hot attics and all night they will be riding away from New Orleans and toward the Houston Astro Dome and all day I tell my friends who call that I can’t believe it either, that it’s terrible, that I don’t know about my home or what will happen next and I’m just glad to be alive, and even that feels hollow.
September 1, 2005
This morning the news was even more disconcerting, though I will remember today mostly for my Post Office cry.
First, Fox reported that shots had been fired at helicopters at the Superdome and that the evacuation had been halted. Then, men who’d arrived at the dry spot of I-10 outside New Orleans cowered in their boats, claiming FEMA had told them not to go in to the city because it was “too dangerous.” It all reeked of misinformation and the kind of urban myth that panic encourages. Matt and Amanda called from Matt’s brother’s in Houston and Amanda said there’d been rapes and that she was afraid that since her house was on dry ground it would be looted. It seemed no one could confirm or deny any of this.
On CNN, a spokesman for the National Guard said that “apparently” there’d been “reports” of shots fired near the Superdome, but that it was a Chinook helicopter, and if one were familiar with a Chinook, one might realize how loud and large they are, and therefore how difficult to know where shots came from, etc. Later there was a report of guardsmen who’d been hit, and there were all sorts of reports of violence, and looters and snipers. Ah-ha! Jesse Jackson is in the background and he just said to Larry King that he thinks that all of this has been exaggerated. That’s my man. He just said that the $6/gallon gas in Atlanta could be called looting, itself. And ah, yes, now he’s blaming it on the greenhouse gases. And still he has his faith. Oh, to be a Reverend.
At any rate, I wrote a letter to the editor in response to a letter in the AJC:
“In the past few days, we have seen dramatic footage of rooftop rescues, heard incredible stories of survival and seen disgraceful footage of looting in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have seen or heard none of this? If only those people had heeded the warnings and followed the mandatory evacuation orders.”
--David H. Lash, Atlanta.
Sarah D__New Orleans
(Currently c/o Gary and Eleanor D__
To the Editor:
It is easy for readers like David E. Lash (“Warnings Ignored,” 9/1) to condemn “those people” in New Orleans who did not evacuate the city in time—easy from the perspective of privilege. But had Lash been one of “those people”—had he been among the 30% of New Orleanians living below the poverty level, among the 40% who are elderly or children, the 30% without means of transportation—had he actually known what it was like to be a resident of New Orleans faced with evacuating their home, knowing that they could be leaving it behind forever, perhaps he would suspend his judgment.
I consider myself lucky to be a resident of New Orleans who was able to make it out safely. I can now only hope that Americans like Lash will lend help rather than place blame so that I will be able to share that city with “those people”—my fellow New Orleanians—again.
New Orleans, LA
I hear phrases like “those people” and “these people” and “the people here,” etc., and within the current context, these words seem to reveal something very ugly about us and our capacity for empathy. Those people, these people—it is as if the people of New Orleans, those caught in this horrific refugee crisis (who knew there could be a refugee crisis in the US?) are not people, but things. Yesterday my dad said how funny it was to happen upon the TV, then muted, as an image of a fat woman lugging her belongings through the floodwaters to the high and dry ground of I-10 was coupled with the running ticker tape that announced some scientific discovery of another life form. The media is so irresponsible, too, with their contextualizing of words and images. A family loading up a car with their belongings in order to evacuate is couple with a sidebar that reads, “Looting out of control in downtown New Orleans.”
Another funny and completely off contextual coupling:
CNN broadcast video of a truckload of angry New Orleanians yelling “Fuck Ray, fuck Ray” (Ray Nagin is our mayor) and one had the impression that the newscaster didn’t even realize what was being said, so thick was the New Orleans black dialect. Shortly thereafter, during the FEMA briefing, CNN posted a sidebar that read: “Linguists will be available for those who do not speak English.” One had the impression that the outsiders are the ones who need to have New Orleans dialect translated. At any rate, I was proud of my New Orleanians at that moment.
And, oh, bless Harry Connick, Jr, too, who said on MSNBC that no, he would not comment on the looting because he had not known the poverty that many in New Orleans had, had not lost his house and all of his belongings, and could not say that had he been through the same thing, grown up the same way, he, too, would not have wanted to have himself a plasma TV, too…
The Post-Office incident was this:
I went to the Post Office to fill out a temporary change of address form, and when the teller asked me how long I wanted them to forward my mail, I didn’t know. She suggested six months, until April, and I think she could see how that affected me, so she suggested January instead, which seemed okay—much more doable, only she entered January 31st instead of 1st, and I’d really wanted the 1st because it seemed much more hopeful that way—like a new year in a new New Orleans.
So I cried and my mom cried and we stood in the parking lot and cried and I wished I had a bumper sticker declaring New Orleans my home, I wished I had a T-shirt, because then I wouldn’t have to explain.
Yes, the mood of the day has been a bad one. The realization of its being really, really awful has begun to sink in. It did seem, indeed, like there was no real help in New Orleans, what with the images of people yelling “fuck Ray” and that of a dead grandmother in a wheelchair next to a corpse wrapped in a white sheet: only the beginning of those, I think. And with the rhetoric spat by FEMA, but the office of Homeland Security, by all of that talk meant to comfort that sounds just EMPTY when coupled with what we are watching.
And then there is this: I am afraid that because our house seems to be on high ground, dry ground, it will be looted, which didn’t matter before, losing all of the stuff to the flood, but which now I can’t bear to lose because I don’t want it to be true, any of this talk of the chaos in New Orleans. I just want it all to be like the words of so many concerned friends: “It will be okay.” Yeah, uh, okay.
A woman in the makeshift hospital at Louis Armstrong National Airport wandering around, dazed, a Polaroid picture of her four-day-old baby in her hands—this baby who’d been taken from her and transferred and who she’d now lost. Even she couldn’t cry. I hadn’t realized how difficult it would be to cry over the cry-able things, and how easy it would be to
cry over a post office form.
September 2, 2005
“The reason that Hurricane Katrina’s destruction resonates with us so deeply is that New Orleans has always been America’s only monument to human frailty. Washington celebrates power. New York celebrates wealth. Chicago celebrates commerce. Only in New Orleans was the very basic nature of the human condition not only acknowledged, but elevated.”
“Only in this city could heroic—if strange—authors thrive. Only in this city could everyday people—residents who moved to the French Quarter for their own very personal reasons and everyday tourists from Milwaukee—come to lose their inhibitions without fear.”
“…And that is what most of us who’ve ever been there—ever lived those sweltering August days or just visited those rainy March nights—came away with. It is why the story of the city’s destruction is much more than poignant; it is, indeed, tragic. For perfectly good and entirely neutral reasons, nature dealt a terrible blow to the city, just as nature—and man—have before. And some other New Orleans will eventually rise from this catastrophe, just as it has from the fires and the plagues and the floods that have gone before.”
“But it will not be the same New Orleans, at least not to us. The sea has taken with it more than life: it has taken our belief that the gods, for some reason, smile on our frailties.”—Richard Parker.
And with that tiny word, “was,”—“Only in New Orleans was the very basic nature of the human condition not only acknowledged, but elevated”—I see how all that nostalgia I felt for New Orleans before the fact (oh, how some of the stories I’ve written about New Orleans seem to resonate now) was, in fact, earned. Was, was, was.
Simon and I stayed up late last night talking about a number of things that come with this new “was”: the way we don’t know how to grieve this properly (I was upset with Simon for spending all of yesterday writing down every single thing he heard on TV;) the way we don’t know how to be gracious house guests to my parents (I was upset at my dad for griping when I’d asked him to take down a series of topographical maps he has posted in the basement where we are living—maps I doubt he’s looked at in ages;) how we want to make the basement comfortable for the time being (because it could be months, we agreed, crying a little;) how we don’t know what we will do if we can’t go back to New Orleans any time soon, how we want to be back there now (because we feel so HELPLESS watching our city go down on TV;) how today we will go down to the Red Cross and offer our services as teachers, how we want to help the refugees (including ourselves;) write about this experience.
People who’ve called to worry after us (with apologies for perhaps forgetting some and with extra apologies for perhaps not knowing, exactly, what to say when you’ve called.)
Paul and Aliya
Chuck and Sally
A couple of my mother’s students
Matt Suazo (who’s in Houston)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRANDI!
What a birthday, huh? I hope that Paw-Paw and Susan help you celebrate however you feel able. I would think it must be hard, what with all of the not knowing about the future… Jesus, this SUCKS!!!
But you, my girl, are one special lady, and you have worked your butt of this year, and you deserve nothing but love, love, love, today. So turn off the TV and eat some cake! If we were there, we’d come bearing gifts: wine and a carrot-zucchini cake and pasta primavera and Cranium and laughter.
We love and adore you, and we know how much you, like us, love and adore New Orleans. For your birthday, I would most like to give you (and us) our city back. What I can more realistically give you is our promise to help you—and the city—rebuild.
Here’s to many more birthdays—to be celebrated in New Orleans!
I was wondering aloud today: Do you think we will view our lives from now on as Pre-Katrina and Post-Katrina? I knew the answer, I did. We will. It will have its own anagram: Pre-K or Post-K (are they called anagrams? I can’t remember, and lordy the English teacher in me is no one right now.)
Vacuuming helped. I was vacuuming my old bedroom, trying to make it livable in an adult sense, and my dear kitties were afraid and I wanted to say, “Dear Kitties, why is it that you are always afraid of the vacuum when you know it only makes things cleaner?” And I thought simply for that short while: move furniture, vacuum cat litter, move objects, vacuum, vacuum, think.
It was better than unpacking. My bag was filled with books from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, where I was before this, and that Me seemed like a universe away. There I was, comparing myself to these published writers with their important books, feeling like a nobody turd, like, “What do I have to say about life and living?” I attended lectures where the authors offered helpful suggestions along the line of suffering for one’s work, and I envisioned myself in my new-adult future, back at work at UNO, waking early in the morning to sit down at my desk and write devotedly about Whatever. I hadn’t realized how much I would suffer between then and now, and how tiny my suffering would seem compared to that of the New Orleans that is left behind.
The news of the day is that HELP FINALLY ARRIVED. FIVE FUCKING DAYS LATER, help arrived. The Fucking President even came for a little tour. On the radio—even on good old cynical NPR, people were talking about HOPE! And Governor Kathleen Blanco spoke on the tarmac of the airport about the rebuilding of the levees, which she would call “Project Hope.”
The other news of the day is not news at all, it is analysis of the obvious: the people left behind in New Orleans are the poor. They are black. They are elderly and children. They are the kind of people that get left behind all of the time, and here they are on our TV screen, unavoidable. Rep. Elijah Cummings of the Black National Caucus appeared on TV to offer this analysis: “The difference between those who have lived and those who have died in their tragedy will be poverty, age, and skin color.” And he couldn’t be more right. It gives new meaning to “White Flight”—that the whites of the city were able to leave because they were, not coincidentally, also the ones who could afford to.
After Cummings, Jesse Jackson, Jr., spoke. He said he was “appalled” that the media had “shifted the conversation” from the devastation of the lives of the victims of Katrina to “what people do” when overcome by such devastation, such desperation. Then, CNN cut him off to go to some Army Corps of Engineers dude who was talking about the obvious. But all afternoon and evening, the unavoidable subject continued to come up: Why are all of those black people on our TV screens? I am glad, frankly, that this dialogue will occur, though I suspect it will make me sick, sick, sick, to hear the short-sighted comments of the usual suspects: those who lack empathy, who tell homeless people to “get a job.” Get a fucking imagination.
Wow. I’m getting angry! This is a triumph!!!
September 3, 2005
I never thought that I’d see Geraldo Riviera in New Orleans—never. Typical Geraldo:
“Some of the most desperate, poorest people on earth were here… It was like Dante’s inferno… Dead bodies, a man shot for trying to rape a 13-year-old girl…” And of course he’s trying his darndest to get sound-bytes from anyone who will pass.
And I know it’s bad. It looks awful. But can we get some reality, folks? The words that fly around… all of the inflation.
“It is sludge and sewage, it is horrifying… the Convention Center now an eerie and garbage-strewn wasteland, but it is a lot better than the jungle it was last night.”
“Geraldo, thank you… your reporting has been really top notch, and you know it struck me as I was watching some of the evacuations earlier and I saw little black children helping elderly white people and I just thought about how this whole, uh, tragedy, has brought people together, you know, who might not ordinarily come into contact with each other. Your thoughts on that.”
“Oh… yeah. You know, you make me so emotional. You just can’t imagine it. Regardless of race or color or creed or religion, the human stories that have yet to emerge will touch your heart, and they will break your heart, there’s no doubt about it.”
Ah, yes: the Fox response to the race-conversation. Last night, Wynton Marsalis mentioned on 20/20 how he is sure that had the people left behind been wealthy and white, the situation would have been different. I believe him. I absolutely do. And what happens in—what happens to New Orleans from now on will speak to our capacity to acknowledge the complicated intersections of race and class in that city. I worry less about the infrastructure of the historic buildings, in fact, than I do the people and the culture. What scares me is that bourgeois people will swoop in with their money and their blueprints and they will build buildings identical in aesthetic to those that stood there before (with the exception of all-new everything) and they will not be affordable for the people who lived there before to return to. Who knows if we will be able to return, even? What if it becomes some fucking amusement park? Soulless like Atlanta, where I am stuck now.
Some guy from the Dept of Environmental ?? in St. Bernard Parish: “The City of New Orleans is going to be devastated. But I want to talk about the suburbs. Everyone seems to not focus on the suburbs. And these are predominantly white areas, areas where people are dying. And people are throwing the race card trying to save the people in New Orleans, but the people in St. Tammany and St. Bernard Parish are dying.”
I have no comment.
I have a job still! Good Lord, I am lucky. The University of New Orleans is apparently still 2/3 dry, and the web site says, “We are not sunk!!” (Exclamation marks and all.) My dad says that someone there is getting paid to sound optimistic, and maybe so, but I can’t believe how lucky I am to have a full-time job at UNO. I am now on paid “special leave,” and it appears that will be the case at least until the end of the year.
Simon, though, has lost his job. I can’t tell how he feels about it. Not great, I imagine, but we both feel so lucky, all things considered. This means that we can work on our teaching/tutoring plan.
The plan: To teach a “visiting class” at schools that have taken in Katrina students or at the shelters, themselves.
Objective: To encourage and facilitate journal keeping for the children (and perhaps adults) affected by Katrina. While these journals would be for the kids, themselves, we would certainly like to encourage them to share their stories, particularly their hopes for rebuilding.
It is soooo important that the people who were left behind have a say in the way New Orleans is rebuilt. And we hope that in getting people to think about it and write about it, the plans for rebuilding, themselves, may, in fact. Be impacted.
Fats Domino is okay.
Irma Thomas is still missing.
I hadn’t even THOUGHT about the musicians and the artists! Oh, God, what will they do? It would be wonderful if people across the US could give them JOBS… and in that way the “spirit if New Orleans” would be shared… people might begin to understand that it is not just the charming buildings and romantic trees that makes New Orleans—it is the music and the dancing. Maybe THAT’s what I should work on! Maybe I should be getting the bands GIGS! Hmmm…
Wow. I’m HOPEFUL! That is a REAL mother-fucking triumph!
Still no word from Jackie.
Finally spoke to Anthony, who was in a four-hour long line for gas in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He’d evacuated to Hattiesburg to a house he shared with “12 people, 2 dogs, and a ferret.” No water. No electricity. “Girl, I flushed a toilet for the first time just a day ago. Anthony is headed to his mom’s house in Chicago.
“This is a defining moment in our nation’s history.” –Wynton Marsalis on 20/20.
I hope that my children will look back on this time and be proud of me, be proud of us. (P.S. No, I don’t have any kids, but allow me to indulge in sentimentality—Fox News has done it to me.)
The NOAA has a website with photos of the city, but I can’t find our house. I know it must be there, but I can’t find it, and it made me feel sick, trying to look.
What also made me feel sick: Tom and Brandi have already moved on. They are looking for jobs in other cities and have said that they hope their house is totaled for the sake of ease. I know it’s reasonable, and that this is what we have to do, really, but I can’t help but feel like they are abandoning New Orleans. I guess all people don’t love it like I do. I love it so intensely, I’d go back no matter what the circumstance.
I know they do love it. I know they want to go back. It’s just they are married and want a family and have different ideas of home than I do. I had always thought I’d be one of those people who’d be at home anywhere. In fact, I saw myself kind of bopping around the world, making my home everywhere.
But then I moved to New Orleans. I remember telling myself, “Okay, sixth months: in six months I will be a singer and a writer, and if not, I’ll move.” I remember evacuating for Hurricane Georges in 1998, in fact, and deciding that if the city was wiped out then, I would move to New York. I was half-disappointed when it wasn’t because at the time I didn’t know myself, hadn’t yet fallen deeply in love with New Orleans.
And then I did: I fell in love. And six years, rather than six months later, I was singing and writing, and I knew that home was not these things, even, though knowing that I could do what I set out to do helped, but that it was the PLACE and the PEOPLE that made New Orleans my home. I can take me and my cats and my love, Simon, anywhere, but nowhere will be New Orleans, and I miss it like a missing limb.
I think it is VITAL that people who lived in, and loved the city (Pre-K) go back so we can have a voice in its rebuilding.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What’s hard: Talking about New Orleans with people who don’t love it like you do. They are appropriately sad, but you have the sense that they will miss it like they miss the memory of one great fucking vacation.
Speaking of vacations:
Waveland is devastated. (Waveland, sight of many a camping trip at Buccaneer State Park and home of the Sno-Ball Depot that gave me the idea for my own Sno-Ball/waffle fries/hand-dipped corn dog stand, Miss Dee’s Sno-Ball Depot.)
The last chopper has evacuated the 700-plus people who’d been stranded on the I-10 overpass (5:50 Central Time.)
My Saks Fifth Avenue is burning! Oh, how fucking silly that sounds.
Last night I was saying to Paul and Aaliya and their roommate, Daniel, how the TV has been getting to me. When I watch it, it’s almost as if I am watching any TV show on any channel. But then when I start to talk about it, it devastates me. I can’t believe the words that come out of my mouth. Strangely, it becomes both more real and more surreal as I put it to words. I simply can’t believe it’s actually happening, and yet, that I am able to articulate it proves that I can. Oy.
A fifteen-year old boy drove a stolen school bus with 70 people on it to the Houston Astrodome! Yes!
7:40 on CNBC
Oh, the biggest of tears: Harry Connick, Jr. and Wynton Marsalis playing “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” on a fundraiser on CNBC. Oh, oh, oh…
“Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans when that’s where you left your heart?”
Kanye West in tears: “ I hate the way they portray us on TV. When they show black people they say they are looting. When they show white people, they say they are looking for home.” “They’ve given them permission to go down there and shoot us.”
This is great. Mike Meyers is reading a script and Kanye West is simply going the fuck off. Hell yes.
CNN (Larry King):
Nothing like watching Celine Dion blubber like a baby. Her reaction is indicative of what I think a number of people are likely feeling about the "reaction" to New Orleans: WHY ARE THERE STILL PEOPLE NEEDING RESCUE?
September 4, 2005
This morning on CBS, an interesting piece on the perception of the US reaction to Katrina... people abroad cannot understand WHY this is happening in the US. They are thinking ill of our capitalism, too, as it is evident from the poor and the black left behind in New Orleans that ours is a system that does not care about the poor. And they are right. I can only hope that this shines a light on how fucked up our nation is and how little we care for those most in need.
There are still people in New Orleans who do not want to leave, and the rescuers cannot understand why. Well, fucking DUH! This is HOME, people! However ravaged it may be, who knows what will come of it and where "home" will be next?!
Oh, the ANIMALS. It devastates me to see animals on porches, in windows... desperate and starving.