We are not okay
In yesterday's Advocate, Ted Griggs and Chad Calder wrote about how, despite the fact that Countrywide mortgage company has been confiscating homeowners' insurance checks, a Louisiana state agency saw fit to reward Countrywide with a deal that could be worth as much as a million dollars to the California finance company:
A state agency that helps lower-income families buy homes awarded a contract Wednesday to service those loans to a California firm that allegedly withheld hurricane damage insurance money from Louisiana customers.
The Louisiana Housing Finance Agency board’s decision to go with Countrywide Financial Corp. angered some who believed the contract should have gone to an in-state company. Those people included state Treasurer John Kennedy, the lone housing agency board member to vote against the decision. But Kennedy said that was not his major concern.
“After the storms and continuing today, many of our people have had trouble with Countrywide,” Kennedy said.
“There are allegations that countrywide received checks from insurers, and instead of taking their portion and forwarding the remainder to homeowners, Countrywide kept the checks.”
Times-Picayune photographer John McCusker didn't evacuate to Baton Rouge with the rest of the newspaper staff when the building flooded. Instead, he stayed in New Orleans to document the physical and emotional devastation.
Then, for months, he lived the misery he had been photographing, having lost his possessions, his family’s home and his entire neighborhood to the hurricane. On Tuesday, nearly a year after the storm, he seemed to snap.
In an episode that began as a traffic stop for erratic driving, the authorities say, Mr. McCusker was halted once, pinned a police officer between cars by backing up, then fled and drove into several cars and construction signs in the Uptown neighborhood before being stopped again and finally subdued with a Taser gun. In both stops, the police say, he begged officers to shoot him, telling them he did not have enough insurance money to rebuild his home in the Gentilly neighborhood and wanted to die. ...
The public unraveling of such a well-known local photographer shined light again on the troubled state of mental health in New Orleans, where the struggle to return to normalcy has produced an epidemic of post-traumatic stress and depression and where psychiatric help is extremely limited.
The state has estimated that the city has lost more than half its psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists and other mental health workers, many of whom relocated after the storm.
Have strength there old man. You're a champion to all of us for what you've done. You're not alone in your grieving. I know first hand how difficult it is to find anyone at all who can help, not to mention someone whose approach can provide the kind of care you need. There's nothing to be ashamed of. You'll get through it -- we'll all get through it together. Just don't give up! When you get discouraged, when you get depressed, don't give up -- get mad!!!
Read the rest of Susan Saulny's New York Times article.
Ahhhhh ... anyone believe in the tooth fairy?
Both articles appeared in my mail bin, courtesy of CLOUP (the Coalition for Louisiana Progress). You too can get their informative news alerts by signing up for their newsletter.
da po' blog -- Katrina Every Day
Vicky Moos -- How many more will it take?
The Times-Picayune treated the story about one of it's own in a disgracefully clinical manner, under the title, "N.O. man arrested after chase." Under the circumstances, I'd say setting aside rules about "objective" journalism are merited, and a little more feeling might have been called for. No information was provided in the story or on The Times-Picayune Web site about how to make donations for McCusker. I suggest that the paper contribute proceeds of its Hurricane Katrina merchandise to a fund to help its staff.
TP -- 'Post-Katrina stress syndrome' plagues residents
Tags: Hurricane Katrina | Katrina | New Orleans | Louisiana | We Are Not OK