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Friday, September 02, 2005

FROM LINDEN DOLLARS TO KATRINA RELIEF

The first Linden Dollar-to-US$ hurricane relief donations are going up. Three of them are at the Waterhead Memorial (Waterhead 114,12). Through these, Residents can pay L$ directly from their account to the donation box, and the Resident who owns the box will convert this to cash, and send the cash to the Red Cross or another reputed aid group. (As with any act of charity, therefore, donating is an act of trust.) Kim Richelieu and David Jacobs have set up boxes there; Pathfinder Linden worked with FlipperPA Peregrine on setting up a box, too. "It's the same exact way it worked for Relay for Life," Pathfinder tells me. "FlipperPA has an alt [account] that receives the donations, he exchanges it on Gaming Open Market, and then cuts a check or credit card donation to the Red Cross." (FlipperPA is a longtime Resident and one of the co-organizers of the upcoming Second Life Community Convention in New York, SL's first real world con.)

When I check on the progress of the memorial, another survivor is there with her own stories to tell. Nethermind Bliss is a woman with fire-streaked hair and steel claw gloves-- and a relative who's gone missing in the Big Easy.

"It's been incredibly emotional for those of us who aren't in the city," she tells me, "trying to find family and friends. Sometimes cell phones are working, and I hear one friend at a gas station watching a fist fight break out. Another friend was confronted by looters in a local Walmart. The reports from Baton Rouge are somewhat false, because they are trying to maintain calm, to be honest."

She's originally from New Orleans, but "I don't live there now, my family does. I wish I was living there, though, which is a strange thing to say. But it's a helpless feeling knowing you have an uncle in the French Quarter still there. Makes me want to charter a swamp boat to go find him." (She last heard from him last Sunday.) "He was staying behind to guard against looters-- he manages [a Bourbon street] hotel," she explains.

"Nobody in New Orleans took this seriously," Nethermind continues. "People have had hurricane parties all my life. It's hard to explain. Where everyone gets together, shelters each other, and rides out the storm. I know it sounds crazy, but we spend our whole lives weathering rain and wind, even a little flooding. So, this is why so many (along with the incredible poverty) people decided to stay.

"New Orleans has always had like a magic bubble over it. Hurricanes come and swing just East/West of New Orleans. So, no, I think people thought they could handle it. The last big hurricane was over 40 years ago. When I was at [a Louisiana college], bad storms would flood our cars, and we'd swim out of flooded areas and laugh about it. My husband's car was flooded three times while he was in college.

"I don't think people knew [about Katrina's] Category 5 status until it was almost too late to get out. There aren't a ton of ways in and out of the city. I had a friend who was stuck in traffic for almost a full day on the interstate, and there was a lot of confusion...

"When you see neighborhoods that you recognize on the television, it's a devastating feeling.

"Anyway," Nethermind Bliss finishes, "I just stopped by to see how the donations were going."

Posted at 12:48 AM | Permalink

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