A Painting by Linda Langhorst

Image source: Noladder.blogspot.com

I write a lot about New Orleans. I’ve only ever read about it or seen movies about it. The show Treme is one of my favorite programs on television. It’s a little strange to have such a deep love and respect for a place you’ve never been. New Orleans looms large in my imagination—the music, the culture, Mardi Gras, the French Quarter—all conspire to create this legendary, mystical realm in my mind.

This was true before Katrina. Afterwards, even though I had no right to, I felt cheated. It was like having a dream shattered—this place I’d always wanted to visit, even to live, and now it was devastated and broken. I was working 60-hour weeks at the time but the urge to travel there and to volunteer was intense. I didn’t feel like I could leave my job. I regret not going. I should have dropped everything for the place that held such fascination, to help the very real, suffering people who lived there. I was afraid the reality would replace the fantasy and that was selfish and misguided. Reality should replace fantasy! The reality is so much more important.

For these reasons, I’m always on the lookout for organizations that are doing the work I didn’t—Improving living conditions, rebuilding homes, and restoring the city to its former glory. Today, I found one that is meeting an ongoing basic need. Evacuteer.org trains and manages volunteers who assist the city in public evacuations. Unfortunately, New Orleans is a hotspot for hurricanes. Short of creating a floating city, an evacuation plan is the only way to protect residents. With hurricane season in full swing, Evacuteer.org is ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice.

Founder of Evacuteer.org, former AmeriCorps Volunteer

Image source: Nola.com

Evacuteer.org was founded by Robert X. Fogarty, a former AmeriCorps volunteer determined to keep the potential danger of another large hurricane ever present in people’s minds. As the years pass and New Orleans is not besieged, people forget how to be safe, and that’s dangerous.

A Rendering of an Evacuspot Sculpture in New Orleans

Image source: Nytimes.com

In addition to their work training volunteers to be emergency evacuation facilitators, Evacuteer.org is planning to erect 17 pieces of public art that will mark “evacuspots” throughout the city. These are the places citizens must congregate in an evacuation. As the New York Times reported, until now, evacuation spots have been poorly marked and inconspicuous. The sculptures, created by the artist Douglas Kornfeld, look like a figure reaching up, as if to hail a cab or ask for Mardi Gras beads. They are purposefully attractive and unimposing while being recognizable and conspicuous.

Evacuteer.org is always looking for volunteers. Volunteers can sign up to become trained evacuteers, ready to help neighbors in a hurricane emergency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.