Last evening I met with Shannon Strother and Sofia Curdumi, from the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy at Tulane University. A Red Cross colleague had put me in touch with Shannon describing her as “the most charismatic humanitarian I have met in 20 years”, fine praise indeed!
They arrive and launch into an overview of disaster management and community organisation post-disaster, oh yes, fellow disaster femmes…. members of the sisterhood- tell me all! After Katrina and the Gulf Oil spill but before Haiti, Sofia’s husband Shane arrives, he patiently sits while we talk about evacuteer.org a new non-profit with a young spunky attitude – he has the look I have seen on my own dear husband’s face many a time (the polite and patient but underlying ‘here we go again’ look!).
So we turn to Christchurch and I try to describe liquefaction – judging by the questions I’m not doing a good job – liqua…..what? Like lava? Is it hot? (slight digression as Shannon describes evacuating a community from an giant lava flow in Africa), no I say it is gross, it is like dirt, silt and water and all shaken up and it comes through people’s cracked foundations and when it dries it turns to dust and makes you cough…… like when you kill a vampire ? Shane offers (only in New Orleans!)…….. Sofia, very nimble on her I-phone reads out the official definition which leads to a new definition…..so, it is like crazy milkshake mud? Yes, well I guess it is.
On discovering that I have only eaten chicken sandwiches since I got here they decided to take “Chicken Sandwich Girl” out for some real New Orleans delicacies. Hello, Pelican Club! I love you.
I can now say I have had smoked sausage gumbo, oysters and cheese, scallops, green tomato crab cakes, lobster and mushroom ravioli, crème brule, bread and butter pudding and the best damn chocolate cake of my life -woooooohooooooo! (reminds me of my son’s storybook “The Very Hungry Catapillar”, and yes, today I am in search of a ‘nice green leaf’)
The best part is that I have experienced some fine southern hospitality……my Red Cross colleague had it right on!