67 year old lived in a dog kennel for 4 weeks post Louisiana flood.. UNACCEPTABLE

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On August 13th 2016, Louisiana received 7.1 TRILLION gallons of rain in less than 36 hours causing the worst national disaster since Superstorm Sandy.  Just to compare, Hurricane Katrina dropped 2.6 Trillion.  The unnamed storm flooded 11% of the state, leaving 144,000 homes a ‘complete loss’.  The media has failed to cover the magnitude of devastation here in Louisiana where help is still so desperately needed.  People are still being found, living in make shift housing… our volunteer group of about 10 rotate days, continuing to send people out into the field in order to meet the needs of so many.. but it is overwhelming, and we certainly need more help.

We first learned of Mrs Diane while posting in a FB group asking where the tent cities were.  We learned of 8 communities where people are still living in tents, 8 weeks after the flood… and these are the fortunate ones that have been found, and given an alternate living space than the black mold infested home that still needs gutting.  Storme’s Shelters was born when we continuously found human beings living inside of the flooded homes. “We’d tell them they can’t live in these conditions and they’d respond with ‘what choice do I have?’ and we didn’t have an answer, so we created one” says Storme.  An Amazon Wishlist of camping supplies was created, initially looking to home people in 3 and 5 man tents, but when returning to check on those rehoused, they’d find the residents back in the homes because the AC still worked, or because they couldn’t crouch under the doorways of small enclosures.  The wishlist was revised to accommodate people in 8 and 10 man tents where they could walk around.. a real home outside of their home.  Extension cords are ran to the tents providing power for phones, crockpots to cook, air mattresses, and in some lucky cases, real beds.

Mrs Diane was by her neighbors living in a dog kennel with a tarp over it, here she had been for 4 weeks.  Shelters had closed down, and bounced her around until the last shelter finally provided her a ride home to a completely condemned mobile home.  She did what she had to do while she sat and waited for FEMA.  Inside her dog kennel she had put a box spring that she found on the neighbors trash pile, covered it with a few blankets, and called it home.  The following video is a compilation of footage from that day.  September 29th, 2016.

Video is Copyright by Storme Hannan XOXO 2016.

By the end of the day help had shown up to pitch a ten man tent.  People watching the initial facebook live video responded, conspiring together to bring a variety of needs and help raise the tent.  People from many volunteer groups. Lousiana Flood Relief, The Cajun Navy, The Cajun Army, #FillTheseTrucks, #BeSomeonesMiracle as well as individuals that just had to come and help.

The help continued on thru the next couple of days when Mrs Thibodeaux went on a hunt for an affordable camper, picked Mrs Diane up, and drove her to Lafayette to look at it and bring it home.

Mrs Diane is one of thousands here in Louisiana who still need help.  In the past week we have discovered over 2,000 hungry people displaced in motels, fearing homelessness when their vouchers run out on 10/19/2016.  They are sitting waiting for Marshall Law.  When we asked them what they needed, they asked for shoes, toothbrushes, water and food.  Many people ask me.. “where’s red cross?” “where’s FEMA?” “don’t they get foodstamps?”

If a person doesn’t own their home, they received one deposit of rental assistance.  Anywhere from $800-$1800 in some cases.  They are thankful for that, but want people to understand.. there isn’t many properties available to rent.  They were flooded.  They don’t have transportation if they only had liability insurance, so they are homeless with no transportation, one initial allotment of food stamps (7 weeks ago) and jobless because they can’t get to work, or their workplace was also flooded.  At this point they are back to having nothing. Lots of people haven’t received any assistance, and are paying out of pocket.  The full story on what we are finding at the motels is coming soon. Please join our FB page Storme’s Shelters to get involved.  Please consider donating to help us help them! We accept PayPal donations stormesshelters@gmail.com or you can use Site To Store on the Walmart Wishlist

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$135 all included in Chicago… blessed

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I decide to head for the first tourist attraction on my list, backpack in tow, after-all, I cannot check into my airbnb until 5pm.  Who cares tho? $18 a night, how can I complain? Airbnb has really changed my life! Goodbye tents, and hello wifi, electricity, shower, and a real bed!


The John Hancock building, where I have read that you can see all of Chicago from the signature lounge bypassing the $20 fee for the 360 deck.  I set off.  Walking in circles looking for the red line.  The map shows its location, but my gps seems confused and the street names don’t indicate which direction in which to go.  This certainly isn’t New York.  I feel the wind bellowing down the avenue towards me, and I decide that that must be where Lake Michigan is.  I proceed to walk in the North with this assumed directional sense.  Three lefts later, I am going the right way.
Distractions!!!!!
Everywhere…
 Tall buildings leaving my head forever tilted towards the sky.  But as my eyes come in for a landing to quickly ensure my safety they find new wonders upon which to gaze.
Old castle like buildings intertwined with the new skyscraper structures.  Beige monuments, standing short against the backdrop of the glass windows.  The contrast taking me quite off guard.  “You never know what you don’t know, and who knew?”  Holy churches and fire stations.
Bricks carefully laid one by one, the pride completely evident.  The tourist leaps out of me, pulling the real camera out and snapping, spinning, snapping some more.  Photo after photo, eager to share my discovery with the world.  I can see Willis Tower ahead of me.  The Sears Tower I should say, or else my local chitown friends will be sure to correct me.  I look at my GPS, which is now cooperating, and continue to walk around the block, looking for the John Hancock Building.  Around and around I walk, skipping a block, “maybe it’s behind the Willis Tower?” I stop to read about the water tower, that now houses and Chicago Tourism center and art gallery.
The water tower was built to draw water from Lake Michigan, and was the only public building to survive the Great Fire of Chicago.  It’s beautiful.  I continue walking, until I have come full circle, and another block before I realize that the Willis Tower is in fact the John Hancock Building.  #tourist
It turns out that the signature lounge has overly priced drinks, and while it may still be cheaper to purchase a $15 mixed drink than pay the $20 to get into the 360 deck, there’s s special for $21 where you cons visit the deck twice within 48 hours.  As a photographer, the chance to see the skyline during the day and at night is totally worth the extra dollars!
  Breathtaking… This is one of those moments that I wish you weren’t reason my blog and looking at my photos.. It’s a moment that if you can get to Chicago and experience this, I totally recommend it, and I’m writing this blog to prove it doesn’t cost as much as you’ve probably assumed..
This is probably a good spot to get a financial breakdown of the cost of this trip so far.
Parking car in New Orleans – FREE (thank you Gloria!)
Flight from New Orleans to Chicago via Southwest Airlines – $44
Bottle of water in the airport (because my waters were more than 3oz I had to pour them out) – $3 (lesson learned)
Orange line train from the airport to the city $3
Dublin Donuts Coolata (don’t judge, we don’t have Dunkin Donuts near where I live) $4
John Hancock 360 – $21
AirBnB reservation $20/night
3 nights booked ($60)
Total so far = $135 and that’s including the next two nights lodging!
As heavy as this tall backpack is, it’s totally worth it!
Can’t beat that! Well, maybe I should tell the next story about my airbnb 😉
To be continued

Goodnight Day One

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October 3rd 2015 – My first day traveling without my car.. just me, my backpack, and public transportation…

So I woke up in New Orleans, took my $44 flight and spent the day walking miles around Chicago with my backpack.  It’s about 4pm, and I figure it’ll take me about an hour to get to the place I will be sleeping.  Perfect timing since check in is at 5pm and all I really want to do is put this backpack down and get something to eat.  I’ve seen several places but I want to be frugal.  I can cook at the house, I’m sure there will be a grocery store somewhere near.

 

  I plug in the address and use some city transport app I found in the App Store.  It doesn’t really help me out too much, so I check my reservation for directions.  Sure enough, catch the pink line and a few blocks from the Kedzie station I’ll find the place.  Should be easy.  After walking completely the wrong way, and finding navy pier, a lady walking her dog eyes me at the bus shelter looking completely lost trying to figure out if any of the buses that stop here are going anywhere closer to somewhere that will help me.  By this time I am tired, and walking isn’t feeling so much fun.  She asks me if I need help, and I tell her what my goal is.   She kindly directs me to the red line, and then tells me she’s walking that way so she’ll walk with me.
  As we walked we talked.  She asked me where I was from, and what I was doing in Chicago.  I told her my story about fighting cancer, and mental illness, and how now I just want to live, which for me means seeing the world.  She tells me about her son who is fighting prostate cancer.  She tells me that they aren’t supposed to outlive their children.  She’s already lost one child to suicide, and now her son is fighting for his life.  She’s happy to hear there is hope, and thanks me for my story.  She seems positive that he will win his fight tho.  She asked me if I’d thought about becoming a motivational speaker, and I have,  but when I think of them, I think about people traveling to rooms full of people, place to place, now trying to sell a CD, or a book, or something.  How whatever brought them to be the inspiration has probably taken a back seat, and spreading the message, and profiting from it has probably become a full time job, once again propelling money to the front of the goals list.  It’s so easy to fall back into that trap. I don’t think that’s for me.  I’m content with writing these blogs, and hopefully touching some other people’s lives that are struggling in their own fights, or living inside their 9 to 5 boxes, dreaming of the day, but never allowing it to be today.  I remember that feeling.  It was “normal” everyone did it, because after all that’s what we are supposed to do.  Get a job, take care of our family, create a safe home, and fill it with things that show we are successful.  I am so deathly afraid of falling back into that lifestyle.  Motivational speaker is certainly not for me.  I thank her for confidence in my message, and we part ways at the corner, next to the red line.  I felt emotional.  I felt that my soul had connected with this stranger, sent to me in a time of frustration and fatigue, to guide me “home” for the night, and in return I gave her the gift of being heard.  I thought about how personal the things she told me were, and I felt the release of some of that weight leave her.  I smiled, entering into the subway.
  Once I got into the train, I checked the map to figure out what stop I needed to get off and transfer to the pink line.  I was almost there.  Pretty proud of myself for handling the first day out of the pen so well.  20 steps up to the street from the red line, a block or two to walk and I’m at the pink line.  It’s amazing how much further you can go when you think you are done.  I got to the foot of what looked like Mount Everest, up to the train line overhead.  36 steps later my legs felt they couldn’t go any further if I needed them to.  I board the train and offered a seat.  I take the seat and count the stops until mine.  Counting down I get to “3 to go” and there’s a young man a little ways down the cart? (Is that what they’re called?)  He starts talking to a kid standing next to my chair in the doorway.  His dad is sitting with his little sister on the other side of me.  “Hey shorty, you still doing good in that school?”
“Yea” he says, looking tough, as his body language seems to prepare for what might come next.
“Don’t mess it up, that’s a good school.  My boy went to college from that school.”
“Nah, I’m doing good. “
“Aight, don’t make me run up on you to check your homework” he said, stepping off as the train came to a halt.  I smile to myself.  I notice that the neighborhoods are starting to deteriorate.  I’d been informed that “oak park” was a “good” neighborhood, a safe neighborhood.  I get to my stop, and step off.  The houses are boarded up, graffiti everywhere, and just an all around run down looking place.  I check the map again to make sure I’m in the right place.  I’m not in oak park.  I’m in Little Village, which looks mighty close to my original reservation, that I thought I had changed to Oak Park.  I think about what my friend said about my safety, check in with myself, and feel very present and capable of taking care of myself.  It’s right around 5pm, and still light outside.  This is the adventure right? I’m not going to know people in Europe wherever I go to guide me to the good neighborhoods and keep me safe from the bad.  It’s pretty typical that the cheaper places to stay are in the poorest of neighborhoods.  The reviews looked good.  “The Europeans seemed to make it work, I can too” I think to myself, and start walking the few blocks to the house.
  After two, I find a convenience store.  I decide to go in and see if they have a can of soup or something easy to heat up.  I’m sure I’ll go to sleep early.  As I approach the door, two men are leaving.  They’re Latino and dressed in wife beaters and jean shorts.  They feel familiar.  One holds the door and instructs me to enter first since I’m a woman.  I thank him but insist that they leave first, as I am carrying a huge pack and probably can’t fit past them without taking a shelf out.  I smile to myself, recalling the love on the train, and the love at this door, and the realization that I’m allowing stereotypes to create fear inside me, and all of these people are humans.  “They’re just humans trying to make it like the next person.  Has the south really segregated me that much? ” I get a little pissed at myself that this is even an issue.  I’ve never been raised with racism in my heart, and I don’t consider myself racist, but the fact there is fear within me that I may be robbed or taken advantage of, certainly pisses me off.  I check my automatic thoughts and reprogram myself.  I am safe.  I’m not hurting anyone and no one is targeting me.  Just be your loving self and the same will be returned, just like anywhere else.  I hate that I don’t know this instinctively anymore.
  The store doesn’t have anything to really heat up besides ramen noodles, and a can of beans.  I keep walking and see a couple of Mexican restaurants.  I’m sure the food in them is probably really good.  Little mom and pop shops usually are, no matter what the nationality is.  I get up into my room, set the backpack down, finally, and sit.  Harrison gives me a quick tour and I sit once again.  I don’t want to move.  Two hours go by, and it’s gotten dark outside.  My stomach is rumbling, and I know I should probably go find something to eat.  The Mexican restaurant is closed, so I hit another little shop, pick up cereal, milk, peanut butter and bread.  “This should tie me over.”
  I spend the night talking to Harrison about his wild ideas to expand his airbnb, and share some of mine.  He has the same excitement as I do about it.  A group of us hang out on the rooftop patio, listening to the trains and the sirens.  We share stories about who we are and what we are doing in Chicago.  I meet a new German friend, a new airbnb host friend, and a woman staying long term trying to make it in the big city as an accountant.  This is what it’s all about.  Human connection.  Expanding the limitations of what I know, and have learned so far in life.

Stormes’ Shelters

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20160830_224251What’s on my mind?

Stormes’ Shelters – There’s a reason I spent a year backpacking and camping.. and THIS IS IT! It was to have the understanding of basic needs in survival mode so that I could be used to help people in survival mode. (and I thought it was just for me to see the world lol)

This might be a lot of reading but bare with me.

 

This is Mrs Emma’s tent sitting beside the pile of what used to be all her belongings.  She is a 79 year old lady with COPD who was living in the trailer that flooded. She couldn’t get anywhere because her car flooded and she has had a knee replacement.  Her story has continued to inspire me throughout the last 4 weeks.

So.. having said that.. I have spent a good amount of time in Louisiana with people that cannot afford to leave their homes.. despite that fact that being there is literally making them sick.. ‘but what else can I do? Where can I go?’ They ask me.. and I haven’t had an answer.. until now. I’ve spent the last couple of hours rearranging my wishlist by priority. Highest priority are tents.. shower tents.. tarps.. cots.. shower heads .. special laundry camping bucket.. camping toilets.. extension cords.. means for cooking.. pack and plays (so everyone can sleep without fear of a toddler running away!)

If you read my comments on each item you’ll get to see the picture that I’m manifesting. Mrs Emma told me that 7 people from her neighborhood come to her house to shower each day as her water heater miraculously started back up (thankyou Jesus!) but for many neighborhoods that isn’t the case. A hot shower is on many people’s lists of ‘needs’ and some haven’t had one since before the flood. I have ordered the means for one shower tent so that I can delegate times of the day to neighborhoods and transport it around to offer showers.. as more are purchased from my wishlist I’ll be able to leave them in neighborhoods.

Tents purchased .. self explanatory. My initial goal is 100 but I know the need is far greater.

Adult bikes – for many, these are the only means of transportation.

Shopping Carts – many are walking to their local gas station to purchase food items and walking them back in the heat. The carts will help increase how much they can carry.

This was taken on September 19th .. 5 weeks after the flood.  In some areas the water didn’t go down for a month. 

My overall goal is to supply the basics for camping so that people can stay put of the mold infested homes with the least amount of inconvenience. These communities are coming together to share their resources. Love is growing abundantly in this time of need.

There are also other items on my list that aren’t high and highest priorities .. toys.. Kids bikes.. linens etc .. initially the housing is priority but these things will be needed too.. the toys really just help to bring smiles.. and give the kids something to do so the parents can catch a break. For those parents put there.. imagine if your kids didn’t have any toys or things to entertain them.

I plan on documenting as much of this as possible to share the stories with you all. I’m not sure yet if amazon allows me to see who purchased items.. but my gratitude is overflowing to everyone who has and will.

I’ve been informed that collecting donations in this form is something I need to have a nonprofit for so that the IRS doesn’t come after me for taxes on all these gifts. While I could probably research it myself and get it filed.. that would be time away from the cause and people have been waiting long enough. If anyone out there can take care of that.. it would be GREATLY appreciated! I have faith in God that I’ll be okay.

Up until now I’ve been driving 4 hours round trip each day that I go out to the devastated areas. My heart says that camping with the fine folks of louisiana will only help me understand their needs so we can meet their needs.. so I’m thinking that’s what I’ll be doing.

How appropriate is it that I was named Storme? Now I know why. To donate to Stormes’ Shelters please visit the wishlist

Stormes’ Shelters for the Louisiana Flood victims – click here!

Thank you God.. we love you and we praise you for all that you are doing.. for giving me the burning desire to travel on little or no money so that I could learn the ways of the camping world. I thank you for everything you took away during Katrina so that my heart could be pulled the way it is today to help those affected by the floods. God, I know that the seeds of love and hope you are allowing me to plant in these hearts will flourish and bloom in years to come.. and create multiple testimonies of the time faith was restored. Please bless all those who are affected.. whether it’s the victims or the volunteers for we are all being imprinted on in these days. Lord we love you and we thank you.. in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thank you everyone.