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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From “Fuck You” to “Thank You Cancer”

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Six months sober, and divorced… A few days after my final goodbye to my four year old son, I hit my knees.

the second cocktail of chemo drugs caused a reaction and hair loss

 No, I wasn’t praying.. I was in so much pain that my body collapsed into a ball without much thought.  One minute I was texting “sweet dreams” and by the time she responded I wrote back “I think I’m going to the hospital”.  I felt like I was going to DIE; like a gremlin and the monster from the Alien were doing the monster mash right there in my gut.  I panicked, not only because of the pain but because I lived alone.  What if I got worse before I could alert help? One of my fears of being alone coming to life.  I called my friend asking her if she could please take me to the hospital.  She asked what’s wrong and I told her “please just come quickly.” I debated calling an ambulance but I didn’t want the attention of the street.. My self consciousness still winning, even in an emergency.

  By the time she arrived I had slithered down the 18 stairs from my raised house and was sitting balled up on the bottom step counting the hour long milliseconds that it took for her to arrive.  Once at the hospital, it took 45 minutes to be seen, and another 30 to get any kind of pain relief.  They wanted to do testing first.  I can’t say I blame them, I’d hit every emergency room in the area in pain at one point or another, seeking pain medicine to get high. In the moment tho, I hated every last one of them.  Restraining myself from punching holes in the wall felt impossible.  Laying waiting in our little cubical of the ER, I felt the mess starting to kick in.  The edge of the cliff began to get distant, and the doctor came and asked my friend to step outside.  She returned in tears, the doctor behind her looking somewhat apprehensive.  They told me they had found a tumor… A 19cm tumor wrapped around my left ovary and Fallopian tube.  It was the size of a 5 month pregnancy.  I remember the doctor looking at me like I was crazy.  “You didn’t have any symptoms before now?” He asked.  I thought about it and told him that I did have an increase in pain but I assumed it was because I was sober, and I could actually feel pain now, or maybe because I had started walking and my body was adjusting.

Pictures from the initial surgery

A symptom of PTSD is unmanaged dissociation.  Everyone does it on some level whether it’s entering auto pilot while driving,  and you end up wherever you are going but you don’t remember getting there.  That’s the mild side of the unmanaged dissociation spectrum.  Extreme sides of the spectrum are cases are dissociative identity disorder or DID (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) where the psyche completely splits into separate identities to perform various roles to the host.  There are many stops along the way of that spectrum, and I fall in at about the 60-70 range.  If you want to know more on this feel free to ask!  The point is,  my ability to separate from the feeling of physical pain was so fine tuned that the magnitude of the symptoms weren’t registering.  There was a disconnect.

  So, back to my story.. It’ll be a miracle if this blog actually tells the story I opened it to tell!
  From there I was rushed into surgery, the tumor was removed, along with my ovary and Fallopian tube.  A week later I found out that it was indeed cancerous.  Another fear.. Both my gran and my mother were killed by cancer on my mothers side, and my dads mother was also killed by that monster, and now it had me.  I won’t go into all the specifics.. Maybe another blog piece, but that was where my faith really began.

It wasn’t in a foxhole prayer, “God, please save me… ” it was real faith.. It was where I stopped bartering with the “if there’s a God” and started accepting the current moment exactly as it was.  I had been working on my third step in AA, “we made a decision to turn our will and our life, over to the care of God as we understood him” and I was almost all in.. The only reservation I had about staying sober was “if I lose my son I’m getting fucked up” and then I’d lost my son, and stayed sober.

Truth be told, I was secretly in love with another recovering alcoholic and I wanted to prove how committed I was to sobriety.  She had so many years sober, and I had only months.  I thought if I could tackle these monsters of reasons to drink, without drinking, we could bypass the “sober for a year rule”.

  I fought, every day, well almost every day.  There were some days when I couldn’t fight, and I had to lay in bed and just rest.  I remember feeling so much anxiety and panic when I would try to lay down and rest.  This video pretty much depicts that part of the fight (i record and document everything because my memory isn’t too great, and i lose time a lot… a big part of my recovery has been trying to piece together and accept that these things will happen, but looking for ways that i can take care of myself to make them less intrusive)

I was so scared that while I was resting, the cancer was taking over. No imagined it to be like a black cloud that I’d dispersed with my light of my sun, but crept back over when I wasn’t looking.  If I stopped, my body would get weak and I’d lose the fight.. And that just wasn’t an option.  Most breakdowns actually served their purpose in bouncing me back for the next round…

I spent many manic nights awake.  I began painting.  I didn’t want to watch tv, and so I started painting and found that I could paint! I had no idea.  I was pretty amazing at it too!!

Painted from a photo of Chicago that I found online
My secret love challenged me to try spray painting after seeing a video of the NYC spray paint artist..


Time lapse Video of 48 hours of learning to spray paint… not bad!

I gladly accepted the challenge, and within 24 hours I was spray painting my way to a masterpiece. 🙂 I remember selling some of those to my friends on Facebook, helping to generate some money towards the mounting costs of prescriptions and co pays.  I delivered pizza part time for Papa Johns in the evenings, and worked the back drive thru window of McDonalds with my AA sponsor and good friend in the mornings.
Having fun on the job 😉
  I bounced between photography and painting when I didn’t have the energy to walk.  In finding the gift of artwork, I saw a reason for being sick.  I would’ve never known I could paint if I hadn’t slowed down.  I remember how I felt the first time I realized that.  I’m crying again now just remembering how intense that feeling of trust in the universe was.  I remember telling the universe that it could’ve been a little more subtle than the big C, but then I thought about all of the times that I could’ve slowed down, and should’ve slowed down, and I didn’t.  Always running running running because I didn’t want to feel, and if I slowed down or stopped then the feelings would come flooding thru me at an overwhelming rate and I didn’t know how to adjust the faucet.  It was stuck wide open and I couldn’t handle all of that so I ran, staying busy.  It’s why I got fucked up to begin with. Thank you cancer.
a dresser from my sons room that became a painting project
  Four surgeries, and five chemos into the fight I began researching what could I do to improve my chances.  I asked questions on Facebook, and you guys responded with juice recipes, plant based diets.. And so I tried it.  I remember I couldn’t eat much at the time, but I kept telling myself “if I’m going to force myself to eat something, it’s going to be something that will help kick this bitchs’ ass! And I’d add a spoonful of peanut butter to a very green leafy disgusting  cocktail, blend it up and drink up.  I remember making music videos and joining the happy days fb group where my newsfeed filled up with all of these reasons people were happy that day.  That’s where I met a lot of you guys!  There was something about knowing people were watching, or at least feeling like they were, that grounded me.  I didn’t want you to see the real me.  I didn’t want you to see the crazy me, so I attempted to hide it, failing miserably with those I got close to, but it served its purpose.  I kept striving to improve, to be a better person, to show all of you how amazing I really am.. Because I didn’t feel it.. And you guys would tell me I am, and for a moment I would feel it… And as a true addict, it felt good so I wanted more.

 I began a bucket list which I named the “remember when list” because it was a list of things I would one day sit on my front porch telling stories of “remember when” to what I’d hope to be, my love.. Sitting next to me, saying “yes dear” 🙂 – that fantasy pushed me.  It set a tone inside of me and I wrote that list of things I wanted to do in my lifetime!! As that list grew, I realized that I didn’t have time to have a job.. Not in the traditional sense.  I started thinking of ways I could make money without actually going to work, and reading nomad blogs, learning how to travel as cheap as possible.  Again the faith came in, as I thought about everything I had already survived, and I saw how each individual storm in my life created a piece of evidence that I would be okay, no matter what.  Dealing with mental illness, never actually killing myself despite many years of feeling that was my only safe place to live mentally… Katrina.. Being homeless.. Heartbreaks.. I had survived  many storms, it’s what I do! In that I found strength and courage.  I saved links, and took notes, learning and forming the vague outline of how I could actually start working on some of these bucket list ideas.  Sure.. I couldn’t go backpacking Europe that day, laying in bed feeling sick as a dog, hurting, and generally wanting to die on some level.. But I could start studying.. Figure out what id need to do.. What equipment would I need? I’d only been camping twice.  I started looking on craigslist, and reading more and more.

What could I sell to generate money? I started painting sand dollars, and furniture, and whatever else came my way.  I sat out on Saturdays at the farmers market, hoping to sell a piece.  I went to galleries and talked to the managers, showing my portfolio.. I read blogs on how photographers make money with their pictures.. And the majority of the money is in portrait photography.. It wasn’t something I felt I was good enough for, having seen others work.  I didn’t have the money for the equipment I really needed, but I took my Panasonic LUMIX camera and did the best I could.. Watching YouTube videos on how to edit portrait pictures.  Touch ups etc.  I had the eye, I just didn’t have the knowledge, but I learned!

Adorable little girl and her mother that responded to a FB ad

I posted questions in fb photography groups, and they came back with all the answers to help me improve.  It provided the money to travel some more, but I didn’t care for it enough to pursue it further.

I took on a couple of website gigs, rehashing skills from my earlier years, and hustled flipping a broke down car.

Changing out the brake calipers – gotta trust the Universe to learn this on YouTube!

There’s never an easy answer to “how do you afford to travel” I just do whatever the moment presents itself with, and I am always provided for.  The Universe takes care of me as long as I allow it to.  I never thought I’d be a paid blogger.. $5-$12 a day, but it’s something! Every little something adds up and creates opportunity for more experience, and with more experience comes more opportunity.  It’s an amazing circle of life.

  Now my hope is to use my blog to not only record doing all this with mental illness.. (Which I really want to write about the transition from traveling to home.. I definitely need a better plan for reentry.  The last few days have been rough and I feel very spacey, ungrounded), but not only that and frugal traveling, but I’ve been writing the story of the travels from a first hand perspective as if the reader is the one traveling.  Once the story is written I want to record it and put pictures and videos to it so that the viewer or reader feels as if they are really traveling the world.

Then I want to donate it to everyone fighting a terminal illness, so that they can dissociate into the story and maybe get a little relief from the reality of the pain and treatment that they are going thru.  I hope it inspires them to fight, to really see the world, or whatever their bucket list things are, and if that’s no longer an option, I hope I get to help fulfill at least one of them by having this experience to share.

  Having said that..
I’d like you help me out by clicking on all the ads you see on this page, clicking back to the blog between each one.  I get paid per reader and per ad click.. And that helps fund this adventure.
I’d also like you to shared story if you believe in me and want to be a part of it!
And lastly, there is a box to subscribe to the blog, if you want notifications of new posts to the blog.
With that.. I hope you enjoyed my story.. It’s what got me to where I am today.. This year I have seen 22 states in the USA.. Fallen in love with traveling, seen my nephew for the first time, seen my first concert, mastered camping, backpacked four cities, opened an Airbnb of my own, become a paid blogger, met sooo many amazing new people, and next month I am leaving to backpack Europe! It’s wild!  If this is a dream, I never want to wake up.  Thank you Cancer!
“It’s a perfect day for a perfect day!”

Post Katrina Stress Disorder with a slice of Fuck You Cancer!

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Holy fucking shit balls! I don’t know how much longer I can be in this panicked state of mind and self. Bad weather never used to affect me. I feel convinced that I am about to know what it feels like to be that house on the tv that got hit. Why this time? IDK but given I keep having a mental picture of it.. its really fucking concerning me. I am usually the one cool calm and collected.. the voice of reason and decision if needed.. but I am by myself, so I really don’t need to the voice for anyone.. just me.
There are so many things I could be doing right now that are on my to do list, and I cant fucking function. I keep pacing towards something but forget what it is by the time I get half way there, wherever there is for whatever it was. Im just circling my house, and I thought maybe I could sit down and blog it out.. I finally got all the way thru the act of putting music on so im not just listening to the wind howling around. This shit is no joke for a Katrina survivor. 
I remember those outer bands. I remember driving thru it, evacuating last minute along the coast. 

  
 Ok I cant fucking talk about that right now.. y’all don’t even know what it was really like to be down here for that .. unless you were here of course. My guests ask about it, because they see the cement slabs that are still here.. stairs leading up to nothing, where a house once stood. They always seem so completely shocked when I start talking about it, from my own personal experience. I’ve come to realize that most people hear “Katrina” and they think “New Orleans, Superdome, flooding, looting” that’s about it.. that is how the summarize THE most traumatic experience of so many lives. Did you know that Post Katrina Stress Disorder is a diagnosis? I’ve been telling that story a lot lately.. maybe because I’ve had guests almost the whole time that I have been home. Maybe the Universe is telling me that it is time to confront this one. Work thru it and file it away forever to stay.
If y’all could see my scrunched up face, tears forming and falling, my breath halted trying to catch up with the moment of pain that comes with those memories.. the floating bloated bruised bodies.

   
   
 The flock of dead birds laying on the ground at work 3 weeks later. The weeks without electricity or potable water. Lemme tell you a story about a survivor.
It was March 2005 when my nightmare started. I was working Mardi Gras for Dominos Pizza. It was insane hours.. Thursday thru Sunday I probably slept 10 hours, and worked my ass off the rest of the time.. chugging energy drinks like they were bottled waters. While catching the pizzas from the oven, 9 every 3 seconds, a pain invaded my abdomen like no other pain I had ever felt. I passed the cutter off and went to the lobby where the hot bags were stacked, and laid on them, clutching my lower abdomen tight. After the doctor and a few tests, I was told that I had tumors and they wanted to perform a biopsy. I was a bit of a junkie at the time, and I took the pain medicine prescriptions and never went back. My mother was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months later. She wanted me to come visit, but I couldn’t. Work had me tied up, and to be honest, I didn’t want to go. In June my sister got married. I was supposed to be the maid of honor, but I didn’t go. I was “managing my pain” and managing my store at my new place of employment, very poorly.. and couldn’t take off of work. I was caught in a three way love triangle, and a complete mess really.. Mum was getting sicker, but I still wasn’t visiting.
August 2005, Hurricane Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico. Thankfully it wasn’t my first experience with hurricanes here in the South. I knew the basics. Stock up, food, water, flashlights, batteries, and fill the tank up. I was managing a gas station infront of Walmart at the time. I couldn’t leave until the tanks were down to 1,000 gallons for the National Reserves to use after the fact. We seranwrapped the pumps and hit the road. 

  
 We exited New Orleans joining the endless traffic of people also still evacuating. My ex, her two girls, and myself in one car… my assistant manager and her girlfriend in the car behind me. 6 hours later we had moved 40 miles, if that. We neared the Six Flags exit…

 
Anxiety and sobbing crying again. I keep telling myself that I survived it all already. I survived 2005. It’s already done.. it shouldn’t be effecting me right now.. but it is. That shit was unimaginable.  I don’t think I can tell the story and portray just how fucking horrible it was. Seeing people stripped down to their survival instincts. Needing gas but having to decide if its worth risking being car jacked after the fact. Bartering cartons of cigarettes to move around unharmed. The smell.. the illness.. I remember the first time I heard an actual song on the radio again.. it had to be October… “ooo thinking about our younger years.. “ The endless days at work because no one came back. 

  
 They moved me to a store an hour or so north of where mine was. Mine was destroyed. People were detoxing off of drugs.. off of cigarettes.. living in the blistering heat of September with no electricity. 

  
 No one came. No one came to help.. for sooo long.. and when they did, they parked a truck and gave out bags of ice that we had to line up for hours to have a chance of getting one. The MRE military meals were brought in.. disgusting things, but when you’re hungry and cut off from the world, you eat it. 

  
 The government were giving out credit cards with $2,000 on it, and people were staying where they were with it.. relocating permanently. Those of us back here worked non stop, rebuilding work, or rebuilding homes.. cutting away the black mold… 

  
emptying houses after houses of furniture that had been left sitting in abandoned homes. I am sure that most of us really didn’t even feel the magnitude of what was going on. Disconnected in order to keep going. Military began policing the streets. Marshall Law was in effect and it was every man for themselves. I’m not sure they were prepared.. Some of them rookies, some of them treating us like wild animals.  

  
Flat tires were common due to the debris and nails from all the blown away buildings. Neighborhood after neighborhood of total devastation and nowhere to go. My house had three oak trees thru the roof and laying in the living room and kitchen, stacked on top of each other. I was homeless. I stayed on the couch of a friend, if I even left work. It was mid October when I knew I had to go home (England). I told my boss I would be back in two weeks.

When I landed, my step dad picked me up at the airport and drove me to the hospital. There lay my mother, old and frail in the bed. I felt so angry towards her but I couldn’t be so angry at such a frail woman. Fuck you Cancer!!! For all that me and that woman went thru, she wasn’t yours to take! We did so much crying together in those few months that I got to spend with her. We exchanged forgiveness’ that were long overdue. I took her for days out in her wheelchair… not that far because she didn’t have the energy.. but just to get out. She liked the garden center where they had a coffee shop. I looked after my little sister, who was 5 at the time. My mum had been doing her best to keep up the washing and her room.. and trying to make as unnoticeable as possible that she was dying. Her husband wasn’t doing shit, except for spending everything she had on antique record players, drinking heavily at the pub every night, dating a new woman, and whatever else he did that he didn’t let us see. He’d come home drunk and verbally abuse my mother. They’d yell back and forth.. she mostly cried. I am ashamed to say that it took me as long as it did to stand up to him, but I eventually found my adult voice, stood in his face and yelled “DON’T YOU DARE FUCKING TALK TO HER LIKE THAT!” He hit me and I swung back. He left and went to the pub.
I remember taking her to her medical appointments.. hours of sitting in the room talking to the nurses, and the other patients. I remember the naps that she would fall into, and checking to see if she was still breathing. Sometimes her breath would stop, and I’d think that she had gone.. just staring and waiting.. and then she’d gasp a big breath of air and wake up.. and I’d exhale.. realizing I was holding my breath with her. Friends would come to visit once in a while. I heard that the turn out at her funeral was massive. Flowers would come, and line the mantelpiece of the living room. It was originally my gran and granddads house. I’d sat in that same living room and taken goodbye pictures ten years earlier.. as I fled to America. While my mother napped, I’d go in the attic, and root thru the photo albums and other things left behind. I remember taking my little sister trick or treating around the neighborhood. She was so ecstatic that she got to go. Mum picked thru her candy when we got back. I videoed her playing with V.. pretending to take the good sweets. V handled everything like a trooper. She knew what was going on. I remember her telling my mum not to be afraid because it wasn’t her time to go. I am pretty sure that she is a bit of a psychic just like mum. I lost contact with her after Mum died. Her dad took her, and all the inheritance and severed all ties. Seriously cancer.. fuck you!
I stayed until new years, and lost my job for doing so. My mum and I agreed that she would rather I stay and spend the time with her while she was still alive, than leave and then come back for the funeral. My step dad never let me live it down for not being there at the funeral…
January 2nd 2006 I flew back to New Orleans… knowing I would never see her again.. having no idea where I was going to work.. no house.. pretty much nothing. I started on a friends’ couch, and went from there. It wasn’t until 2007 that my panic attacks started. I’d secured a career, had a good woman by my side and two beautiful kids. Life was back on track and my mind collapsed. I’d maxed myself out. I’d filed so much into the “I’ll deal with this later” category that it burst its banks, and full blown paralyzing panic disorder kicked in. I couldn’t say a full sentence. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t process basic math, or tell you my name. I knew it. I heard the words in my head and knew that I knew it, but couldn’t put my finger on how to do it. Or what that word was. I couldn’t be left alone. I’d flinch at everything. I couldn’t feel anything else but panic. It was panic, or nothing. My kids would come to me, and I’d just stare at them.. I wanted to hug them and laugh, and play.. and I couldn’t. My partner would plead with me to talk to her.. to snap out of it.. to tell her how she could help me.. but that mess of a spaghetti of thoughts and memories didn’t have a starting point. My biggest fear is being back there in that place again. I’ve been there a few times in my life. I’m willing to do whatever it takes not to go back there again.. and that’s why I write.. all the shit that flows thru this fucking brain.. I have to let it out or else it grows and consumes me and it wins.
The weather has calmed down again. It’s dark outside, and I don’t hear the wind anymore. I’ve been writing for two hours… need to move a muscle and change my thought.