University of Idaho College of Law Public Interest Law Group

Archive for the ‘New Orleans/Biloxi’ Category

Swamp Tour by Carole Wells

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Jetta Hatch and I decided to be adventurous or adventuresome (something to do with adventure) and signed up for a swamp tour on Saturday morning. We were picked up by a van at our hotel and headed off to pick up the rest of our adventurous crew.

First we picked up David from Germany who was in New Orleans attending a physics’ conference. Next we picked up Claudia from Germany who was in New Orleans attending a physics’ conference. Finally we picked up Guido from Germany (but now lives in Switzerland) who was in New Orleans attending a physics’ conference. It was a large conference and none of them knew each other. They were very polite and did not speaking German in our presence. This was even after I told them that I love to speak French in the presence of non French speakers. It turns out that David also spoke French and Claudia spoke Russian. So, with Jetta’s Russian, we were quite a multicultural group.


When we arrived at Jean Lafitte’s swamp tour we were directed to our boat, a barge type vessel with plenty of walking space. The captain gave us a few pointers: keep hands and feet inside the barge, beware of overhanging branches and, most importantly, if we fall in the water, we are on our own. He suggested that we swim over to the bank. He made it clear that he will not be jumping in to rescue us.


We learned that alligators can eat turtles, shell and all – apparently their first stomachs have a killer acid that dissolves turtle shells. We also saw marsh cypress trees and their “knees”(roots) that help to keep the tree afloat.


By far, the most exciting part of the tour was seeing the large alligators snap at the “marsh”mallows that the guide threw in the water and the opportunity to hold a two year old alligator. It felt cool and smooth and had a very strong tail. Thankfully its mouth was taped shut with electrical tape and we were told to hang on to its strong tail so that it would not get away.


The trip was fun and the weather was great. All in all, a great swamp tour!






Written by jrdo410

March 20, 2008 at 1:56 pm

MDA Phase II Program – Deadline Today

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The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) has been given federal money to distribute to the people of Mississippi. The Homeowner Assistance Program is one of the plans set up to help determine the allocation of these funds, with up to $150,000 granted to homeowners. Applications for the MDA Phase II program are due this Saturday, March 15. Many people need help filling out the application. Others have turned in their applications and haven’t heard back yet, so they wonder if everything is working correctly. Some have already heard back with disparaging news: either they didn’t receive any money or the money they received isn’t enough.

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Written by jrdo410

March 15, 2008 at 9:23 am


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Walking and knocking for three days was an experience that I will never forget. There were moments of sorrow, moments of tiredness, and moments of joy. It was a new experience, for me, to achieve so much emotion in a single interaction with a person.

As I was learning about what we would be doing in the small Mississippi community of Turkey Creek, I was assuming that there would not be much emotion. Come to find out however that emotion was about all you saw. The emotion of those that you were surveying, emotion from the escorts that were showing you around, and emotion swelling inside yourself.

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Written by jrdo410

March 14, 2008 at 10:18 am


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Over the past week a group of us have been working with the North Gulfport Community Land Trust surveying the northern neighborhood of North Gulfport. On August 29, 2005 the city was hit by the strong eastern side of Hurricane Katrina. Gulfport was devastated. Almost three years later, this community is slowly coming back. There is continuous construction, and the city is placing a special emphasis on development according to Smart Code. Smart Code emphasizes preservation of the historic architecture of a community while also creating walkable communities.

The issue we were surveying involved the plans of the Port Authority to expand the local port. As part of the expansion, the Port Authority is planning to build an inland storage facility in North Gulfport. The proposed storage facility is right in the middle of a neighborhood. The facility will require filling in 70 acres of wetlands, making an already low lying area even more susceptible to flooding. Additionally, the facility will be used to store large containers, machinery, and because the need to refrigerate their cargo, diesel trucks running all night.

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Written by jrdo410

March 14, 2008 at 10:03 am

Food and Fun in Biloxi

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Food and Fun at Taranto’s

In our free time, we have been going out to dinner and hanging out at our hotel.

Tuesday night: Crystal Utley, an attorney from MCJ took us to a place called Taranto’s. They served classic gulf coast cuisine – Crawfish served by the lb, 10 kinds of po-boys, Crab (Dungeness, blue, snow), hush puppies and “Southern Pecan” Beer (a beer made 100% from pecans, and actually quite delicious). The food was cheap and oh so tasty! One of the patrons asked the waitress who we were and what we were doing in Biloxi. I guess 20 some “Yankees” sitting in the middle of a small restaurant must have stuck out a little. The waitress told him we were working on Hurricane Katrina relief. The man gave the waitress about $200 to take $10 off of all of our tabs. My tab was only $0.96! I guess we had some good karma.

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Written by jrdo410

March 13, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Gulf Coast blog by Autumn T. Renshaw

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It’s very interesting being in the exact same place in New Orleans’ French Quarter a year later to the day. Things seem to be the exact same: tourists are everywhere, beads are being worn, and beignets are being consumed.


However, what seems to be the most compelling is driving outside the French Quarter to where the most devastation occurred in the city, and the sameness and similarities to what I witnessed exactly one year ago:


no vast improvements, no rebuilding, no new communities, just run down homes and open land.

Although it’s been one year for me, it’s been thirty months for the people affected by Katrina, and the only things that seem to be thriving and surviving for the ones hit most is the same tragic stories and the ongoing legal struggles with Housing and FEMA.

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Written by jrdo410

March 12, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Posted in New Orleans/Biloxi

Track II Update – Biloxi Vietnamese Population Helped by MCJ and Boat People

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Anna and Erika outside a MEMA cottage

Imagine navigating a maze of bureaucracy in the aftermath of a storm. Your house is destroyed, gas and food prices are through the roof. What federal and state grants are available to you? How do you know if you are eligible?


Now imagine trying to navigate this bureaucratic maze in a foreign language. Beyond hello and goodbye, you have almost no English skills whatsoever.

This is exactly what many Vietnamese immigrants are going through right now in Biloxi, MS. There are about 4,500 Vietnamese living in Biloxi right now. Biloxi’s total population is around 50,000, pre-Katrina.

Today I spoke with a Vietnamese man who was living in a mobile home before the storm. His home and everything he owned was destroyed, including all of his tools for work.


Thankfully, there is an organization that can help bridge the information gap. Boat People SOS “Meeting Urgent Needs Today, Empowering Vietnamese Communities for Tomorrow.”


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Written by jrdo410

March 12, 2008 at 6:58 pm