You got a plan?

Updated. As Gustav approaches the Gulf Coast, three years after Katrina, the operative question is “You got a plan?” This time nearly everyone does.

Ask any stranger — Sheila Bickham in LaPlace; Carlos Anderson in Slidell; Denise Galloway on the sidewalk outside Galatoire’s.

“Got a plan?”

They did. Bickham, to Alexandria; Anderson, to Tennessee; Galloway: Memphis or Destin.

On Friday, Hurricane Gustav was 1,100 miles away and still on the other side of Cuba.

But in the fragile psyche of a traumatized region, the faintest tickle of National Hurricane Center cross hairs on New Orleans, even if provisional and temporary, was electric.

Plenty of time to make house and family arrangements, yes; to wait nervously for clarity, yes; to fill the time with familiar routine, yes.

But in the meantime, everybody made a plan.

And there was also another overlay — a weird, almost bitter coincidence.

The threat of Gustav rose ominously in the region’s consciousness three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina ravaged South Louisiana.

Even as the storm approaches, volunteers are still coming to New Orleans to help rebuild from Katrina.

Uptown, Pete Nunnelly, a coordinator of Episcopal storm volunteers, helped load a rental truck with files, telephones and office equipment, temporarily transferring the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana to Baton Rouge.

The night before, it fell to him to tell a group of Calgary volunteers at zydeco night at Rock ‘n’ Bowl that housing repair work would be shut down over the Labor Day weekend. They would have to leave for arranged quarters in Monroe.

Nunnelly is a Virginian, at 31 a former middle-school physical education teacher and one of those “new” New Orleanians who moved here to help rebuild after Katrina.

“The city gets in you, if you’ve got any soul at all, ” he said.

The packing done, he discussed the weekend behind oversized plastic sunglasses, with thick white arms embossed with outrageous, chromed grape clusters.

“They make me feel better. Got them at a gas station in Chalmette. Three corn dogs, a map and these.”

He said he has been getting e-mails from his distant volunteer contacts.

“People worry about Katrina fatigue? People are writing me, wishing good luck, ” he said.

“But they’re saying, ‘If you need us again, we’ll be back.’ “

Read it all here.

Update, Monday 9/1 6:45 am EDT: On Saturday 8/30, Bishop Jenkins wrote on his blog the following (HT to Inch at a Time):

On Friday night the Muslim call to prayer rang out in Temple Sinai in New Orleans. It was the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. People of faith from the Jewish, Sikh, Bahia, Muslim, and Christian communities came together to pray in thanksgiving and to remember what happened to us. We prayed for the living and the dead, some eighty of whom were buried with no name on this very day. We came together as people brought low, many of us still living with injury and loss, but as one people of hope. We know that we are not disposable people because God’s mark is upon us. The Archbishop of New Orleans, the Most Revered Alfred Hughes, gave a wonderful homily noting how we are building a better place in the midst of ruin. We lit the Sabbath candle, sang the blessing of the wine, and then our host, Rabbi Cohn lit a candle for the departed of our city and by name those of Temple Sinai.

Like most of us, Louise and I are packing to leave. We have offers of hospitality from around the country but will likely go to Baton Rouge so that we can be poised to minister to God’s people here in the place we call home. The threat of Gustav has stirred up in me feelings and emotions too complicated to explain now. I am in touch with my brokenness and I am aware that it is by God’s grace alone that I can put one tired foot in front of another. I share this because I know that I am not alone in getting in touch with the hurt from Katrina and the fear that is ours this night. It is a strange and painful time and many of us are struggling. We struggle together, friends, we are one. The pain is not only emotional but physical. Many triggers are pulled in my mind. I cannot believe this is happening on the very day New Orleans flooded. I pray God to give me patience, strength, and humility to accept with gratitude the many blessing of life. I likely will not receive the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood tomorrow (Sunday) in the outward and visible forms. I pray Christ will come to me inwardly and spiritually as I do so desire Him. Please remember me and all of us when you make your Communion.

Bishop Charles Jenkins

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