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The Nation

New Orleans Residents Give Thanks, Making Do With What's on Hand

Many are just glad to be home for the holiday in the post-Katrina city. They find few supplies but plenty to be thankful for.

November 25, 2005|From Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — With her apron on, Nelle Hill looked the part of the Thanksgiving Day cook, but with no power, no refrigerator and few ingredients, all she could come up with were grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon.

Sandwich in hand, she stood on the front porch of her home with her husband, Charlie, and brother Rus Moore, who helped the retired couple get back to their home on a debris-lined street that had been flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

There wasn't a complaint among them.

"We're home," Nelle Hill said.

"We didn't have it as bad off as a lot of people," her husband said. "We have a lot to be thankful for."

The picture of scarcity, making do and thankfulness could be found throughout this battered city Thursday as the few residents lived through one of the oddest holidays they could recall.

"This city has a lot of heart," said Robert Tourres, a fire captain. "I think a lot of people are thankful."

Tourres and his wife were among the hundreds of first responders and city workers who lost their homes and are living aboard a cruise ship docked along the Mississippi River.

The couple ate Thanksgiving dinner at a fire station downtown. But Tourres kept it in perspective. "That's all it is -- possessions," he said. "You can replace that kind of stuff."

Many Gulf Coast residents who found post-hurricane refuge across the country also found plenty to be thankful for.

In the devastated town of Long Beach, Miss., lunch was cooked one dish at a time for area residents in the miniature kitchen of a trailer provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For many displaced by the season of record hurricanes, it wasn't easy to find joy.

Gloria Oliver, 63, spent Thanksgiving with her husband, a cousin and friends, gutting her New Orleans home.

"This is the first Thanksgiving in 40 years that I've not cooked at home," she said. "I'm very depressed. I'm very, very tired of being away from home. Stressed, very stressed."

Mike Tann and a co-worker ended up at a pub so they could at least continue the tradition of watching football.

With his family dispersed around the country, Tann, 61, pointed to co-worker Ronald Magee and said, "The closest thing I've got to family right now is my friend here."

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