As we approach the Anniversary of the huge Hurricane Katrina that struck New Orleans, I have posted the comments I made on behalf of the City of Wolverhampton to the then Governor Blanco of the State of Louisiana. Our City passed our concerns to the Governor and we offered on behalf of Wolverhampton sympathy and condolences, and we wished them well in the aftermath of the storm. We all know now, that nearly 2,000 lives were lost as Mother Nature came calling in that state and the City of New Orleans.
After the storm had wreaked havoc British citizens were ‘lost’ as communications systems and hotels were devastated.
This is what I wrote at the time and published on www.philbateman.com dated 3rd September 2005;
“The devastation in New Orleans and the other cities and towns in the deep south of the USA has been a very big shock to the Americans. It is time like this when we can appreciate exactly how benign our weather is!
I have been moved as have many of the people here in Wolverhampton have been, by the huge death and destruction that Hurricane Katrina has wrought in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast. I have visited New Orleans in the past; and I have been shocked at the television pictures that we have recently been looking at. Following the TV images I tried to locate the Mayor of New Orleans, but the ferocity of the storm has led to the Mayor having to relocate to the damaged Hyatt Hotel. Even today communications are not good. Though I do note that after Mayor Nagin broke down in tears on a radio show, he met with President Bush yesterday and was much more serene after that meeting. The Mayor of New Orleans was certainly furious with the White House he is reported as saying “Excuse my French everybody in America – but I am pissed,” Nagin hissed during a radio interview today in an expression of his anger. Unable to control his fury at the slow response to the Hurricane Katrina crisis, he claimed that federal government officials “don’t have a clue what’s going on”. He blasted President George Bush, saying: “They flew down here one time, two days after the doggone event was over with.” He said he told President Bush in a recent conversation that “we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice.” “I have been all around this city and that I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we are out-manned in just about every respect.” As you are aware as Wolverhampton City Mayor, I have written to Governor Blanco of Louisiana expressing our Citys sympathy and condolences.
I have received confirmation from the Governor’s staffers that our message has been forwarded to Governor Blanco for her attention it read ” Councillor Bateman, Thank you for your care and concern. Your email has been forwarded to Governor Blanco.” I fully expect that with all that is taking place in these Southern States the niceties of response will be cut to the minimum.
It was after this contact with Louisianna that I became aware of a Wednesfield resident that was missing. Her name was Adele Peers.
This is what I wrote at the time on my web site –
“ But after this contact I became aware of the ‘missing’ City resident Adele Peers who was last heard of at the Superdrome in New Orleans on Sunday night last. I have spoken with Adele’s mother in Fallings Park Wednesfield. I have since been back to the Governor’s staff asking them for help to gain information on Adele’s whereabouts. New Orleans is not a City where contact and information is easy to access just at the moment. I am hoping that this morning Mrs Tarnya Peers will have heard from her daughter, I know that her family are all worried sick over Adele’s safety. I will also do what I can elsewhere to gain information”
As I recall I spent many hours trying to find information about Adele Peers.
During that day September 3rd we had a very great day when Wednesfield Village High Street closed, and Mary and I were asked to attend by the Wednesfield Fun Day Committee. They had organised a great day. The High St was closed there was fun being had. I chose to wear the Wednesfield Chains and both Mary and I wore them with great pride. This had been the first time they had been worn in Wednesfield since the old Wednesfield Urban District Council had been subsumed by Wolverhampton 1966. The day in Wednesfield was a huge success. More than an estimated 8,000 people attended. But equally as important was the news that was given to me whilst I was in the High Street. I revert again to what I had written in my blog –
The Mayor Councillor Phil Bateman said ” and even though I am a little biased, the day was an absolute soaring success! I took the opportunity when giving my speech to inform the Village that Adele Peers had been rescued out of New Orleans. The crowd gave enthusiastic response to this news! It was estimated that more than 8,000 people flooded through Wednesfield during the course of the day. The Mayoress and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves meeting Wednesfield folk, talking to shop keepers and stall holders, taking part in the hurly burly of the day! We had a great time and spent four hours out-there on the High Street chatting to everyone. I even found 5 minutes along with the Mayor’s Chaplain, the Reverend John Points, to pop into the St Thomas Church for a prayer dedicated to the people caught up in the natural disaster that had engulfed New Orleans, and to give thanks to the fact that Adele Peers of Falling’s Park, had been found alive and well and had been transported from New Orleans to Dallas by the British Embassy. The fact that we were both wearing the ” Wednesfield Chains” for the first time we believe that they have been on the streets of Wednesfield, since 1966 was indeed a talking point…and many of the older residents were quite emotional about their history. The Wednesfield Traders Association donated £400 to the Mayors General Charities Fund and I very much thanked them for this magnificent sum.”
Here you can see the crowds taking part in the Fun Day in Wednesfield High Street. The picture shows the Mayor and Mayoress posing in the St Thomas Church gardens, with the Fun day stretching out down the High Street.
This was not the end of the Adele Peers story, as we met Adele and her family in the Civic Centre later in the year.