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Renaissance Community Response to Katrina Disaster


SCA and Other Re-enactment Groups Step Up

(September, 2005)

Even before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Lord Colin of Tighan began efforts to help those displaced by the weather by founding a Yahoo Group called SCA-Disaster. Within days hundreds of people joined the list and began offering their time, homes, and other forms of help.

Outside of New Orleans, The King and Queen of the SCA Kingdom of Meridies, which comprises Louisiana, parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, where overwhelmed with people calling and emailing with questions and offers of help in the days after Katrina hit their Kingdom. Suddenly their ceremonial roles took on new meaning as they became the faces of strength and comfort to a populous ravaged by reality.

Society for Creative Anachronism

Over at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SCA-disaster/ had to ask all members to post only crucial information to keep the list from being flooded (forgive the pun) with offers of sympathy and encouragement. "The response was overwhelming." SCA Pelicans and others stepped up to organize fundraisers and care package deliveries. Each kingdom appointed a disaster coordinator and the Society Seneschal's office is now a clearing house for inter-kingdom relief efforts. Many other Internet resources are helping to bring people with help together with those in need.

SCA-911 was founded after 9/11 to deal with emergencies affecting members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). This site helps coordinate "the movement of money, equipment, supplies and people to and from those situations." The list allows more discussion than SCA-Disaster and is for all kinds of disasters whether it is a house fire, tornado, epidemic, flood or something else.

Max and Lethrenn, King and Queeen of Meridies and the Principality of Gleann Abhann (soon to be a new kingdom), quickly established a bulletin board, run by the Medieval Disaster Relief Center, http://hurricane-relief.valhalla-computers.com/. The MDRC is organizing in and out-of-kingdom events and disaster-relief drives. This site is rapidly becoming a hub of information and organization. No matter where your located, if your SCA group would like to do anything to help, please contact these folks and let them know about it. They have established a donation fund for SCA members in need and will have a web page available soon so that people can make donations with Pay Pal. Until then you can send donation to Her Majesty Lethrenn c/o Sara Nichols, 175 Lucile Lane, Lilburn, GA 30047.

Efforts are currently underway to clean
up the camping site for Gulf Wars
(a large SCA event in the effected area)

Many of the large shade trees are gone. Wind and flying debris has damaged many of the permanent and semi-permanent structures including the lodge and the fort.

As time goes by and the waters recede, rebuilding will begin. Many precious things will need to be replaced. In our community it is even harder, since you can't go down to K-mart and buy a 15th century-style hand-painted scroll or a appliquéd banner of your personal arms. Many possessions will not be covered by insurance policies and couldn't be replaced if they were. For these reasons Yahoo groups SCA- Starting Over, and SCA-BackToNormal have been established.

SCA corporate has put on hiatus all memberships in the areas that do not have mail service. "We don't want members in the affected areas having their memberships count down during a time in which no publications will be delivered." Wrote Gabrielle Underwood, Director, SCA, Inc. After re-establishing a valid mail service address, each membership hiatus will end.

Mistress Gwennddolynn ni hAilleachain, Seneschal of the Kingdom of Meridies spoke for many when she posted, "I cannot convey how touched and grateful we are here in Meridies for the outpouring of help and concern--we are truly blessed to have such good friends in the SCA. You guys are, hands-down, what we are all striving to be---noble"

Science Fiction Fans

Science fiction authors and frequent convention speakers Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon have reached out to the fantasy, scifi, and role-playing games fans hit by Katrina by opening their home in Oklahoma. See http://www.gryphonking.com for more information.

Louisiana Renaissance Festival

The managers of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival, which is, located about 25 miles northwest of New Orleans, evacuated the faire site taking with them all of their computers and equipment before Katrina hit then waited for several anxious days to learn whether or not the faire survived. Some of their cast members lost homes, vehicles, and friends. Rick Hight, co-owner and general manager of LARF finally got to survey the damage. He said the only visible damage was to a backdrop on one stage and scattered debris. "The LA Ren Festival will open on schedule!"

Hight wrote in his e-newsletter, "Many of our volunteer cast are having problems due to Katrina. I know of at least five of our cast members that have houses in New Orleans and/or Slidell that have suffered major damage. The people that evacuated have to figure out how to pay for where they are staying and how to buy food. Several of them are out of work for the duration and some of them are trying to figure out how to survive without their last paycheck, which is 'in the mail' for the duration." Chad LaComb, President of the Renaissance Living History Center at the LA Ren Festival, expressed concern for the bulk of the cast members who reside in New Orleans and Southern Mississippi. The RLHC is a non-profit organization that puts on the School Days at the LA Ren Festival that has stepped up to provide aid to their community by establishing a relief fund. "The fund is intended to help these people replace some of the things that they lost, like clothing, toiletries, temporary housing expenses etc. and provide general assistance until insurance funds become available. With the cost of hotel rooms, food, etc., we know that most of our friends and family, whose jobs were also destroyed by the hurricane are going to quickly exhaust any available savings and we want to be able to provide, at least on a temporary, whatever financial assistance that we can until their disaster insurance kicks in." You can make donations at http://www.larf.org.

The fair dodged the bullet but they have had to reduce the number of School Days to just Dec 6th and 7th, since many of the schools that they serve have been dramatically affected. A teacher's workshop ws planned for September 10th and 11th has been postponed to the end of October since the site is now filled with evacuees.

Hight is also concerned with festival related mail delivery, "It looks like it will be another few weeks before the mail service will be available. I have been unable to get merchant packets sent out via the mail." Since it appears that mail service will not be restored quickly, he plans to hold the packets including the contracts at the gate for merchants. Phone service has been difficult since the phone lines in Louisiana have been overloaded. Hight set up several additional phone numbers that are routed to the festival office via the internet. "I am hoping to get a chance to talk to every merchant some time in the next couple of weeks so that I can let them know about how we will process folks when they arrive."

Here are the numbers for those calling from within Louisiana.

  • 985-429-9992 (Hammond LA)
  • 225-612-0025 (Baton Rouge LA)

These are the numbers for those calling from out-of-state

  • 623-748-0169 (Phoenix AZ)
  • 941-894-0559 (Sarasota FL)

Katrina did not hit the Texas Renaissance Festival in outside of Houston, but many of the people who work and volunteer at the Festival are involved in the relief efforts. TRF opens October 1st.

More Links

Articles on SCA response to Katrina

  • News and Poems dedicated to the spirit of Gleann Abhann. (SCA-speak for New Orleans and lower Louisiana)
  • Map of SCA communities affected by storm. LARF is near Wyrmgest on this map.
 

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