Momma D & Soul Patrol: Needs List

Catherine Jones
Date Published: 
September 24, 2005
Momma D is a New Orleans resident living at 1733 N. Dorgenois in New
Orleans. She stayed in New Orleans for the duration of the hurricane and its
aftermath. There is no electricity or in her neighborhood. So far she is
helping 50 families, more arriving each day.
Soul Patrol is an organization of community members working to protect
their neighborhood.
Supplies needed:
Generators, RVs, Pick Up truck/Vans, Charcoal, Mosquito repellent, Cell
phones with car chargers, Plastic cups/forks/knives/spoons, Boxes of soymilk
that do not need refrigeration, Cleaning supplies, Juice, Propane grills,
Non-perishable food, Water, Flashlights/lanterns, Tents, First Aid supplies
Soul Patrol
Big t-shirts (large, x large, 2 x, 3 x) that say "Soul Patrol" that are
black, red and green (12 of each size)
Crocheted hats that are black, red and green (can be found in beauty shops-
50 needed)
Momma D says there is a need for a free clinic in her neighborhood. She is
willing to donate a room in her house for this purpose. She also is asking
for volunteers to come down to help clean.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact 
bbelcore at To
donate to the People's Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Committee, please
visit our website Thanks!
Article about Momma D attached at bottom of this email
On Saturday, Rita will hit the coast as a major hurricane (over Category 3
strength) bringing damaging wind and storm surge. In addition, the forecast
track is currently indicating Rita may stall over Texas creating the
possibility of 25 INCHES of rain in the storm impact area. New Orleans may
expect 3-5 inches of rain from the storm impact and elevated water levels
due to storm surge. Rivers and creeks will flood and additional levees may
fail, especially if a long-term, flooding rain event transpires.
WE NEED people, trucks, vans, RVs, flat bottom boats, boat motors,
life-preservers, foul-weather gear, ponchos, emergency flashing lights,
emergency medical teams, first responders, and other emergency relief
equipment en-route to this area IMMEDIATELY.
If the current Federal relief system could not handle Katrina, it is
unreasonable to expect they can handle more damage to the areas impacted
from Katrina AND additional impact areas from Rita. Flooding rains will
expand the relief need and cause additional difficulty for emergency
Relief volunteers should expect to work in challenging conditions, possibly
alongside military and law enforcement personnel. Please bring IDs and any
credentials you may have.
One relief station will be created in Algiers and another outside the city.
If you are coming in BEFORE the storm makes landfall on Saturday morning, we
will direct you to an alternative safe location.
Please call Common Ground at 504-368-6897 to coordinate your arrival
location. Medical personnel may contact the Common Ground clinic at
504-361-9659 to coordinate your arrival and determine response needs.
Remember: Common Ground is a community-based, mutual aid relief group
working in solidarity with people in these affected areas. Please leave
political discussion aside. You are coming to serve the community.
Common Ground Relief <>
P.O. Box 3216
Gretna, LA 70034
phone 504-368-6897
Common Ground Clinic
1401 Teche Street
Algiers, LA 70014
phone 504-361-9659
Other Algiers Needs
Medical supplies, Rubber boots for women and men, Mosquito nets, Mosquito
head nets, Rubber gloves, Solar energy equipment, Soil testing equipment,
Respirators, Safety goggles, Tools: wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, drills,
Generators, Vitamins, Megaphones, 1st Aid supplies, Money
Times Picayune Sunday September, 18, 2005 Metro Section
Amid the devastation of Hurriance Katrina, one woman stayed with a simple
goal: to take care of those who need it the most
Momma D soldiers on in flood-torn Treme
She gives survivors strength to rebuild
By Trymaine D. Lee
Staff writer
Diane "Momma D" Frenchcoat rises early each morning and pushes a cart of
food and supplies through the sludge-spoiled streets of Treme and the 7th
She delivers food and hope for the hungry. She serves the delusional and
dejected, the junkies
and the flood survivors who have remained in the city despite its mass
Each day, she pushes her cart up and down Esplanade Avenue and Dorgenois,
Aubry and North Tonti streets, calling to those too ill or too old or too
stubborn to leave the neighborhoods that they've loved for so long.
"You need something to eat?" Frenchcoat yelled to a skinny, shirtless man
perched in a second-floor window of a home on Esplanade near Treme Street,
earlier this week. "You hungry? You want some food?"
The man peered down from his post to the mud-crusted block below and
responded with silence.
"You need some food, baby?" Frenchcoat hollered again.
The man stood there for a moment then vanished into the darkness.
"So many of them are scared to come out of their homes. But they're hungry,
I know they are. So, I just come by every day and let them get used to my
voice and hope they come out."
She marches on each day, up and down Treme and St. Philip and St. Ann
streets calling out to the frail and the frightened, to those who shutter
their windows at the sounds of the military machines grinding on their
blocks or hovering above their humbled homes.
Her cart is usually packed with baby formula, deodorant, canned soup and
sandwiches. Some of it has been "liberated" from local groceries, she said,
where it would have gone to waste in the wake of the hurricane and flood.
Some had been given to her by out-of-state soldiers sympathetic to her
"I can't think of a better gift in the face of this tragedy than Momma D,"
said Lt. Ken Noack, 24, of the 82nd Airborne out of Ft. Bragg in North
Carolina. "She's just the sweetest woman."
Noack and his men piled out of a military vehicle Wednesday onto Dorgenois
Street, bearing bags of ice.
"With this city being so sad right now, to see her so willing to help brings
smiles to our faces," he said, "the only ones we've had in two weeks."
Noack said Momma D has helped them find dozens of people in need of help who
otherwise might never gotten attention.
Frenchcoat said she has too much work ahead of her to leave the city. And
she said she won't be forced out either. Not by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin,
not by New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass and not by any other
official pressing people to leave their homes.
"This is me. This is my home," she said, pointing to the brown gravel
beneath her feet Wednesday. "This is me to the bone.
"Why would I leave now?," she said. "Why would I leave my people when so
many of them are still here, suffering."
Her graying dreadlocks flowed down the nape of her neck, spilling over her
sturdy, sloping shoulders as she spoke of a city she hopes will be reborn
from the loins of her people.
Momma D has a loyal following of community activists working to help
stabilize Treme from the grass-roots up. They've stayed behind to help their
people, their neighbors and themselves.
They call themselves the Soul Patrol, a loosely organized group led by Momma
D. The Soul Patrol was on the front lines battling the floods and the hunger
following Hurricane Katrina.
In the midst of the crisis, Soul Patrol members said they were about 30
strong. As time went on, the numbers dwindled. Tragedy gripped a few, some
losing family members, others physically and mentally worn down.
"I ain't going nowhere," said Soul Patrol member Earl Barthe, 45. "I'm the
son of a bricklayer. I'm ready to cut some sheetrock, lay some block,
anything to rebuild the city."
Members of the Soul Patrol said they "liberated" nearby McDonogh Elementary
42, where they evacuated hundreds of area residents during the flooding. The
fire department then shipped the residents to the Superdome and Interstate
10, said Manuel Mercadel, 48.
"We had facilities there, dry land and a roof for those people," Mercadel
Mercadel said Frenchcoat has been an inspiration to the entire movement.
She's been like a big sister who always has your back and treats everyone as
an equal, he said.
"She has a love affair with this city," said Jerome Smith, 64, a fellow
activist and friend who said he's known Momma D since the early 1960s. "A
love affair that she's had for a very long time."
Last week, Smith went looking for Frenchcoat to coax her out of New Orleans
to a shelter in Texas. Smith said he had wanted to use her clout to organize
the now evacuated young men from the community and prepare them to re-enter
the city as a productive work force.
Smith called on Compass to help him find Frenchcoat.
Compass, who did not support the idea of residents remaining in the city for
any reason, extended the police resources to get Momma D.
Smith and a convoy rolled down Esplanade, where the sight of a short woman
in dreadlocks and bright yellow waders brought a smile to Smith's face.
The two activists met in the middle of the road, embraced and exchanged
notes. The pair huddled and whispered.
Momma D had a plan.
"Rescue. Return. Restore," she said, each word seeming to freeze from her
lips and hang before falling into the other.
"Can you here what I'm saying, baby? Listen to those words again," she said,
leaning closer.
"Rescue, return, restore. We want the young, able-bodied men who are still
here to stay to help those in need. And the ones that have been evacuated,
we want them to come home and help clean up and rebuild this city. How can
the city demand that we evacuate our homes but then have thousands of people
from across this country volunteering to do the things that we can do