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Monday Watercooler


Tonight’s musical selection is “Silver Timothy” from Damien Jurado on the album Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. Thanks to Neil Ferguson for the suggestion.

One of Austin Common Ground Relief‘s closest allies in the flooded neighborhood has been Ruth Kaplan, who moved to Austin, Texas after Katrina only to find her home flooded on Halloween. From

After moving from New Orleans, Ruth Kaplan faced another disaster when Onion Creek surged. Kaplan considers herself lucky, she only got about a foot of water in her home.

…  Kaplan had experience with damaging storms before this. She lived in the New Orleans area during Hurricane Katrina.  Kaplan says the storms tore down trees in her yard.

Years later, here in Austin she thinks about her neighbors, especially those who worked in construction. ‘They’re not only out of work right now and out of a home they’ve lost their trucks and their tools,’ Kaplan said. ‘I have my sewing machines and my fabric. I can go back into business in small scale tomorrow. They can’t.’

The lessons of the storm don’t come easy.

‘The meaning of life is about community and relationships. It’s about everybody helping each other, whether it’s in a disaster or whether it’s just day to day noticing that your neighbor’s got problems,’ said Kaplan.

Happily, I can report that we recently finished necessary tear-down work on her home, which has been bought by the city. She plans to live in it until the city money arrives and is working closely with Austin Common Ground on an almost daily basis.

What’s on your mind tonight? Got questions? The Watercooler is an open conversation.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and