South Tahoe man helps relatives in New Orleans area |

South Tahoe man helps relatives in New Orleans area

Jeff Munson


All the signs were there. People in New Orleans knew. Some even joked about it. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when, the levees would break.

Keith Cooney remembers having that thought five years ago. He was living in the Crescent City then; so was his family, including a brother with the New Orleans Police Department, and another brother who lived along the famed 17th Street Canal.

Last week, Cooney watched Hurricane Katrina land, and then, hours later, he watched the aftermath and chaos begin. The whole time he worried for his family.

On Sunday the South Shore man, a marketing representative for Placer Title Company, heard for the first time from both brothers. The police officer, Michael Cooney, has been working nonstop in the rescue efforts, his feet wet, pruned, cut and possibly infected. His other brother, Greg, the one who lived along the 17th Street canal, no longer has a house.

And then there are the cousins. At least four of them have lost their homes and possessions, as well as an assortment of in-laws.

“They are alive under the worst possible conditions imaginable. Everything, the whole city, is underwater,” said Keith Cooney.

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Families of both Cooney brothers have taken to relocation shelters, while the men continue to work. But the one thing both brothers conveyed that people aren’t seeing on television is the need for immediate cash and clothing assistance.

“The Red Cross is there providing the shelter and food, but there are things that people need – gasoline and clothing – that the Red Cross isn’t covering. It’s just too immense. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of people in need,” Cooney said.

Stopping by the Tribune, Cooney showed his own personal cashier’s checks he’s signed off to family members. Now he wants to take it a step further. That’s why he’s established an account at El Dorado Savings Bank for anyone who wants contribute cash assistance to his family.

Acknowledging that some might be ambivalent to send private donations to the account, he’s willing to open up all bookkeeping to the public.

The account at El Dorado Savings Bank is called the Friends of the Keith Cooney Family. The account number is 07302093. Anyone with questions can speak with the bank manager, he said. Also Cooney himself will field any questions about his account. He can be reached at (530) 577-3320.

Second-grader raises funds

Seven-year-old Dusty Winter is too young to remember when his neighborhood almost had to be evacuated because of the 2003 Gondola fire, but the current situation on the Gulf Coast made an impression on him.

Dusty went door-to-door in his Kingsbury neighborhood soliciting donations, then gave away popcorn to folks at Kahle Community Center who watched the fireworks show Sunday and took in more donations, said his father David Winter.

The second-grader at Zephyr Cove Elementary School raised $175.52, which was mailed Tuesday to the American Red Cross, Winter said.

Comedians collect donations

Comedians Marc Price, Jimmy Pardo and Harveys Improv manager Howie Nave raised $1,509.57 at The Improv last week from Wednesday through Sunday night. The money was collected with the sale of CDs and cash donations after comedy shows. The proceeds will be presented to Alpine Animal Hospital today, which has been established as South Lake Tahoe’s official cash donation drop-off for the American Red Cross. The address is 921 Emerald Bay Road. The phone number is (530) 541-4040.

– Tribune news editor Tim Parsons contributed to this report.