I've been watching a lot of things on TV about Hurricane Katrina, and a lot of it is frustrating or discouraging. Before you lose your faith in human nature, I want to share some first-hand stories of friends and family in Louisiana to provide additional perspective.
My brother-in-law, a Doctor who lives in Chicago but happened to be at my wife's parents house in Baton Rouge during the hurricane, has been working at the triage centers near the Causeway bridge in New Orleans. He says the situation is bad, but not as chaotic as he'd feared. He has to throw away his shoes every night when they're done loading ambulances - combination of biohazards and the water they have to trudge through, but he's there every day to help.
Opening Up Their Homes:
Other friends have sent us update notes (email is working pretty well, though we can't get through on the phones most of the time). They are hosting people in their homes to give them someplace to stay. Here's a note from a friend in Prairieville, LA which is between Baton Rouge and New Orleans:
"We are okay. We just got power back last night.... Most of my family is fine (they no longer have homes but they are safe). We are still trying to connect with a few and are starting to get worried. We did locate one this morning and she is on a bus to LSU as we speak. I liken the way I am feeling to how I felt at 9-11. Although this is more intensified. I am so connected to people in the city of NO and the surrounding areas - I don't understand how I am supposed to just get on with life when life has been forever changed. We are housing between 20 and 30 people and it feels good to be able to help take care of basic needs for them. I am so thankful that the people I care about are physically safe.
"We need to thank God for that and pray for the others that are not so lucky. I need to go and help with laundry and breakfast for the second crew -- talk to you soon."
Love to all Rochelle
And another from a friend in Baton Rouge:
Sorry if you get this more than once, but I'm trying to get the word out about the need for help here in Baton Rouge. While we were spared big damage, we've become the New New Orleans and command central for the evacuation refugees. The N.O. government and most control is being done out of Baton Rouge.
But the urgent need is for help for the people in and around Southeast Louisiana. There's not a street in our neighborhood that doesn't have multiple families or friends staying at their houses, and most homes are still w/o power. Watching CNN and national news doesn't quite tell the whole story. You can't believe the massive problem that has occured and is going to get worse.
The shelters in Baton Rouge have all been filled up, all public bldgs, all apartments rented by this week, churches and homes are filling up. One gas station in the middle of nowhere has over a 100 people just camping around its property. I'm not sure of the gas situation outside our city, but there's a run on gas and I fear most people will not get gas today. We had to get some after 10pm last night. I'd say only 1 in 7 had gas last night. Like 1972 all over again.
Anyway, please get a care package together, your checkbook, or whatever and please help out. You can send to the numbers below, or send it to me and
I'll get it to the Red Cross supply center. If you live anywhere in Louisiana, then your local chapter is most likely already sheltering refugees also. Our companies are also collecting funds to send to local chapters to help out. The typical things are baby supplies, dry food, toiletries, clothes, towels, sheets, toys, basically anything somebody needs.
Please pass this along to your local email group so that we can touch as many people as possible.
Take care and please help out today.
If you have loved ones who were in the hurricane disaster zone, and you are trying to contact them to see if they are OK, the American Red Cross maintains a database of known disaster survivors. Their phone number is (866) GET-INFO. Please do not call the local chapters for information.
If you have loved ones of who have not been rescued, and you know of their location, please contact the Louisiana State Police at (225) 754-8500.
I've been through lots of hurricanes during the 27 years I lived in Louisiana, but I still can't comprehend this from 2500 miles away.
Yes, Louisiana is where I come from. But this is bigger than than that. They need our help as fellow human beings. Don't do things to endanger your own financial situation, but help if you can. The road ahead will be long and difficult for them.