Tuesday, October 11, 2005

10/11 - from shelley from NOLA

from 10/10:

Things are slowly rebuilding in the city. Most parts of Metairie & the West Bank are fine and are starting to reopen for business, schools, etc. However, Old Metairie, Lakeview & New Orleans will take a little longer to come back.

People are starting to work on their houses in our neighborhood, but it's still very isolated. We are working on our house everyday and we are making progress. We have gutted out our house and covered our roof with a tarp, since the tree has been removed. We're still trying to clean up the debris, while waiting on the insurance adjuster. Once we meet with them, we will be able to start cleaning out all of all of our furniture and other belongings that are piled up in the back yard and begin renovations.

We are fortunate as compared to many others, especially the families that we are all helping. Most of these families had homes in St. Bernard parish, the Lower 9th Ward & New Orleans East, which is totally destroyed. They were able to return to view their homes to collect whatever was left, but it will take a long time before those homes are ever livable again (if ever).

I haven't received any packages yet. It seems like the mail service/UPS is taking a really long time. I have confirmed that the address listed on the website is correct. As soon as I start receiving the packages, I will update everyone on what has been received and what is still needed. We have an extreme need for women's plus size pants. I will post an update later today with the exact sizes of the women and the others who need our help.

The young widowed, woman that I'm trying to help has a 7 month old baby girl. So, baby wipes, baby powder, diapers, etc. would really help out this young mother. As far as the Men’s shirts, short sleeve & long sleeve shirts can be used, since our weather is starting to change – in the 70’s during the day 60’s at night. Any types of casual shirts would be great – no dress shirts are needed.

Federal Express should be able to deliver to our zip code, as they do not have us as one of the suspended zip codes. However, I have not seen a truck in the entire metro New Orleans area.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

home lost in waveland, MS

posting email forwarded to me - michelle's sister & family lived in waveland and their house completely destroyed so now they are staying with michelle (michelle's contact info below the email) in SC. i've been told by one of the people running the equine rescue in CS that michelle & sister might be reluctant to ask for anything openly, so am posting SCARE's president's (jan) contact info if anyone would like to help or find out more info:

I just heard back from Michelle, one of our members who took a 28 ft. horse trailer loaded to the brim with supplies for animals and for people. When she arrived at the animal shelter in Waveland, she found a clean shelter with about 20 to 25 dogs, cats and other animals. FEMA has just recently gotten them an air conditioned tent to keep the dogs, and they were all relatively comfortable. The director of the shelter said that just about all of the animals currently housed there now were just recently removed from houses, and she was much in hopes that they would be able to reunite these animals with their owners. We can all pray for that.
They had very little food for the animals, out of shampoos, and just about all supplies. They were absolutely ecstatic with the delivery. They did not have any horses or large animals, but there was a fireman there who has three horses that he has had trouble finding food for, and he said he also knew of other local people who still had their horses and livestock, who also had little to no means of acquiring feed for, and he is going to distribute the horse feed, alfalfa cubes, beet pulp and other large animal supplies within the community.
The director, and many of the local people who have been working at the shelter are as distraught as we have been that they are not making provisions to foster the animals for a longer period of time to give local residents the opportunity to get back to the area and claim their pets. They are going to try to hold their animals as long as possible in that hope.
I was so glad to hear the report of the wonderful treatment that the animals were given, at least at this shelter, in light of all of the rumors that have abounded across the internet. I'm sure that there have been instances that were less than optimal, but at least at this shelter, the animals are being cared for as best as these people can provide.
Again, many many thanks to all of our members, and people from the local communities that contributed to this effort to get supplies to an area that has been much overlooked. Michelle said that the devastation is more than anyone can describe. Please keep Michelle, her sister and her family in your thoughts and prayers, as well as the other people who are now confronted with the gruesome task of combing through the ruins in search of some small trinket that may be left of their homes and their lives.
Jan Carter
President
SC Awareness and Rescue for Equines, Inc.

Michelle Stott
P.O. Box 332
Landrum, SC 29356


if you'd like to help, contact jan:
There is nothing standing but the frame of the house. As Michelle is very modest, we decided it would be best to post the phone nbr and eMail address of our President.
Jan will be glad for anyone to call or e-mail her.
Tell them to please leave Jan a message - stating it is regarding help for Michelle's family - if they don't get hold of Jan, and she WILL call them back.
Jan's phone nbr is : (803) 755-6451



Thursday, September 29, 2005

9/29 - truckload going to MS

email from the president of the south carolina rescue involved with relief efforts - forwarded to me:

I wanted to take just a minute and thank all of our volunteers and members for the tremendous outpouring of donated items that were loaded and that are currently on the way to MS for disaster victims, both humane and animal.
I transported goods and cash donations to Landrum yesterday and assisted in getting everything packaged and ready to go. I was amazed at what had been accomplished. Local businesses had partnered to gather so many needed supplies for both people and animals. It was a wonderful testament of what can be accomplished when people pull together for a common goal.
Late yesterday afternoon, JoAnne Smythe from Greenville County Animal Control, answered the call to assist in gathering crates needed if we were to bring any animals back on the return trip to SC. She was able to borrow a good number of crates from the Greenville County Humane Society. I'm sure that JoAnne, Michelle and I were the topics of many conversations as we "sprawled" in the parking lot of a gas station/convenience store outside of Landrum trying to figure out how get the things put together! In the end, we ended up with a couple of "extra pieces", so I am absolutely sure that we didn't do something right somewhere, but the objective was accomplished, and we had some crates that will hold animals on the return trip if MS officials allow that to happen.
There is another really cool by-product of this trip that I wanted to share as well. Michelle responded to an e-mail for help coordinating the reunion of a woman currently in Atlanta that was separated from her three rotties. It seems that when Katrina struck, the woman sent her 3 Aussies and 3 Rotties to her daughter, who lives in TX. The woman's home in NO was lost. When Rita hit TX, the daughter (still in possession of all of the dogs) then lost her home. The daughter then relocated to another location in Slidell. They have been searching for a means of getting some of the dogs back to the mother in Atlanta ever since. Michelle responded to the e-mail that she would be passing through the area, less than 30 miles from Slidell and would be returning through Atlanta on Sunday. So, she will at the very least be accompanied by three huge rotties on her return trip home. Just a very cool thing to be able to help facilitate a reunion of an owner with their animals!
There have been many posts, blogs, e-mails all over the internet since these disasters took place, some in praise of the efforts of HSUS, and many that were very critical. Admittedly, some of them bothered me tremendously as well. This morning, I received this announcement from HSUS - an explanation from Wayne Parcell, the President of HSUS. Much of what he says makes a lot of sense. It's very easy to sit on the sidelines and see animals and people suffering, and point fingers as to who dropped the ball, who failed in their responsibilities and duties, but we also have to keep in mind that we are only seeing a thumbnail of what is taking place. The sidelines can be a very difficult place to be for many of us who like to be actively involved in the hands-on process, and many times, our frustrations distort our perception. There is no doubt that there are many things that could certainly have been done better overall. I hope that people will stop pointing fingers, acknowledge that we (collectively) are not prepared to be confronted with something of this magnitude, and look for ways to do things better. This should serve as a major wake up call for everyone. Again, phenomenal things can be accomplished if people are willing to set aside the need to assign blame, and just pull together to improve the way we do things.
This is going to be a tremendous need for a long time to come, and hopefully, we will not lose sight of the need for our assistance. The day will come when we will be the ones that asking for help, and we can only hope that there will be people out there willing to do the same for us!
Below is the link to the HSUS article if you would like to read it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

NEED TOOLS - 9/24 UPDATE FROM CARRIERE, MS

from terri - i am posting it in entirety (omitted a couple of items i know are taken care of already) because i'm sure the situation (& tool needs) is probably the same in EVERY town affected by katrina:

have been thinking about the longterm. I know it will take a very long time for MS to recover. We have many things that are askew.

Many people who work in disaster zones have commented that they have never seen the level of devastation we have here. Nobody has yet said they have seen anything worse. For us, we see not just the destruction, we see what it used to be. We all have a centimental attachment to everything that was destroyed. Today, a man who has been to my home many times told me he had trouble finding it. All the landmarks are gone, the trees are down, fences disappeared.

We have entered a new phase, after almost a month of long days spent just trying to survive, emotional and mental health is now an issue. I have tried to identify the problems, and find solutions. I am not a psychiatrist, not even sure if I spelled it correctly, but I know my people and I know what is bothering them.

Children
All of the things that were familiar to the children are either gone or damaged. The whole landscape is changed. Many have no home, all are having to adjust to new classmates. The entertainment they used to enjoy has been replaced with hard days working to help the family's situation. Many have parents who are afraid, and the children are unsettled by it. The children can't run and play outside. It is too dangerous, leaning trees, broken power poles, electric lines on the ground, limbs everywhere, holes under trees filled with mud and water. Did you know that a downed tree trunk can stand back up? Yes, stand up and crush anything in the shade of its roots.

Adults
The task before all of us is monumental. It overwhelms some. We all have dejected days, those coming more and more frequently. I have seen father's be too sharp with children, mother's eyes brimming with tears. Three weeks ago, I would have asked the mother what her child needed, today the reasons for the tears are more complex. Men are out of work. A man accustomed to ending his day after a good day's work feels a sense of achievement. Many men are looking for work and finding none. Every yard needs trees removed and repairs. Most of the men have done all they have the tools to do. While we are able to stay busy, everybody feels better. Tired, but better. In the beginning, we saw progress everyday, which gave us hope and determination to continue tomorrow. That is being replaced with frustration because we have done all we can do.

I could write volumes on this subject, but you get the idea.

Below is a list of items for the Community Tool Chest.

FULFILLED! Chain Saw with at least a 24 inch bar or a 24 inch bar to swap out with existing one (please contact terri as i have no idea how chain saws work). This is needed because nobody has one that big to share, and all the trees that could be cut up with the saws we have, have already been cut up. The longer the bar, the larger the tree that you can cut up. An extra chain would be nice so one could be sharpened while the other was being used.

FULFILLED! Utility Trailer any size. Many of us have an SUV, van, or car. We need a trailer to pull behind for hauling debris and limbs out of our yards. Some of us have pickup trucks, but borrowing a truck, you are also borrowing someone's mode of transportation. We have waited our turns and loaned our vehicles to the pickup owner so we could use the truck. But, if we had a trailer, then I could loan it, know where it was, assign the next person, and such without making arrangements with a truck owner. Communications being what they are. Insurance does not pay for tree removal unless the tree is on your house. We have had prices of $1,000 to cut up one small tree and haul it to the edge of the road. [comment from the blog owner - I think this is SHAMEFUL & is likely price-gouging by the local asking this amount under the circumstances] Most of us can't afford that. And the elderly and disabled surely can't pay those prices.

FULFILLED! Shovel

Hoe

FULFILLED! Flat Shovel

FULFILLED! Rake

We only need one of each item on this list. We'll share them.

Today, a retired couple arrived from Waveland. I have known their two sons for years, but have not yet met them. The sons live here.

The couple's house. . . is now just a slab. Before the storm, they moved all their valuables to a storage unit north of the railroad tracks. The tracks act as a levee on the coast. He moved everything else to the attic, which would have been 3 or 4 stories off the ground. The house was a two story on stilts. Both the house and the storage unit are gone. Everything they own is in the two suitcases they took with them when they evacuated.

After seeing the house, the wife had a heart attack, and had to have 5 bypasses in a MASH hospital. She is a small thin woman, and is doing very well.

They are now staying with a family about 1 mile south of me, and they will be visiting to choose new clothes, shoes, toiletries and treats.

It is so nice to be able to help people. Thank you all for sending me the items with which to fill the needs.

[from the blog owner - items for the retired couple above should be addressed:
Katrina Relief/WAVELAND COUPLE
c/o Terri Thomas
1467 Caesar Road
Carriere, MS 39426
Phone: 601-749-4671
terri_965@msn.com
USPS, FedEx and UPS all operating (updated 9/23)]

Friday, September 23, 2005

EMAIL FROM A VOLUNTEER

after obtaining and distributing items needed by evacuees in the person's own town for 2 weeks straight, this person went to NOLA to rescue pets from homes - the email writer wished to remain anonymous because the person wants the focus to remain on those in need, including the volunteers still in the area :

I am back from New Orleans last night due to mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Rita. Everyone including all volunteers had to be out by 8AM Wednesday morning. We were a little late on that deadline...but there was so much to do!

I don't think that I can express in words what I've seen the past few days...I've been very emotional since I got home and find myself crying at odd times and for no apparent reason...I'm not usually this way.

Coming into the city there are checkpoints you have to clear...if you don't have a legit reason to be there you'll be turned back. Luckily I was working in conjunction with a National Guard unit. As soon as I arrived at the staging area...a tent city in a parking lot...I was given a cardboard box with dog food, city map, can of spray paint, permenant marker, sledge hammer, leashes, paper collars (like vets use to write info on that you put on the animal), four addresses of homes in the 9th ward that had animals inside...I was already carrying a case of bottled water and IV setups. I was told to enter with whatever means necessary...we had owner's permission. Upon leaving I had to mark on the front door (spray paint/pens)the date, what & how many animals I removed,where they were taken and any bodies I discovered. The interiors of these homes had not been searched by search/rescue/body recovery teams yet.

I've only been to New Orleans a few times...then only in the French Quarter area so I was not at all familiar with where I was going. Using the map was helpful to a certain extent as I had to go around so much debris and a few times had to stop a block from the address and walk in. The roads are only cleared in certain places...usually wide main streets...debris just pushed to the side so emergency vehicles can get through. This particular section was fairly dry but low areas under overpasses had deep standing water. Although I have a four wheel drive jeep (water came up to the doors)...I was still worried about what was under the water...this was no place to get a flat tire or get stuck here. . . .

I'll try to explain what I saw: debris & lots of it...everywhere (wood, tree limbs,furniture.roofs,trash of all kinds) downed power lines and poles, dead animals,vehicles everywhere that had been under water. There is a grey dried mud coating on everything. The smell is unbelievable...I kept Vick's in my nose the whole time. The whole city is like a ghost town...spooky,desolate and unbelievably quiet! At night it is the darkest of dark! When animals see a vehicle they follow...I guess they were strays before the storm as you couldn't get close to them but I dropped food and water as I went through.

At the first address I banged on the door and heard barking...used my sledge hammer to knock out the whole door knob area (easier than it sounds...remember it's wood that was under water a while) and was greeted by 3 fairly large mixed breed dogs that knocked me down in their happiness to see someone. They were very thin and very dehydrated...they licked me with dry tongues. I gave them a little water and they eagerly jumped right into the vehicle. I searched the rest of the house and let me tell you it is just damn weird to be in someone's house like that! Sludge,mold,furniture,appliances...everywhere! Family photos ruined by the water...water marks high up above my head.Thank God as I left I was able to mark the door 3 dogs rescued / 0 DB.

Getting back to the vehicle to put collars on the dogs with the address where found...I notice a cat sitting in the front passenger seat. It was just surreal as the dogs were really noisy and jumping around...the cat's just sitting there calm as can be and looks at me like" I'm going with you and you can't stop me". Needless to say I had a navigator for the next few hours.

At the next stop there was no barking or sounds when I banged on the door and windows. Couldn't get through the front door as something was blocking it...found out later it was the refridgerator. Broke a window on the side to get in. Nothing downstairs but the smell was overpowering! Upstairs on one of the beds was a little black bundle...a little poodle that I was sure was dead but when I touched it...it opened it's eyes. So weak it was unable to move. Scooped her up and checked the rest of the house...had to mark the door 1 DB this time...I cannot say anything more on that.

Started fluids on the little dog while the cat supervised...decided to go back to the staging area now as this little dog needed immediate vet attention and come back. Upon returning and getting the animals I had to the vet tent I was told there was a meeting going on and everyone had to be there. They were discussing the new hurricane(Rita) heading this way. The plan was to stop rescue ops and concentrate on evacuating all the animals we had now (about 300 dogs, alot of cats, and other small pets) to the Gonzales shelter...and then come back after this storm came through.

We immediately started loading animals on trucks, trailers, etc and moved them out all through the night and following day. Critical patients were evacuated by helicopter to LSU vet school. I made the trip with the little poodle and last I heard the doctor said she would probably make it...it was very close! I said goodbye to my little navigator as he drove away in a sheriff's suburban...paws on the dash...sirens wailing!

On the trip home had to stop at a car wash (National Guard soldier recommended this) and wash my vehicle completely...especially the undercarriage...we didn't want to take this toxic sludge home with us! I cried almost all the way home. I just kept thinking of all the poor little souls we couldn't get to because of the evacuation...it just breaks my heart!

When I finally got home my little dog was so happy to see me but I greeted her through the screen porch...didn't want her in contact with my 3 day clothing and whatever it carried. Wanted to hug her so badly!!! Stripped on the porch and showered with lysol and then soap. Sprayed my tent, pack, etc, also.

Being home I realised the simple conveniences we take for granted...a cool place to sleep, running water, light, and ice! At this time I'm not sure if I'll go back, as much as I want to. I feel emotionally drained....physically I'm in pain...and finances are low. Maybe after I rest...some of them have been out there since a few days after the storm. They've not had a bath or good meal, sleeping on concrete (when they can), fighting the heat & mosquoitos,for almost a month now... but they keep going...God bless them!!

Please keep these heroes...the volunteers, the soldiers, the fireman, and rescue teams (animal & human) in your prayers. They undergo so much to help and ease suffering in any way they can! And please a special prayer for the little animals we were not able to get back to...may God ease their suffering and have a special place waiting for them. . . .