Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Personal Katrina Message

I wrote yesterday that I did not know anyone directly affected by Katrina. It turns out that my statement was not true. I met many people when I went to Gulfport & Biloxi for work. I learned today that the place I visited is "totally gone." Even closer to home, my sister-in-law's good friend was born and raised in New Orleans and still has family there. He wrote the following yesterday evening...


You've no doubt seen the pictures and heard stories of what has unfolded in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast in recent days. This email is my attempt to give you a perspective of what it's like to be someone who still has people very close and important to him stuck in the wake that Katrina has left, the perspective of a son, the perspective of someone who needs your help.

Tonight there was an important announcement concerning the efforts to save the city of New Orleans. Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, announced that any attempts to repair the breach in the levee, a 200 foot hole that is allowing water from Lake Ponchartrain to spill into the city and the surrounding area, have failed. What this means is that officials now expect that within the next 24 hours there will be approximately 12 feet of water in almost all areas East of the Mississippi River, that includes most of the city of New Orleans and all of Metairie, a suburb where my parents live, and I grew up.

Although they have not said it yet, it is just a matter of time until they announce that no evacuees will be allowed to return to the city for weeks if not months. Hopefully then they will begin to answer the question which it's unbelievable that after 48 hours they have not come up with a firm plan for, which is, "How do we get all the people left in the New Orleans area out of harms way?" As you probably know, and it is important to keep in mind, most of the people remaining in New Orleans are not there by choice, they are there because they are too poor, too old or too sick (as was the case for my parents when my stepdad was struck with a mild heart attack at the wrong time) to leave.

Maybe I am being simplistic and unrealistic, but considering the capabilities of our country that we lately have not hesitated to display to the world, it's unbelievable to me that we cannot go in and save those in trouble in our own country. Whether this means using different state's National Guards, all humanitarian efforts that exist, or the full might of the United States Army, it's something that needs to be done, and needs to be done now.

My parents are sitting in East Jefferson Hospital. They are ready to leave, but have nowhere to go. The hospital is rationing food. There is no electricity. The temperature is near three digits, there is little water, and a failing sewage system. My 86 year old grandmother is in conditions that I would guess are even worse (we've lost contact with her). I'm not foolish, I realize that the conditions for most of the others trapped in the city are far worse, some are in their houses, some are literally treading water for their lives, even the 30,000 people in the Superdome could comparatively still be considered lucky ones.

I write this as a conscious American, a New Orleanian, and most importantly a son, a son who has no clue when the next time he will be able to talk to his mom. If there is anything you as a individual can do, anyone you can reach out to that you think has a minutia of a chance of making a difference, please do so, do it for people like me, and do it cause it's the right thing to do.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide and for keeping people like me in your thoughts. You have no idea how much it means to all of us.

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