American Red Cross - 800-HELP-NOW (435-7669)
America's Second Harvest - 1-800-344-8070
Habitat for Humanity
The Humane Society
ASPCA - (866)-275-3923
Salvation Army - 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
Network for Good
Feed The Children
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - 888-544-5475
Save the Children
UNICEF: Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts
Adventist Community Services - 1-800-381-7171
Catholic Charities USA - 703-549-1390
Church World Service - 1-800-297-1516

8 November 05 - Update

Wilma blew thru Miami and pretty much brought this city to its knees. It was predicted to enter the west coast of Florida as a category 3 and downgrade to a category 1 by the time it got to the east coast. People weren't too concerned as Katrina came thru as a category 1 and other than some minor tree damage and some power outages that lasted a couple days in some areas (we only lost it for 12 hours), there was little to worry about. Norris put up the shutters, we filled up our gas tanks, replenished the battery supply for the lanterns and made a couple day's supply of ice, just in case...We had NO idea that we would be without power for 13 days. The entire county lost power. A few areas (perfectly random) got their electricity back within a couple days. Many people did not prepare at all and truly paid a miserable price. Only a couple gas stations in all Dade County had back up generators, so you can imagine the mile-long lines of vehicles trying to get gas. FEMA set up distribution points where people could go for water and ice, but they totally underestimated the need. Stop signs, traffic lights were not just out, they were GONE. Trying to go anywhere in Miami for the first couple days after the storm was a nightmare. We were extremely fortunate that our damage was minimal. We lost all but one tree, both of our cars took some windblown debris damage, our screens blew out on the front porch. A tree in the front yard fell against the house, but no structural damage was done. To me, this was a much scarier storm than Hurricane Andrew. We were preparing our "safe room" in anticipation of severe damage after one of our shutters blew out. Thank god we didn't have to use it. Schools in Dade County were closed for 8 days. Broward County schools (just north of Dade) just reopened today. The most exciting thing that happened since the storm was seeing the electric company trucks from North Carolina park in front of our house. Electricity is something we take for granted. Now, when I flip a switch and the light comes on , I whisper a silent "thank you".
~Maxine Bissett (Fill) 67, South Miami, FL

5 November 05 - Update

I've been off line for about two weeks now. Wilma really whacked the gold coast here in Florida. I happened to be in the Bahamas when she hit and the island I was on did not experience a lot of damage, however the island north of us sustained major damage. As a matter of fact one small settlement on Grand Bahama no longer exists. Completely washed out to sea. Fortunately all had evacuated. Damage here in Boca [Boca Raton, FL] is pretty bad. Most large trees have been blown down and a lot of folks still without electrcity. I faired pretty well. Lost 5 palms and a large pine tree fell on my roof. Lots of roof tiles gone. Papers here report it will take a year to get new roof tiles.
~Bob Onisko 66, Boca Raton, FL

30 October 05 - Update

Paulette Tokar (Whiteman) 67, who lived in New Orleans, lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. She is doing well and has a good attitude about the drastic changes in her life. Here is her most recent account:

This summer I go to see my daughter in Germany and go back to study in Prague. Since I won't have a house or garden to worry about, then I can stay as long as I want ... if I can bring my cat or board her comfortably.

Thanks for posting my note on our web many nice people sent heartfelt notes, and some sent some financial help as well and that has really helped, too. I am due to move into a FEMA trailer next week or the week after, so I will be, hopefully, settled in my own little sheet metal heaven…will have to have an "open trailer" (..just like an open house)..will send pics so all can see what it's like to face reversal of fortune and live to tell about it. In our school district about 40 teachers lost all. So they are putting us on a nice wooded area not too terribly far from my school...for some privacy. Don't know how that type of living works, but will let you know once I get settled. Thanks for the words of encouragement and your kind help. I will remember all that kept my heart in theirs.

There is nothing like an Ankara connection to tie our hearts together forever. What a nice thing to be able to say in this day and age. That when things were at my absolute worst in my life, it was my AHS friends, and some who did not even know me...but had our connection. They reached out and helped be back up...I am so stunned by all the kindness...after all the ugliness of this horrid flood. If you could have seen what my house looks like, it would have made you ill. It's in several parts and off the foundation...that water was amazingly was so acid it ate the glazes of the 30"s and 40"s pottery I have collected. I have never seen anything so corrosive as that flood water.

Must to better things like a nap and to read and to find some peace. I hope your trip (Turkish Tour 2006) is a resounding success and that you all take wonderful pictures so we all can share with your holiday!"

~ Paulette Whiteman, New Orleans, LA

24-25 September 05 - Update

AP -- For millennia, fall's Gulf of Mexico hurricanes have butted gale-force winds against the southbound journeys of migrating birds. Somehow, the birds have been able to sense storm paths and survive.

Rita's northern trek countered peak migration for hawks, and her direction earlier in the week prompted an evacuation order that canceled Corpus Christi's annual Celebration of Flight.

-- Hurricane Rita Expected to Stall and Flood-- Hurricane forecasters expect Rita to stall just after landfall, drenching the Texas-Louisiana border from the coast to Texarkana with 8 inches to 2 feet of rain.

That's likely to mean severe flash flooding, particularly in low-lying spots and urban areas where there is lots of concrete. In Texas, forecasters warn of such flooding in Texarkana, Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Tyler, Houston and Beaumont; in Louisiana, Shreveport, Bossier City, Lake Charles, and possibly Monroe and Alexandria are at risk.

REUTERS -- Hurricane Rita slammed into evacuated towns and oil-rich swamplands of the Texas-Louisiana border on Saturday, causing widespread damage and power outages and threatening heavy flooding.

It spared Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, a direct hit. But the oil city of Beaumont, Texas and many of the largest U.S. refiners were in Rita's path, and the extent of damage was not yet known.

Officials across the region said high winds had toppled trees, destroyed buildings and fanned numerous fires. A container ship broke loose, fallen trees trapped people in their homes by fallen trees and floodwaters again swept into devastated New Orleans.

Beaumont, where the U.S. oil age began with the discovery of the Spindletop oil well in 1901, was one of the hardest hit. In Lake Charles, the storm knocked a huge container ship loose from its moorings in Lake Charles and the vessel threatened to strike an interstate highway bridge over the lake, news reports said.

About two million people were without electricity in Texas and Louisiana.

A fire engulfed three buildings in Galveston's historic downtown and another building collapsed in the same area as Rita raked the island city, which nevertheless escaped a direct hit.

Centerpoint Energy and another utility company, Entergy, said at least 900,000 customers were without power, meaning around 1.8 million people were in the dark and without air conditioning.

-- The U.S. oil industry snapped into action on Saturday to assess damage to their installations in the wake of Hurricane Rita, which hit the Gulf Coast near Sabine Pass, Texas, around daybreak.

The storm, which plowed through the offshore oil and gas producing region of the Gulf of Mexico before landfall, had shut nearly all Gulf of Mexico crude oil production and 30 percent of U.S. oil refinery production.

It was the second major hurricane to strike at the heart of the U.S. oil industry in a month, triggering some worries over fuel supply shortages and keeping energy prices zipping along near record highs.

Refiners said it was too early to tell if they would be able to restart their plants quickly after their precautionary shutdowns ahead of the storm's arrival, but some were hopeful they would find little damage from Rita.

UNION-TRIBUNE -- Some held back tears as they were being interviewed, but there they were, hurricane evacuees in San Diego trying to find a job to start a new life.

Job seekers say lack of transportation, no permanent address and lost professional licenses that would prove their qualifications in fields such as nursing and security, are making the search difficult.

About 250 evacuees have visited the California Employment Development Department office set up inside the Red Cross family assistance center since it opened Sept. 10, said Rebecca Arreola, special program manager with state's Employment Development Department.

CNN -- Officials say no deaths from Hurricane Rita have been reported in Louisiana or Texas, but the light of day brought these early damage assessments:
# Baytown -- The water treatment plant is out of service. Power lines and poles are down and the city is littered with storm debris.
# Beaumont -- A 17-year-old was hit by a falling tree and injured. 11 other injuries reported. A restaurant is damaged, there is debris on the streets, but no major flooding. Police are checking a collapsed apartment building outside the city.
# Galveston -- Two historic residences and a commercial building burned. One building destroyed. A restaurant wall collapsed. Wind blew off the roof of a multi-story hotel downtown. The Galveston Daily News, which lost part of its roof, reports that a woman was severely burned and a firefighter received a minor eye injury.
# Houston -- Two fires, power outages, no major flooding.
# Lumberton -- Some flooding, unverified reports of damage. Trees down. Downed power lines are preventing police from rescuing a couple trapped in their home.
# Pasadena -- Fire at a Family Dollar store spread to an AutoZone store.
# Port Arthur-- Some flooding, with water depths of three to seven feet. Phones out. Widespread wind damage. Levees holding.
# Texas City -- Still assessing damage.
# New Orleans -- Parts of the 9th Ward under 8 feet of water; 150-foot gap in the Industrial Canal levee.
# Lake Charles -- Significant damage to airport, including hangars, cell tower. Trees down. Major damage, flooding at Harrah's casino. At least one pumping station does not appear to be working.
# Acadia Parish -- Power lines and trees toppled. Trees on houses. Wind and water damage.
# Calcasieu Parish -- Airport damaged. Homes damaged by falling trees. Roads blocked. Cell phones down. A building is on fire in Vinton. A firefighter was injured when he was kicked in the head by a horse.
# Cameron Parish -- Phones down.
# Evangeline Parish -- Heavy winds, no damage assessment yet.
# Jefferson Davis Parish -- Flooding, extensive damage, looting in Jennings. Residents trapped. Many downtown businesses damaged. Police department without power.
# Lafayette Parish -- Roads blocked by fallen trees. Power outages in city of Lafayette and parish. The Vermilion River through Lafayette is running north, instead of south, due to heavy storm surge.
# Terrebonne Parish -- Crews unable to get to trapped residents. Seven to eight feet of water throughout the parish.
# Vermilion Parish -- Flooding south of Louisiana State Route 14. Downed trees and power outages. Search and rescue underway. Eight feet of water reported south of Erath.

-- The levee system in New Orleans is getting global attention because of the breaks caused by Hurricane Katrina, and now Hurricane Rita. And some engineers say those two disasters should prompt a new look at critical infrastructure.

KNIGHT RIDDER -- The second major hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast in a month, Hurricane Rita has caused significant flooding in parts of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas this morning, and is expected to only get worse. It sparked several dramatic fires and knocked out power to more than 1 million customers.

There is severe flooding at Lake Charles Aiport in Louisiana. Three to 4 feet of water stand in parts of Port Arthur, Texas. An apartment building in Beaumont, Texas, may have collapsed, CNN reports, and people may be trapped inside. In Lumberton, Texas, about 90 percent of residents evacuated, but flooding is worse than expected. Powerlines and trees are down all over the region.
...the storm is expected to hover over the area for as long as four or five days, weakening but pouring as much as 25 inches of rain and generating perilous inland floods. Officials are warning evacuees not to return to their homes.

NYT -- The chaotic evacuations of New Orleans and Houston have prompted local officials across the country to take another look at plans for emptying their cities in response to a large-scale natural disaster or a terrorist attack. What they have found is not wholly reassuring.
Have not heard a single report regarding any of the oil refineries in the path. Damage is less than expected in some areas and some areas not expecting damage got flooding and wind damage.

I watched fire fighters trying to fight a fire in historic buildings in Galveston, but with 70 mile per hour winds, the firefighters could not accomplish much. The eye seems to be following right along the Texas – Louisiana border. They are worrying about it stalling around Shreveport and getting tons of rain there.

There is an apartment building that collapsed in Beaumont and they are on their way to check to see if there are any people in the building.

Am sure everyone heard the horrible story about the bus of elderly people who caught fire just south of Dallas.
--Carole Walther (Jakubczak) 60, Austin, TX

Shame about the fire in Galveston. One building from 1905. Even Houston sent trucks and firemen to help...
Jasper has been flattened according to reports.
Kingwood reported w/o power since 4AM.
The bus fire is one of those events that just leave you wondering.

Mayor White in Houston has done a fantastic job. Unbelievable numbers. In addition he put himself at great personal risk numerous times by getting between a TV camera and Sheila Jackson Lee who along with Al Green seemed to be impaled on the opposite corners of the podium forcing the speakers to work their way around them.

The conditons on the roads out of Dallas to Houston are still bad as the storm seemed to be following them. Feel for folks caught on the roads there.

Hope they stay up north for a few days longer to allow services to resume. It would be terrible if they rush back only to find no electric, flooding and no gas. They would find themselves in much worse conditions.

Brother Jim and wife are here for the duration. Friends with the horses went even farther north. Can't fault their decision, but as it turned out, we're OK and the animals would have been just fine. Only damage so far was one old tarp covering the trailer we're using for a feed room let go and is in shreds. No big deal - feed's in covered barrels anyway. We're very thankful. So many folks have real problems to deal with and we're glad to have been able to at least offer shelter.
See how things go later in the day...Storm seems to be passing us now.
--Chris White 60, Washington, TX

23 September 05 - Update

AP -- NASA's legendary base for astronaut training and Mission Control was empty Thursday as Hurricane Rita aimed for the Texas Gulf Coast and posed a flooding risk to Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The space center was locked down, with the power turned off, and monitoring duties for the international space station were turned over to Russian flight controllers outside Moscow. The same thing happened in 2002 when another approaching storm threatened the space center.

-- Katrina Turns the Poor Into the Destitute--Before Hurricane Katrina, they were among the poorest of America's poor. In the hardest hit counties, some 305,000 people not only lived in poverty, their families' income fell below 50 percent of the poverty line - about $7,500 for a family of three. Now, many live in strange towns with only a few dollars in their pockets.

They've become a new class of poor, one that makes the old class look well off by comparison. They have not only lost their jobs and their homes; they're also isolated from family and friends, putting them at great risk for depression and substance abuse.

-- Katrina refugees still seek temp housing.

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- With Hurricane Rita bearing down on the Texas and Louisiana coastline, authorities ordered more than 2 million people to flee inland, setting off marathon traffic jams that paralyzed major highways for hours, straining fuel supplies and spreading anxiety in both states.

CNN -- Federal government promises fuel deliveries to Rita evacuees--Amid all the advance planning--including millions of pounds of food and water, thousands of hospital beds, and satellite phones to maintain communications--state officials pleaded for gasoline to replenish dwindling fuel supplies along evacuation routes.

-- Rising water due to Hurricane Rita washes over levee in New Orleans hard-hit 9th Ward, Army Corps of Engineers says.

-- Thousands of Hurricane Katrina's evacuees were rousted again by Hurricane Rita. Traffic jams stretched for hundreds of miles. Gas tanks ran dry as motorists inched along, fretting while their chance to get out seemed to be slipping away. And then, a bus explosion killed two dozen elderly evacuees.

SEATTLE TIMES -- Much of the $1.1 billion donated to charities to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina may be unavailable to assist those affected by Hurricane Rita because of legal limits on how the organizations can use the money.

KNIGHT RIDDER -- A bus carrying evacuees from Hurricane Rita caught fire near Dallas this morning, killing as many as 20 people.

NYT -- Heeding days of dire warnings about Hurricane Rita, as many as 2.5 million people jammed evacuation routes on Thursday, creating colossal 100-mile-long traffic jams that left many people stranded and out of gas as the huge storm bore down on the Texas coast.

Acknowledging that "being on the highway is a deathtrap," Mayor Bill White asked for military help in rushing scarce fuel to stranded drivers.

The Houston area's two major air gateways, Hobby Airport and Bush Intercontinental, suffered major delays when more than 150 screeners from the Transportation Security Administration, facing their own evacuation concerns, did not show up for work. The agency later rushed in replacements, a spokeswoman said, but passengers, already burdening the system with extra luggage for their trips to safety, waited for hours to go through security.
I talked to my brother-in-law off and on all day yesterday. He and his family left Houston at 6:00 am trying to get to Fort Worth. He was on a Hwy west of I-49. He said it was basically a parking lot. It took him 10 hours to go what would normally take 45 minutes.
He called at 10:30 last night and said they worked their way over to the interstate and the traffic had eased up some. He expected to be in Fort Worth in another two hours.

So, I guess it took him around 19 hours to go what normally takes 4 or so.

Carol, that's right, my in-law's did ship Skip a generator. They shipped it Tuesday I believe and they told him it would be there by Friday. It hadn't gotten there by Thursday when he left. He told his neighbors to watch for it. I'm not sure if they shipped through UPS or the postal service. It was $90 to ship from here. To overnight was $190.

Eda, I'm afraid you will have a hard time finding a generator. I'm sure you checked the usual places - Home Depot , Lowe's , Sam's, WalMart. They will probably get some in in a few days. They usually ship all their storm supplies from other stores to the stricken areas. You just have to be there at the right time to get one.

By the way, if they do get them, I highly recommend the Generac Wheelhouse 5550 at Home Depot or the Troy Bilt 5550 at Lowe's. I also highly recommend a 5,000 - 8,000 BTU window unit AC for your bedroom. They will probably be in short supply also though. They were around here. Good luck.

--Steve Northcutt 73, Pace, FL

Same with my family - I could not get through on the phone most of the day yesterday but finally spoke to my mom who said she (and Dee & his family) had been sitting in bumper to bumper traffic all day. That's what happens when 2 million people all leave at the same time. I saw on the news this a.m. that they are telling people in Houston if they have not already left it's too late to go now. Thank goodness they started evacuating Galveston on Monday. As for the generators we did it the "old fashioned" way and pretended we were camping all three times, but the longest we were without power was 6 days so it wasn't that and dark but quiet. BBQ grill, candles and lots of bug spray.
--Deenise Bryant (West) 74, Winter Park, FL

Darn that's looking ominous! For some reason, with my brain still reviving many 60's songs from the reunion and other world events happening now, I keep thinking of that Beatles song "Lovely Rita, Meter Maid..." though this storm looks nothing like a "lovely meter maid"!

Got a carton of those newer self-heating coffee drinks on an extravagant whim at Costco a few weeks ago, and only drank one of them. Kind of wish I could hand the rest of them to a few of you down there where it might give some folks a warm drink when the power goes out around there. Hope this thing slows down and that the eye passes over the water areas of Houston or someplace similar where it will do the least amount of damage.
--Mike Neff 76, San Diego, CA

OK not much time... I am in Mobile, riding this storm out. Advise everyone in regard to photos to save the photos that they have first. by this I mean you have your kids first grade photo that you sent to your parents. Well they still have their copy so if space becomes and issue, you don't need to worry about that photo. Hope this helps. Also if time, take photos of each room of each wall. New Orleans exposed what happens with flood waters, but traditionally there is a bigger problem caused by leaking roofs and the water comes down walls etc.
OK Gotta Go!
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team). Normally, Lewisville, TX

We had a 6 foot storm surge in Orange Beach, AL yesterday!!


My heart is out to you, Texas. Been there, done that.
--Bil Ingram 74, Huntsville, AL

22 September 05 - Update

CNN -- Military's Katrina mission nears end
Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore--the colorful leader of the military's response to Hurricane Katrina--said that the joint task force mission was nearing its end stage, barring any further destruction from Hurricane Rita.

-- Hurricane Rita's winds were at 175 mph early today as it spun closer to the Texas coast -- where it is projected to make landfall early Saturday -- and as thousands of residents began streaming from the Gulf Coast. The storm is now history's third most intense.

KNIGHT RIDDER -- Rita, Katrina hit deep, warm spots that fueled hurricanes--Hurricane Rita, following in Katrina's wake, zipped from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in 30 hours - the storm equivalent of a racecar going 0 to 100 in nothing flat.

That's because Rita and Katrina both found the perfect hurricane fuel - ultra-deep, super-warm water - and then lingered there, storm researchers said.

The result: For the first time in one hurricane season, two Category 5 hurricanes powered across the Gulf of Mexico toward the U.S. coast

BLOOMBERG -- The Category 5 storm is more powerful than Hurricane Katrina, which left more than 1,000 dead last month in Louisiana and other states.

NYT -- Rita, with winds of 165 m.p.h., forced the evacuation of as many as a million people from Corpus Christi to New Orleans.

Heeding the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, the authorities in Galveston ordered all residents to leave the city immediately and tried to evacuate the city's hospitals and nursing homes with buses, ambulances and helicopters. Businesses and public buildings covered windows with plywood, and the Strand, the central business district, was virtually empty by Wednesday afternoon.

AP -- Outer bands of rain from Hurricane Rita began falling in New Orleans on Thursday, and forecasts of between 3 and 5 inches of rainfall in the coming days raised fears the patched levee system could fail and flood the city all over again.

-- More than 6,000 pets have been saved in Mississippi and Louisiana, said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, but tens of thousands more could still be in New Orleans alone. Texas, he said, has been better at allowing people to take their pets with them ahead of Hurricane Rita but a formal policy is still needed.

-- Hundreds of Mexicans living along the Texas Gulf Coast were rushing home Thursday to avoid Hurricane Rita while authorities in northern Mexico readied shelters and prepared for heavy rains.

In Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas, Mexican families coming from Houston, Galveston, South Padre Island, Corpus Christi and Pasadena, Texas, waited in long lines to purchase a government temporary import permit for their cars.
Email from Mark (Hainley) this morning indicated that he and Barbara are bugging out tonight...they live in Anahuac which is just on the northern side of Galveston Bay...they are going to Catherine's (their daughter) place up in College Station I think.

Looks like us Texans are going to get some much needed rain...albeit not the way we would like it.

Appearances are that we should feel the effects in Dallas/Fort Worth sometime between Saturday night and Sunday night. Talk is of tropical storm winds and heavy rains. The big fear is that the storm (which should be a tropical depression by then) will slow down dramatically and take its' time going through the northern part of the state.

I went through Alicia in '83 when we lived in Houston...not a big deal, but that was only a Cat 3 storm when it came on shore in Galveston...the tornado that passed within 200 yards of the apartment was a tad bit on the frightening side.

All things considered, I'll take the tropical storm winds and heavy rains...compared to what the frontline people are going to be getting.

For all the damage Katrina did, it does appear that people are actually listening and heeding evacuation orders.

If you are on the coast, please check in as time allows after landfall and let us know how you are, and if there is anything we can do to help you. We're here for all of our brothers and sisters.

If you are evacuating to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, let me know. Don't know if we are going to have other family here (Susan and Stephen both live in Houston, and I don't know what their plans are)....but I'll be available to assist you if you are in this area.
--John Hainley 75, Bedford, TX

Predictions are that the storm will make a definitive turn late tomorrow or early Thursday and we'll either be in her direct path or, because of her size, experience wind, possible tornadic activity and lots of rain. Bottled water and batteries flew from store shelves today and some communities are evacuating to higher ground, but we're prepared to weather the storm from home. I'll likely stay with Kenn's 90-year-old mother - who lives one house down from us - and Kenn will batten down the hatches with the help of Shadow, the cat and Maverick, our chocolate lab granddog. Our son, Steve will be sequestered with his fellow officers at Police Headquarters until the storm passes through.

The saddest thing is the re-evacuation (to Arkansas) of over 3500 Katrina survivors who, until today, have been housed in the Houston Astrodome and convention center. My heart goes out to each one of them.

I'll keep you posted on our situation to the extent possible - with anticipated power outages and localized flooding.
--Melody Oglesby (Glave) 65, Missouri City, TX

In addition to all the stuff we had handy in Ankara -- water, gun, food, gas, green, passports -- there's more stuff you need now. Weather radio, chain saw, aluminum foil, medication, spray paint to paint your address and insurance co on your house, hatchet to break through the roof, a place to meet, a person to contact.

We have a weatherman here who gives a hint a day and most things he says to have/do are so obvious. We see them on TV after every disaster, but still don't think of when we're preparing. Like paper plates and extra propane.
Everybody stay safe!!!
--Vicky Clinton (White) 60, Lutz, FL

Vicky is right - gosh I should remember more things too. Pack your photos and papers in double heavy plastic bags. Take photos of your entire house, furnishings, etc. download them on disc and put that with your important papers. All meds must go with you in case you need to renew. I even put our computers in heavy plastic bags the last time we evacuated and had to leave stuff behind. I thought if the roof blew off that I might be able to save some things from the water. So many things to remember and so little time. God be with you all. This is one serious hurricane.
--Sally Vangsness (Gorham) 60, Cape Canavaral, FL


It's started. People are moving out of the path of the storm and that's good. I'm amazed at the condition of traffic right now. TV is covering it and 290 out of Houston is worse than rush hour. They have not shown 36 from Angleton to Brenham so far. That would be my choice were we there as not a lot of people are too familiar with it. So far, it looks like the major routes - 290, 45 - 59 are all stop and go.

We made a feed run to Bryan for the animals this afternoon and were surprised at the traffic already gathering in College Station. That's a shelter area, but the reports just now are predicting winds in the neighborhood of 100 mph there. We are 25 miles south of there, 150 miles from the coast.

Brother Jim was here this afternoon to bring some stuff from his house in Alvin. Tomorrow he has to pick up his wife (flight attendant for Delta) at IAH and come here. GOOD LUCK! Unless they run out of people from the south of Houston, he's in for a bad time. Better leave now for IAH.

We expect them to stay here and some friends from Pearland near Alvin to bring their horses as well. I would not like to be transporting horses in this kind of traffic. Pulling trailer eats a lot more gas, too and many stations are EMPTY. Hope they have extra gas in cans.

Well, I'm going to watch the reports a little while longer and then hit the rack.

Maybe we'll get some NEWS? in the process.

First sign of the storm here........No newspaper....That's to be expected as we get the Houston Chronicle and the traffic looks as bad now as it did last night.

It is beginning to look like the smart thing to do (in the future) will be to evacuate EARLIER. I would never have guessed how many cars are in these areas that are evacuating. Unlike N.O., it appears that the powers that be have it together in calling for and organizing this evacuation. (Never thought I'd be saying that) It's still early, so it may work out OK for these folks. I hope so.

Looks like the media is starting up on Houston and Mayor Bill White. For the record, he has been telling folks to get moving and has been active in getting the evacuations going. Unlike La. Texas officials are out there pushing things along and I for one, am impressed.

The people trapped now are the ones who delayed reacting, but changes are being made and they should be able to get out of there anyway. No one could envision something of this magnitude or how many cars would come out of those areas. We've lived here for thirty years and the numbers astound us.
--Chris White 60, Washington, TX

Austin is getting loaded with evacuation cars and people. The only problem is the hotels are all full due to the big annual Austin City Limits Festival and Pecan Street Festival. They are saying we could have winds 70 – 110 mph plus tornadoes, and flooding. However, it looks like we are going to be to the west and should not be impacted very strongly. However, gas is already getting short due to people evacuating up here, and Wal-Mart & Target are already out of batteries, flashlights, water, etc.

I just want everyone to be safe. Texas has done a great job getting people out of Galveston.
--Carole Walther (Jakubczak) 60, Austin, TX

Chris, I don’t know what you are looking at, but she shifted to the East. Nothing like waking up to find a bull’s eye on your roof. Only hope is that it keeps shifting east. They just said there could be a 50 ft storm surge over Galveston. We broke a record yesterday with 99 degrees. Same for today which is button down the hatches day for me.
--Rich Biasetti 62, Kingwood, TX

How many of our people are evacuating? This one is the big one. Our cousins live in Pasadena, just southeast of Houston. They started evacuating to Ft. Worth this morning at 2am. 30 minutes ago they were still in Houston. Basically, it is too late to get out. Those on the roads will be lucky to get to their destination. The traffic is moving at about 5mph and eventually the gas available on the roads will be scarce. What a nightmare to be caught in a car, out of gas, on the road trying to escape a hurricane. I don't want to think about it.

Best of luck to all and stay safe!
--Debbie Stuck (Crowe) 65

Well, this morning (very early), I tried to stop and buy gas on my way to work out. The first gas station I tried to pull into had lines so long I aborted the effort. The second and third were out of Regular Unleaded. I finally got gas at the fourth gas station.

Later, my father wanted to buy a generator, so we went to our local Home Depot. They've been sold out of generators for two days now! Next we hit Pep Boys and they were sold out, too.

And this is in Austin! I can't imagine what the gas stations are like on the drive north out of the Houston and Galveston areas.
--Eda Haynes (Matthews) 74, Austin, TX

21 September 05 - Update

VOICE OF AMERICA -- Katrina Reveals Chronic Poverty in US--Politicians and pundits alike seem to agree that Hurricane Katrina was a wake-up call for all Americans. As images of people who were too poor to get away from the storm flashed across TV screens, it became apparent that the wealthiest nation on earth still has a major problem with poverty.

REUTERS -- NASA prepared on Wednesday to evacuate its Johnson Space Center in Houston and turn over control of the international space station to its Russian partners as Hurricane Rita barreled across the Gulf of Mexico with ferocious winds.

CNN -- Families urged to prepare for separation--Missing children center offers advice, as Hurricane Rita nears.

For families who must evacuate ahead of storms such as Hurricane Rita, there are basic ways to prepare in case people become separated.

Make sure people outside your immediate family have current pictures of your children, urged Ernie Allen, the president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

He also advised parents to make "a little, simple ID for your child" to keep with them. The information can include a basic list of distinguishing marks.

Evacuations already are under way along the coast of Texas, where Rita is projected to make landfall early Saturday. The hurricane reached Category 5 intensity Wednesday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

BLOOMBERG -- Hurricane Rita strengthened into a Category 5 storm as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas and Louisiana, surpassing the power Katrina had when it swept ashore three weeks ago and became the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.

Rita has winds of 165 mph (265 kph), putting it in the highest intensity level on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the National Hurricane Center said. Rita's reach may extend anywhere from northeast Mexico to along the Texas coast and up to the western half of Louisiana, said center spokesman Frank LePore said.

Category 5 storms have winds of 156 mph or stronger. Such storms can blow down trees and shrubs, completely destroy mobile homes and cause major damage to lower floors of buildings near the coast.
Things are not settled in regard to Rita... I could be on the way to Texas, Louisiana-who knows.
Although we are not as busy in the MRU locations, things are tense as more people want money and we need to verify how there home was damaged.

Most policies do not pay for flood damaged. Flood policy is sold by the US government only, but brokered (if you will) through various insurance companies.
There are several lawsuits that have been filed to have insurance companies pay for all of Hurricane Katrina's damage as hurricane related and thus none of the damage was caused by "tidal surge, surface water, or flood".

At this point each house is being individually addressed. Luckily I don't have this task, but basically if your house was swept away by wind, then your homeowners policy will cover it...if by water then there is no coverage....

My California friends will understand this...Earthquake hits and you have damage- your earthquake policy is in coverage. Earthquake hits and you have damage and a fire, then your homeowners policy takes effect...That is not an absolute but close...anyway, folks in these parts (for sure the politicians) are arguing that this damage is only due to Hurricane winds, and we (insurance industry) have to pay the claims as such.

As you can tell there have been counter-suits etc and only time will tell how this plays out. In the meantime, our customers and all of Katrina's victims are caught in the middle. Problem is, if this is flood damage, then there is NO coverage under your homeowners policy and people will not take kindly to that, specially those that don't have flood insurance. Which means FEMA will step in to help and hopefully it will not be for free otherwise why take out a flood policy if the government will pay for the damage anyway.

That is why we have increased security. I do not know for sure, but I understand that a shot was fired at an MRU location. Can not say it was Allstate's or someone else's only thing I know was that it was in Mississippi. Obviously it wasn't that serious as it would have been all over the news.

Wait a minute I'm in Mississippi....don't worry I will be fine cause I have the support from all of you.
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team)

HI everyone... I was down there last week, everyone is fine and we now have all the utilities restored in Hammond. Mike was able to sneak a peek at his place in N.O. on Wednesday. They had at least a foot of water in the house at some point. The items on the first floor are a mess, but the important stuff was moved upstairs before they evacuated. They do not know when they will be able to return to clean up, or if the house will need to be "re-done". They are in touch with their employers and will be working again shortly...
They appreciate everyone's prayers and well wishes and send their thanks.
--Gary Smith 73 (Mike is Gary's twin brother)

We are watching the storm progress slowly towards us here in Corpus Christi. They are talking of mandatory evacuations and school closings. Since we live on the island we will be putting down the shutters and leaving in the next few days. We have some land with a little ranch house that we can evacuate to up in the hill country. I will be praying for all others on the Texas and Louisiana coasts to be safe.
--Jordan Poarch 76

My brother-in-law lives in Houston. He called me last night asking for advice on hurricane supplies. Unfortunately we FL people have become experts on that subject.

He couldn't find a generator in Houston so my father-in-law shipped him one yesterday.

I went over the list with him and he said he had two 5-gallon jugs of gas. He was astounded when I told him that would last about a day and a half if he runs the generator part-time. I burned 35 gallons in 5 days during Dennis.

He's planning on evacuating to Fort Worth.

I saw that it was up to 150 but saw another site that said they expect it to slow to as low as 115 by landfall. That would be great. Dennis was up to 165 before slowing to 130 at landfall.
--Steve Northcutt 73

They are putting Rita at a catagory 5 right now and they expect it to hit the Texas coast by 2:00 AM to 7:00 AM on Saturday. Austin is to expect tropical storm like weather, they are warning us about tournados, heavy winds, rains, power outages, etc. I was at the grocery store last night and bottled water was already scarce! I have friends from Galveston who have evacuated already. I hope it fizzes out a little.
--Valorie Lyng (Eitelman) 73

They said there are no hotel rooms to be found in Austin on the evening news. They still have room in some of the shelters, though.
--Eda Haynes (Matthews) 74

A bit from Bob's Navy pals (Bob is Sally's husband):
Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, message to his Admirals:


I made a day trip to the Gulf Coast this weekend to visit with and thank our Sailors for the extraordinary work they are doing in the recovery and relief effort. I spent time in at the Seabee base in Gulfport, NSA New Orleans and NAS/JRB New Orleans, as well as aboard HARRY S TRUMAN, BATAAN, TORTUGA and IWO JIMA.

It was at once both a grim and an incredibly uplifting experience.
Some of my impressions...

First, the pictures on TV don't even begin to do justice to the scope of the devastation. I saw whole neighborhoods completely obliterated; the only evidence they ever existed at all being the faint outline of cement blocks that once formed the foundations of houses.

I saw massive casino barges in Biloxi thrown hundreds of yards inland, wooded areas so shredded they looked from the air like a spilled box of toothpicks, and much of New Orleans still a tepid, festering lake. There were very few people on the streets that weren't military or emergency workers.

Comparing it to a war zone is not at all a stretch.

Things are starting to turn around. The JTF has really taken shape, becoming more efficient and more organized every day. Communications across the region have improved dramatically. Dewatering efforts are proceeding ahead of the projected pace. And currently rescue teams are finding fewer and fewer people in need of immediate help.

The Navy's contribution to this success has been critical. I don't need to tell you that. We've been there since practically before the storm made landfall--BATAAN chased it in weathering 12-14 foot seas and began flying SAR missions within hours of the storm's departure--and we are still there making a difference.

Joe Kilkenny is doing a bang-up job as the JFMCC. He's got a plan, and he is executing it with great effectiveness.

The Seabees are repairing infrastructure and clearing debris at such a pace they have actually inspired local citizens to feel more optimistic about the future.

Sailors from TORTUGA are going door-to-door looking for and rescuing the house-bound.

Helicopter aircrews from TRUMAN and BATAAN are still delivering food and water and other basic necessities.

SHREVEPORT Sailors are cleaning up the St. Bernard Parish Courthouse.
In fact, just about all our ships pierside are housing and feeding and caring for people in need.

Then there's IWO JIMA, who put up POTUS overnight on Sun. Pierside at the Riverwalk, IWO has become a command center, hospital, airport, hotel and restaurant all rolled into one.

I ran into VADM Thad Allen in the p-way. Thad, as you may know, is the senior federal officer on scene, running the whole show. He said, "Mike, you should consider renaming this ship The City of New Orleans." That says it all.

I couldn't help but sneak a smile, having just given a speech up in Newport about the power of naval forces to win hearts and minds by serving as "cities at sea." I used our contributions to the international effort in the wake of last December's tsunami as my prime example in that speech. How little did I realize we'd be doing that sort of work on our own soil so soon.

It just goes to show you how very unpredictable this world really is. But, as I made sure to tell the Sailors I talked to, it also goes to show you how very flexible and adaptable naval forces really are.

If you want a picture of the future of sea basing, consider the image of BATAAN, a Mexican amphibious ship and a Dutch frigate anchored offshore sending boatloads of supplies to the beach ... or HST anchored not far off and the only things flying off her flight deck are helicopters ... or Mexican and U.S. Sailors, side by side, combing the beach and clearing debris ... or a JTF--with significant civil and non-governmental agencies represented--headquartered aboard a U.S. Navy ship, led by a two-star Army general reporting to a three-star admiral in the Coast Guard, who is also headquartered aboard that same ship.

Perhaps the most moving thing I did Saturday was visit with a group of ombudsmen in Gulfport.

Many of them had lost everything. They were hurting, barely getting by on their own, and yet here they were at the FFSC looking for ways to help other Navy families. You could see the desperation and the hope on their faces, hear it in their cracking voices. Tough on the heart, to be sure, and yet somehow good for it at the same time.

I was humbled just to be in the room with them. You want to talk about courage? These ladies had it to spare.

There are, we estimate, about 10,000 Sailors affected by the hurricane in some form or fashion. There may be more. I pledged to those ombudsmen our Navy's full support in getting them and the families they represent back up on their feet. We have a lot of work to do to return their lives to some sense of normalcy, but we need to make it the highest of priorities. It is most certainly mine I can assure you. And I know I can rely on your support.

Again, truly an unforgettable day. In the face of unspeakable disaster and suffering, our Sailors have stood tall and helped provide relief to thousands. They are not alone, of course. It's a total team effort, involving city, state and other federal agencies, not to mention our sister services, allies and relief organizations. But they have accorded themselves well as part of that team and reflected nothing but the very best back on each and every one of the rest of us.

At NAS New Orleans I came across a bunch of Seabees working feverishly on the wooden platform for what was going to be a temporary dining facility. It was a contract job, but the contractor was having problems rounding up the necessary manpower and resources. The Seabees didn't ask permission, didn't wait for orders. They simply rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

"Hey, they needed help," one said. "And we know how to do this stuff."

We do, indeed, know how to do this stuff, and we are doing it exceptionally well. Standing amongst them, I was never more proud to call myself an American Sailor.

--Sally Vangsness (Gorham) 60

20 September 05 - Update

WASHINGTON POST -- The president should work with Congress to make Katrina's many low-income survivors eligible for guaranteed 100 percent federally funded Medicaid regardless of where they live today or where they move tomorrow. This should be done even for those who don't fit into one of Medicaid's current eligibility groups and regardless of whether they were previously on Medicaid or were insured.

In essence, the response needs to be built around three principles: 100 percent federal financing for the health needs of Katrina survivors; health coverage for all survivors, regardless of whether they meet Medicaid's eligibility rules; and a period of assistance tied to the time needed for a full recovery, not set by an arbitrary limit.

AP -- Mississippi town feels forgotten in recovery--For more than a week, Pearlington survived largely on its own.

Then, 10 days after Hurricane Katrina annihilated this tiny hamlet on the Louisiana state line, Jeff McVay and five other members of a state emergency response team from Walton County, Florida, arrived at the request of Hancock County.

McVay, who's been through many hurricanes, was stunned by what he found--a town that had nothing but a place to get water, ice and military-issued meals. There was no Red Cross. There was no shelter. He called home and asked for six more men.

And people--maybe 600 of the town's 1,700 souls--are still living in tents and under tarps.

-- 'It looks like the storm is following me'-- They waded through the chest-high floodwaters in the streets of New Orleans. They were plucked from their rooftops in the rescue baskets of helicopters. They survived the hell of the Louisiana Superdome and a 350-mile bus ride to Texas.
Now, just a few weeks after getting settled at emergency shelters in Houston, Hurricane Katrina evacuees are on the move again to escape another storm.

CNN -- The amphibious warships USS Iwo Jima and USS Shreveport have orders to sail out of New Orleans Wednesday if Hurricane Rita continues on its current track, the U.S. Northern Command said.

The Iwo Jima has been functioning as a command center inside New Orleans for much of the military relief effort.
These are a couple of unfiltered spot reports from CAPT Rich Callas, Commander of the USS IWO JIMA (LHD 7), one of the ships in the Gulf assisting Katrina rescue/recovery efforts.

IWO Update - 6 Sep 05
Since I took over IWO JIMA over a year ago, I felt as though I had control of the destiny of the ship. I thought I lost it today, the first time ever, and that we were merely reacting to events rather than controlling them.

Within the first 24 hours after arriving pier side in New Orleans, IWO JIMA has become many things. We are one of the few full service airports in the area and have been operating aircraft on and off our deck for almost 15 hours each day. We are also one of the only air conditioned facilities within a ten mile radius and though we have had problems making water from the polluted Mississippi, we are also the only hot shower within miles. All day long we have been accommodating local policemen, firemen, state troopers, National Guard, 82nd Airborne division personnel with hot showers and hot food. I met an ambulance team from Minnesota who just drove straight to New Orleans when they heard of the tragedy and have been supporting hospitals free of charge for the last week. They hadn't had a hot meal in over a week and were grateful to have the opportunity to have lunch onboard. The Deputy Commander of the RI National Guard reported to me that he had guardsmen who were whipped, but after a hot shower and an IWO JIMA breakfast were ready to hit the patrols again. Rarely have I seen so many smiling, happy faces than on these people. After two weeks in the trenches sleeping on concrete floors, no shower, and eating MREs, good ship IWO JIMA has been a Godsend. I had an opportunity to talk to the Director of Homeland Security for a few minutes in my cabin. I asked him if there was anything more I could do for him, he asked if he could get a shower. I was glad to turnover my cabin to him. The local FEMA coordinator and his logistics and security teams were on my quarterdeck this afternoon asking permission to set up their command center on the pier next to the ship. While they had sophisticated command and control equipment, they had no place to berth their 250 FEMA members. We were glad to give them a home. Contrary to the press, all the FEMA people I met had been on station since last Sunday (before the Hurricane hit), never left the area, and have been in the field ever since. The command duty officer was told that one state trooper had driven 80 miles to get to the ship. He said that the word was out: Come to IWO JIMA. We expect that the flood gates will open on us.

Early this morning we received our first medical emergency: an elderly woman with stroke-like symptoms. Throughout the day we received about a dozen medical emergencies, the most serious was an elderly man who was stabbed in the chest and was bleeding to death. The doctors performed surgery on him and saved his life. I toured the hospital ward; all our charges were elderly and disadvantaged individuals. As with Hotel IWO JIMA, we expect to see many more casualties tomorrow.

Our curse appears to be our flight deck and our extraordinary command and control capabilities. Our challenge today was the tidal wave of Flag and General Officers that flooded onboard, 17 total, virtually all without notice. I couldn't believe there were so many involved in this effort and they all wanted to come here. They poured onto the flight deck in one helicopter after another in order to meet with General Honore, the Joint Task Force Commander. The majority showed up around the same time and all wanted to leave at the same time, making it a nightmare for our flight deck team to control and coordinate flights on and off the ship for all these admirals and generals while supporting the humanitarian effort. I spent most of the day running around the ship getting these people off and on helicopters and in and out of the meetings and command spaces. It was like herding cats. But the ship performed superbly and "flexed" to meet the challenge. Regretfully, we expect nearly 20 admirals and generals onboard tomorrow for more meetings. To add to the challenges, virtually all of these commands are sending liaison staffs to help coordinate issues, and already a number of admirals and generals have "permanently" embarked. The Inn is full.

I talked to one of the FEMA team members who had also worked the disaster relief for 9/11. I asked him how much more difficult was the Katrina relief effort compared to 9/11. He said it was without measure: thousand of times worse than 9/11. He couldn't articulate the magnitude of the destruction.

Despite all the challenges, I think we regained control by the end of the day. We are forearmed for tomorrow's onslaught. At our evening Dept Head meeting, I asked all my principals to tell me the stupidest thing they heard or saw today. The list was enormous. But the most absurd item was when my Tactical Action Officer, who runs our 24 hour command center (CIC) got a phone call from the Director of the New Orleans Zoo. Apparently, there was a large fire near the zoo. It was so intense that the fire department had to abandon the cause, but military helos were heavily engaged in scooping up giant buckets of water and dumping in on the blaze in an effort to put it out. The director complained to us that the noise from the helos was disturbing the animals, especially the elephants, which he was most concerned about, and asked us to stop. The TAO thanked him for his interest in national defense.

It is inspiring to meet and talk to such a huge number of individuals who are doing the Lord's work to recover this city. They have had little sleep, little food, no showers, working 16-18 hours a day, and in some cases no pay, and they are thanking ME for a hot meal! Only in America! We have turned the corner. It will take an awful long time, but we have turned the corner.
All the best, RSC

IWO Update - 7 Sep 05
We finally had a chance to have Captain's Call this morning. The ship has been running at full speed for 8 days straight with a myriad of changing missions and requirements piled on top of us. I thought it best to tell the crew where I thought this was going and what impact we have made. I told them that as with any contingency operations there is that initial surge of energy and inspiration that often times gives way to frustration and tedium; I did not want them to underestimate the magnitude of what they were accomplishing each day by their hard work on the flight deck, the galley, the well deck, CIC, Radio Central (JMC), on the pier, and in the engineering spaces to support this great undertaking. Every job on the ship is important and the contribution of IWO JIMA has already been enormous.

Our contributions have been growing. Today, we opened out doors to900-1,200 Army, National Guard, and local law enforcement personnel to take showers and get hot meals. We were getting overwhelmed. There was a steady stream of 60to 100 every hour on the quarterdeck asking to come onboard and get refreshed. The word has obviously gotten out. One Army Captain told the Command Master Chief that his unit of 60 soldiers had come from 60 miles away because his general told him to "go to IWO JIMA and they'll take care of you." We couldn't say no.

Not satisfied with the record-setting flight operations yesterday, the flight deck team nearly doubled the number of aircraft hits. At one point the team was bringing in Army Blackhawks two at a time, one group after another in perfect sequence. It was an impressive sight to behold. Medical casualties continued to come onboard the ship, some by stretcher and ambulance, others by air or boat. After yesterday, the Medical folks reworked their procedures, so today everything flowed smoothly. Supply department has served up thousands of meals; the mess line never closes. Deck department got back to their roots and conducted boat operations and a stern gate marriage with TORTUGA's LCM-8landing craft, moving more supplies to our sister ship. But lest we forget, the bedrock of IWO JIMA's strength lies in three simple things: electricity, air conditioning, hot water - all provided by the uncomplaining engineers.

But of all the manifold capabilities of good ship IWO JIMA, medical, logistic, and air support, our command and control capabilities have moved to the forefront. It almost sounds surreal but IWO JIMA has literally become the headquarters, the "center of the universe" for all Federal recovery efforts -DoD as well as civilian. It is on this ship that the myriad efforts have all come together. Yesterday, for the first time ever, some 17 admirals and generals got together with the Joint Task Force Commander, General Honore, face to face to coordinate the numerous and ever growing military recovery and support efforts. Today, the same cadre of admirals and generals were back onboard but this time accompanied by the civilian side. FEMA has now established their headquarters on the pier along side (and onboard IWO JIMA) to better coordinate their efforts with us. But with this has come an ever growing number of staff members embarking on the ship. Our population has grown from a crew of some 1,200to nearly 2,500 (including several hundred guardsmen and soldiers living onboard) with all the detachments, augments, and now senior staffs. I think we are now up to one three-star, one two-star, and four one-stars embarked good ship IWO JIMA. We are bursting at the seams. We have spent the vast majority of our days taking care of and chasing down the myriad staff members. It is like herding cats, except these cats fly on and off our flight deck periodically.

I had a chance to meet Governor Blanco of Louisiana and her Lieutenant Governor today when she came onboard for the giant 1200 briefing with General Honore and were later joined by Admiral Nathman and Vice Admiral Fitzgerald. The ships Ready Room was bursting at the seams with senior officers and high officials - you had to step outside just to change your mind. I had seen the Governor on TV many times. She looked different in person: tired and worn out. She told me that she was averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night, but smiled, "I guess that's about what you get in the military." You could see the severe strain of the past week's events. I quoted her the famous line from Churchill the night he became Prime Minister of wartime Britain, "that it was as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all of my past life had been but preparation for this moment and this trial." The recovery from the damage of Hurricane Katrina is an unprecedented trial for the Governor and many, many others. My observation is that America, throughout her history, has always been slow to respond, but once that powerful engine gets into gear it is massive and unstoppable. I suspect this will also be the case for the Gulf Coast.

It has become our tradition at the evening department head meeting to go around the room and have each person list the stupidest or silliest thing they heard or saw during the day. As you can imagine, the log book is overflowing with accounts. Yesterday it was the helos and the elephants at the zoo. Today it was me. I have been inundated with doing interviews: CNN, Pentagon press, Regina Mobley and Channel 13 news, the Boston Globe, Carla McCabe and the Army Times, and finally Greta Van Susturen. We did a spot with Greta on the pier this morning with the massive bow of IWO JIMA in the background and helos flying on and off the ship with great noise - an impressive backdrop for this puffed up officer. As I was being interviewed by Greta, a pair of Blackhawks swooped onto the flight deck sending up a great wind which blew off my ball cap. I instinctively scrambled after it before it blew into the water. When I turned around the FOX News photographer looked at me and smiled, "I got that on film."
Look for me chasing my hat down the pier on the next Fox News spot.
All the best, RSC

18-19 September 05 - Update

-- Besides emergency fund-raising, some local PTAs hope to adopt schools in the hurricane-damaged areas or in nearby states coping with an influx of new students.

According to The Associated Press, an estimated 372,000 students were displaced from classrooms in Louisiana and Mississippi. In Louisiana, more than 489 schools closed because of the storm.

USA TODAY -- Among Hurricane Katrina's more than 1 million survivors are an estimated 372,000 children whose homes and schools were damaged or destroyed, the U.S. Education Department says. On Friday, it proposed up to $2.6 billion in emergency funding for schools and colleges - $1.9 billion to reimburse unexpected costs in districts that enroll at least 10 displaced children.

Though most families have settled, at least temporarily, within a day's drive of the Gulf Coast, thousands of others have followed threads of family, friendship and faith a bit farther in a diaspora that's touching big cities and small towns everywhere.

CBS -- Katrina Makes Coast Guard Heroes--"There wasn't a single time while we were in the air when we had to ask permission to do anything," Taylor said.

That is why the Coast Guard succeeded. Unlike many other federal agencies, the Coast Guard was able to cut through bureaucratic red tape with a simple philosophy: Act first and get permission later.

REUTERS -- Early environmental tests after Hurricane Katrina have given authorities little cause for alarm, but some environmentalists say they are concerned that severe pollution may still be a threat.
The Gulf Coast hurricane slammed into one of the most industrialized areas of the United States, home of more than 400 refineries, chemical plants and other facilities that produce, use or store hazardous material, according to Greenpeace, the environmental advocacy group.

The storm caused at least five major oil spills along the Mississippi River south of New Orleans, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It swept through 31 Superfund sites -- heavily polluted areas awaiting federal cleanup -- including five in New Orleans. As of Wednesday, the EPA had still been unable to visit all of them and one, in Crescent City, was still under water.

The floodwaters that covered 80 percent of New Orleans, including many of the poorest neighborhoods, may leave contamination from bacteria and pollutants as they withdraw and residents return, some environmentalists fear.

-- Famed for clawing back land from an encroaching sea and building one of the world's most formidable flood defense systems, the Netherlands is sending experts to the U.S. Gulf Coast to help clean up after Katrina.

STAR TRIBUNE -- The White House and congressional Republicans are resisting mightily the idea of creating an independent commission to examine the failures in preparation for and responses to Hurricane Katrina. What we don't understand is why. If President Bush was sincere in his pledge last week to identify and fix the weaknesses Katrina revealed, an independent commission would seem the best way to proceed, partly because it would avoid overt politicization of the process. Indeed, we know just the group for the job: the 9/11 Commission. It did a masterful job and is still functioning unofficially; what it found bears closely on what went wrong when Katrina hit.

Minnesota's Sen. Norm Coleman insists that evaluating what went wrong is a job for Congress because of its oversight responsibilities. He has a point, but that congressional role has been severely compromised by increased partisanship. As Sen. Robert Byrd rightly laments, members of the Senate, once fiercely protective of Senate prerogatives, no longer have any sense of institutional loyalty and independence; their loyalty is to the party, and if they are Republican, that loyalty extends currently to this White House and its protection.

Thus any congressional review of what happened when Katrina hit is likely to be far less thorough, less objective and less credible than if the job goes to an independent commission -- preferably the 9/11 Commission.

AP -- Mayor Ray Nagin defended his plan to return up to 180,000 people to the city within a week and a half despite concerns about the short supply of drinking water and heavily polluted floodwaters.
Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, head of the federal disaster relief effort, said Saturday that Nagin's idea is both "extremely ambitious and "extremely problematic."

-- Vietnamese translators help process FEMA papers on Gulf Coast--Theresa Nguyen fingers through a cabinet full of file folders while Vietnamese immigrants make frustrated pleas for help.

Nguyen and other volunteer translators who speak Vietnamese and Spanish have processed nearly 200 FEMA financial aid applications for non-English-speaking immigrants. Most of the volunteers at the New Hope Center in Biloxi work despite their own personal losses.

-- After heeding the Bush administration's call to seek help regardless of status, a handful of illegal immigrants who fled Hurricane Katrina have been ordered to appear for deportation hearings.

NPR -- In the days before Hurricane Katrina hit land, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, FEMA Director Michael Brown and other top Homeland Security officials received e-mails on their blackberries warning that Katrina posed a dire threat to New Orleans and other areas. Yet one FEMA official tells NPR little was done.

Leo Bosner, an emergency management specialist at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., is in charge of the unit that alerts officials of impending crises and manages the response. As early as Friday, Aug. 26, Bosner knew that Katrina could turn into a major emergency.

In daily e-mails -- known as National Situation Updates -- sent to Chertoff, Brown and others in the days before Katrina made landfall in the Gulf Coast, Bosner warned of its growing strength -- and of the particular danger the hurricane posed to New Orleans, much of which lies below sea level.
But Bosner says FEMA failed to organize the massive mobilization of National Guard troops and evacuation buses needed for a quick and effective relief response when Katrina struck. He says he and his colleagues at FEMA's D.C. headquarters were shocked by the lack of response.

WASHINGTON POST -- Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, red tape and poor planning have left thousands of evacuees without basic services, according to local and state officials, public policy experts and survivors themselves.

Hundreds of thousands of people from New Orleans and Gulf Coast communities have fled, sometimes to neighboring states and beyond, moving in with friends and family or into shelters, public housing and hotels funded by the Red Cross. With little guidance from federal and state governments -- and no single person or entity in charge of the overall operation -- cities and counties have been left on their own to find survivors homes, schools, jobs and health care. A patchwork of policies has resulted, causing relief agencies to sometimes work at cross-purposes.

President Bush has promised a range of new initiatives to help the evacuees, including $5,000 grants to help the unemployed find jobs, a voucher program for students and more money for state Medicaid programs. But while Bush's promises of additional help have been welcomed, the initial efforts to provide for the evacuees has sometimes been disjointed, confusing and ineffective, local officials said.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- News reports have only begun to reveal the sheer scale of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's moves to create dozens of new mobile-home cities of as many as 25,000 units around the Gulf.

... one does not have to be a reflexive skeptic about big government to question the wisdom of FEMA's vast plan. One only has to contemplate the real needs of the displaced to suspect that, at least for many, a huge federal distribution of emergency housing vouchers, for example, might work far better.

Along with a roof over their heads, Katrina's victims soon will crave more than anything family and community, stable employment, and a shot at salvaging the rest of the school year for the kids. They are in a hurry to rebuild their lives and already fanning out over a dozen states and hundreds of cities to do it.

TURKISH RADIO HOUR -- The Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Tuesday that Turkey is sending $ 2.5 million cash and humanitarian aid to hurricane-stricken areas of the US. $1.5 million of the aid was given to the Red Cross. Turkey will later send humanitarian aid worth $1 million to the hurricane Katrina's survivors.

NYT -- Sharpening his earlier warnings, the top official in charge of the federal response to the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts again urged a delay on Sunday to a plan that is bringing people back to a city largely without power, drinking water or a working 911 system.

Residents of St. Bernard Parish returned Sunday to their homes to claim their belongings.

The official, Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard stopped short of saying that the government would attempt to halt the plan, which has been put in motion by Mayor C. Ray Nagin. But in several televised interviews Sunday, Admiral Allen, who is scheduled to meet Mayor Nagin to discuss the plan Monday, said the city was moving too fast and sketched a set of rudimentary needs he said had not been met.

"I wouldn't want to attach a time limit to it but it includes things like making sure there's potable water, making sure there's a 911 system in place, telephone, a means to notify people there is an approaching storm so you can evacuate it with the weakened levee situation," he told Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We can do that, and we can do that fairly soon, but it's very, very soon to try and do that this week."

Away from New Orleans, differences of another sort over the storm arose Sunday. In an appearance on the ABC News program "This Week," former President Bill Clinton criticized the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, saying "you can't have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people up." Mr. Clinton also said that poverty had increased under Mr. Bush's policies and that the storm highlighted class divisions.

16-17 September 05 - Update

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The Katrina hot line is 888-544-5475.
As of noon Wednesday, the latest total available, 2,709 children had been reported either missing or found without caregivers, with 701 of their cases resolved.

Save the Children
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Save the Children is moving quickly to assist children and their families forced from their homes in the hardest hit areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. Save the Children expects to work with federal, state and local authorities as well as local community groups to help thousands of displaced children adjust to the upheaval they have experienced. We will build upon decades of experience helping children in the United States to overcome severe poverty through literacy and physical activity programs during in-school and out-of-school time. Children who have lost their homes because of Katrina will need this kind of help.

UNICEF: Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts
More than a week after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the southern coast of the United States, children continue to bear an unequal share of the suffering.

While it is essential to ensure that adequate food, water, medicine, sanitation and shelter are available for everyone affected by the hurricane, UNICEF believes that it is also imperative to mitigate the impact of the disaster on children.

This can be done by reuniting separated children with their parents, family members or guardians as soon as possible, and by getting children back to a normal routine — through recreational activities and through enrolment in school, whether a temporary school or a permanent one.
Evidence has shown that in times of disaster, getting children back to a learning environment is one of the most effective ways of helping them to feel safe, cope with trauma and begin their emotional healing. Restoring schooling as soon as possible is critical.

Katrina has left our country and countless families searching for relief during our darkest hours. These dark hours are always unexpected, terribly unwanted, and emotionally paralyzing. The importance of healing our youth impacted by this tragedy is paramount. The National Institute of Mental Health has stated that early intervention to help children/adolescents who have suffered trauma from disaster is critical.
REUTERS -- Louisiana officials said on Friday they have taken custody of 50 children who were separated from their parents in the chaos of Hurricane Katrina.

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- This weekend, CNN will continuously broadcast photos of the 2,000-plus children who remain separated from their parents by Hurricane Katrina in an effort to help reunite them.

For 40 hours, until 8 p.m. Sunday, the cable news channel will display a panel on the left side of the screen featuring the name and photo of a missing child, along with information about the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's hotline and website.

-- Louisiana Officials Indicted Before Katrina Hit--Federal audits found dubious expenditures by the state's emergency preparedness agency, which will administer FEMA hurricane aid.

CANTON REPOSITORY -- Students in grades 4 through 8 formed a human chain stretching from the school library to a truck, which they loaded with school supplies to fill more than 200 backpacks. SBC Communications will distribute the supplies and book bags to students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

CNN -- Displaced oil workers get new homes--Compared with many others forced from their homes by Hurricane Katrina, residents of Sugarville have comfortable new houses, complete with amenities like soft beds, DVD players and full refrigerators.

For those in the storm's path, there are complaints far and wide that disaster response officials are not moving fast enough to find housing for storm evacuees.

But when it comes to the oil industry, FEMA moved quickly, scrambling to get trailers so refineries could come back online and crude could begin flowing again.

-- President Bush pledged Thursday night to put the full might and money of the federal government behind the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast and vowed to its people that "in the journey ahead, you are not alone."

-- Louisiana officials working to rebuild families torn apart by Hurricane Katrina are being especially challenged in trying to locate some 500 foster children still unaccounted for by guardians.

-- The streets of three major areas of New Orleans will begin to fill Saturday as people return to check on their shops, restaurants and clubs. The streets will be opened for 10 hours, and all who enter the city will be warned of the possible risks to their health.

DETROIT FREE PRESS -- Huge sections of New Orleans from the raucous French Quarter to the elegant Garden District will be reopened beginning Saturday despite lingering concerns over fragile health care and services, Mayor Ray Nagin promised Thursday.

Over the next 10 days, areas that held 182,000 people and give the city its distinctive soul will be open to anyone who lived or ran a business there before Hurricane Katrina.

AP -- The chairman of the Senate’s environment committee is drafting legislation that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend any anti-pollution regulations for 120 days to help in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

-- Fewer than half of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees living in shelters in the Houston area want to go home again, according to a poll by The Washington Post and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

-- Rocio Roberts' right eye has a yellow tinge to it -- a possible sign of liver disease. It's worried her for two years, but she never had the money to see a doctor about it.

Public health experts say cases like Roberts' point to an unusual phenomenon that's developed in the wake of Katrina: The health-care safety net has temporarily expanded for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Gulf Coast residents, and some patients' long-standing illnesses are finally being diagnosed and treated.

-- Scientists harvested fish off the Mississippi coast as part of the latest effort to assess environmental damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina's monstrous storm surge and toxic floodwaters.

-- After virtually every major U.S. flood, the Better Business Bureau warns prospective used car buyers to be on the lookout for flood-damaged vehicles.

MERCURY NEWS -- Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak has donated $10,000 to Humane Society Silicon Valley to help offset the cost of caring for and feeding animals displaced by Hurricane Katrina, as well as other local animals in dire need of help.

-- Imagine building a city from scratch. Now, imagine doing it in just a few months - dozens of times over.
That's the challenge facing federal officials as they scramble to house up to 300,000 people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The solution is mind-boggling in its scope and complexity: Build dozens of temporary cities of up to 25,000 homes from the ground up. The ambitious resettlement plan is unprecedented in U.S. history, experts say, and raises huge logistical questions that, in most cases, have yet to be answered - or even anticipated.

NYT -- The drive to pour tens of billions of federal dollars into rebuilding the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast is widening a fissure among Republicans over fiscal policy, with more of them expressing worry about unbridled spending.

On Thursday, even before President Bush promised that "federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone," fiscal conservatives from the House and Senate joined budget watchdog groups in demanding that the administration be judicious in asking for taxpayer dollars.

-- Water Lifts Its Awful Veil on Landscape of Destruction--Just a few days ago, these streets were underwater, impassable except by boat. The waterline was nearly to the roofs, where search teams had spray-painted their grim runes. But on Thursday the water had begun to recede, and for the first time since the storm it was possible to see the details of the devastation inflicted on the city and some of its poorest residents.

USA TODAY -- Hotels, private homes, churches, cruise ships, gyms and campgrounds will continue to accommodate many of the displaced in coming weeks. An estimated 1 million people fled Katrina.

But disaster officials say they're moving to assemble and make livable up to 300,000 trailers and other temporary housing units in Louisiana and Mississippi as fast as they can find sites and arrange utilities, schooling and other necessities with cities and counties.

The federal government has stopped selling foreclosed homes in 11 states and will make as many as 5,000 available at no charge to Katrina's homeless. Public housing authorities across the country are scrounging for every vacant unit they can find to offer to evacuees who came from public housing in New Orleans and Mississippi. An estimated 5,600 units could be made available within 500 miles of New Orleans.

Many cities - Houston, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia - and counties - Allegheny County, Pa., and Miami-Dade - have offered housing for thousands more.

HOUSTON CHRONICLE -- At least three cases of a mild form of cholera have been diagnosed among people who lived in areas flooded by Hurricane Katrina, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
The Century Foundation
Katrina's Children
Richard D. Kahlenberg, The Century Foundation, 9/7/2005
While natural disasters are thought of as the quintessential levelers, hitting rich and poor, and black and white alike, we all now know that government action, and inaction, have an enormous impact on just who absorbs the brunt of the disaster. In New Orleans, the government failed the first test of protection, by inadequately fortifying the city from flooding. It then failed the second test of evacuating the city, by inadequately providing for the city's poor and mostly black residents, who lacked cars to flee and money for hotels. Now, government faces a third test: how it will handle the schooling of the children who evacuated to other parts of Louisiana, to neighboring states, and to other parts of the country.

Given all that the children of New Orleans have been through, we ought to do everything we can to ensure that they receive a high quality education, with great teachers, active parents, and supportive peers. For the first time in their lives, thousands of students who had attended struggling high poverty public schools in New Orleans could be given the opportunity to attend solidly middle class, high achieving schools. Alternatively, they may be assigned to the same sort of failing schools they left. Will we take advantage of a unique opportunity to do well by these children?

On one level, there is encouraging evidence of hospitality, as public and private schools scrambled to make room for new children. But there are some worrisome signs as well. The Wall Street Journal reports today that private schools are opening their doors mostly to sister private schools. In the Houston area, most of the children of New Orleans will end up in high-poverty urban schools, rather than in the suburbs, where better-off students are educated.

There is a legitimate concern about the capacity of schools to take in large numbers of new students. But that is what public schools, unlike private schools, are required to do: take all comers. Under the surface, the real concerns of parents often center around the economic class of peers. According to a study conducted by David Rusk for The Century Foundation, economic segregation of schools is increasing, with devastating consequences. Although American public schools are meant to provide equal opportunity to students, middle class schools are 24 times as likely as low income schools to perform at high academic levels.

The children and families of New Orleans know this all to well. Even before the hurricane, children in the Orleans Parish school district were in a very tough situation. New Orleans has often ranked as the nation's murder capital, and the schools suffer all the negative effects of poverty. Statewide, 5.7 percent of Louisiana schools were failing to make adequate yearly progress in 2003-2004; in the Orleans Parish, the figure was 47 percent, eight times the rate of failure.

Across the country, a growing number of districts have been seeking to address the problem of economic segregation. From Wake County (Raleigh), North Carolina, to LaCrosse Wisconsin, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, districts have sought to reduce the concentrations of poverty, with very favorable results for students. Low income children do much better in middle class schools; in fact, low income students in middle class schools do better academically than middle class students in low income schools.

If any set of children has purchase on the nation's conscience, it is the children of New Orleans who have experienced things no children should have to go through. They should not now be relocated to high poverty schools that are plagued by failure. They are citizens not only of New Orleans, but of the United States, and deserve to be welcomed into America's middle class schools. This is a test the government must pass.
Richard D. Kahlenberg is Education Fellow at The Century Foundation.

My friends in Louisiana just got word that their electricity has been restored. They will need to gut their home and rebuild. So electricity is just a start.

A friend on one of the ships stationed off N.O. for relief efforts wrote yesterday. They have had to delay their efforts in helping folks due to the large influx of politicians, TV stars and media who need special access to land on the ship and also need special escort. Do folks realize how many things they tie up when they do these things?
--Sally Vangsness (Gorham) 60

15 September 05 - Update

MIAMI HERALD -- New reports about missteps by the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of Katrina raise serious questions about the agency's ability to keep Americans secure, whether the threat is a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.
HOUSTON CHRONICLE -- criticisms coincided with the release of a new report by the commission, now known as the nonprofit 9/11 Public Discourse Project, that points to significant problems with the nation's emergency preparedness.

The new report cited insufficient radio spectrum for emergency communications, an incomplete assessment of the nation's critical infrastructure and the failure of Congress to overhaul the Homeland Security program that allocates money to cities and states based on their vulnerability.

SUN-TIMES -- Democrats are stepping up their demand for an independent committee to investigate the botched relief effort, calling for a panel modeled somewhat along the lines of the 9/11 Commission.

Rejecting the notion of an independent panel, this afternoon the GOP-controlled House is scheduled to vote on the creation of a congressional committee to review state, local and federal response to the disaster. The panel will have 11 Republicans and nine Democrats, and it was not clear Wednesday night if Democrats would have any subpoena power.

CNN -- Congress is moving quickly to provide tax cuts and health care benefits in response to Hurricane Katrina as the money continues to flow on Capitol Hill for victims of the devastation.

Lawmakers competed to demonstrate how seriously they are taking the Katrina tragedy, with Senate GOP leaders urging a "Marshall Plan for the Gulf Coast as soon as possible."

-- Scientists are trying to rescue eight dolphins that were swept out of their aquarium tanks by Hurricane Katrina and have been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico.

SUN HERALD -- New figures show that more than 33 percent of the estimated 171,000 dwellings in Mississippi's six most southern counties have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina's combination of 160 mph sustained winds and 30-foot or higher tidal surge.

The Red Cross said one-fifth of all apartments, houses, condos, duplexes, trailers and others homesteads sustained major damage and also may have to be destroyed, while 30 percent sustained minor damage in the six counties.
Some badly damaged buildings may not be repairable, the Red Cross said, and some homes with minor damage may also be condemned. As a result, Katrina could potentially render three out of every four dwellings in the six-county area are unlivable.

AP -- Hurricane Katrina damaged or demolished nearly half a million homes in three states, the American Red Cross said Wednesday - four times as many as Hurricane Andrew did when it hit South Florida in 1992

-- National Guardsmen used armored vehicles to retrieve wads of soggy cash from a flooded-out vault a few blocks from the Superdome.

Loomis, Fargo & Co., the armored car company, had been unable to reach its vault in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and had asked officials for help.

COMMUNITY DISPTCH -- "We've given the FEMA registration process priority over our regular telephone service to taxpayers. Hundreds of thousands of families have suffered because of this hurricane and they are scattered in communities across America," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. "They can't get the cash and housing benefits to which they are entitled until they register with FEMA. By calling back to work over 4,000 of our seasonal workers, we are speeding assistance to hurricane victims while minimizing disruption to our normal taxpayer services."

Those needing FEMA assistance can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

REUTERS -- Wildlife experts will try to rescue eight bottlenose dolphins swept from their aquarium home into the Mississippi Sound by Hurricane Katrina, a federal agency said Wednesday.

BOSTON GLOBE -- USS IWO JIMA--Ship's new mission is near home and hearts
NEW ORLEANS -- The last time Navy Lieutenant Nicki Cooper was aboard the USS Iwo Jima for a major mission, the amphibious assault ship was shuttling Marines ashore in civil war-torn Liberia, where the United States was engaged in a 2003 peacekeeping mission.

Two years later, Cooper is engaged in a different kind of peacekeeping on the Iwo Jima. This time, the 840-foot ship, which has a flight deck like an aircraft carrier, is docked in the Port of New Orleans. It serves as a command and control center for the massive humanitarian relief mission in the flooded city.

As the operations command center in New Orleans, the Iwo Jima coordinates interactions between different branches of the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, Marines, and US Coast Guard, although its orders come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's base in Baton Rouge, LA.

Helicopters land and take off every few minutes from the ship's flight deck, and relief workers periodically carry in evacuees on stretchers to be either treated aboard the ship, which has a team of about 80 doctors specializing in everything from thoracic surgery to infectious diseases, or be sent to hospitals outside the city.
And for the National Guardsmen living in a dockside tent city, Iwo Jima is a haven of sorts -- a place to grab a shower and a hot meal.

Iwo Jima Arrives to Assist Hurricane Katrina Recovery Efforts
By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Mike Jones, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs
ABOARD USS IWO JIMA, Gulf of Mexico (NNS) -- After a three-day high-speed transit down the East Coast of the United States and around into the Gulf of Mexico, USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), along with various embarked air and amphibious landing assets, arrived on station in the Gulf of Mexico off Biloxi, Miss., Sept. 3 to begin humanitarian assistance operations to the devastated region.

The multipurpose, amphibious assault ship raced from its home port of Norfolk, Va., to head to areas off the Gulf Coast as part of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

"Hurricane Katrina has cut a great swath of devastation and tragedy along the Gulf Coast," said Iwo Jima Commanding Officer Capt. Richard S. Callas. "The destruction and suffering caused by this natural disaster will be remembered for years, but we are glad that we have the opportunity to help."

The Navy's involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in conjunction with the Department of Defense.

Iwo Jima Serves as Helo Hub for JTF Katrina
By Journalist 3rd Class (SW) John Stevens, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs
NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- Sailors here have been conducting constant helicopter operations since Sept. 5 in support of Hurricane Katrina and flooding relief operations as part of Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina.

As the command-and-control center for JTF Gulf Coast, LHD 7 has become a floating air terminal, lending organization and direction to the myriad relief missions flown daily.

A fleet of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard and civilian helicopters touch down and take off around the clock, flying cargo, personnel and hurricane victims to and from the ship.

"When we first got here, we saw no less than 40 helicopters flying around, like gnats on a hot summer day," said Lt. Troy Brown, Iwo Jima's Assistant Air Officer. The ship inherited a good deal of that air traffic.

According to Brown, Iwo Jima's flight deck has received numerous high-level JTF officials, particularly since Commander, JTF Katrina Army Lt. Gen. Russell Honore has used the ship as the nerve center of planning and policy.

14 September 05 - Update

NYT -- President Bush said on Tuesday that he bore responsibility for any failures of the federal government in its response to Hurricane Katrina and suggested that he was unsure whether the country was adequately prepared for another catastrophic storm or terrorist attack.

AP -- A House-passed bill to temporarily ease rules requiring that welfare recipients work 30 hours a week for their benefits and extend the welfare program is still pending before the Senate, despite a big push by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to clear it for President Bush's signature. Democrats are pressing for a more generous approach.

For their part, outgunned House Democrats have settled on a far-reaching Katrina response plan, including housing vouchers, increases in unemployment insurance payments and full Medicaid coverage for hurricane victims.

-- While Americans are donating generously to Hurricane Katrina relief funds, they're apparently running out of patience for stars telling them to give.

CNN -- In the hurricane's aftermath, the nation's most prestigious and selective colleges and universities are opening their doors to many students who otherwise wouldn't have qualified for admission.

NEWS24-SOUTH AFRICA -- Environmental scientists on Tuesday painted a grim picture about the impact of Hurricane Katrina, fearing chemical pollution from devastated sites could contaminate groundwater, fisheries and seafood.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Stephen Johnson said samples of floodwater in New Orleans were "highly contaminated with bacteria, both E (Escherichia) coli and coliform, and high levels of lead".

If only one percent of the stored amount (of dioxin) is released and only one percent of that makes it into the Gulf of Mexico, that would be sufficient to contaminate 20 million fish - itself enough to trigger warnings not to eat the fish, Foran said.

Another area of concern is the run-off from untreated sewage, which would encourage oxygen-starving blooms of algae in the sea and Lake Pontchartrain, which abuts New Orleans, said Hans Paerl, professor of marine and environmental science at the University of North Carolina.

Water is being pumped into Lake Pontchartrain from the flooded streets of New Orleans, and then drains into the Gulf.

PC PRO -- Senior FBI and Justice Department officials in the US have warned kindhearted members of the public to be on their guard and not to be fooled by fraudulent charities - some of which may dupe users in to believing they are huge organisations like the Red Cross.

REUTERS -- The end of an era in television news will be commemorated during Sunday's Primetime Emmy Awards telecast with a lengthy segment that will pay tribute to the careers of long-serving news anchors Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and the late Peter Jennings.

"These are the guys through whose eyes we've watched the world change," (Ken Ehrlich, producer of the Primetime Emmy telecast) said, noting that the intense news coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina during the past two weeks has only underscored how much the TV news landscape has changed amid the changing of the guard among the Big Three news anchors.

-- Hurricane evacuees living in crowded shelters and people at high risk of influenza complications should get priority for flu vaccines over the next six weeks, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday.

"We know those shelters could be a place where respiratory illnesses can easily spread, and if there is any population that deserves first access to the vaccine, it's the people who have already gone through so much difficulty," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Julie Gerberding said at a news conference.

AP -- Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina.

-- More than 350,000 families made homeless by Hurricane Katrina would get emergency housing vouchers averaging $600 a month for up to six months under a measure approved Wednesday by the Senate.

Any displaced family regardless of income would be eligible for the program, expected to cost $3.5 billion over six months.

Chad, of MA-TF1, provides the following account. Massachusetts Task Force 1 (MATF-01) Urban Search and Rescue Team (US&R) is located Beverly, Massachusetts. Urban Search and Rescue teams are composed of Police, Fire, EMS and Civilians (62 total people when deployed) and respond to major disasters under a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Currently there are 150 people on the MATF-1 team.

Hello All,

I just wanted to drop you all a line to say thanks for your emails. It was great to get support during (and after) the trip down to Waveland, MS. (I kept calling it Waterland in my emails - mainly because the location of our first base camp was Waterland, an amusement park in Gulfport, and I was really tired.)

The press has been having a field day with the politics involved in this response. All I can really say for certain is that three Urban Search and Rescue teams did a fantastic job of searching the neighborhoods of Waveland and other parts of Hancock County.

As for our team, I know that every room of every house, every outbuilding , every collapsed structure, and every misplaced watercraft in our assigned areas were searched for survivors and victims, both human and animal. (The Brahma Bull shadng himself under the stilts of one house presented a challenge, but the beagle tangled in the trees on top of the roof was happy to come down)

Along the way we did what we could to help those people and animals who were in the area. Some who had stayed and survived, some who were returning for the first time, and some who had returned a day or two earlier but were now stranded there.

We may have even bent some rules to do so, but I'm sure that's just a rumor :-)

Pleasure craft blocks access to end of street.

It was some of the hardest work I've ever done - slogging through calf-deep mud, wearing heavy protective equipment in 100 degree weather, climbing over debris, looking out for water moccasins, breaking through doors, showering with ice-cold water from a fire engine, rest room breaks involving plastic bags, and food that even the starving dogs wouldn't eat when offered.

But I'm not complaining. At the end of the week, I got to come home. For many people that are still there, that is their home. And they need all the help we can give them.

Anyway, here are some pictures of our group while down there:

Take Care All and thanks again.

13 September 05 - Update

SEATTLE TIMES -- Face it, Hurricane Katrina was not technology's finest hour. The breakdown in infrastructure and loss of electricity rendered devices and networks useless.

Take cellphones. Why wasn't the response to Katrina more like the 1992 success story of Hurricane Andrew? Back then, Kirkland-based Cellular One moved with miraculous speed to provide cellphones and wireless communications to the stricken south Florida region. It was a defining moment not only for the cellular industry but for corporate humanitarian aid as well.

Cellular One moved to distribute 2,000 phones and provide $1 million in free air time, installing diesel-generator-powered portable cells called COWS (for "cells on wheels"). Within hours of the hurricane's passing, cell service was available in all but the most damaged district.

GANNETT NEWS SERVICE -- With much of New Orleans still under water, there was little tech and telecom companies could do to restore service to many customers. In the meantime, many supported recovery efforts however they could. They're offering:

Services for evacuees. SBC Communications set up 1,000 free telephones in the Houston Astrodome, where many evacuees are living. Lenovo is donating about 1,800 computers and Dell 1,000 -- many to shelters. Intel is helping coordinate wireless data centers in the Astrodome and plans to buy additional computers. Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile were allowing hurricane victims to make free phone calls from their retail stores. T-Mobile is also offering its wireless Internet service for free in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

Money. Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, plans to donate $2 million to help pay for the education of children displaced by the hurricane. Motorola donated $1 million to education, plus $250,000 to other relief efforts. Microsoft and Dell each gave $1 million. Dell Chairman Michael Dell's charitable foundation donated $5 million more. Many companies offered to match employees' gifts.

Help with collecting donations. Apple, Dell, Intel,, Microsoft and others have links to relief organizations on their home pages. Verizon Wireless cellphone subscribers can donate to the Red Cross by sending a text message.

WIRELESS CARRIERS -- The FCC sought details on what carriers were doing
Cingular told the FCC the carrier would not shut off customers in the affected areas for 30 days and would stop collection efforts in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Verizon Wireless said it was working on a case-by-case basis with customers, would not cut them off and had stopped bill collections. (Verizon Wireless...has provided more than 10,000 wireless devices, including wireless phones and data air cards, as well as free wireless service, to key organizations involved in disaster relief and recovery efforts in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.)

Sprint Nextel said it would give a month of free wireless service to subscribers in the hardest hit areas and would also give free long-distance, extra minutes, roaming and text messaging. Sprint also said that it would not cut off customers and has stopped trying to collect on unpaid bills.

JOHNS HOPKINS GAZETTE -- Two faculty members from Johns Hopkins School of Professional Studies in Business and Education's Department of Counseling and Human Services, Eric Green and Alan Green, left last week for Louisiana to help with setting up a mental health crisis response team for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, especially children and families

AP -- To troops, he's the "Ragin' Cajun," an affable but demanding general barking orders to resuscitate a drowning city. To his country, he's an icon of leadership in a land hungry for a leader after a hurricane exposed the nation's vulnerability to disasters.

With a can-do attitude and a cigar in hand, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore arrived after Hurricane Katrina and directed troops to point weapons down in respect for a stunned and stranded population lacking food, electricity and safety.

Each morning, Honore (pronounced AHN'-ur-ay) boards a Blackhawk helicopter at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, 100 miles north of New Orleans, for a humanitarian mission as head of the military's Joint Task Force Katrina.

-- NATO began its mission to airlift aid to the United States on Sunday, sending a cargo plane to the Czech Republic to load up with blankets, camp beds and tents bound for the stricken Gulf Coast.
-- For the first few days, they wandered dazed and disbelieving through their flattened or flooded homes, wondering where they would get their next meal or a drink of clean water. Then the victims of Hurricane Katrina realized something else was gone: Their jobs.
-- NBA stars lift spirits of Katrina evacuees--Chris LaRoche doesn't have any clothes, toys or a place to go home to, but on Sunday the 12-year-old's dream came true when he played basketball against Cleveland's LeBron James, Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, Detroit's Chauncey Billups, Indiana's Ron Artest and a host of other NBA stars.
LaRoche and about 1,100 other Hurricane Katrina evacuees living in Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center got a morning visit from about a dozen NBA players in town for an evening charity game.
"I can't believe it," LaRoche said, a huge grin on his face. "I was guarding LeBron. It was so crazy."
James and the other players spent about 90 minutes playing with kids, signing autographs and greeting fans.
-- Hurricane Katrina has forced at least 330,000 school children to flee the Gulf Coast, with no clear answer yet on where the money will come from to educate these students, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said Monday.
-- Environment reporters face roadblocks--After badgering the Environmental Protection Agency for days to learn where dangerous chemicals were leaking after Hurricane Katrina, Mark Schleifstein couldn't get a clear answer
This sort of delayed non-response to a FOIA request is becoming commonplace, according to a report released Monday by the Society of Environmental Journalists. The report, drawn from 55 interviews with environmental reporters nationwide, shows government compliance with FOIA has worsened considerably since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS -- FEMA struggles to find permanent housing for Katrina victims--The Federal Emergency Management Agency hopes to eventually make 100,000 trailers available for the storm's victims, but it could take five months to meet that goal, said James McIntyre, an agency spokesman.
FEMA officials are eyeing hotels, cruise ships, closed military facilities and other areas for housing. State parks are prime areas as well, McIntyre said.

CNN -- About 2,000 Muslim volunteers helped victims of Hurricane Katrina at the city's (Houston) downtown convention center Sunday, the fourth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Muslim leaders viewed Sunday's volunteer opportunity as another chance to show that the September 11 attacks were carried out by Islamic extremists who do not represent the true meaning of their faith.
-- Security duties lead to change in Coast Guard
Coast Guard credited with saving thousands in Gulf... on Friday, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen was named to replace Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown as commander of the New Orleans relief efforts.
A Department of Homeland Security inspector general's report last year said the many new demands were jeopardizing the Coast Guard's ability to keep up its traditional missions and respond to crises.
"They need more personnel and they need more assets," said Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat who is a former Coast Guard officer. "Not only have they acquired more tasks, but the order and magnitude of those tasks is multiplying exponentially."
-- Career firefighter takes over FEMA--David Paulison, who recommended in 2003 that Americans stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to be prepared for a terrorist attack, was named Monday as acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
-- As the pace of finding corpses slows, Mississippi is turning its attention to securing temporary housing for families left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.
The state is hoping to line up 10,000 temporary shelters for displaced families and workers by the end of the month. Barbour said housing is needed not just for the homeless but also for relief workers and those beginning the reconstruction.

MSNBC -- NBC’s Brian Williams says the lasting legacy of Hurricane Katrina for journalists may be the end of an unusual four-year period of deference to people in power.

NYT -- Coastal Cities of Mississippi in the Shadows--If the levees had held in New Orleans, the destruction wrought on the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina would have been the most astonishing storm story of a generation. Whole towns have been laid flat, thousands of houses washed away and, statewide, the storm has been blamed for the deaths of 211 people, a toll far higher than those from Hurricanes Andrew, Hugo and Ivan.

But as it is, Mississippi - like the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 - is coping with an almost unimaginable catastrophe, largely overshadowed in the news media's attention and the national consciousness, in this case by the disaster in New Orleans.

-- In Reviving New Orleans, a Challenge of Many Tiers--Now that the water is receding, New Orleans is getting its first clear look at the vastness and complexity of the task ahead. The scattered leaders and residents of the city are just beginning to confront the most difficult questions: how much of the city will be rebuilt, what it will look like, what its character will be.

USA TODAY -- Several cities are dependent on vulnerable levees--A prime potential trouble spot is here in Northern California, where hundreds of thousands of people live on low-lying land protected by levees. Levee networks are also prominent across the Gulf Coast, in Florida and in heavily populated areas of the Midwest along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

Few levees anywhere in the nation are built to more than a 100-year standard - capable of withstanding a flood so bad that its probability of occurring is once in a 100 years. The report urged a far more expensive 500-year standard for urban areas. In the Netherlands, levees along the Rhine River are built to a 1,250-year standard.

REUTERS -- U.S. federal authorities may have to take care of some evacuees from Hurricane Katrina for as long as five years, an official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Monday.
I'm fine, days kind of run together now.
I will get a short break as I am going home Thursday, but back on Tuesday.
I was told tonight that we will be getting into New Orleans sooner than we thought. Don't know what that means for me.
Talked to Jordan (my 10-year old) and she told me that they have 3 students in her elementary school back in Plano. She also told me that she donated some clothes and some of her Barbie dolls. I know that was hard for her to do, but I am really proud of that.

I was going to post photo's but decided against that as the news is full of what the damage and destruction looks like so why add to it.

The days are long and the worst part is the drive back to Mobile in the evening, but with God on my side I make it back in one piece every night. Well all except one night. Nothing big, but an 18-wheeler wanted the lane I was in, so I obliged. I managed to blow the driver's side rear tire. There were some kids behind me that saw this and helped me to change the tire. I can't even remember what day that was. With what has gone on due to wasn't that bad.

4:30 comes really quick and my back tells me that it is time to get in the shower and to bed.

Everyone please be safe.
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team)

Loudoun co sheriff steven simpson said weds he is still dismayed over being told by the Lousiana State Police to have his deputies en route last week to help curb lawlessness in a battered N.O. suburb to turn around and come home.

On sept 1 a group of 22 deputies and six emergency medical technicians had packed 11 different vehicals with food water etc for what was to be the first of 3 trips to the jefferson parish. Simpson said he received a notice from the nat. sherrifs assoc that the jeff. parish sherrifs office needed assistance. SimPson said he was trying to get the sufficient paperwook for hours and that govt red tape held the team back...he was still trying to get some confirmation and paperwork completed when he got in touch with a la. state trooper who told him he would have to turn around.

Simpson said the troopers exact words were "Well, were telling people not to come down here" Simpson asked what would happen if the team just showed up anyway and he was told they would not be allowed into the state. "The superintendent of the state police answers directly to the Governor." Simpson said, " So what we're thinking is this was coming from the Governor's office, that's my speculation, and that's what confuses me because she's on TV pleading for help"

"I think there are a lot of people saying the politically correct thing but that's not reality he said. "Just like the governor crying for help and then her state police telling us not to come down there. Well, which is it" Simpson said.
-- Matt Adams 70

Here is a link to some photos taken by air in the areas outside of N.O.
P.S. Looks like Ophelia could hit anywhere on our coast in North Carolina this week.Governor has already opened the emergency management center and some national guard are on standby.
-- Patrick Mulkey (Istanbul)

Gulf Shores/
Orange Beach, AL

It's not snow...sand blown in by Katrina...
Like snow plows up Nawth.
--Bil Ingram 74

We have coalesced in the Steamboat Springs community (churches, aid and support agencies, women's shelters, resort companies, my profession, etc.) to bring families from New Orleans who were evacuated to Lowry Air Force Base in Denver to Steamboat. I believe we have between 12-15 families thus far who want to relocate here to donated housing, household items, furnishings, clothing, food and jobs in the resort industry. I worked with a group of friends from United Methodist Church to form the coaltion, and called on my fellow resort business owners for job offers and donated condominiums, and then sent out the call for furnishings (from second hand/rummage stores/condo owners who will upgrade and donate their furnishings), linens, terry and blankets (again from resort businesses), and chidren and baby needs through Advocates Against Battering and Abuse and the Steamboat Womens' Shelter as well as our child care centers -the staff and women who receive services from these agencies will be working intake and support when families arrive, along with professional staff from our therapeutic community and the core of volunteers who spearheaded this effort. Our core group consists of minister, teachers, social services case workers, resort professionals, directors of child care centers, doctors and nurses and mental health professionals.

Friends and I who are dog, cat and horse lovers have also donated to the Humane Society's search and relief efforts and networked with our local Animal Shelter to bring some animals here to new homes. We have a contact in Houston and, at some point, may drive down to pick up pets and return to Steamboat with new adoptive homes already found.

My oldest daughter, Lisa, who is an environmental and land use attorney in Oregon, is here visiting and she helped us clear out our closets and basement of winter coats, hats, gloves, boots, old skis, old bikes, boxes of toys, etc. for our arriving families. I had been saving sets of dishes/tableware, pots and pans, etc. for when kids Brian and Maggie moved away, but they have chosen to offer these items as well to the families moving here. Also a couple of their old snowboards and gear. Lisa is also volunteering her legal services for a variety of issues.

We expect the first of the families to arrive next week - we are currently working through our management companies to find housekeepers who will volunteer to clean the donated condos and install linens and terry, kitchenware, etc. Maintenance staff will begin moving furnishings, fixtures, and checking for maintenance problems.
Thanks to all of you who have risen to the challenge - and to those of you who continue to write and express what many of us are feeling - even for the levity during this dark time in America.
--Susie Booth (Hadden) (Istanbul)

10-11 September 05 - Update

NYT -- To Democrats, Republicans, local officials and Hurricane Katrina's victims, the question was not why, but what took so long?
Republicans had been pressing the White House for days to fire "Brownie," Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who had stunned many television viewers in admitting that he did not know until 24 hours after the first news reports that there was a swelling crowd of 25,000 people desperate for food and water at the New Orleans convention center.

-- Private contractors, guided by two former directors of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other well-connected lobbyists and consultants, are rushing to cash in on the unprecedented sums to be spent on Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction.

Some experts warn that the crisis atmosphere and the open federal purse are a bonanza for lobbyists and private companies and are likely to lead to the contract abuses, cronyism and waste that numerous investigations have uncovered in post-war Iraq.

-- Officials said there was no way at this point to estimate how many children have been severed from families, but early figures suggest the tally could be in the thousands.

-- Federal Emergency Management Agency officials expected the state and city to direct their own efforts and ask for help as needed. Leaders in Louisiana and New Orleans, though, were so overwhelmed by the scale of the storm that they were not only unable to manage the crisis, but they were not always exactly sure what they needed. While local officials assumed that Washington would provide rapid and considerable aid, federal officials, weighing legalities and logistics, proceeded at a deliberate pace.

FEMA appears to have underestimated the storm, despite an extraordinary warning from the National Hurricane Center that it could cause "human suffering incredible by modern standards." The agency dispatched only 7 of its 28 urban search and rescue teams to the area before the storm hit and sent no workers at all into New Orleans until after the hurricane passed on Monday, Aug. 29.

-- Hurricane Katrina has produced a diaspora of historic proportions. Not since the Dust Bowl of the 1930's or the end of the Civil War in the 1860's have so many Americans been on the move from a single event. Federal officials who are guiding the evacuation say 400,000 to upwards of one million people have been displaced from ruined homes, mainly in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Many say they will never go back, vowing to build new lives in strange lands, marked forever by the storm that forced their exodus. They seem dazed and disconnected, though happy to be alive, to be breathing clean air, to be dry. Others say they still feel utterly lost, uprooted from all that is familiar, desperate to find a missing brother or aunt.

AP -- Hurricane Katrina's economic toll continues to mount -- its cost evident in near-record energy prices, snarled shipping traffic, lost jobs and wrecked businesses. But nearly two weeks after landfall, its impact is shaping up as one of extremes.

-- Katrina's migration will bring changes--In a country where movements of tired, poor and huddled masses are an intrinsic part of who we are, the unprecedented mass exodus of people from their homes in the Gulf Coast region -- more than half a million people -- could unleash changes for years to come.

-- One storm could end up costing almost as much as two wars.
Although estimates of Hurricane Katrina's staggering toll on the treasury are highly imprecise, costs are certain to climb to $200 billion in the coming weeks. The final accounting could approach the more than $300 billion spent in four years to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

UPI -- The American Red Cross says it will foot the hotel bill for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Red Cross spokeswoman Stacey Grissom said the program is a way to help those whose homes were destroyed but acknowledged that most of the people in the program were not the most financially burdened of Katrina's victims.

CNN -- Katrina hits Louisiana schools hard
Hurricane Katrina displaced one-quarter of the teachers in the New Orleans area and several districts will have to rebuild, Louisiana's education chief said.

-- Firms with White House ties get Katrina contracts
FEMA taps Halliburton subsidiary, Shaw Group, Bechtel for cleanup

SCIENCE DAILY -- Hurricane Katrina has caused billions in damage and untold personal suffering in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but the cost in culture may be staggering.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- If the images of skyscrapers collapsed in heaps of ash were the end of one story -- the United States safe on its isolated continent from the turmoil of the world -- then the picture of the sodden Superdome with its peeling roof marks the beginning of the next story, the one that will dominate our politics in the coming decades of this century: an America befuddled about how to cope with a planet suddenly unstable and unpredictable.
A first-hand account from a professional psychologist named Anne Gervasi is making the rounds. She traveled to New Orleans to volunteer her time in rescue and rehabilitation efforts in Reunion Arena and the Civic Center.

"The trauma they are experiencing, is so profound that we have no cultural term or machinery set up for it. The dead and nameless bodies by the thousands rotting in the water, arriving dead on the buses with them, or dying next to them in the shelters, are a huge festering wound that no one dares mention. This is a true Diaspora the likes of which we haven't seen since Reconstruction. The immediate needs that are being addressed ignore the greater traumas yet to be spoken. No governmental system can survive the number of wounded and disillusioned people that we are going to see sprouting up all over America. Something far greater and more organized has to be done."

I just donated to the HSUS to help rescue and find stranded animals in La. and Mississippi. The people who are going from house to house looking for survivors and corpses have been told not to take animals in the boats. While I am glad people are being rescued. it breaks my heart to hear that they had to leave their pets behind. the humane society is doing what they can and have asked for help from the military in their efforts. The rescuers are wading through that nasty water to get pets from houses, many of whom have been there without food or water for almost a week. I read that a lot of the stragglers didn't leave because they would have to abandon their pets. in the aftermath of Katrina, it may seem petty or silly to worry about the animals, but try to imagine if any of us had to do the same thing. The humane society needs donations desperately. if you want to donate on line, go to <>.
thanks from a pet lover.
-- Melissa Miller 68

You'll be happy to hear that General Honore today ordered his men to begin saving pets. They are looking for cages to start the job. This is a smart leader. Not only does he come off as a hero to all us animal lovers, but he strategically moves to prevent more dead animals in the system, and keeps his troops busy with another task.
I like this guy. Let's make him President!
--Will Harmon 66

For those of you worried about animals, like me, please contribute.
The Humane Society
ASPCA - (866)-275-3923
For those of you who need a nice story about animals, like me:
McConaughey Saves Animals
Reuniting Pets and Owners After Katrina

--Jill Park (Doyle) 71

9 September 05 - Update

NYT -- As New Orleans descended into chaos last week and Louisiana's governor asked for 40,000 soldiers, President Bush's senior advisers debated whether the president should speed the arrival of active-duty troops by seizing control of the hurricane relief mission from the governor.

The debate began after officials realized that Hurricane Katrina had exposed a critical flaw in the national disaster response plans created after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the administration's senior domestic security officials, the plan failed to recognize that local police, fire and medical personnel might be incapacitated.

The federal government rewrote its national emergency response plan after the Sept. 11 attacks, but it relied on local officials to manage any crisis in its opening days. But Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed local "first responders," including civilian police and the National Guard.

-- Hurricane Katrina obliterated courts, records and their support network in the New Orleans area. ...And some say, with the perverse logic of the law, Hurricane Katrina - months from now, when people return home - will spawn an unimaginable flood of legal issues. Beth Abramson who is organizing pro bono efforts for the state bar anticipates a torrent of legal issues having to do with ruined property, insurance, environmental issues and countless other concerns.

BLOOMBERG -- Michael Brown, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was removed from on-scene oversight of the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort after lawmakers criticized his performance and qualifications.

Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, named Thad Allen, Coast Guard chief of staff, to replace Brown in overseeing the recovery from the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Allen was named Brown's deputy four days ago. Brown, 50, will return to Washington, Chertoff said.

AP -- Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, tapped on Friday to head the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, has taken on big challenges before.

Allen was commander of all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains on Sept. 11, 2001. In the days after the terrorist attacks, he was responsible for making sure local responders in the New York area had the vessels, aircraft and personnel they needed.

-- In a disaster within a disaster, unprecedented numbers of shaken children left in Hurricane Katrina's wake are testing the nation's network for emergency psychological help, according to caregivers and experts.

The storm victimized hundreds of thousands of children, wrenching apart their families, washing away their homes, and separating them from everything else that was familiar, from friends to pets to stuffed animals.

TIMES ONLINE -- International aid meant for the victims of Hurricane Katrina is backing up at an Air Force base in Arkansas because relief lorries are being directed to the wrong places.

Civilian truck drivers hired to take food and supplies to Louisiana and Mississippi from Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas have been repeatedly diverted to places which already have what they need, according to Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Bret Archbold.

Forced to drive through the disaster zone, looking for places to drop off aid supplied by Russia, Italy, Spain and Britain, the drivers are taking two days instead of one to deliver their loads. Master Sergeant Archbold said the air base had been left in "lull status".

NPR -- Coast Guard Praised for Katrina Response--While many federal agencies appear to have been slow to react to Katrina, the Coast Guard was plucking people off rooftops and sending all available equipment and rescue workers to the scene. One unit from Massachusetts dispatched rescue crews to the region as the storm approached.

REUTERS -- NATO chiefs gave the order on Friday for alliance ships and aircraft to help deliver European aid to hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina after concerns that some help was not getting through.
The latest I've heard is that we now have 17,000 evacuees and they are receiving tons of help. They had a job fair that was packed and overflowing and many people that didn't work in NO are being set up with jobs here. My hospital is sending teams of medical staff as well as non-medical through the Red Cross. There is a 17 page evaluation for volunteers to complete. I have been thinking of volunteering but just also heard that 2 medical people had been has been upped. Maybe I'll just go the non-medical route... Everyone is warned to be alert and use some discretion and there are a lot of guns and weapons in town now with alot of folks that just got out, inadvertently, from jail. Glad to see on the news today that congress is already very deep into the blame game and arguing their points while the rest of the country is busy cleaning up the mess. Great.
--Nancy Berkman 77

I evacuated from New Orleans to Raleigh, North Carolina, a dear friend's house.

I left with my cat KiKi, my car and two changes of clothing. I am deeply saddened about my house being under 17 feet of water...I live near the 17th Street canal. I drove cross country with my bad back and sheer will. For friends that don't know, I broke my back several years ago.

My daughter and her family are in California with my mother and sister Robyn. They had to stay behind to keep her husband's hotel...full of personnel from two hotels and the CNN keep all fed. Police came in the kitchen as he cooked and handed my son-in-law his gun and told him"protect your family. I am quitting"...The water kept rising in the hotel and they got out after walking in the nasty water for quite a hitch a ride on a flat bed truck.

As another friend left the city...several mothers begged him to take their babies so they would live. They knew they would die standing on the hot pavement where they had been evacuated to...some perished.

The rescue response was hideous. Just hideous. People dying after the hurricane because the gvt wasn't there to help them. I saw things I will forever have embedded in my memory. I can't find peace in spite of being safe. Last night was the first time in one week I managed to sleep for a few hours in a row.
Peace to all...
--Paulette Tokar 67

A first hand account was posted in the 5 September 2005 Katrina Update <>
Chad of MA-TF1 provided a link to a web page of photos from their deployment to Waveland, MS, a town destroyed by Katrina.
This small task force has a home page.
MA-TF1 <> -- Massachusetts Task Force 1 (MATF-01) Urban Search and Rescue Team (US&R) is located Beverly, Massachusetts. Urban Search and Rescue teams are composed of Police, Fire, EMS and Civilians (62 total people when deployed) and respond to major disasters under a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Currently there are 150 people on the MATF-1 team.

8 September 05 - Update

USPS -- Postal officials are strongly urging evacuees to submit a change-of-address notification, even if it means an interim shelter or other temporary destination. They can out a form at a post office window, log on to the Postal Service's Web site at, or call 800-275-8777.
NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER -- Ophelia reaches hurricane status 70 miles east-northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

HATTIESBURG AMERICAN -- Hundreds line up to file storm claims--Bottles of water, teddy bears and even hugs were distributed in abundance Tuesday at Allstate's mobile center on O'Ferral Street, but the hundreds of people who lined up to file claims were most interested in one thing: money.

There apparently was plenty of that to go around, too, with checks distributed on the spot for living expenses to those whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.In one instance, it took a little prodding to get relief.

Anita O'Keefe, 65, of Poplarville, who said her home was overcome by a powerful stench from her powerless refrigerator, was irate as she walked away from a claims adjuster.

"Now we know about all those small technicalities," she said, referring to the company's denial of her claim because the evacuation from her community had not been mandatory. "The juices from the fridge permeated the floor. I was sick as a dog. I had to clean up my floor and I'm upchucking all over."

Overhearing the interview with the Hattiesburg American, Senior Adjuster Gordon Welch walked over and explained the rules to O'Keefe and her husband, John, but then relented and agreed to issue her a check.

"I'm still going to rant and rave, no matter what you are going to say," said Anita O'Keefe, a retired Chevron employee who still has vivid memories of escaping Hurricane Betsy in a boat with her children in 1965. "You ought to have psychiatrists out here."

Smiling, Welch quipped, "We do need them - for us, not you all."
Welch, Allstate's senior adjuster, said his company has imposed a 90-day cancellation moratorium in Mississippi and parts of Louisiana. He reminded residents that policies generally do not cover water damage and that coverage for fallen trees is limited to those that struck structures, rather than just fell in yards and need to be removed.

NYT -- Forced Evacuation of a Battered New Orleans Begins--Officials said that the hazards posed by fires and diseases had left the city with no choice but to use force on those who resisted.
-- Two weeks from the beginning of harvest season, there is a mounting sense of alarm over a potential financial blow to American farming. Farmers in the breadbasket states rely on barges to carry their corn, soybeans and wheat down the Mississippi River, but cannot be certain that the Port of New Orleans, a crucial link to export markets that was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, will reopen anytime soon.

In the gulf states, the storm left farmers reeling from numerous other problems, including a lack of electricity to restore chicken and dairy plants to service, and a shortage of diesel fuel needed for trucks to save dying cattle stranded on the breached levees.

-- Even as millions of Americans rally to make donations to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Internet is brimming with swindles, come-ons and opportunistic pandering related to the relief effort in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. And the frauds are more varied and more numerous than in past disasters, according to law enforcement officials and online watchdog groups.

USA TODAY --Many failures of FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency — have been reported in recent days: People stranded for days on New Orleans' rooftops without food or water. Patients dying for lack of medical supplies. The agency couldn't even get supplies to thousands marooned at the Morial Convention Center — though reporters and even singer Harry Connick Jr. managed to reach the scene.

According to a Government Accountability Office report, more than 75% of the agency's preparedness grants next year are targeted to state and local readiness for terrorism — a mismatch to reality. Leaders of the National Emergency Management Association feared the impending result. Five of the group's leaders came to Washington just days before Katrina struck to warn Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that the shift, including more proposed erosions of FEMA's role, was weakening their readiness for disasters. The warning was prophetic.

AP -- Carrying water treatment plants and mobile kitchens that can feed 7,000 people daily, the convoy bound for San Antonio is the first Mexican military unit to operate on U.S. soil since 1846. Military engineers, doctors and nurses are among the 200 people headed to San Antonio.
The work is getting harder as people are getting impatient.

To date my unit has processed well over 1000 claims. We have spoken with several folks from Louisiana. Yes, there have been lots of tears from both the customers and adjuster, yours truly included.

The lady mentioned in the article wanted $500.00 for the food in her refrigerator. She made such a fuss that folks heard her. You can't imagine the comments from customers who lost everything and this lady raised such an issue over her "stinking" refrigerator.

I also was on the local news channel and I am trying to get a copy of the video.

I am still working in Mississippi, but every adjuster has been advised that we will work somewhere in the gulf. As several of you noted, it is nasty there. Well today I felt like it was 1971 all over again as I went to the local health department and got a tetanus shot and Hep A shot. Not sure when I will leave MS, probably sometime next week and it looks like my destination is either Hammond or Slidell, LA and then on to New Orleans once they let us in there.

Thanks for all of the support from my fellow Trojans. As for the damage in Hattiesburg it is every bit as bad as the coast without the water. This area of Mississippi is covered with 40-50-60' pine trees. These trees snapped in half and where did they land you ask? on houses, of course. There are several houses totally destroyed. Photos may be sometime in coming as the story related to, I get to deal with the "irate" customers.

It's 11:29 PM and I have to get up @ 4:30 to make my daily trek to Hattiesburg. Drive is about 95 miles one way and before I head that way I buy ice here in Mobile as I can't get enough in Hattiesburg to keep our water cold all day.

Also want to thank all that have called home. This is weird but I have a better understanding of what the GI's go through when they are deployed oversees and the pictures sent back home don't look very good.

It is bad, but will get better. Pray for all those that lost some one and for the workers who are trying their best to get these folks back on their feet. It will be a long process, and with time the "material" things will be replaced or rebuilt.

Not sure when I will get back on, perhaps in a few days. Most nights I get back around 8:00 pm. Try to find something to eat and then get in bed before 11:00. Didn't work tonight, but I got a great lift from reading what everyone had to say.

Good night my Trojans friends.
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team)

Some of the younger poor people of New Orleans may have just been given an unexpected new, albeit painful, opportunity to break out. They have new surroundings, unprecedented attention, care for their well-being, and provision of their needs; they are being handed an entirely new outlook, new opportunity and life.

Would that our country's care and response to the plight of the poor extend, less painfully and with long term productivity, to ghettos nationwide. The world will always include the haves, the have-less and the have-nots. Until we elevate the entire population of the latter class, we all lose. Just like we all lost, big time, last week.
--Vanessa Wells 64

7 September 05 - Update

-- New Orleans mayor issues order authorizing the forced removal of people refusing to leave the city.
-- The House majority leader late Tuesday tried to deflect criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina by saying "the emergency response system was set up to work from the bottom up," then announced a short time later that House hearings examining that response had been canceled.
-- A majority of Americans believe the city of New Orleans will never completely recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and the resulting flooding, according to results of a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday.
-- Colleges throughout the United States are accommodating students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
-- Several recording artists have been added to the list of performers for Friday's cross-network Hurricane Katrina benefit concert, and many more celebrities are adding their money and energy to the cause.

AP -- Cost estimates for relief and recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina are running as high as $150 billion, making it clear that a federal budget deficit picture that only weeks ago seemed to be brightening has now gotten considerably worse.

TIMES ONLINE -- Authorities in New Orleans will start forcibly evacuating people from the ruined, unsanitary city today as America's political establishment continues its bitter argument over who was to blame for the chaotic response to Hurricane Katrina.

MERCURY NEWS -- Federal health officials warn rescue workers and holdouts in New Orleans to try to limit direct skin contact with flood waters, seek immediate medical attention if they have cuts or other wounds exposed to the dirty water, and wash their hands frequently.
-- Bay Area gets ready for evacuees--In San Jose, they are scouting out the best housing options, including vacant San Jose State housing, for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. In San Francisco, the cots and portable showers are up and they are stocking a children's playroom. But on Tuesday, there still was no sign of the hundreds of evacuees expected in the Bay Area.

NYT -- From across the economic spectrum, whether with heavy hearts or with optimism, the hundreds of thousands of people who fled the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans are already putting down roots in new cities. If even a fraction of them decide not to return, the migration threatens a population crash that could be nearly as devastating to the New Orleans area as the storm itself.
-- What started flowing back into the lake on Monday and continued spilling into it Tuesday is laced with raw sewage, bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides and toxic chemicals, Louisiana officials said on Tuesday.

MAIL & GUARDIAN, South Africa -- United States Senator Hillary Clinton fuelled the political debate over Hurricane Katrina on Wednesday, insisting on an independent inquiry into the federal response and sharply rejecting President George Bush's bid to lead the probe himself.

AP GENEVA -- The international Red Cross Web site aimed at reuniting families separated by Hurricane Katrina has registered 118,000 names since it went online less than a week ago, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Be Aware of Charity Scams - September 7, 2005

ABC News reported tonight that the American Red Cross has asked the FBI to investigate at least 15 fake Web sites that are designed to look like legitimate Red Cross appeals for donations to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Internet fraud experts told ABC News that in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, they saw scammers registering dozens of Web sites with Katrina in their names. They put their content online and then send emails to people. The emails look like a legitimate Hurricane Katrina plea from the Red Cross, containing the standard credit card information form as well as the same graphics, typeface and security logo in the corner as used by the real Red Cross.

Please be advised, the Red Cross never sends out email solicitations. Anyone who receives one can assume it is a fake.
The Walt Disney Company announced that it would donate $2.5 million to aid relief and recovery efforts in the wake of Katrina. Of that money, $1 million will go to the American Red Cross for immediate relief efforts, another $1 million will go to rebuilding efforts targeted at children's charities, and the remaining $500,000 will be directed to volunteer centers providing services to the affected communities.
--Roger Redwanski 68

The stories and pictures that are coming across the wire are surreal and it is almost impossible to comprehend how any of those areas hit by Katrina will recover. San Diego got it's first refugees from New Orleans last night when approximately 60 arrived. They are being temporarily housed in a local high school gym until more long term accommodations may be arranged.
--Kathye Matthews 74

Louisville will have approx. 200 + making their way to our huge convention center. It sounds as though those leaving the devastated areas are being sent all across the country. We have tons of room in our convention center. The bright side is that now those of us who have felt helpless to deal with this directly - will get the chance to step up.
--Carol Baker-Dawson 73

I know it is better to do something positive to help than to squawk about what went wrong, but if we don't do some squawking while the iron is hot (a pretty bad mixed metaphor), the issue could lose momentum in the administration spin, and it is too important for that. I gave a donation on day 1, and my husband and I gave another a few days later. I'm also trying to help with the San Francisco relocation center, but they seem to have plenty of volunteers, so I may just send something they need. My brother put his rental apartment on the list for shelter. Individuals who help are always needed in these crises, but the government should be the most efficient and best funded center of operations because no other entity has access to all the personnel and logistics that they should be able to call up quickly. I say "should" because they obviously didn't use their resources properly in this instance.
--Melinda Miller (Collins) 65

6 September 05 - Update

Craigslist , the Internet-based classified advertising service, is replete with job offers for evacuees willing to relocate for good.

CNN -- Repair crews have patched the ruptured levee along the 17th Street Canal and have begun pumping water from New Orleans, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday.
-- Former President Bill Clinton on Monday said the government "failed" the thousands of people who lived in coastal communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and said a federal investigation was warranted in due time.
-- Sen. Trent Lott berated both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and his own state's emergency management, MEMA, for being mired in red tape at a time of urgent need given the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.
Lott said he has been trying to get FEMA to send 20,000 trailers "sitting in Atlanta" to the Mississippi coast, and he urged President Bush during a meeting Monday to intervene. He said FEMA has refused to ship the trailers until contracts are secured.
-- Saying the city was "completely destroyed," the New Orleans deputy police chief has urged remaining residents to get out because there is no power, drinkable water or supply of food. Meanwhile, body recovery teams press on with the grim task of searching for the suspected thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina.
-- The toxic brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.
-- Hurricane Katrina left behind a landscape of oil spills, leaking gas lines, damaged sewage plants and tainted water, Louisiana's top environment official said on Tuesday.
In the state's first major assessment of the environmental havoc in southern Louisiana, Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Mike McDaniel said large quantities of hazardous materials in damaged industrial plants, the danger of explosions and fires and water pollution were his main concerns eight days after the storm struck.
Preliminary figures indicate 140,000 to 160,000 homes were flooded and will not be recovered, he said. "Literally, they are unsalvageable," he said.
He said it would take "years" to restore water service to the entire city.
"It's almost unimaginable, the things we are going to have to deal with," he said.

REUTERS -- Thousands of families returned to pick up pieces of their battered homes outside New Orleans on Monday and President George W. Bush promised to fix bungled rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina killed as many as 10,000 people.
-- "There appear to be some transportation problems," Barbara Helfferich, a spokeswoman for the European Union's executive Commission, told a news briefing. She said a Swedish plane laden with aid was waiting to take off but had not got U.S. approval to enter the United States. High-speed pumps offered by Germany had arrived but Helfferich said unspecified "coordination problems" in the United States had prevented them from being deployed so far. She said EU authorities had suggested to the United States that aid could be flown in more easily via U.S. army airbases in Europe, such as that in Ramstein, Germany. She did not say if they had received a reply.
-- Drago's Seafood Restaurant. Since the storm raged more than a week ago, five employees of the upscale eatery have lived on the premises to protect it from looters who have destroyed businesses across the city. Then on Monday the restaurant reopened, serving charred chicken on pasta with a Cajun marinara sauce and ice-cold water--a rare luxury in this city in recent days. The food was free to anyone who wanted it. "We have decided that we will serve free food as long as our resources last, probably until we give away $20,000 of free food," said owner Klara Cvitanovich. Cvitanovich, 66, who came here from Croatia in her youth, was also shipping food out to poor neighborhoods. "I can honestly say I have lived the American dream, and now I have to give something back," she said.

MERCURY NEWS -- The floodwaters have begun to recede in New Orleans after a major levee was repaired, but what is revealed in the toxic muck left behind is likely to be gruesome. "It's going to be awful and it's going to wake the nation up again," Mayor Ray Nagin said this morning on NBC's "Today." Ghastly new evidence of the horror in New Orleans began to emerge Monday night when a sheriff reported the recovery of 22 bodies lashed together around a pole - a desperate, futile attempt to survive the storm.

AP -- The Yves St. Laurent and Tommy Hilfiger labels may be phony, but the thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims getting knockoff items seized by federal customs officials probably don't mind. For humans, virtually anything that you can wear is available: underwear, jeans, baseball caps, T-shirts, shoes and socks. For dogs: much needed food. For children, toys. For everyone: clean sheets and blankets.

NYT -- In Small Town, Huge Morgue Takes Shape--Refrigerated trucks began the task of bringing what is expected to be thousands of bodies to the temporary mortuary set up in Saint Gabriel, La.

NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF -- Hurricane Katrina also underscores a much larger problem: the growing number of Americans trapped in a never-ending cyclone of poverty. And while it may be too early to apportion blame definitively for the mishandling of the hurricane, even President Bush's own administration acknowledges that America's poverty is worsening on his watch.

USA TODAY -- HUD issued a plea last week to mayors and county executives across the country for inventories of what's available. The tally should be in this week. HUD also is identifying how many of the 26,000 properties it owns are vacant. And it's studying how many of the manufactured housing kits it owns could be put up.
If HUD has its way, poorer New Orleans residents who were bused to shelters in Texas will be relocated to every U.S. region. The new quarters may be on military bases or in old hospitals, university dorms, nursing homes, schools and public housing.
Homesick or not, few evacuees can afford to be jobless for long. Officials in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and other states with evacuee inflows have started programs to link the newcomers with employers.

M&C NEWS -- From 8,000 miles away, U.S. troops in Iraq are watching footage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with awe, concern and a little shame. 'If anything I`m kind of embarrassed,' said an officer. 'We`re supposed to be telling the Iraqis how to act and this is what`s happening at home?' A senior officer allowed that if he was forced to choose between New Orleans and Baghdad he`d prefer to take his chances in Baghdad.
Just want to let everyone know I heard from both Carol Pierce (Mrs. Doug) and Nancy Pierce Russell with an update on Doug and family. They actually live in LaPlace, LA which is about 25 - 30 miles WNW of NOLA - and as Nancy said, what a difference those miles made! Doug and Carol and the kids (now 3 & 5) evacuated to Enterprise, AL to his brother Rick's (there was a Rick too?). They returned home Monday to find their house intact, with little damage, and they have electric and phone too.

On the central Florida homefront - the diocese of Orlando did a diocesan-wide collection Sunday for Catholic Charities for hurricane relief. Rollins has taken in 15 students from Tulane for the fall term. Rollins SGA sponsored a concert last night, a 24-hour jump-a-thon in a donated Moon Walk, and a dunk tank and pie-in-the-face today with many administrators as "victims" (including my boss - hmmmm......). Proceeds will go to the Red Cross. Employees can also make payroll deductions to make a donation to the Red Cross.

And to be fair to the int'l community - the Orlando Sentinel reported on Sunday that more that 50 countries have pledged assistance (money, food, medical supplies, personnel) - from Afghanistan and Dominican Republic (who don't have all that much to give) to $100 million from Qatar.
--Susan Curran 72

The mayor had Statewide evacuation plans. He asked people to evacuate on Friday. Many, many people did. Those who had cars and means of transportation. The Mayor sent school buses to pick people up at the school bus stops. They did not want to get in the buses. The Governor, on the other hand did not want to panic the people until the TV reporters and weather reporters said category 5! She held the Mayor back from doing what he perceived to be his job. Then the hurricane went back to a 3 and everyone was upset that the Mayor would think to move people out--we've lived through a 3 -4 before!!! But the winds were already picking up and more people decided to leave and arrived in Baton Rouge and other cities late Sunday night. The hurricane hit full force late Sunday evening and continued all night long. We had 60 mile winds in Baton Rouge! At that point the only thing that could really be done is stay in your place or try to get to the Superdome (for those who had no food, water, or transportation). I don't think anyone expected that the dome roof would blow off.

The people are still not wanting to evacuate and they have been told no more water or food can be delivered to their homes. It is a total disaster place and now the river has to subside. The corp of engineers have been working on the levees and water is actually being pumped out of the city. The National Guards have come to help resotre order of panic people. The Governor again, sent back the reserve from MD and VA. Where would house them and what would we feed them!

All of you have seen the TV reporters go on and on and on about it all. But the Mayor stayed in New Orleans, not because he likes staying there but because he is the Capt. of the ship and that means he is the last one to go down with the ship. I applaud the Mayor. He has done as much if not more than most mayors in this county. Why continue to blame. Get out there and do something.
--Donni Shields 65

Hey G.... thanks for all you are doing! Glad to hear you have security with you at all times. My hospital remains in Disaster mode and we have sent in teams of medical/nursing staff to evaluate people that have been evacuated here to 2 main locations, which are only a few miles from the hospital. We have rec'd about 30 kids directly from LA as well as ill children from the host sites. We have security and police all over the hospital and the host sites do too. There are reports of murders and rapes nightly in these facilities, though I think it is lessening. People are out there trying to get them housing and jobs, and they are getting their FEMA checks now too I hear. Dallasites are dropping off supplies, suitcases, clothes, shoes, TP, and the like by the ton at the AA Center and they are being distributed at the host sites. I have always been grateful for my comforts and health, doing what I do, but this sure is a wonderful reminder. We have kids that have had only spoiled formula or water, and multiple with fever, diarrhea, and malnutrition from this disaster. they are all noted in our reports and we have all services attending to them to help. I know you have alot of work ahead of you and that it is very emotional... we have heard many awful and sad stories from some of these families.
--Nancy Berkman 77

Actually, the Mayor didn't call for a mandatory evacuation until Sunday morning. Saturday, Bush called the Governor and told her that she and the Mayor had to get their acts together and order an evacuation. The Governor reached the Mayor at dinner in a restaurant Saturday night. He waited until Sunday morning to order the evacuation. He also limited his order to TV and radio for distribution. There weren't any police cars roaming the poorer neighborhoods with loudspeakers.

While there may have been a voluntary evacuation underway, that's not the same thing. People who can read a weather map were already evacuating by Friday.

Part of the so-called "delay" in getting the Guard from other states to LA was that when they travel, they travel with full support of their own. It would not tax the Governor beyond finding a place for them to set up their own facilities. They bring their own food, toilets, fuel, and housing, even if the housing consists only of tents. And considering that military vehicles move at a maximum speed of about 50 mph, the only delay was in fueling the vehicles to start with--they don't leave them in parking lots with full tanks.

People's refusing to leave is going to be a problem. I fully understand that people don't want to leave their entire lives' work and worth behind, perhaps never to see it again. Who would? But if NO is ever going to recover, even minimally, it needs to become a ghost town first. I think it was a smart move of the Mayor to order that no more drinking water would be delivered to the hold-outs. There are no jobs in NO for the residents. Many of the homes still standing are going to have to be torn down due to structural damage. Electricity is weeks, if not months, away; water is even further down the road. And sewage treatment?

Even if it's decided to completely rebuilt NO--which I think not the best idea--the population will have been reduced by at least 1/3. People who evacuated will be starting to build new lives wherever they find themselves. Nine months from now, when they estimate the city will be rehabitable, people aren't going to pull their kids from schools, their sick family members from hospitals, or walk away from jobs to the possibility of jobs. When will the NO schools, hospitals, and various workplaces be restarted?
--John Burgess 65

5 September 05 - Update

The Coast Guard and the American Red Cross are enabling people to post on the Internet information about loved ones missing or stranded because of Hurricane Katrina. The Coast Guard is accepting requests on its Web page <> The Family Links Registry of the Red Cross can be accessed at on the Web at <>. The Red Cross also has established a hotline, 877-LOVED-1S (1-877-568-3317), that can be used to search or add information to the registry.

FEMA -- Individuals in declared counties can register online for disaster assistance at <> or call FEMA’s toll free registration line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362); for the hearing impaired TTY 800-462-7585.

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR -- Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
The Department of Labor is working with state and local governments in disaster areas and relief sites to issue unemployment insurance and disaster unemployment assistance. For more information, call 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365)

CNN -- Doctors waiting to treat victims in tax-funded, state-of-the-art unit
The North Carolina mobile hospital stranded in Mississippi was developed through the Office of Homeland Security after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With capacity for 113 beds, it is designed to handle disasters and mass casualties.

Equipment includes ultrasound, digital radiology, satellite Internet, and a full pharmacy, enabling doctors to do most types of surgery in the field, including open-chest and abdominal operations.

It travels in a convoy that includes two 53-foot trailers, which as of Sunday afternoon was parked on a gravel lot 70 miles north of New Orleans because Louisiana officials for several days would not let them deploy to the flooded city, Rich said.

-- Cuban President Fidel Castro told more than 1,500 doctors Sunday night that American officials had made "absolutely no response" to his offer to send them to the U.S. Gulf Coast to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

REUTERS -- For all of the trauma suffered by hundreds of thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina, in some ways the hard part is only just beginning as they and public officials ponder how to rebuild their lives.

NYT -- Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan.

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- Why FEMA Was Missing in Action
While the federal government has spent much of the last quarter-century trimming the safety nets it provides Americans, it has dramatically expanded its promise of protection in one area—disaster.

Since the 1970s, Washington has emerged as the insurer of last resort against floods, fires, earthquakes and—after 2001—terrorist attacks.

But the government's stumbling response to the storm that devastated the nation's Gulf Coast reveals that the federal agency singularly most responsible for making good on Washington's expanded promise has been hobbled by cutbacks and a bureaucratic downgrading.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency once speedily delivered food, water, shelter and medical care to disaster areas, and paid to quickly rebuild damaged roads and schools and get businesses and people back on their feet. Like a commercial insurance firm setting safety standards to prevent future problems, it also underwrote efforts to get cities and states to reduce risks ahead of time and plan for what they would do if calamity struck.

But in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, FEMA lost its Cabinet-level status as it was folded into the giant new Department of Homeland Security. And in recent years it has suffered budget cuts, the elimination or reduction of key programs and an exodus of experienced staffers.

Jill Park 71 received the following email from friends, forwarded from their son. He is working with FEMA in Waterland, MS and the following is his first-hand account.

Hi Guys,

We've covered all of Hancock County and looks like we may be headed home soon.  They have all the task forces out in different areas - we just worked our butts off to finish our area as soon as we could.

We're going to take 2 days to get home - so I should be back in Mass sometime wednesday or thursday.

As soon as I get cell phone coverage I'll try and give you a call.

Our satellite internet system got fried - generator just overloaded and several brown outs.  So Mark made a deal with the Incident
Support Team (they run the show here) - and got us access to their comm truck.  This satellite interent conntection is a T1.Wow.

I went out with the search teams again today - it was a lot of work - we went through a bayou (sp?) area.  Mud.  Like you wouldnt believe.  Check out our website - I'm updating with some more photos.

I know the media has been saying that the locals are violent, and that FEMA is dropping the ball, etc.  Just not the case in Hancock County. The locals here have heart like I've never seen.

Imagine, they have just lost everything, slept the night in a cardboard box, and they are offering us water and food as we search their neighborhood.

Talking to several locals the biggest problem is getting out of here - no money or gas to get north.  I pointed out to the search team manager that we had a bus sitting in the parking lot... anyway he passed the word on to our Doc who managed to get a word in on a TV interview saying busses to get people out of here , or car pooling would be a big help.  Well, as we were driving over to dinner I saw 8 empty busses headed into town.  The search team manager (Ed Stewart) turned and looked at me and said - "I think you did that".  Who knows, but at least people will be able to get North.

When we were out today, we had a Mississippi State Trooper with us - he was a nut case.  Lots of stories.

We searched an area with street names after states - I got a picture of Nevada.
We're staying very clean - every other minute we're washing our hands, etc.  And being very carefull about what we touch.  I have a pair of gloves that'll need to be washed in bleach because they came in contact with some raw sewage.  I couldn't help it - there was an American Flag in it.  Had to pull it out.
Talk to you guys soon.


Thanks everyone for the b'day greetings. I am too tired to get into a long email, but I have been advised that the MRU (Mobil Response Unit) or big motorhome with Allstate advertising on it...will be redeployed to Hammond, Louisiana Monday/Tuesday. Not sure if that is tomorrow or next week and not sure if I am driving it there or not. Once I know I will get this out to you when I get a chance.

One thing for certain, I feel like I am about to head to Turkey like I did back in '71 as I have to get my shots updated and take the one's that aren't current.

Ouch I can feel that pain already as I hate needles... relates to all the dental work I have had done.

One thing about Hammond is that I am closer to Lewisville, and home. Today was not so bad as the only TV station in Hattiesburg, interviewed me as did the newspaper. I will try to get a copy of the TV story and the newspaper as well. If they have a website and we know they do, I will get that also.

Time to go to bed as 4:30 comes quick and then it's 90 miles to Hattiesburg.
My love to everyone
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team)

My daughter has been in Baton Rouge in preparation for beginning her Freshman year at LSU. She weathered the storm with only minor problems (comparatively). She has been staying, alternately, with her Uncle and on campus. Both of them are involved in helping some of the thousands roaming around Baton Rouge. I thought I would send you an update from her Uncle. His son is "Thomas," who has just moved into his own apartment in preparation for also starting school at LSU.

"We got power at 6pm Sat. night. We are still experiencing telephone difficulties and have neither cable nor internet. Thomas has wireless and I am using his laptop. Thomas got power back last night as well. We had forgotten about the food in his fridge and freezer...what a stink!!!

Went to church this morning and it was 3 people deep standing room only so we decided to get there extra early for the 5:30 tonight. There still ended up people standing...but luckily not us.

As of Monday Baton Rouge will have doubled in size. 2 weeks ago there were 3500 houses for sale in MLS as of this morning only 500 were left in the inventory. All commercial space is rented and there are very few apartments to rent.

gas has gone up 25 cent since last week we are now at 2.69 for the average regular and the pumps are quite often dry.

guns are selling at 1000 per day instead of 100.

restaurants are full to capacity from open til closing.

grocery stores are runnning low on supplies.

But we are among the fortunate and I certainly won't complain.
Much of NO is free of any water the French Quarter and St.Joe's Cathedral, and Cafe du Monde were all spared. Looting has happened and many have lost homes. NO will probably never be the same."
--Bill Dunning 77

Paul Krugman's editorial in the NYT says the truth clearly: this administration failed miserably in this disaster largely because of the philosophy that government should not provide public assistance, even in natural disasters. Public assistance for their friends in mega-business and mega-wealth is OK, but they have forgotten that one of the reasons for government is to provide a central place for people to turn to in times of serious disaster, when the best solutions come from a well-directed coordinated effort, what FEMA was set up to do. By presenting us with this unsuccessful bureaucratic nightmare, they have just reinforced their argument against big government, even though a well-run department of Homeland Security is exactly what we will need in the event of a serious terrorist attack. We should be screaming at our representatives to address this before something else happens that they can't, or choose not to, cope with.
--Melinda Miller (Collins) 65

4 September 05 - Update

Families of deployed National Guard soldiers call 888-777-7731 to let your soldiers know of your whereabouts.
Military family hotlines: Navy 877-414-5358, Air Force 800-435-9941, Marine Corps 800-847-1597
Craigs List has offers shelter for Katrina victims in cities listed in red on its main page.
RED CROSS -- The American Red Cross said Saturday it is helping more than 96,000 evacuees in more than 350 shelters in nine states hit by Hurricane Katrina.

HOUSTON CHRONICLE -- The U.S. Postal Service announced this morning that evacuees at the Astrodome will be able to receive mail as early as Saturday. The service created a special ZIP code to handle the mail: 77230. Anyone who thinks they may have a friend or loved one sheltered at the Astrodome should address letters by name, with the address General Delivery, Houston, TX 77230.

CNN -- Emotional scenes were repeated perhaps thousands of times along the Gulf Coast last week as pet owners were forced to abandon their animals in the midst of evacuation. The fate of pets is a huge but underappreciated cause of anguish for storm survivors, said Richard Garfield, professor of international clinical nursing at New York's Columbia University.
-- Officials closed a shelter Saturday because more than 20 people there fell ill, and doctors believe the patients may have contracted dysentery from tainted water.

NYT -- Faced with one of the worst political crises of his administration, President Bush abruptly overhauled his September schedule on Saturday as the White House scrambled to gain control of a situation that Republicans said threatened to undermine Mr. Bush's second-term agenda and the party's long-term ambitions.
-- Reeling from the chaos of this overwhelmed city, at least 200 New Orleans police officers have walked away from their jobs and two have committed suicide, police officials said on Saturday. Police and fire officials have been begging federal authorities for assistance and criticizing a lack of federal response for several days.

REUTERS -- The State Department said offers of help had been received from: Australia, Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
International organizations also offered help ranging from medical teams to tents to cash donations. They include NATO, the Organization of American States, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and the World Health Organization.

A State Department official said a needs assessment was being done to determine which offers would be accepted.

THE AGE -- A risk management firm has offered the first estimate of economic losses from hurricane Katrina — $100 billion — and said that private insurance would probably cover less than a quarter of that. Federal money and charitable contributions may need to do the rest.

BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY -- The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Humane Association reported clearance to enter New Orleans on Sunday to start pulling pets out of the city.
-- The Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas, the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans survived Hurricane Katrina relatively unscathed according to reports from operators of the facilities. There is enough fuel to keep generators running for quite some time and since the zoo was so well prepared for this disaster, emergency workers and police actually are coming to the zoo to get their vehicles fueled.

We are starting to get folks from the New Orleans area stopping at our MRU (Mobile Response Unit). The stories are very moving and it brings tears to even the strongest. Today I helped with a lady that lost her home and business. I have to get a tetanus shot and some other that means that deployment to the New Orleans or Mississippi gulf coast area is a strong possibility.
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team)

Carolyn, you have opened the subject of where the victims go from the shelters. They will need access to jobs, homes, transportation and communications. Our nation is coming through with tremendous support for the immediate situation, but we need to follow through with the means for these people to thrive without counting on our government's support.

I donated to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief fund, and Connections is providing daily updates of news and alumni response. I'm not sure I'd be willing to do more and am glad to contribute to organizations whose abilities and performance I trust.

Houston did a nice thing to make the evacuated storm victims feel welcome; the Astrodome has its own zip code since it now qualifies as a city. Will it be turned into a city in fact by its new people who elect a mayor from their number and provide jobs and untaxed income from development, a city of homes, apartments, businesses, restaurants, a post office, a park...?
--Anita Donohoe 66

Just got back from Sam's Club, it's our weekly pilgrimage, and there was drive for the Katrina folks. We got some diapers and wipes and some other things for them. They are doing a caravan to NO with about 10 trucks full of stuff. Great to be able to do something from this far away.
--Wray Woolley 66

3 September 05 - Update

NYT -- most of all there was shame, a deep collective national disbelief that the world's sole remaining superpower could not - or at least had not - responded faster and more forcefully to a disaster that had been among its own government's worst-case possibilities for years.

CNN -- President Bush, seeking to stem criticism that a slow federal response has contributed to needless misery, said Saturday he is ordering additional active duty forces to the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast.

-- The U.S. government has chartered three luxury cruise liners -- Ecstasy, Sensation and Holiday -- for the next six months to provide temporary housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina, Carnival Cruise Lines said Saturday.

-- Cuban President Fidel Castro has offered to send medical help to the United States in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. At a nightly roundtable program on state-run television Friday, the Cuban leader said his nation was ready to send 1,100 doctors and 26 tons of medicine and equipment.

-- ... Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada wrote (to President Bush).

The letter called on the president to use his authority to "provide cash benefits to individuals who have been stranded without financial resources" -- something the senators said is allowed under the Stafford Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief Act.

The senators also said Bush should exercise his authority in an emergency to use federal facilities "to provide housing and food for those in need. We urge you to use your existing authority to ensure that all victims have at least enough food to survive, and to immediately identify military bases and other federal facilities that can house these victims on a temporary basis."

They said current law also lets the president provide "transportation assistance in a disaster. Yet many of those displaced from New Orleans and other Gulf Coast regions have no ability to relocate to other areas where they may have family and friends available. Providing such transportation assistance also should be a priority."

Thank you all for these words. They have bought tears to my eyes and I truly miss each and everyone of you. This is the first time I can get on. I miss you all....Hattiesburg damaged is severe. To my knowledge no one died in the storm, but we have had one fatality when one brother shot his sister over a bag of ice. Things are getting better in Hattiesburg as power is being restored. Most of the hotels have power, this happened last night. There still is no ice, so I drive the 90 miles one way to bring ice for my unit. The devastation is terrible everywhere. Most of what we have is large (40-50') trees that have fallen and crushed the house. Some have split the house in two others parts of the house. Price gouging is rampant and the stress level is very high. I have heard and felt everyone's love in regard to this situation, but each day brings new challenges, so keep them coming. The worse for me is no today I start out with a little less than 1/4 tank. If I ever needed divine intervention it will be this you all please pray that my vehicle sprouts wings or something and I can get there. I may not get a chance to write again for a few days as this is the first weekend since the storm hit.

I also realize that some have posted birthday greetings. Thanks. We Trojans are a strong and unique bunch. That is why we are so special. I start today with a renewed spirit and vigor, having all of your support to lift me up.
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team)

If Delta closes, say good bye to Atlanta as we know it!

BTW, if we find gas under $3 a gallon, we top off. They have stopped a lot of the price gougers, but prices have leveled off around $3.69 for regular IF you can find a station that still has regular. There was a really big run on gas a couple nights ago. I was lucky to fill my nearly empty tank for $2.89 per gallon for premium, after waiting in line nearly a half hour. On the way to this station (at Sam’s Club), I passed several stations with prices ranging from $3.99 for regular to $4.19 for premium. Most of the gas stations in town have since run out. Those that still have gas only have premium.

There has been talk and concern about the affect this is going to have on the airlines if it continues because of the fuel costs.
--Donna Brown Hensley 68

It's pretty quiet here (Lake Alatoona, GA). That's unusual because it's Labor Day weekend, the last three day weekend of the boating season for the part-timers. Normally, most of the houseboat slips would've been empty by Friday afternoon. There would be folks coming out with extra relatives and friends and garden carts full of picnic food to go spend the weekend out on the lake. I haven't heard a boat start up all morning. As I look out my front door at the next houseboat dock, I see all the boats in their slips and no activity.
Just a report of how gas prices have effected local behavior.
--Brad McMillan 64

The fact is that these displaced people are Americans and we should be doing as much for them as we can, but we need to help them to help themselves eventually. Going back to NO anytime soon is going to be impossible. Where they are at present, the people who have taken them in need to do more than just take them in and feel sorry for them, they need to help them to help themselves in the reconstruction of their lives. Your sister will come out fine. She was strong enough to become a doctor, she has the mettle to carry on. It is those who do not have an ability to do a job that need to be helped to find something that they can do or something they can be trained to do.

At this juncture, it may come to taking in people who have lost everything for a time. But we need to help them heal and be able to continue with their lives, altho changed.

Opening your heart can be heartless if you do not open your mind and help people to help themselves! Prayer is fine, it makes YOU feel good, but it does durn little practically for the displaced.
--Carolyn Black faculty

2 September 05 - Update

-- Despair, privation and violent lawlessness grew so extreme in New Orleans that the mayor issued a "desperate S.O.S."
-- Americans are opening their wallets, homes and hearts to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, with donations and pledges nearing $100 million by midday Thursday.
-- Government Saw Flood Risk but Not Levee Failure

HOUSTON CHRONICLE -- Looting and violence are unconscionable but were invited by the failure of federal, state and local authorities to reassert order or even provide basic sustenance for storm survivors. Hurricane Katrina will be remembered less for its rampaging winds and tides than for the inadequate disaster preparations it exposed.

FEMA -- 90% of New Orleans is out of commission

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- Passports: The New Orleans Passport Agency, which processes applications from Southern California, New York City and other areas, was closed. Recent applicants who need to travel soon were advised to contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778. For updates, visit <> and click on "Passports."
Mike (my brother) and his wife, Susan, evacuated New Orleans in advance of Katrina's arrival. They went to our parent's house in Hammond and rode out the storm. (my sister) Amanda and family stayed on their home in Baton Rouge. Everyone is just fine, and the North Shore homes weathered the storm without any damage, but we do not know the status or condition of Mike and Susan's place in New Orleans.
Thanks for all your prayers and concern!
--Gary Smith 73

There is looting and people are tired, in shock and angry and want to take showers, etc, etc, It's like having people arriving at Ellis Island in NY from Europe.... It is really sad. They are escorting the Govt. Employees out of the offices with armed guards (so my niece is returning home). It is getting scary.

It will take years to rebuild. They need carpenters, pipelines, the levees repaired, new furniture, where will it all come from. Who can afford to start again. It definitely will change people's lives. The gas and oil refineries are here and now out of commission. Now your gas prices are high and will get higher. I'm really overwhelmed because now it is in my back yard and I feel helpless! ...I don't even want to know what is next.
--Donni Shields 65

As some of you know my family is from Louisiana. My parents were in Baton Rouge and rode the storm out there. They have just retired and close on their house tomorrow however they are now waiting on the insurance company to come look at the roof as they lost some shingles. Yes that is minor compared to some of my other relatives. I have a cousin who lived in New Orleans and his apartment building is gone along with all of his belongings. He put his car in his parents garage in Mandeville, LA and now that is a total loss as well since the garage is full of water and has been since Monday and they are not allowed back in the area. Another one of my cousins, who lives in Biloxi, has a house that is standing however there is no chimney and they do not know how much water is in the house or if the looters have gotten to it. Their neighbors did not evacuate and they were able to tell them about the chimney. However they are not allowed back into the state of Mississippi for a long time.

My heart and prayers go out to all of our fellow Ankarans who either live in this area or have relatives that live in this area.
--Jayme Crehan Nichols 87

For whoever maybe interested here is a link that someone has setup and followed Katrina all the way through while in New Orleans, and still there, pretty much an eye witness account of what is going on there, and how they are faring through this ordeal while trying to keep a data center going.
--Bob Ferrell 75

200 members of the NO red cross are trapped in a building in NO. They are without food, water. Communication was lost with them over three days ago and two members of that group need dialysis. Deaths are to come.
--Phyllis Gray Conneley 67

In the past 3 days, I've given authorization for Russian, Ukraine, and Canadian airplanes and helicopters to fly into the US to help. Where are all OUR heavy-lift airplanes?
--Jim Wilkinson 67

Our office in NO still has six unaccounted for; the rest -- and hopefully, those six too --are rallying in the Memphis office for the duration. Most feds get paid out of NO. Operations were relocated so our pay would continue with minimal interruption. (Makes me think of all the times our fathers didn't get paid for months and months in Ankara.) It'll certainly be nice to continue to be paid, but I can't help thinking of those employees who left family, friends, pets, homes etc behind and how frantic they must be. Naturally, all the donations from our offices will be going to help those people.

What a strong person Gordy [Gordy Welch 76] must be to keep doing what he does over and over and over. And he stays upbeat. An "atta boy" for him.
--Vicki Clinton White 60

Gordy watched the news for the first time last night. He understands now why we were worried about him. He wants us to know that the Allstate National Catastrophe Team has 24/7 security and armed guards to protect them while they work in Hattiesburg.
--Anita Donoho 66

1 September 05

NYT -- As survivors struggled with a disaster that left damage of up to $25 billion, a gargantuan relief effort began. Ships, planes, helicopters and convoys of supplies and rescue teams converged on the Gulf Coast, and Pentagon officials said 30,000 National Guard and active-duty troops would be deployed by this weekend in the largest domestic relief effort by the military in the nation's history.

AP -- The town of Waveland, MS was wiped off the map.
-- Fights and trash fires broke out at the hot and stinking Superdome and anger and unrest mounted across New Orleans on Thursday, as National Guardsmen in armored vehicles poured in to help restore order across the increasingly lawless and desperate city.
-- Hurricane Katrina's fury has reignited the scientific debate over whether global warming might be making hurricanes more ferocious.

CNN -- Transfer of New Orleans refugees from Superdome to Houston suspended after shots fired at Army Chinook helicopter
-- FEMA suspends boat rescue operations in New Orleans because of dangers to rescuers, officials say.
-- Americans opening spare rooms to evacuees: "I have space and people need help."
-- Fats Domino missing in New Orleans floods

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR -- The storm that flooded New Orleans, obliterated Gulfport, Miss., and hit Biloxi, Miss., with fatal results is putting a dent in the entire nation's economy.

On Monday night, as that monster came on, we had some pretty furious rain and wind strong enough that I could feel my boat jerking at the mooring lines. The rain pelting the back sliding glass door scared my dogs and both wound up in bed with me. By the time the storm made landfall, it was over for us here in Atlanta area. Just overcast and ominous.
--Brad McMillan 64

I'm ok, but very tired.
Staying in Mobile.
Working in Hattiesburg, MS.
There is no power in Hattiesburg.
Mobile had no power yesterday/last night at the hotel. Made for a long hot night. Drive is 90 miles one way daily until Hattiesburg gets power. That is not expected for 3-4 weeks. Hope time is shorter.
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team)

I am constantly reminded how very close I am to not having anything. It is so scary not to have enough money, then find you have nothing at all. It could all fall down in a day.
--Linda Lunsford 68

Paul (86) and Shannon have power and are okay. My mom is still with them. Paul is expecting to be deployed to the coast fairly soon. My dad is still on the coast. Their house is in bad shape, the first floor was flooded. Dad was out finding his tools around the neighbors and an 18-ft gator went by, he decided that it was time to clear out. He is now staying with a neighbor's grown kid whose house was not destroyed. A major problem right now is there is no fuel. Even if a vehicle was not flooded there is no fuel to get out. Keep up the prayers.
--Laura McDonald Ellis 88

A ray of hope for Katrina victims, and my pleasure to wait. I don't know a lot about the internet and band width but I think this is a good sign. Yesterday I was able to make a donation to the Red Cross credit card site and completed my transaction in 2-3 minutes. This morning I began 40 minutes ago to try to donate an additional $250 using the same DSL connection (Verizon) and the same Red Cross site. After twenty minutes I was redirected to a (secure) site donated by Yahoo where I again entered my info and went through the process. I hope I receive an e-mail confirmation soon of this donation otherwise I'll try the phone line. I can only believe these issues are a result of an unprecedented outpouring from so many who want to help the best way they can.
"Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry.." I wish.
--Wayne Donelson 68

Why can't our Government send the homeless to some of our now "empty" bases that have recently closed? Just till they can be allowed to come back home. Just a question.

Within 24 hours our gas went from $2.45 to $2.99. Since we buy gas everyday for different vehicles we are tuned in to this expense.
--Gail Bailey Hall 65

What a great idea. You should call the Washington Post and tell them. That is sssssssso good. We are now having riots and looting here in Baton Rouge because the people have become so crazy. They are escorting the Govt. Employees that went to work out of their offices to go home.
--Donni Shields 65

$3.299 here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for regular unleaded. Yikes!
--Suzi Hall 67

31 August 05

Bil's Condo: The photo was just taken yesterday. The plywood where the sliding glass doors and windows are supposed to be is still left over from Ivan, but the sand everywhere and blown over palms are from Katrina.

Again, this is trivial compared to what our Louisiana and Mississippi brothers and sisters are enduring. After the levees broke I saw where 80% of NOLA is underwater. This looks worse than the tsunami. Offers of aid from the international community have been deafening.
--Bil Ingram 74

Our dear friends, who are in their eighties, have lost everything. Their home was where the 610 splits with the 10 in New Orleans, right across from the levy…need I say more? They had to flee all the way to Florida and may end up landing with us until they know what their options are…this is really a serious situation.

Actually, the levies are failing. Last I heard the Corps of Engineers are unable to stop it. The water is rising in the Quarter and the "bowl" that is New Orleans is simply filling. Our friends house is just the other side of the levy and, most probably, is no more.

New Orleans has always been a special place for us and I have a difficult time understanding how it will ever be able to overcome this.
--Debbie Stuck (Crow)e 65

I have a good friend who is a Pastor. He just left Meridian, MS for Covington, LA to take over a church there. He has two small adopted children from China. I had just talked to him the night before the storm.
I am anxious to hear that they are okay.
-- Carole Walther (Jakubczak) 60

Yes, people do some incredibly STUPID things and often make things far worse by their actions (or inaction). But some of these people did not evacuate the city because they couldn't. There are people in New Orleans, as well as many other places, that cannot travel to escape the weather. They have no money, have no family or friends out of town they can go to, nor have any means of transportation to leave the city. The shelters many managed to get to are now also underwater or unsafe. Poverty is sometimes what keeps people where they are, not just stupidity.

Many just have no where, or no means, to go. Many of the people that made it to the Superdome were people that had no other place to go, but heeded the warnings and evacuated their homes and went to the stadium because that was supposed to be a safe shelter. Or were rescued and taken there.

Then there are those that just could not believe it could be so bad. I think most people, even those that took it seriously, are shocked at the extent of the devastation. If the dikes had held, it wouldn't have been as least the water wouldn't have risen so high. The inner city is of course the worst...which is where most of the poor live. The poor are pretty much stuck where they are, rain or shine.
--Suzi Hall 67

Sitting in Massachusetts we had a cloudy day with showers as a result of Katrina. We also are seeing jumps in gas prices of $.35 overnight to $3.19.

I was remembering the group of us that were sitting in the Inter Continental on Reunion Monday as we suffered through an hour and a half without electricity, then I shift my gaze to CNN and the devastation being shown.

Your mention of cash donations to the Red Cross is the best some of us can do and the time is now. The price of gas is just a symptom there are much larger issues which need immediate attenion.
--Wayne Donelson 68

I read that NO is being completely evacuated. gas in SF bay area is $3.05 for super! my aunts in Tennessee reported a lot of rain and wind, trees overturned, nothing as bad as the hurricane.
-- Melissa Miller 68

NJ has been saltry all day. The air so thick you could almost cut it. Wind gust of 26 mph. Gas is higher there so far. NJ is just $3.00. It's gonna be an interesting few months. They say the price may drop in about 3. Analysists. What do they know.
--Roger Redwanski 68

It is a real tragedy! It will take years to rebuild the city and years to rehabilitate the survivors. We will be donating to the rehabilitation.
--Carolyn Black faculty

I was able to reach long time family friends in Mobile today. They are elderly and couldn't evacuate. They remained above water, lost a chimney cap--which has been replaced--and ran a generator to give them and the neighbors on each side enough power to keep their refrigerators running. They are okay even though they still can't go anywhere. Their neighbors cleaned their yard of debris today.
I heard an alumnus in Biloxi still has a house but it is full of water.
--Anita Donohoe 66

(In Louisiana) We have been told to stay away unless we were medical, police, fire or have a boat from helping. I have my sister's grandchildren at my house because I have A/C, etc. but their house is down and they have already been told two- three weeks before electricity. Their schools are all closed-- housing people from other parishes.

I thought maybe the kids and I could help the red cross, but they said not unless we had experience and could handle people who are in shock-and are giving money-sent to the store and when they get back are knocked down, all the things bought taken, by the desperate people. They sent the prisoners home to their families to help them!! They are looting the guns shops and the place in NO is having real problems. I hope for all of our sake, that it does not rain....... Many years ago, my sister, Mary, Enviromental law, working for the Corp of Engineers, begged the city to build the levees higher and stronger, that some they they would have a problem and the river would redirect it self......Here we are!!!

My dogs and I are safe and I have a good house. My dogs would have had to go with me--I could not have left them!! I had their papers and food better prepared than for myself!!
--Donni Shields 65

My husband and I were pleased tonight to finally contact friends who have a home in Long Beach, MS. This is located between Biloxi and Gulf Shores and one of the areas that was hardest hit by Katrina. From all the news reports, we thought that their home was gone and perhaps our friends with it.

We talked to them tonight and they are safe in Pensacola, FL and have been advised by neighbors that their home is standing. It has lost trees and a roof, but the structure is still in place.

I mention this for those that are losing hope for their loved ones. We have been bombarded with such bad news and pictures, that we believe no one has escaped the wrath of Katrina. But have faith, tonight I learned, there is hope. And I am grateful.
--Jill Park (Doyle) 71

30 August 05

Dear Florida again...ok I have a new "girl," Katrina, and she has had me running all over the place... Sunday before last in Champaign for Harvey's was great. Then to Saint Louis on Monday, Austin on Tuesday, Dallas on Wednesday, Orlando, Thursday, drove to Miami on Friday flew to Mobile on Saturday via, Memphis (sorry Doug couldn't call got off one plane onto another) to Dallas, to Mobile, Alabama. My Saturday morning started @ 8:00 in Miami and due to flight cancellation didn't get to Mobile, until 8:00 writing all of you from Montgomery where I have been for two days...but alas can't make roots here, as I am driving an emergency response motor home to Hattiesburg, Mississippi in the morning.

To all of you that have emailed me, thanks for keeping me in your thoughts. To those that called me, it was great to hear from (you) during this time. I love all of you very much and staying touch really helps me remember what life is about when I go to these devastated areas. Keep the emails and phone calls coming, as I don't know when I will be back on. At this point, I expect to be away from home at least until mid September and lets hope this is the end of the hurricane season. Problem with that is, September is the busiest month.
--Gordy Welch 76 (Allstate National Catastrophe Team)

Why thank you kindly. I'm sitting here at my computer looking out the window at a very rainy, stormy day. Katrina is making her way through Kentucky and most storms usually hang out in the Ohio Valley for a while before making their exit. The prediction is that this storm will move rapidly, causing heavy winds, thunderstorms and possible tornadoes. A good day to hang low but I'm working this afternoon. I've agreed to mentor a new, first year principal and I have to attend a training session for the state department this afternoon. I'd rather sip tea and read on a day like today. Tonight I am going to see the play, Love Janis. It is getting fabulous reviews and is showing at Actor's Theater of Louisville. I guess I'll get wet today. So be it.
--Phyllis Gray 67

29 August 05
Baton Rouge got high winds 40-60 mph and rain that went horizontal. Lots of leaves, branches, some trees, flooding in low spots and our electricity went out at 5:30am, but it just popped on at my housing development (5:30PM) and we are on line again.....yes I have two big trees in my back yard but only the bad branches fell off.

I feel so grateful that it was not like a snow storm where it is cold and the electricity goes off and you don't have a fireplace!! I expect the electricity will go back out again like it does in MD but maybe not!!

This was nothing like Hurricane Betsy 1965 when I first arrived at LSU... and definitely not like Hurricane Camille that I went through before I left college. Well at least not where I am living now.

But all is well for us and we are safe. The NO people may not be able to return to their homes for 1-2 weeks. Bu they were lucky the lakes behind the city did not overflow--so they were hit directly from the Gulf. The whole town is surrounded by water and then it is 5 ft below sea level on top of that. Maybe it just needed some cleaning up--it's such an old town and so famous!!
-- Donni Shields 65

My friendly neighborhood gas station attendant just gave me a heads up on tomorrow morning's gas prices. Expect a fifty cent per gallon jump! Suggest filling up on gasoline tonight.
--Paul Ruddock 69

The wind is still pretty gusty here. We faired really well. Just had one big oak limb break and fall.

We lost power for about 5 minutes and that was it. But our phones are out and cable was out for most of the day. I had some rabbit ears that I bought after Ivan so we were able to watch storm reports on the 4 Pensacola and Mobile channels.

Looks like there was a lot of flooding from here to New Orleans. I-10 is underwater in Mobile. I heard the Mississippi Power corporate office in Gulfport had water up to the second floor.
I just hope everybody over that way got out and they don't start finding a bunch of casualties.
Gulf Power has about 120,000 customers out. We've got some crews coming over from Panama City to help us out and then we are sending two 30 man crews over to Mississippi to help.
-- Steve Northcutt 73

Update on Paul & Shannon McDonald 86 and our parents:
I have talked to my brother, Paul, and his wife Shannon in Jackson, MS. Our folks live on the MS Gulf Coast, mama has gone to stay with Paul. Our dad is still on the coast with the emergency ham radio guys. We have heard through the grapevine that Dad is okay. There has been no phone service, land or cell. We do not know if they have a home to go back to yet. Jackson has lost power, but still had cell service, when you can get through.
Paul is working 12 on/12 off with all the emergency National Guard stuff, and he got the 12hrs at night. He is at the head quarters with the organizers, something to do with facilities/buildings.
We are praying for safety for all and homes to go home to.
-- Laura McDonald Ellis 88

28 Aug 05

The Keys got battered some what. Caught with our pants down Friday morning. Went to bed Thursday nite with Katy lookin at Fort Liquordale, and woke up Friday AM with her blowin up our skirt. Minimal damage but lost power for a couple days. All is well here cept for the cleanup.
--Dave Hildebrandt 62

More news from the Right Coast, if I can say that being in the middle of the most lefty county in Florida: Well, now that Katrina's gone and we got our power back (after about 42 hours) and the cable (Comcast came back up this afternoon about 4PM - 24 hours after the power), things are about back to normal since my broadband has been restored. Fortunately we had power backup for the elevators or our claustrophobia would definitely have overtaken us both. Thursday afternoon everyone was sitting around Fort Lauderdale believing the weatherpersons who kept saying it was just a big rainstorm and would be hitting somewhere to the north of us, most likely Palm Beach county. Once it got past the Bahamas and was about 40 miles due east of Fort Lauderdale it was on a westerly track when it first jumped up from a 50 mph tropical storm and hit Category 1 hurricane strength with 75 mph winds. It hit us just a few hours later.

The storm cut just by us and hit about ten miles south, so we got the brunt of the eastern edge of the cyclone, which is the toughest weather, about 7PM. Bettye and I were sitting here on the Intracoastal Waterway on the 17th floor having dinner just as Katrina slid by with the eye wall hitting our sliding balcony doors with gusts of up to 92 mph. I told Bettye I thought it best that we move our feast into the bedroom on the west side of the apartment since it looked to me likely that one or more of the glass doors could explode without too much more pushing. As she was settling into her chair, she complained that her plate wouldn't stay still on her lap, and that she could see herself swaying back and forth in the mirror. I told her that of course it was just her imagination - then she told me to look in the mirror and I saw myself swaying back and forth like some bobble-head. The building was doing some rock-and-roll rendition to the tune of Hurricane Katrina and we were the maracas being shaken for effect. That fortunately lasted only about ten minutes as the storm completed its turn to the SW and the wind shifted somewhat, relieving the pressure on our 24-story building. Talk about twisting in the wind... We spent much of the rest of the evening watching high-voltage electric transformers exploding in flashes of blue across the Broward landscape - beautiful, but frightening because of the devastation being wrought.

Nine people died here in Miami/Dade and Broward Counties, mostly from being hit by falling trees or from post-storm asphyxiation from generators, both outside and INSIDE their homes (please don't try this at home...). There were over one million households without power and about half of those are still not restored. Thousands of trees were felled and most of the traffic lights for several miles around us are still out. We finally found one restaurant Saturday morning which was open for business, and definitely "enjoyed" the breakfast special at Dixie Pig Barbecue (my kind of groceries, but definitely not on Bettye's diet).

The storm is by now a Category 5 monster heading for the unprotected environs of New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast. They'll need all the
prayers we can send their way. Those of us who spent time at Keesler AFB in Biloxi know how low that countryside is and the damage just a
couple of feet of water can do.

We have newfound respect for Category 1 storms, even if little ol' Katrina was pretty much ignored by the forecasters since it wasn't as scary as the big ones. The little ones kill too. Now she's a biggie...
--Bob Wirt 63

27 Aug 05
All is well here in Boca Raton. Lost electricity for about six hours on Thursday night and feel lucky after losing it for two weeks last year. Lost some tree limbs in my yard and a block away some large trees came down blocking the street to the south. As of today Saturday, the street is still blocked. I feel for the people in the panhandle and New Orleans. Looks like they are going to get whacked.
--Bob Onisko 66

Katrina made a mess in Miami...the southern end of the county is still coping with flooding. The northern end (where I am) took mostly wind. Trees are downeverywhere you look. One came down on my car and left a nasty dent . We were without power for about 12 hours. My son and his wife and my 37 week pregnantdaughter and her husband came and stayed with us. Their power finally came backon tonight. Once again, Miami was truly lucky. Like Bob O., I , too, feel for thepeople now in the path of this storm. Its turning into a big one.
--Maxine Bisset Fill 67


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Craigs List - offers shelter for Katrina victims in cities listed in red on its main page.

Connections has been advised by some alumni that they are in the position to provide shelter to people who have been displaced by Katrina. If you, or someone you know, is in need of assistance, contact us here.

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