posted on Aug, 28 2006 @ 01:15 PM
What I remember from back then, with no imput from here: This would have been leisure time, and we didn't have any. I didn't get online that much.
We ran...and stayed up in a temp. shelter on Southwestern Louisiana University campus in while my brother and sis-in-law went off to her nanny's.
We'd have had to go well to Arkansas to get a hotel. We left less than 24 hours before it hit, and becuase we to back routes, and not the main
passageways, we were rarely caught in traffic, and had a rather relaxing journey with many pit stops and food breaks.
1. Red Cross temp. shelters were extremely restricted. You had to check in and out, so they could keep track of what they were paying for you.
Security was all over the place...much of it campus security (campus security is actually a part of the state troopers, they are real cops, but their
boundaries are restricted to school grounds.) They just assigned a few more pople to the campus. You got an arm band so that the campus kitchen
could feed you. you were told to keep it on you, though they didn't force you to wear it. The campus was reimbursed.
2. We slept on mattresses on a basketball court. "Lights out " was called at 10. There were 2 locker rooms with showers...and while they were
cleaned, they couldn't keep up with the volume. Most of those who couldn't sleep wandered around the halls, watching news reports. They didn't
have enough volunteers; they couldn't keep up. Some of the "victims of the storm" like my father volunteered to help, just to keep busy, and to
make sure the elderly actually got beds and blankets. They were rounding up extra mattresses from all over campus, and still people were pouring in.
3. There was no class distinction. Some pople were well to do. We had some very fancy cars parked out there that first night, next to junk buckets
that you have no clue how they made it in. This was a complete leveler. You couldn't tell who had money, and you couldn't tell who would wait
until you were on your own and mug you. For the most part, the latter was not worht worrying about. Those who wanted to steal stayed to rob stores
and homes while the owners were away had stayed. Thoe who could afford to go look for a better shelter (either through money, friends, business, or
church connections left as soon as they could. Still, someone stayed with my baby brother at all times (the boy's almost as big as me now).
I watched as the storm finally turned, as the weathermen had hoped, only 3 hours before it made landfall. By that time, if it hadn't turned, the
brunt of the storm would have hit Houma, and my home would have been gone....then the eye would have been driectly over New Orleans, pulling both
water in from the Mississippi and from Lake Pontchartrain, completely overhwelming the city. As it was, watching the levee break, and watching the
water trickle in, hearing someone go, "My daddy lives x blocks from there; he wouldn't leave," I can remember thinking "Please God, let's save
them, but if you're not going to allow them to be saved, quit tormenting these people and get it over with." That's when the gap in the levee
widened, and all chances of saving anyone in the lower 9th ward ended. I still feel guilty for that...it makes me feel like I caused it. Not really
reasonable, I know.
We left that shelter, to go home, after 2 days there. Most people would be out of that shelter within a week. They'd either be placed in camps, or
they'd move to closer temp. shelters....like in my hometown: Houma....less than an hour from New Orleans.
Communication was crap for about 2 weeks or more. Power was out in some parts of Houma for 3 weeks, and we had barely any damage from Katrina...as
Entergy services the whole region, and power source is closer to N.O. than it should be. Downtown Houma ran completely off it's own power within a
day or 2. Nothing but Analogue phones could call out from the whole New Orleans area. During the early part of that week, the only reliable source
of information was the radio stations.
Some things the day the Hurricane hit, and a few days afterward, things I can't remember in the order it happened:
One Parish President annexed his parish into another country on the hopes that it would get the govenrment down there quicker. He debassed himself
for his people. Then there were the calls from those who were stuck in their attics (most we never got out), on top of their roofs, giving their
addresses over the air, jsut to be pulled out.
Some idiot started a rumor that people were walking out of new Oreans and were comming with whatever weapons they could find, to take what they could
from those who were more fortunate. People were stealing generators from people's yards, so people would bring them into their garage, and then the
whole family would die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Rumors got out about the facts of what had happened in the Superdome, and rumor was that they were being shipped all throughout Louisiana (pissed my
father off because people didn't volunteer for fear of being beaten and raped...most of that type were not shipped here. We got their children. 2
yesr old kids who couldn't tell you what their mama's name was.)
Our shelters were temporary shelters. The Houma Civic Center had our own people who lived in 'da boon docks of the parish, and people who wanted to
get back into New Orleans but couldn't find closer shelter. Nicholls State University had only the latter. The Lions Club was a private shelter
in Gray had the families of the New Orleans police, and the police themselves, when they cound't take anymore (they were there because they'd be
close to Troop C state police, and could feel more useful if they were close to their line of work). (Not sure htis is true: It was kind of funny
when someone had called them to attention and asked for everone who had a gun on them to raise their hands. Almost every adult hand went up.) All 3
were mattresses on the floor of a giant room, with inadequate showering facilites. Cops were everywhere.
In one place, since Red Cross couldn't/wouldn't take volunteered food help, etc., they kicked the Red Cross out, and took care of their own. In our
area they were more relaxed, so we had a lot of volunteers, some of the volunteer work became school work. The local storesdonated meat that they
couldn't keep fresh. Others volunteered time to cook the food.
By the time Rita hit, we still had Katrina victims in our temporary shelters. Local schools and the Houma Civic center took in the southern end of
the parish when the levees broke...we tried to move as many of the NO victims to NSU at that point.
Back to the kids we got: Many needed counseling, severely. They'd jsut start staring at the wall and wouldn't communicate. The girls would at
least cry, but the boys wouldn't let go. I'm quite sure many never got help; there wern't enough counselors. I'm sure some of the kids are still
in foster homes because the can't be placed, being the only survivors of a family. They were callign for foster homes like crazy. They didn't want
unsupervised children in the temporary shelters...too easy for one to go missing.
You couldn't get to your money, in most cases, for several weeks becuase the records were in New Orleans, under water. Especially with Hibernia (now
Capitol One). Still, we took care of ours, either with time (like my father) or money (like I had to, since I was needed to keep an eye on my baby
brother or Grandma).
Wow, that was a bit more than I thought I would say....
My point was that most of these shelters, even where there was more freedom to interact, were severely inadequate and had law enforcement of some sort
all over the place. These were never meant to be long term, and we got people into jobs and out of there as soon as we could. The elderly and those
who refused to work to get back on their own two feet were sent to more permanant shelters, some no better than the temporary shelters.
[edit on 28-8-2006 by jlc163]