Supporting the Katrina Effort

Report by Deanna Lund

My girlfriend Connie spearheaded a gang of pals to put their money where their mouth is. We had been talking about the tragedy of Katrina and decided we truly wanted to help these people. Connie and I went down to the Red Cross centre and got certified. We then went about filling up her huge motor home with food, diapers, children's pyjamas, socks, nighties, underwear, medical supplies, mosquito repellent, water, and more food, toilet paper, etc.

Our motor home was so full we had to double bunk. In Texas we picked up three nurses from Vietnam that Connie knew from a few years ago, when she made the film about Vietnam nurses called "The Healing".

The first photo that follows in our Katrina effort album is of Connie with the driver Terry and two of our gals. The second shot is of me still in Texas bidding adieu to another friend and nurse who was too ill to go. The poster in the third shot is of a poster that was posted everywhere with information about food for victims.

Picture four shows one of the locations that had had tons of clothes dumped in a parking lot that had relatively no damage. People were flocking to get dry clothes but unfortunately the heat was so bad, they were passing out trying to find what they needed. So we had a double whammy there. We had great nurses to help, while we sorted out clothes.

The next four pictures were taken down by the water in Gulfport, Mississippi. The next shot was taken on the base where we parked the motor home. Connie had been in touch with Governor Haley Barbour who had given us a liaison with army National Guard. The picture was with one of the guardsmen who were assigned to help us. One of the shelters we had delivered 110 lb bags of dog food to, called Noah's Wish, in Slidell, Louisiana, had major need for ice, so this young man went back with us and drove a truckload of ice. We had to go through so many checkpoints to go back to Slidell which we never could have done without our military escort. By the time we got there, they had been evacuated so we delivered it elsewhere. The rest of the shots of destruction speak for themselves, the devastation was beyond capturing on film. So many lives affected, all the beautiful old antebellum homes, gone.

Our itinerary included Waveland Bay, St Louis, and Pass Christian where we found that the Church of Scientology had cleaned the thick layer of mud out of the Second Street Elementary School to set up a shelter. There regarding most of the devastation on the gulf coast, the railroad track, parallel but inland from the shore, were the line of demarcation between destruction and serious damage. The water levelled miles and miles of beautiful houses, they were just gone.

Huge casinos were blown from the ocean to the middle of the highway, everything was topsy turvy. On the other side of the tracks, trees had damaged the houses but some were salvageable. We drove up where there were homes damaged but people still hanging in. We'd ask "'Do you need anything?" if they didn't (which was rare) they'd say "no, but my neighbor does, thank you and you're an angel from heaven..."

They were so appreciative. We were part of a cavalcade of compassion, with relief workers from far flung parts of the country. We talked to firemen from St Louis and Topeka, and police from Menden, a sheriff's department from Florida, and others from North Carolina. This was so rewarding, so heart-warming. We saw refrigerators, stoves, appliances strewn in trees (what was left). We saw the railroad tracks bent from the force of the water. We saw the I-beams twisted, buildings levelled. So many of the homes had American flags still flying in there front yards, some had placed them after, many wrote on signs "God bless America." I did indeed feel blessed to be doing my very little part.

In parting we all had a little chuckle at some ex home owner's sign "MISSING--RED HOUSE..PLEASE CALL 467-0429..."

Pictures from our mission

American Red Cross