This is an email sent from a rescue worker who's doing what she can in New Orleans
right now in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
. It's taken from a blog called boingboing.net
. I followed the link from Salon.com
, and I'm putting it here because I don't want to lose it.
There are dead animals floating in the water, pets left behind. Surely people thought they would be back to collect the pets. Not so. The rescuers smell like gas when they come back in; there's gas in all of the water that consumes the area. Fires are burning all over the place. Our teams are tired and they are thirsty and they are hungry. And they have a place to sleep and water to drink and food to eat. I can only imagine how the people without these "luxuries" are feeling right now.
Each night will be a race against time. When night falls, people can't get picked up from roofs, the rescuers can't chop into people's roofs to check the attics for anyone alive or for anyone dead (sadly, there are dead). At night we can't see power lines we can't see obstacles, we can't see any of the things that will bring down a helicopter or pose a danger to boats rescuers.
One of the teams came in today after having been out for hours at a time. One particular rescuer went straight to a corner and collapsed into tears. I went directly to him and just held his hand. What else could I do? I said nothing. He said it all. They lowered him 26 times and he pulled 26 people to safety. He wants to be back out there but there are mandatory rest periods. His tears are tears of frustration.
Entire teams are working on nothing but evacuating the hospitals. All four of the major hospitals are beginning to flood. Critical patients have to get out or surely they will be lost. Generators cannot run forever; that's just the way it is. There are limited facilities to take those that are rescued and those that need to be evacuated. Anything that leaves by air leaves by helicopter. There are no runways for planes that aren't under water. Only one drivable way in and out.
Water everywhere and more keeps coming. Until they can do something about the three levees that are broken, more water will come and more water will kill. The water poses major health threats. Anyone with even a small open cut is prone to infection. Anyone who touches this water and touches his eyes, nose or mouth without find a way to "clean" himself first will be sick with stomach problems before long. It's bad and it's getting worse. It's not going to be anything better than devastating for days or weeks at best.
I wish I could tell you that I'll check in again soon. I can't. I don't know when my next message will get out. We'll be leaving where we are within just an hour or so.
This rips me in half.
I lived in Charleston, South Carolina for most of my childhood and all of my adult life. My mother and all of her family are from there. It's my home.
I was there in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit. I saw the devastation that happened, and I was devastated myself. My beautiful city seemed ruined beyond all repair.
I was so proud of my town when her people pulled together and rebuilt. I can honestly say it's an even more lovely place now than it was before that storm.
But it was never under water.
I look at pictures from New Orleans and I just weep. It makes me despair.
I don't know what else to say, other than that my heart goes out to all the people who call that gorgeous old city home. I have no idea whether or not she will even be salvageable. I've been crying for days now, and I cannot even imagine what you folks are going through.
My family is donating to the Red Cross. I wish we could do more.