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Old September 4, 2005, 07:19 PM   #1
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Back from New Orleans

Mike, Claude and I got back home from New Orleans this afternoon. We left home on 8/31 with the intention on helping the evacuation effort. We had hoped to join in with the Red Cross, since our skills were needed. We were two nurses and a surgeon. We could not find the Red Cross. We did find two fellows, Dennis and Donald. who had a boat. These guys were familiar with NOLA, and we joined up with them. With 5 guys working as a team, we worked almost around the clock with two of us searching, two of us sleeping, and the other foraging for food and fuel for the boat.

I am not familiar with New Orleans, I had only been there once before, and spent my time in the quarter. With Dennis or Donald (who we dubbed the D&D Evacuation Krewe) I went into a place called the 9th Ward and helped get people off of roofs, out of attics, and ferried to an overpass, or the Superdome. The word was that buses were coming to the Superdome to move people out to Baton Rouge. Most people wanted to go to the dome. We could carry four adults safely with two of us in the boat. From our drop off points, we heard of armed violence, carjackings(??!!!), robberies and rapes. We were all five armed, and thankfully so. We rode two in the boat, one to drive, the other literally riding shotgun with my old Mossberg. On our second day there I crossed paths with the Red Cross. Here we were, two Registered Nurses and a surgeon wanting to help. The Red Cross did not want our help if we remained armed. We went back to the boat. We did not know about the hospitals, we thought they were empty.

I have watched a little of the news and read a bit on the web about the situation since I arrived home. I think that many people do not realize how badly communication was and is still affected. Much of the communication is being done by word of mouth. Unsubstantiated rumors are rampant. I do not doubt that people on this forum know more about what was going on than i do. I had a very small view of a huge picture.

I am amazed to see that people like Jesse Jackson and his ilk are trying to make this a race issue. Yes, many of the people we evacuated were black. some were mulato, and a few were white. I did not keep a scorecard, but that is pretty much the way it was. Some people have made a living exploiting racial hatred and injustice. Where were they on August 15, 2005? Were they in the 9th Ward trying to elevate their fellow man? No. They were elsewhere, seeking the latest race cow to milk. On August 28 New Orleans became that cow.

Help was slow to arrive because the problems built in an escalting fashion. The levees held during the hurricaine and many people thought NOLA survived another one. Usually the questions we were asked at first was "When are they going to turn the damned pumps back on?" Looking at some of the news now, I see a Governor who was severely out of her depth (as would be most anyone). Blanco is a non-leader, wringing her hands like a cajun grandmother. I see FEMA as being worthless. What the heck are they supposed to do anyway? Their leader, this Michael Brown, is incompetent. I don't know if he is a liar or just delusional. He reminds me of Baghdad Bob during the invasion of Iraq. New Orlean's Mayor now wants to spout his righteous indignation. Where was he when he was needed to rally his LEO troops on Canal Street? Surely he could have found a bullhorn and a boat and found his way there. Nope, he was in the rear with the gear and all the other REMFs worried about a few thugs who might have guns. Right. Some people make a living off race, others off of political winds.

I have helped in one other evacuation, in the Republic of the Philipines when Mt. Pinatubo blew in 1991. That was a humanitarian cluster flop as well, but that was due to political disagreement, not incompetence. In NOLA, the police needed support and back-up. Everyone needed communication. Even a bullhorn would have worked. Every person I helped into our boat wanted to know one thing......"Where the hell do I go to get out of here?" I wish I given a better answer than what I thought at the time.

I now have a small inkling of what our Vietnam Vets must have felt when they got home. When I was out there in that boat with the D&D Krewe I knew exactly who I was and what I was doing. It was hot, sweaty, greasy, stinky, nasty, filthy, and emotionally draining, but it was sure. I was chapped, sunburned, and waterlogged. It had nothing to do with race, money, class, status, or politics. I got back home this afternoon and started catching up on the news since August 31. My wife had recorded a couple of news programs for me, and I searched the net. It seems to me there are a heck of a lot of butt scratchers lamenting about this disaster, and very few people in boats. My email in box is full of emails from various organizations here in town wanting my assistance at the Civic Center or college colliseum, both of which are being used as shelters by the Red Cross. I saw an article on the news from last night where in a town about 45 miles away, the Red cross is refusing to assist evacuees in a state park, saying they need to come to our town's Civic Center. Horse Hockey. Tonight I am loading up the truck with all the old clothes I can give up, and in the morning I'm making the trip to that state park myself. Hell, I'll toss in a couple of fishing poles and some hooks. Chances are a cajun on a lake will know how to take it from there. The only reason I can see for the Red Cross not assisting is publicity and money.

At any rate, as promised, these are my disorganized thoughts after a brief combat nap. I'm going to let this one digest a bit. It's all hard to describe to my wife and friends who have been helping up here in North Louisiana. It is like they don't even have a point of reference to begin understanding. Likewise, at this point I do not feel I can pass judgement on any of the people who did what they had to to survive. I cannot appreciate this disaster being twisted to support political agendas. I see that all through what I have watched and read thus far. It angers me greatly.

I'm going to bed and getting some more sleep. I'll check back later.
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Old September 4, 2005, 07:30 PM   #2
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Bless you.
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Old September 4, 2005, 07:35 PM   #3
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I'm glad you got back safe and sound. I especially admire you for helping people who seem to really not want the help, as dictated by their actions. As for the American Red Cross, I guess being armed is bad for their image. I wonder if those who were carjacked and shot at thought the same way?Anyways, welcome back on line and take care!
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Old September 4, 2005, 07:45 PM   #4
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I congratulate your dedication and heroism (yes, heroism is the right word, to enter an armed, violent area without support or backup). I wonder how many more like you are out there giving of their own time and money, literally risking their lives to help their fellow Americans who we will never hear about. Looters and loudmouth race baiters look so much better to lead off the nightly news I wish that there were more people like you, and that the people who are like you would get their fair share of news coverage and respect.
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Old September 5, 2005, 12:39 AM   #5
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Class Act....truly.

You may be able to settle a bit of controversy going on around the computer terminals here.

From your experience, were most of the people you helped simple welfare criminals, or fellow citizens caught in a bad place?

Was a significant portion of the population acting like third world savages.... raping, looting and pillaging wholesale?

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Old September 5, 2005, 02:47 AM   #6
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XavierBreath, thank god we have people like you on this earth.
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Old September 5, 2005, 06:43 AM   #7
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Thank You.
My family thanks you as well.

The Red Cross thinks that if they are unarmed and make a show of being unarmed, the BGs will not consider them a threat (and thus will not fire on them). Naive point of view in this case.
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Old September 5, 2005, 07:39 AM   #8
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I will be happy to answer your questions. Remember my perspective is that of a home health nurse, who works with the disadvantaged poor in my own city. I often make the determination with patients whether they will recieve home care services. I can spot a leech a mile away, and react on a visceral level to them. Seeing (and having been at one time) the honorable poor and humble has given me a hatred for the leeches.

From your experience, were most of the people you helped simple welfare criminals, or fellow citizens caught in a bad place?
The people I saw and assisted either could not evacuate due to finances, family, or other commitments. They were gambling that Katrina was going to pass them by like other hurricaines have for centuries. They were right. Then the levee broke. Quite a few of these people have one or two family matriarchs or patriarchs that work several jobs to help the family survive. They have infirm elders who are not easily moved living at home. They have many children. These are not the quinesential 2 kids and a dog family. These are large extended families on the model of the Waltons. They do not dump their elders into nursing homes. They care for them at home. You will note that there are plenty of submerged cars in the NOLA pics. These matriachs and patriarchs could have evacuated. However, to do so, they would have to leave grandma, grandpa and several of the kids behind. A car will only hold so many people. They refused to do this, and decided instead to ride out the storm as a complete family. You may have seen Leroy on the roof waving a sheet. He had four or five kids with him. Meanwhile, Grandma was dead in the attic. Grandpa could not make it out the hole in the roof.
Many of these people had friends sheltered with them. They had a community spirit that made sure the old and infirm would not ride out the hurricaine alone.
I find the term welfare criminal intriging. The welfare criminals evacuated prior to the storm IMHO. These are the leeches that fake disability and mental illness for a government check. The people who stayed behind were honorable Americans who chose their large extended family over themselves.

Was a significant portion of the population acting like third world savages.... raping, looting and pillaging wholesale?
I do not doubt that this was bad. I believe the majority of the rapes occured at the Superdome or other gathering points. Same for murder. As far as looting, hell, I don't think anyone stayed crime free enough to kiss J Edgar Hoover's ring. Our own party was siphoning gas out of cars, and finding food where we could. If we had a mother and her kids in our boat, and we saw something they could use on the way to a drop off point, we got it. I'm sorry if some would say that's breaking the law, in the eyes of the uninitiated, it would be.

The looting that made the news apeared to be on Canal Street. Frankly, I'm surprised there was not more. I have a great deal of pride for many of the young black men who rose to the challenge and protected their families, as well as helped others. Once again 100 looters and drug dealers make headlines while good people practice quite heroism.

Now here's the first I felt this did not matter, and I did not say because I did not want to dinigrate the men. I will now say. Dennis and Donald are from the 9th Ward. They are black. They were in their twenties/thirties. They work for a living, I think one is a mechanic, the other a butcher. They took their families to the Superdome and went back to their neighborhood to go to work. They were working when we got there. They were working when we left. We exchanged addresses, and will stay in touch. These were not highly educated men, but they were intelligent, and a hell of a lot more honorable than thousands of talking heads sitting on their asses wringing their hads over racism in New Orleans. How in God's name can a journalist justify riding into this situation to get a story, and not bring along a single bottle of water to ease the suffering, or take out a single person when he leaves? And then they want to sanctimoniously stand up in front of a camera and say RACE is an issue? Race is not the issue! To many people not giving a damn about other people in trouble is the issue here!

The D&D Krewe was not the only group of young black men out there performing heroic actions evacuating people or protecting their families. Painting these noble and honorable men with the same brush that should be applied to the animals setting fires and stealing sneakers is a grave disservice. If you want to turn a man to crime, take the good and wonderful things he has done and demonize them. He will eventually turn to crime because it does not make a difference anymore. Then you can sit back and smuggly say you knew all along he was a beast, never acknowledging he is a beast of your own making.

Some are saying this disaster lays bare the racism in our society. I suppose it does. A lot of people are seeing skin color and not actions. Then they think they have a right to render judgement because they saw it on TV. This disaster is not laying bare the racism in NOLA, it's laying bare the racism all across our country. How dare the news media and race mongers strip away the courage and commitment shown by family after family of poor disadvantaged black people and then paint them with a criminal brush?

I've got to close, I could continue for an hour. Rich, I'm sorry for any expletives or inappropriate speech. I will edit cheerfully if you ask, but I think my point will be diminished if I do. Sometimes an expletive is the only suitable word available to the language deficient, and there is just not words to describe some of my feelings on this issue.
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Old September 5, 2005, 08:30 AM   #9
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Thank you.
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Old September 5, 2005, 10:13 AM   #10
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Great JOB! But you said just what I have been saying all along.Where were the leaders did no one stand up and take charge they had three days to prepare something. They have known for years this could happen what happened to emergency preparedness.They let everything fall apart and then start crying for the Fed's.And now all the finger pointing starts that this country has become very good at, we will have investigation committees for years and years :barf:
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Old September 5, 2005, 11:25 AM   #11
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Rich - you should have Xavier write this up as an article for SWAT. I think it would be an eyeopener. What a good man and a literate writer!!

It should be shared with a greater public.
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Old September 5, 2005, 11:53 AM   #12
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I agree.

I cannot give you greater tribute than to change my sig line in your honor for the duration of this emergency.
Thank you, Sir.
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Old September 5, 2005, 12:42 PM   #13
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Xavier, this country has hope with people like you. Thankyou.
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Old September 5, 2005, 12:58 PM   #14
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Glad to hear you returned safely.

It’s not just the politicians who are wringing their hands and complaining. I have seen and been disheartened by the same behavior on many Internet boards with conversations condemning our fellow Americans who are in need, with swaggering discussions about the “welfare class.”

You went. You helped. You made a difference. Thank you.

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Old September 5, 2005, 01:03 PM   #15
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The first thing that I thought when reading XB's thoughts is that they should be published. I am tired of hearing mindless chatter on the news. Good job XB. Thank you for your service and please continue to share your thoughts.
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Old September 5, 2005, 01:04 PM   #16
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Katrina releif issue?

Hey Rich,

How about having XB wirte a feature length article, then donating a protion of the newsstand sales of that issue to 'cane relief? I hate to think about it, but it will probably be going on for a while.

I know I'd buy 20 copies
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Old September 5, 2005, 01:09 PM   #17
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Dunno if XB has publish quality pics. Additionally, one of our Staff is trying to get in there this week for that purpose.

Donating a "portion" of an issue always opens you up to charges of profiteering in tragedy. If you're going to donate, you need to do it no strings attached. Like This
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Old September 5, 2005, 01:25 PM   #18
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A toast to ya fella! People like you help me re-establish my faith in humanity when I need it most. God bless.
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Old September 5, 2005, 01:36 PM   #19
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WELL DONE!! THANK YOU!! Despite years of college and multiple degrees, words sometimes fail me at times like this. I am awed by the courage and actions displayed by men and women like yourself while helping victims during disasters. Glad your group all made it back safely and thanks to each of you!

God's Blessings and be safe.
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Old September 5, 2005, 01:40 PM   #20
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For as long as I live, am able to read/see, you are one man that I truly love to read as well as highly respect.

You are what America should be. Your service, your way with words (and I second the article), your thought process, are those of a man that should be a model to us all.

My hats off to you. And thank you for helping out my brothers and sisters of the great city of New Orleans. May God Bless you Sir.

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Old September 5, 2005, 01:51 PM   #21
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Your posts have given me a problem.

Your descriptions of those you rescued have ruined my easy ability to (mis?) characterize them.

Not comfortable for me, but necessary.

You are IMO much better than a cut above the average.

So thank you very much -- on two levels,

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Old September 5, 2005, 01:54 PM   #22
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XB, Your what young, honorable, people strive to be....If thats not a role model right there, I dont know what is. Great Job
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Old September 5, 2005, 02:26 PM   #23
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I guess that makes me feel alot better about the 200,000+ people Houston will be taking in shortly. The media made it seem like the majority of the people that stayed were criminals and ne'er do wells waiting for the law to break down so they could party.
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Old September 5, 2005, 02:32 PM   #24
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Thank you for your service, XB.
God bless you.
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Old September 5, 2005, 03:11 PM   #25
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Rich, Gentlemen,
I am humbled. I really don't know what to say.

Today another friend and myself made a supply run to Darbonne State Park, which is about 45 miles away. Every campsite/cabin is filled there with a lot of folks doing the "primitive camp" thing. The State Park has waived any fees for the duration, but the Red Cross for whatever reason will not assist these people. The towns of Farmerville and Bernice have pretty much told the Red Cross to go suck eggs. The towns people are providing everything from meals to laundry services. These are two very small towns! Maybe a redlight between them! Anyway, we loaded up supplies and clothes and made a run. I did a bit of the nurse gig, but not much was needed. Yet. I find it appalling the Red Cross won't support this effort at Lake Darbonne. I don't know if it is justifiable red tape or just lack of publicity up there, but you have to hand it to Farmerville and Bernice. Those folks are the best.

I did not carry a camera to NOLA. Mike carried a small point and shoot that got submerged in the first 12 hours. We soon forgot any thoughts of photography. I don't know if I would feel right snapping pictures at the relief shelters or camp sites. To me it kind of seems like taking pictures of strangers in the bathroom. Something isn't quite right with it. I don't object to others doing it, I just don't feel comfortable behind that lens. I feel these folks need some privacy in their loss.

One of the nurses I work with has adopted a family of five, and has actually allowed them to move into her home with her. Quite a few people are doing this. I'm a bit paranoid in that respect though, and much to protective of my daughter.

I'm training a couple of nurse friends in firearms useage this week. The same rumors have spread here. Supposedly violence in the streets at our Civic Center. The police have debunked the rumors, but they persist. I have one woman wanting to buy a revolver from me, but only if I'll sell one for $100. Right.

I'll go back to work tomorrow, and get around to see my patients. I wonder what they will have to say about it all. I wonder if I should even tell them where I have been. I will need to keep moving to get everyone seen, but it would be nice to get a couple of my old codger's opinions.
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