Skip to comments.FReeper Greets New Orleans evacuees as they deplane....(vanity)
Posted on 09/11/2005 6:43:46 AM PDT by bert
Friday 09/09/05 10:00 pm
In my capacity as a Red Cross Disaster volunteer I was present as 72 people arrived at the Ti Cities Airport directly from New Orleans. Most left their homes yesterday and flew directly from New Orleans to Tennessee. They were the people who were located in their houses and told to leave now.
They arrived on a charter 737. The plane carried air marshals, 72 people, 6 dogs and one iguana. Overall, the people were in good shape, good spirits and extremely thankful and appreciative for the help they were receiving. The dogs were also in good spirit. I did not see the iguana.
They were amazed to learn they were in Tennessee. They knew they were leaving but did not know where they were going. The group was from all across the social spectrum from the very poorest black people to one very wealthy white person.
The air marshal told a RC volunteer who boarded the plane to assist the wheel chair bound passengers that he had been at this for quite a while. Early on they were air evacing 17,000 people per day. That rate was currently reduced to about 1200 per day.
Some of the persons I met
There was one man who was in his attic for 11 days before rescue. He had lost his glasses and couldnt see very well. There was one 70ish black woman in pajamas, bunny slippers and a chenille bathrobe. She was in shock. There was one black couple in absolutely filthy cloths. They had been in the water and apparently were unable to change clothes. The other people had also braved the water but had somehow been given clean clothes. The wealthy man noted above was 85 years old and had a mind that came and went. He was being carefully watched by at least two of his traveling companions to insure he got medical attention .His condition was well known. He had his medications that he took every four hours. He was in fact given close medical attention as were several others needing special attention.
I talked for about 20 minutes with a man who had spent 10 days in his fourth floor French Quarter apartment. He was very wired and talked 90 miles a minute. He was literally gushing his experience. I think I was one of the first non NO people he had talked to and was extremely interested in letting it all come out. His profile .. white 50 ish, lengthy gray hair, purple LSU sweat shirt, red beret. He told me he wanted three things, a library, an internet connection and a New York Times. He grilled me about the levees. He was unhappy that the levee broke and wanted to know exactly how long the break was . He was down right flabbergasted when I told him of the very active TV coverage of the repairs including lengthy live shots of bull dozers and dump trucks going through several cycles as they worked on the other side.
He told me that he witnessed lots of looting and the city was out of control for a while. The military came in and began shooting and killing looters. They were shot and drug off. The number shot and killed will, he said, never be known. He said there were many Chinese and Thai merchants who guarded their shops and were armed with bad automatic weapons. He was upbeat about himself but very concerned about his less fortunate travel companions.
He told me that he left before they came to get him, he decided that although he was secure, the cause was lost and there was no other real course. He wanted an e mail connection because he was expecting 15 or 20 invitations to come visit/live with friends. I did not talk much, mostly listening and didnt have the heart to tell him about the swirling political battles and the garbage being spewed by the Slimes. He was the first person I have ever met who in a completely adrenaline wired condition asked for coffee and since that was not available accepted a Mountain Dew and chased it with water.
I learned yesterday that the man is a well known New Orleans personage and lectures all across America on a regular basis.
The group departed in 6 busses, 2 of which were short and wheel chair accessible.
The incoming group was met by a host of agencies and organizations from the state and the three counties involved. All were there to perform a specific function as part of the overall disaster team. There were the county school busses and drivers along with the sheriff department. There were the local county Emergency Management agency that were ostensibly in charge of the whole operation. There was The highway patrol and county law enforcement to go over the luggage for weapons and drugs. There were ambulances and a large group of EMTs . None were actually required, but there was no advance notice of what medical conditions would be presented . There was a large contingent of physicians and residents who volunteered from private practice and the medical school. They interviewed each person to learn if there was immediate treatment required. There were Tennessee Emergency Management People who liaise with the local counterparts. There was a representative from the Veterans Affairs department from the Veterans Hospital. There was a large group of Red Cross Volunteers who assisted the deplaning operation and made their new clients comfortable. They rode the busses to the shelter in a nearby county where another Red Cross chapter will take care of them. Lastly there was the local press. They were kept at a distance but individual were asked if they wanted to recount their tales to the press. Most did not but enough did so that all pressies got a story. None got to interview the extremely articulate guy in the red beret.
I asked the Red Cross Disaster manager how she thought it went. The last week has been seen intensive work to prepare for 500 evacuees to three shelters in our area. Visibly relieved, she said They were well received, treated with respect and a truly great group of people.
His mind is obviously gone.
Interesting account bump.
Are you at liberty to reveal the identity of the "well known" person?
Thanks for the first hand report. Had I read it in the MSM I would not have automatically believed any of it.
A 65 plus couple from NOLA were in the local post office Friday here at Lake of the Ozarks (couldn't miss their accents). The husband said they tried to drive north but the neighboring town had blockaded the highway.
I think it better not to reveal his identity. He is here under adverse circumstances.
As a fellow FReeper working at one of the mega centers in Atlanta area I really enjoyed reading your first hand experience. I talk to them after them have been in our area for a few days and are waiting to be processed through the whole system of getting their story told and then receiving the aid they need. We have had all ages from a three week old baby to seniors in their 80's...most are so appreciative of all the help they are getting but of course there are some who have made life miserable for the workers.So far what I have observed is a pretty upbeat group of people....many are religious and just thank God they are alive. I met a man yesterday on oxygen and I gave him the name of my husbands pulmonologist and as I walked away he yelled to me "it just wasn't my time to go...God has more for me to do"
Most of what they seem to want to do is talk and tell their own little story...one woman told me she was separated from her husband and had finally tracked him down and he was in Houston. She is to leave today on a plane to rejoin him....she jokingly said she had waded through mucky water...had waited days to be rescued...was hungry and had nothing except her life left and yet she was afraid to get on that plane as she is afraid to fly. We joked about that and decided that if she had made it through all that she could indeed get on that plane to rejoin her husband. As we parted she hugged me and thanked me for making her laugh and realize just how much she had to look forward to once she got off that plane. It's such a good feeling to think you can help someone with just a few words.
I heard this morning on our local news that the Red Cross will not be passing out the debit cards they had been. One station just reported the system was being changed and people would now have a phone number to call for the card. I then switched to another channel and they were reporting that this change was being made because there were so many people showing up at the centers claiming to be from NO and getting the debit cards....then the RC was finding these were fraudalent claims etc..I'm wondering just how this change will affect those standing in line for hours waiting to get the cards...thankfully we have had plenty of security around to calm some of the problems that have popped up.
Very few of the people I talked to want to return to New Orleans.....and most in the center I am working at are staying with relatives or friends. We fed about 2,000 on Friday. Not sure how long the centers will be open or just how many more from the hurricane areas are expected in Georgia.But I was told if I wanted I could be kept busy volunteering indefinitely.
Someday the elderly man who asked about the levee will learn that Terry Ebbert, Chief of Homeland Security for New Orleans originally reported that the levee break would be repaired within a few hours and that the waters were rising slowly.
Hard to tell how many lives were lost because Ebbert spread that misinformation.
Thanks for reporting your experiences, too, grannyheart2000.
Thanks so much for posting this! Very good read.
ping..... can't believe I left you off the first ping.
I wonder what he meant by "bad automatic weapons"?
...."bad automatic weapons"....
I don't know why he said that but that is what my note says.....
There were the county school busses and drivers along with the sheriff department.
But Mary Landrieu says mayors can't get employees to work on weekends. Oh wait. You're in Tennessee.
Thanks for the first hand account bert.
Bless the "Croix Rouge" and their volunteers.
Hey.. thanks for the heads up... great report... amazing what on the ground Volunteers can do...
.....Most of what they seem to want to do is talk and tell their own little story.....
In my limited contacts, this was the over riding factor. It has been pent up and building.The need to tell someone is extreme.
I'll use your post to make another point that is sinking in. This disaster is unique in that it is coming to us rather than the normal us going to the area. By that I mean where churches, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Shepard's Purse and all kinds of groups gathering up stuff and skills and sending them off some where they are needed at home where the evacuees are coming.
In addition to the 72 noted above there are many,many more who are finding their way out into America. Freepers should be on the lookout for opportunities to be of service.
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