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Local priest helps people and their pets find refuge after the storms
The Courier ^ | 10/24/05 | Laura McKnight

Posted on 10/25/2005 9:52:34 AM PDT by green pastures

THIBODAUX -- In the chaotic days following Hurricane Katrina, the Rev. Jim Morrison strolled the Nicholls State University campus looking for a way to help the thousands New Orleans evacuees who sought sanctuary there. Morrison’s walk led to an unplanned effort that helped more than 130 people hang on to the pets they had risked their own safety to keep.

(Excerpt) Read more at houmatoday.com ...


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Local News; Miscellaneous; Pets/Animals; Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: doggieping; katrina; petevacuation; pets

1 posted on 10/25/2005 9:52:36 AM PDT by green pastures
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To: green pastures
From the article:

"It was almost like being in Noah’s Ark," he said. "It seems so unreal now."

The animals brought people together, as those from upscale New Orleans subdivisions and public-housing projects discussed their pets. Local elderly visited the center to see the creatures, and area children bathed and walked them. The crisis removed barriers between races, religions and economic status, he said.

The broken barriers extended into the local community, he said.

"All of a sudden, they all became one in our place," Morrison said.

"There’s a unity we’ve never seen before in our land," Morrison told members of the South Central Industrial Association during a recent meeting. "There’s been a sense of real dignity and appreciation as the community has responded."

... it was worth it.

"It was our part," he said. "That’s what the church is built for, to care for people."

Blessings on this good priest and all who benefitted from his kindness and wisdom.

2 posted on 10/25/2005 12:26:44 PM PDT by caryatid (Moi j'vois pas quoi faire si tu reviens pas, be'be'... T'en revenir avec moi dans la Louisiane.)
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To: HairOfTheDog

ping!


3 posted on 10/25/2005 2:45:53 PM PDT by green pastures (God Bless and Protect Dr. Riopelle)
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To: green pastures; Flyer; technochick99; sinkspur; annyokie; Scott from the Left Coast; 88keys; ...
Ping!


Other articles with keyword "DOGGIEPING" since 12/29/04

4 posted on 10/25/2005 2:47:24 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog (Join the Hobbit Hole Troop Support - http://freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net/)
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To: green pastures

That's what animals do, they bring people together from all walks of life.


5 posted on 10/25/2005 4:48:26 PM PDT by Andy'smom
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...

The Rev. Jim Morrison and his dog, Blue, in the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas church on Nicholls State University’s campus. The church served as a shelter for several hundred hurricane victims and their pets after Morrison realized that other shelters had banned the animals.

Check this out! The dog is actually smiling!

THIBODAUX -- In the chaotic days following Hurricane Katrina, the Rev. Jim Morrison strolled the Nicholls State University campus looking for a way to help the thousands New Orleans evacuees who sought sanctuary there. Morrison’s walk led to an unplanned effort that helped more than 130 people hang on to the pets they had risked their own safety to keep.

Soon after the storm, the animated priest, himself a dog owner, stumbled across a group of evacuees sitting outside the Nicholls State shelter, despair and grief etched on their faces. Hot and tired, the evacuees couldn’t stay at the shelter with their pets but wouldn’t go without them.

"The only natural thing to say was just, ëCome to St. Thomas,’ " said Morrison, a Houma native who has been pastor at the St. Thomas Aquinas church on Nicholls State’s campus for three years.

"It just needed to be done," he said, "It’s the only thing you could do."

The pet owners clung to their animals, Morrison said, after arguing and fighting to keep them, some refusing offers to escape a flooded New Orleans without their pets.

A man in a wheelchair told Morrison he remained stranded on Interstate 10 for hours, waving off hordes of buses that wouldn’t let him board with his Rottweiler. Another stayed on his roof, refusing to accept a helicopter ride to safety without his pet.

After battling to get their pets on buses, boats, helicopters, they arrived at the Thibodaux shelter only to be told again that their pets weren’t allowed. Morrison opened the church as a shelter, and Nicholls volunteers began directing evacuees with pets to the Aquinas center.

By nightfall, 130 people and 150 animals had spread across the church building, which had no air conditioning and was illuminated by candlelight.

"We had no idea how big this was going to get," he said.

The priest said he worried he might have bit off more than he could chew when he noticed a pot-bellied pig relaxing on the altar.

Despite the numbers, the center was quiet the first night, Morrison said, overcome by a "hush of despair and exhaustion."

"Everyone was exhausted, beasts and people," he said.

With almost no kennels, Rottweilers shared space with Chihuahuas, cats, birds and even a rabbit, but there were no fights or attacks, only peacefulness, said Morrison.

"It was almost like being in Noah’s Ark," he said. "It seems so unreal now."

The university, church members and surrounding community welcomed the idea of sheltering people and pets at the center, Morrison said. Though no more than 130 people stayed in the building at any one time, more than 250 people passed through, he said.

"It brought a lot of joy to our church," he said.

The animals brought people together, as those from upscale New Orleans subdivisions and public-housing projects discussed their pets. Local elderly visited the center to see the creatures, and area children bathed and walked them.

The crisis removed barriers between races, religions and economic status, he said.

"All of a sudden, they all became one in our place," Morrison said.

The broken barriers extended into the local community, he said.

"There’s a unity we’ve never seen before in our land," Morrison told members of the South Central Industrial Association during a recent meeting. "There’s been a sense of real dignity and appreciation as the community has responded."

As word of the shelter and its work spread, local pet stores, veterinarians and animal lovers flocked to the Aquinas center with portable kennels, food, supplies and medical services.

"If you get caught in a hurricane, start barking or meowing," Morrison joked. "People love animals."

Once newspaper accounts of the shelter went national, people across the country began sending donations and letters of encouragement, some signed by their pets, Morrison said.

Though the priest said he enjoys pets, Morrison said the main reason he offered the church as a shelter was to help their owners.

Volunteers at the center worked to help evacuees find family, serve food and offer medical care.

Meanwhile, Blue, Morrison’s own yellow Labrador retriever, remained in "exile" at a friend’s home, so Morrison could tend to his guests.

Despite the lack of dogfights or animal attacks, Morrison said sheltering animals had challenges and memorable moments. The lawn near the church looked like a farmyard, Morrison said, and his sermons were regularly accented with barking. The church nearly became the only one with a "barking room" instead of a "cry room," Morrison joked. A lot of churches have rooms set aside where parents can listen to the sermon without having a fidgeting child disturb services.

Another challenge came when Hurricane Rita charged toward the Gulf Coast, forcing the 30 evacuees then at the church to evacuate to a larger shelter and leave their pets behind.

"We had a little zoo," he said, with a Nicholls student playing zookeeper. "That was a pretty interesting time."

The pets also left behind some damaged carpets and furniture and fleas, which Morrison said has been the hardest part of the effort. Morrison said until now, he had no idea how difficult fleas are to remove.

But it was worth it.

"It was our part," he said. "That’s what the church is built for, to care for people."

People and animals remained at the shelter through Oct. 6, Morrison said. Volunteers worked feverishly to connect remaining evacuees with family members or find local housing.

The priest said leaders need to learn from the experience and create better options for evacuees with pets, so they aren’t forced to choose between their animal friends and their own safety.

"You really put people in dilemmas," he said. "I think that’s why a lot of people didn’t evacuate."

Catholic Ping
Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list


6 posted on 10/25/2005 4:48:31 PM PDT by NYer (ôSocialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion")
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To: NYer
Here's the key for fleas:

Borrow some dogs and have them stroll through the sanctuary. The fleas will gratefully hop aboard and be gone for good.

7 posted on 10/25/2005 4:50:34 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: HairOfTheDog

Thanks for the ping! Maybe this is sheer cowardice (or fatigue), but I can't even look at the sad stories anymore; the sweet or uplifting ones are fine.


8 posted on 10/26/2005 2:53:31 AM PDT by alwaysconservative (Tagline kidnapped by indecision, dithering, and apathy.)
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To: green pastures; HairOfTheDog

Thank you for the article and the ping.

Bless this man and his congregation for their compassion.


9 posted on 10/26/2005 7:01:58 AM PDT by Titan Magroyne (Wet Burqa Contest Winner)
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