Please tell your story!

  1. 0
    Did you volunteer your skills and kindness?
    Please tell us about it.

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  2. 8 Comments...

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    Hello ,This is my first time posting.
    I volunteered for 2 weeks in October. I worked with HHS. I went to camp Allen tent city in Baton Rouge to start out and to be federalized. On the second day I was sent to work at a special needs shelter in Alexandria. I stayed there until time to come home.
    This experience will be one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
    About 3 days after arriving home I was ready to spill my guts about my experience but I was home alone and everyone was at work. I went to Oprah's web site to look at the area where you can donate for furnishings for the houses she is building for the hurricane victims. While there I saw " Volunteers Tell us your katrina story". So this was my release.
    After a few days I got a call from Harpo studios. I was told they wanted me to be in an all katrina volunteer audience to be honored. I went and as you probably know it was her favorite things show. For the longest time I did'nt feel I deserved these gifts and matter of fact I gave most gifts to my family. But today I decided they chose me for a reason and I decided I would start wearing my watch. I am having a raffle with the purse and all money raised will go to The American Red Cross for hurricane relief.
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    Thank you for your story!

    You went to help people you didn't know. You deserve so much.

    Can you tell us about what you did in Alexandria?
    A friend went to Wiggins Mississippi. She was a stranger in a strange land. People called her Maam in an accent she was unused to. They told her how blessed they were to be alive, with family alive. Others talked about those who were missing or who didn't survive. Most of the patients and local staff lost their homes.

    She stayed with five other nurses in a two be patient room. They worked with patients for long hours.
    A nurse whose home was leveled took her out to eat BBQ.
    Patients called the nurses angels.

    Tell us more. I didn;t go, just heard from two who did.
    semiller36545 likes this.
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    For Katrina we had manned a shelter in a school approximately 10 mi north of the coast (Mississippi Hancock / Harrison Counties), we had upwards of 380 persons with food and supplies for 40. People came in at 1 am Monday looking for help getting their families out of harms way, the water was rising rapidly. People hanging from trees on roof tops, clinging on to boats found adrift and whatever would float, our vehicles taking on water from the 14 ft waves pounding us, all glass in our vehicles blown out. It was time to take cover, we lost part of the roof and water started to come in to the shelter, we saw school buses overturn and hundred year old oaks uprooted and toppled, homes and cars carried by the water. After the storm, we continued the task of search, rescue, the devastation was incredible, pictures, and words do not come close to describing the surreal scenes the smells, the heat, the pain and suffering. We had no water, no food and it was Wednesday still no signs of help, we wandered if they had forgotten us. By Friday afternoon we saw relief in the form of Florida task force who relieved us from our search and rescue work, still people roamed the streets like zombies, lost, confused, hungry and tired, supplies were starting to trickle in.
    By Saturday morning we made our way towards our home, dodging boats, sofas, refrigerators, overturned cars, houses all this on interstate 10, 10 miles from the beach, towns and communities left in rubble and covered in mud. There were no landmarks left and we had a difficult time finding our way home. We arrived only to find we had been spared, the house was there, flooded but there. God, there is nothing left NOTHING. We managed to get some supplies from our attic and set up a mobile clinic and continued the grim task of search and rescue. After 3 weeks we were tired, mentally and emotionally drained, many areas still had received no aid, we had cardiac patients with out medication, we had no oxygen, no insulin my God have we been forgotten, where is everyone that is supposed to help us?
    A week after the storm hit we had our first glimpse of the event on the national TV news, only then did we realize Katrina's fury was unleashed on our county; the eye had gone right over us. I guess we did not realize just how bad it was, but when we saw the Mexican Navy helping clear the roads to reach victims, and a Dutch Navy helicopter dropping us supplies, we knew we were in deep caca. We still wander the streets and try to make sense of the whole event, but the destruction and suffering is devastating. Every where you look there remain signs of the awesome power of a 45 ft wall of water with 14 to 16 ft waves on top, that reached upwards of 12 to 15 miles from the coast propelled by 160 mph winds.
    If this sounds like rambling, well I am still trying to fully digest the events that unfolded in the past months, this is the condensed version. Then there was Rita ... I cannot remember, Oh yes, that is when FEMA and the Red Cross left for three days. We still have hundreds living in tents, shelters and what ever remains of their homes, no jobs, no money, no gas, and no power no home ... Wow! The local hospital was destroyed and in its place, we have a MASH unit in the Kmart parking lot... and then comes the road to recovery, its going to be a long one.
    So where were we when Katrina struck? We are accustomed to arrive after the disaster to render aid, to be in control, not the victims/survivors of Mother Nature’s wrath.

    I've been going down to the beach and wandering around the Bay with my cameras, photography is my therapeutic activity, my challenge is to make an image where I show what I see and feel, and so far I'm failing miserably. I do not believe images can ever come close to revealing the fury of Katrina and her aftermath. Most of the time I do not even snap a single shot, I just try to take it all in and figure it out.
    It is a metamorphosis of the area and its people after experiencing one of the greatest furies that nature can unleash. We are active participants with front row seats, something few have experienced and lived to talk about. Try and put all that in an image.
    We have worked many post disasters and war torn areas, and have learned to deal with the effects on our physical and mental health, but this one is going to take allot more film. It is a bit different when you are on the receiving end of the equation. Thank you for listening.
    We will be eternally grateful to all of you who heard our cry and were there when we most needed you. You all were the true angels of mercy and you helped get us through the most difficult times.

    The question remains, who takes care of the caretakers?
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    Volunteered at the PMAC in Baton Rouge for four days. It was the most heartbreaking, heart warming experience in my life. The volunteers were mostly evacuees themselves and were there helping others. This is a testament to our profession. There were many more medical volunteers than paid federal and state workers. I think that when FEMA and the others came in the state health department workers were kinda pushed to the side. When the powers that be from DHH,FEMA,OPH and CDC finally left us alone and quit changing things, we got some good work done. The first night I was there somebody changed the triage forms FIVE times in the 16 hours I was triaging. I finally asked somebody why couldn't they just leave us alone and let us do what we do everyday. There were several nurses(not clinical nurses) from some OPH office who came in on Thursday night and were ready to work until I asked them to take 5 or 6 patients and that lasted about 10 minutes. Their supervisor came to me and said that they were getting overwhelmed and asked that they be given TWO patients. I just kinda laughed and said sure. There aren't but about 500 patients in this building right now, but that's ok. We made it without them. They stayed busy walking around looking busy.

    The biggest problem I saw while I was there was that there was no clear cut person in charge. Everybody wanted to be in charge except those of us who were actually working. The DMAT teams went to the front lines and rescued people out of New Orleans, got shot at, cursed and run out of town. They kept going back and finally got to go in and help. The evacuees were so appreciative of what we were doing. A lot of them came from hospitals, nursing homes and some from I10. There were diabetics who had waded through lord knows what, people who had not been dialyzed since Friday before Katrina hit and many who needed medication. We treated, fed, cleaned as best we could and gave them dry clean clothes. I think the clothes, food and water meant more to them than the medical treatment.

    As many of you may have noticed there wasn't much media coverage in Baton Rouge. The national news people were there the first day and from what I could find out were asked to leave after running out to the track and preventing the helicopters from landing.

    Sorry this is such a long post, but I had to vent about a couple of things. I am very proud of being a part of the operation in Baton Rouge and even though I hope I never have to do it again, I would in a heartbeat!!!
    Last edit by grammyr on Dec 1, '05
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    I spent two weeks in Alexandria special needs shelter.
    Egos vs. common sense. Director of Nursing/Charge nurses??? at a temporary shelter??? Give me a break.
    Many nurses treated badly, some left early.
    Evacuees didn't want to leave the shelter- had to be told by state shelter officials that it would be closing, and they would be leaving.
    After this debacle- I believe the military need to be in charge of immediate disaster relief/needs.
    I will only volunteer again if I have car keys in my pocket, and a full tank of gas!

    Mschrisco
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    I live in one of the hard-hit areas of MS, out town was wiped out, and hundreds (maybe thousands) are still without jobs, homes, etc. Our story is repeated from New Orleans to Mobile and the devestation is unimaginable. I am a nursing student, and as part of a community health research project, and also from prior experience (lost everything in Hurricane Andrew 13 yrs ago), decided to investigate the mental health issues of our region. As you can well imagine, depression, anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), rage, domestic abuse, divorce, and violence in the community has skyrocketed. What I didn't realize is that the mental health community in our area...from psychologists and psychiatrists, to the mental health facilities in our area are overwhelmed. One nurse told me that use of antianxiety and antidepressant medications is up 50-60% since Katrina hit. (Those are just the ones that go for treatment) PTSD is up 100% in her clinical experience. She told me that when she talks to patients who feel like they are at their limit of endurance and they feel they may harm themselves or someone else, that they go to the ER for processing as the waiting lists are long to get into a facility. One look in our newspapers will tell it all..."2 adults fighting, one arrested at Chuck-E-Cheese," "Katrina Blues evident just before Christmas," "30 home invasions in one neighborhood," "accidents (daily) due to road rage," on and on it goes. I'm not sure what can be done to help...but the problems will go on for years and years to come. We've been the recipients of many, many wonderful gifts, volunteers, and help from around the world and are very grateful. I will be graduating in a couple of months and want to know, "What can I do to help my community recover?" I was very blessed this time around and didnt' lose my home or any loved ones, but still remember the paralyzing numbness I felt for about 6 months after Andrew, then experienced many difficult emotions during the painful, tedious task of beginning a new life in a new home, amidst a community in distress. This time around, I am in a position to help (we've got our home back in order, and our neighborhood is recovering nicely) but do not know where to start. The needs are so great and the resources so few. If anyone has any advice for me I'd sure appreciate it! Thanks for listening...God bless all of you that came to our area and volunteered. We love you!!! :angel2:
    Last edit by MickiLPN2 on Dec 13, '05
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    I used to live in Waveland, MS. We have relocated to Louisiana where we have family. Our house was destroyed.

    While New Orleans got most of the press, the MS Gulf Coast has been so devastated as to be unbelievable. I've not seen it accurately captured by any news crew.

    Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian. These are very small towns that have been completely demolished. We were going to the permit office to find out how to get permits to rebuild, but the permit office was destroyed. They have relocated and we found them. It's just so far beyond the scope of belief. Even after being in it, it's hard to accurately recall the images with the true devastation being appreciated.

    All I can say is that everyone I know is so incredibly grateful to all the help from all over this nation and beyond. It has been absolutely awe-inspiring. For those who may have lost faith in their fellow man, this has done much to restore that faith again.

    Thank you to all who have helped in any way possible.
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    I am from New Orleans, and we did get most of the press, but my family had two homes and some land in Waveland. I used to love taking weekend trips down there. But anyway, believe me most of us down here (from New Orleans), have some rots in Mississippi, esp. in places like Magnolia, Waveland, and Pass Christian, so you haven't been forgotten by us.


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