Saturday, September 03, 2005

One family's ordeal

FoxNews has published some entries from a blog by Michele M. of Slidell as she documents her family's ordeal after fleeing Huricane Katrina. Her reaction to the lawlessness in New Orleans as well as to the attitudes of some of the other refugees is telling:

Blog Entry #8
2:15pm ET

I can't believe what I am hearing on television. A reporter is mad because there is a building on fire and there is no one from the fire department to put it out. Come on now. They have to make choices. Right now it's a choice between putting out a fire where no lives are in danger, or go out and help rescue people who are still trapped. NOPD and state police are doing the best they can.

Some local websites are estimating that approximately 1,500 people are still stuck on roofs in St. Bernard parish.

The police, firemen, EMTs, doctors, and others who are trying to rescue strangers, are truly some of the finest people in America. They are the only people who are courageous enough to stay and face danger.

If you do research on New Orleans, you will see that it is a beautiful but very dangerous city, even prior to Katrina. There are some legit people who need help, but some are just taking advantage.

What is happening in New Orleans is an embarrassment to everyone who is from that area. I expected better. It is a tough time, and everyone must ban together to help your neighbor out, not kill or rob them.

Mayor Nagin of New Orleans is doing the best he can with what he has. It's not his fault. He is begging for help. We have to pull together. All we have left is each other.

Blog Entry #7:
12:11am ET

I just saw an interview where a woman was complaining about being in the Superdome. She was upset because they didn't heat up her MRE. At least she had food. My husband and dad didn't have any food until we sent some to them. They called us begging us for food.

My dad and my husband build houses for a living. They are currently in our company trucks labeled Bluelake L.L.C. with the slogan "Beautiful Homes...Attention to Detail." People are stopping them asking them to please put a tarp on their roof to prevent further damage or to help repair their homes. I contacted the Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis to offer our men since they are already in Slidell and could get started right away.

The girlfriend of one of our friends who evacuated to the Orlando area tried to leave tonight with more supplies for the guys. On the Turnpike, she had a blow out and didn't have a spare. She got word to me, but I was not able to contact her for three hours. I called Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) since I had no idea where she was. All I knew was that she was alone in unfamiliar territory with a cell phone that didn't work.

FHP went looking for her, and I just got word that they found her and are taking care of her. Thank you FHP.

I took the kids to the Disney shopping village tonight and got them some clothes. My daughter Britta was so excited.

Nextel direct connect is beginning to work again in Slidell, so we are getting more information from there. My mom's house has the most damage. It appears to be structurally unsound. I think we may have lost her home completely. My sister's house faired the best. I may have pictures of the damage coming soon from my brother-in-law.

When we were leaving Disney Village, Britta looked at me and said, “Mom, today was a great day." I didn't know what to say. With all this death, destruction and desperation, I realized WE were so lucky. She was right, today was a great day.

Blog Entry #6
5:00pm ET

I just heard from our friend Rob. He and his family evacuated New Orleans. They have eight feet of water in their home and an unknown amount of water at his business. He is en route to Monroe, Louisiana. He is trying to drop off his wife and kids with family. From there, he will head to Baton Rouge where they are trying to set up a temporary office.

I talked to my husband very briefly. I hear the stress in his voice. I don't know what to do. Rob has also lost everything and only has $9 in his pocket. He has a wife and three children, all under the age of seven.

My sister's friend is heading to Franklinton, LA to rescue her aunt and uncle. They called her stating that they’re trapped in their home by trees, with no water and food. Along with her husband, she left from Atlanta with chainsaws to try and get them help.

My grandfather called. He got 13 feet of water in his house. It is a total loss.

My cousin called. He and his family rode out the storm at my uncle's house. Their house is sitting on their neighbor's house. They have lost everything. They have three very young children.

I can't sleep or eat. My mind just goes a mile a minute. I am scared. I am scared for my loved ones who are in Slidell. My daughter Britta asked me today when she is going home. She talks about her birthday party that all of her friends from school were going to come to. I still have not told her that she probably won't have a birthday party this year.

Anyone reading this: Please stay away from Slidell. There is no food, water, or shelter. Conditions are very dangerous. Slidell police have run out of gas and are on foot. It’s worse than you can imagine.

Blog Entry #5
11:15am ET

I am so angry. How dare these people start shooting at helicopters that are trying to rescue them! I am worried to death about my dad, my husband, and both my brothers-in-law that we sent with supplies. Things should not get that bad in Slidell. Don't get me wrong, things are bad, but civil unrest is totally uncalled for. If they are looting supplies to feed themselves, then let them go. If they are shooting and looting just because they can, then police should shoot first. I have been warning my husband of all the carjackings. The only thing that is keeping my family and friends safe is that the bridge from Slidell to New Orleans was destroyed. I hope the people who need to be rescued are. As far as looters that are shooting at potential rescuers, God will sort them out.

Just got a phone call from my little sister’s friend who is in Baton Rouge. He states that conditions are getting worse. Right after he left Wal-Mart, it was robbed. He said he is hearing about rapes. He is trying to get out. Mom got a call from her friend that lives down the street from her old house. They spent one night in their attic and another on a wet mattress on the front lawn. Still no word on my friend’s father-in-law.

Blog Entry #4
2:32am ET

Today was hard. I have been working the phones trying to find a Blackberry, fuel, and heavy equipment. I promised to take my daughter to Disney World today, but we never made it. I finally left the house and went to Walgreens. My husband called while I was gone. Walgreens was great. They filled my son’s prescription, which didn't have any refills left (it was just for a cream for dry skin). They also refilled my dad's heart medication. The pharmacist was extremely helpful.

I did speak to my husband David earlier today. It sounded like everything was taking a toll on him. You could hear it in his voice. He just wanted someone to talk to. When he said "I love you," his voice cracked. It's hard to stay strong when you just want to cry. The phone call that followed was much better. I think he just got upset over the devastation. My brother-in-law (sister's husband) left for Slidell earlier today carrying fuel and food. My other brother-in-law (David's brother) just left. He is also carrying fuel, food and clothes.

I can't believe people are looting and carjacking people. I am just beside myself. I can understand looting a food store for necessities and supplies, but jewelry stores? We saw one guy with a piano. We did see one lady walking out with the diapers and wipes. I totally understand looting to care for your children.

Tonight I went to Wal-Mart and got clothes and other items for my husband. My father-in-law likes coffee in the morning. I went and got him some, but while getting the cream I just broke down and cried. I saw the hazelnut cream that David likes in his coffee and it just hit me that I don't know when I will see him again.

Every night I would set the coffeemaker up and put his coffee mug out along with his hazelnut coffee creamer. I don't know when I will able to do that again seeing that I no longer have a coffee pot being that my kitchen has been destroyed along with everything else.

My little girl is asking for her daddy. She keeps telling everyone that she lost him. She cried herself to sleep tongiht. I got her and my son some books and toys since they don't have anything.

I talked to my friend today. The last time I talked to her was on Saturday while I was driving to Orlando. She and her family went to Baton Rouge. I have been leaving e-mails for her. They finally have electricity again, and she was able to answer me late tonight. She was crying so hard she could hardly breathe. Her parents have water to their rooftops and her father-in-law is missing. He tried to ride the storm out in New Orleans. Her in-laws live near City Park which flooded. As of this blog entry, still no word.

Blog Entry #3
9:34am ET

Heard from my husband last night. He is asking for food, ice and water. He states that conditions are unbearable. I am not to come home until it is safe and there is electricity — possibly three to four months. I have no money. I will not be getting a paycheck tomorrow, so I don't know how I am going to pay my bills.

My brother-in-law hosts a boat website classicmako.com, though it might currently be down. Some people have been in contact with him. One man in Tampa is giving us a trailer, generator, miscellaneous supplies, gas cans, and food. My brother-in-law is going to pick it up today and will try to head to Slidell with these supplies. We had to go buy a truck yesterday to get supplies to them. These people on this website are coming together and donating supplies. Everyone has been so nice to us.

Last night was the first night I didn't sleep with the television on since Thursday. I just gave up. It is what it is. I can't change anything. I have promised my children that we are going to Disney World. They are excited because we haven't left the house since we got here on Saturday. I have been too scared to leave in case my husband calls. My 11-month-old son needs his medicine refilled, but there is no doctor in Slidell to okay the refill. I can't find our friends that lived in New Orleans and Metairie. I can't find our friends who lived in Slidell, but all our family members are now accounted for.

Blog Entry #2
4:01pm ET

We will be staying in Orlando indefinitely. We have been given secondhand information of major destruction in Slidell. I have been told that where I live we had a 25-foot storm surge. I doubt my house is still there, but do not know for sure. The really bad news is that my mom is my neighbor to the right, my sister is my neighbor to the left, and my in-laws live on the next street over. So I can't just go stay with family; they also have nothing left.

My husband called at about 2:30 am CT this morning from a satellite phone. He is okay. We still have not heard from my uncle who stayed in Slidell. No one can reach him. My sister-in-law and her 6-week-old daughter evacuated with me, but my brother and father-in-law went to Hattiesburg. We have not heard from them since Sunday before the storm made landfall.

I will begin calling my creditors and mortgage company and ask them what to do. I can't pay my bills. I have no job, no money, no home, but I do have two children to feed and clothe. I left my husband all of the money I had. I can use credit cards, but he will need cash.

I have not told my daughter what has happened. She is 3 (turning 4 in October). My son is 11 months (he turns 1 next month.) I had all of these birthday party things up on the second floor, but I doubt they made it. New Orleans is flooding now. At times, all of us just bust out crying. We saw on the television today a man whose wife just told him to take care of the kids as he was forced to let her go. Everyone here were just crying. I can't sleep. I just need information.

The kids are picking up on the stress in the house from everyone, but how do you tell your children that they can't go home because it's a possibility we don't have a home? There are no more toys, no more swing set, and I don't know when they will see daddy again.

Blog Entry #1
1:08am ET

We found out tonight that we have lost everything. My husband can't make it to our house due to the water. It is too high. We have been told that there is chest-deep water on Old Spanish Trail which is about two miles to our east. The lake is in my home tonight. We are waiting for aerial views of our area. We lived in Lakeshore Estates Subdivision off of Oak Harbor Blvd. in Slidell in St. Tammany Parish. We literally lived on the lake. My husband has refused to let me come home. We have two children, an 11-month-old and a 3-year-old. We are monitoring FOX News 24 hours a day. We have been told that all communication has been lost in St. Tammany. It looks like Orlando, Florida will be my new home. I was born and raised in Slidell, Louisiana, so this is really hard.

Even though I have lost everything, I am truly rich tonight. I have my children and my husband. Everyone in my family is homeless tonight but safe, and that is truly a blessing. — Michele

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