Monday, September 05, 2005

Heroes in Baton Rouge

Update from a friend ---- Dear Friends and Family, Sorry I haven’t been in touch for a couple days. As you can imagine, things are very hectic here. I’ve spent the last two days at area shelters trying to help people connect with their families, and then went to the new field hospital and helped register people coming in for treatment. The last case I handled was 3 women from one of the coastal parishes. A woman, her mother who has Alzheimer’s, and her sister who has severe psychiatric problems. They had been trapped in the attic of their house for 6 days, and when they were finally rescued, the woman’s husband was separated from them and taken to Houston. None of them have had their medications in 3 days, and they are extremely traumatized. This is only one of the thousands of traumas we are dealing with, and in some ways is one of the easy ones. It’s much harder looking into the eyes of an elderly woman and having to tell her we still haven’t gotten any word on where her children and grandchildren can be found. We have had some happy moments. I was able to find the great-nephew of a couple in their 80’s who were evacuated from one of the worst hit parts of the city. I’ll pick him up at the airport this afternoon and take him to the shelter. I’ve also located another woman’s 3 children who are in a shelter in Houston. It’s getting easier to find gasoline and the stores are well stocked. We have electricity to all parts of Baton Rouge now, and traffic moves pretty well although there is a lot more of it. The hospital a block from me has a triage unit set up, so I have large military helicopters landing all through the night. Last night they didn’t wake me up. I don’t know if I’m getting used to it, or I’m too tired to notice! I can’t tell you the number of heroes I’ve met over the past couple days. Last night I worked with a young man from Virginia. He and his brother got in their car and drove down to help with the rescue efforts. The closest they could find a hotel was Vicksburg, MS – about a 3 hr drive. They take turns sleeping on the commute, wash and change their clothes, then come back for another 12 hr. shift. We’re still trying to put together an updated needs list. I’m getting together with people form VOA, FEMA, and RC this afternoon. We have decided to run all deliveries through the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. They are finding Warehouse space and acting as a central distribution point. The primary contact there is: Gerri Hobdy Baton Rouge Area Foundation 402 N. Fourth Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802 (225) 387-6126 (225) 387-6153 fax ghobdy@braf.org Anyone bringing supplies to this area needs to arrange for fuel ahead of them, and must have plans for housing. There are NO hotel or motel rooms available in Louisiana. Thanks for all your support in our time of need. I’m headed back to the shelters today, and probably won’t be home till evening. Please share this message with anyone you wish. Your efforts are bringing support from far and wide. I’m getting emails from across the country of people wanting to help. God bless you all, and I’ll write again with needs list as soon as possible. Allan Lenhardt in Baton Rouge arl@imt.net (225) 344-1424