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Thursday, September 01, 2005

"It's worse than anyone can imagine."

That's what the email that I received today says. It is from our friends, the ones with whom we went on vacation just weeks ago. I haven't said anything about them this week. Not here. As I said yesterday, this is my diversion, my distraction, not where I talk much about how frightened I am. But I have watched TV, and cried, and prayed and called their cell phones over and over. And heard nothing. Until just hours ago. They are safe, evacuated to Arkansas. They don't know what shape their home is in, but they know they cannot get back there for months. They've been instructed to "go somewhere" and enroll their child in school. They -- Shelley, Parran and the little girl, we'll call her Star -- are in a strange state, in a hotel with strangers, eating food delivered by local churches. We are so thankful they're OK. Their home, if they do still have one, is north of New Orleans. Shelley's parents, in their 80s, and two sisters, one brother, and their families, lived in the city. Their homes, their belongings, everything is gone.

On vacation, we were the Fairchilds, and when that wasn't enough to get us a good table in a restaurant, they were the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilts are in big trouble, as are so many, many people. But we happen to know and love these particular N'Orleaneans. Here's how Shelley closed her email today:

"Thanks for the prayers, and PLEASE, keep them coming."

So, please do. And help however you can.

UPDATE: Good news. In an email this morning (Friday), they say that they have received word their house is still standing and in relatively good shape. (WOOHOO!) Jobs and school are still unknowns, and when they will be able to get back home is unknown, due to power, water issues. We had invited them to stay with us, which they will keep as an option. I am sure they'd rather be stationed closer to home. I don't know where Shelley's family (parents, siblings, nieces and nephews) is, just that their homes are gone, but they're alive. I also want to pass on this quote, for which I am so thankful:

"The people in Little Rock have been absolutely fantastic. There is a local Baptist church, and they are supplying the LA/MS evacuees with lunch and dinner each day! The hotel supplies us with breakfast and snacks each day. The local businesses are offering discounts, even free stuff like at the movies. The hotel has reduced their rate for us by about 30%. We feel very fortunate."

I have never had aspirations to visit Little Rock, but I surely do now. Some day, those good people will get some of my tourist dollars, for sure.

34 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

My thoughts are with the Vanderbilts, too, as well as the few other folks I know online who have been affected by this.
I hope we will all react as swiftly and positively to Katrina as we did to the tsunami.

Blogger mrtl said...

I don't understand why we don't have more of a military presence heading to the danger zone. It's ridiculous that something like this happens here with all we have.

My thoughts will be with your friends, too, Susie.

Blogger Andrea said...

mrtl, those have been my thoughts too. If we can get supplies and help to Southeast Asia, why the hell can't we get help to our own??

And this..."'go somewhere' and enroll your child in school"...Unbelievable!

Our house is so small. And we live so far from the disaster. But if I knew we could help someone this way, I would offer space in a heartbeat. My prayers are going up for your friends, as for everyone else down there.

Blogger dashababy said...

Youre so right. It is so much worse than we could imagine. Heartbreaking disturbing images and stories. I have to stop watching for awhile, it's sickening, frustrating. Where is the help for these people???

Glad to hear your friends are o.k.
We lost a home to a fire and lost everything when I was a kid but I cant imagine being displaced from your city, job, your life. Its just awful. Will definitley include them in my prayers.

Blogger Susie said...

thanks, bucky, I hope so, too. So far, it seems like people around the country are responding well. The people in charge seem overwhelmed, disorganized. I don't want to criticize, I have no doubt they're doing the best they can as fast as they can, but it's hard to accept that we can't do more, better, faster.

mrtl, I agree. And at the same time, I am DISGUSTED by people who are politicizing this: "If not for the war, we'd have more military down there." I find that kind of opportunism unseemly. The situation is what it is, and we need to work together to help those people, not point fingers, looking forward to the next election. This is not the time.

andrea, it reminds me of 9-11, with that "another bubble burst" feeling. No more, "that could never happen here." And the behavior of some of the people is just reprehensible. Desperate people need food, water, baby supplies. But not stacks of jeans, guns, etc.

dashababymama, I'm sorry you had to go through that. Very traumatic, I have a brother who lost all his possessions in a fire, it was a long time recovering his life. You are right about the "everything" as far as lifestyle. Parran's work is in the oil industry, NO based, and I doubt very much if it can continue. They are definitely looking at relocation, a new start.

Blogger jac said...

You need a helping hand from Africa ??? It is for the asking.

Blogger Squirl said...

I just heard this morning that Michigan is sending National Guard down there to help. I can't remember the number of them right now. Trying to imagine what life would be life with no home, no job. But there's no way to express the grief of those who've lost loved ones.

I'm glad the Vanderbilts and family are at least safe. I hope the recovery is much swifter than we think it wil be.

Blogger Susie said...

bless you, jac, I know you mean that.

squirl, and I just heard that the hotels in Detroit have gotten together and are offering free lodging, all of their empty rooms, to the refugees, plus they're arranging transportation for them to get there. That is awesome. God bless the Mitten People.
The more info I get, from my friends and from media, the longer I fear the recovery will be. Even the recovery of water and electricity to the areas not hit as hard is going to be tough, because the sources of power and water are in the more devastated areas.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

I'm so happy to hear that Fats Domino and Irma Thomas have been found, both alive and well. Not to lessen the importance of any other missing person in the area, but my heart just stopped when I heard those two in particular had not been accounted for yesterday.

Blogger Susie said...

bucky, I know what you mean. I've been watching for news of the Nevilles like they're my family. Although, they do always tell us that at the concerts, that we're all Nevilles :) I understand that Aaron will be on the NBC fundraiser concert tonight, and I was very happy to hear that.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

I'm so glad your friends are safe, and that their house is still standing, Susie.

Prayers continue...

Blogger LadyBug said...

I'm glad your friends are safe, Susie.

Watching the news last night was almost unbearable. I just can't imagine...

Blogger eclectic said...

Confession: I can't watch. I won't even turn the channel to see what's going on. The still images in the paper are hard enough. It's so helpless! I sit here at my job(s), do my laundry, raise me kids, ride my bike, whatever...just like normal, while people are starving, thirsting, drowning....and all I can do is send money? IT KILLS ME, so I can't watch.

Blogger Susie said...

CK, your prayers are much appreciated, and I believe, are powerful. Thank you.

ladybug, it really is unbearable. I have watched too much, and it has not been good for me. I'm struggling today.

And the next time I have insomnia and am awake at 2:30, I'll think of you and the Deputy (I saw you at mrtl's ;)

eclectic, that's what they need. They need money; you're helping. Skewering your psyche, as I have done with the over-dosing on the coverage, is really not helpful, and I'm dialing it back now. You are wise, to keep on keeping on, and do what you can. No good reason you should take that all in.

Blogger SierraBella said...

This is all too awful.
Glad the Vanderbilts are safe.

I wish we could adopt a couple of families and have them come stay with us, but I'd imagine they need to stay close to their home and wait for news, and hope to be able to return.
Guess the best we can do is to donate money and hope for the best.

Blogger Nina said...

I am really glad you heard from them, that has to be such a relief. I am waiting to hear if they are going to send our group down there. Waiting is hard as I really just want to go and do what I can. But as John has said it would be useless to just go down right now. So if the Mile High Chapter calls I am going where they decide to send us. The Red Cross said that psychological triage is low on the list right now. So I have just donated money . . . but that is such a helpless feeling. It is something, but just doesn’t feel like enough. So I will go if they send us, until then I will just do whatever I can from here.

Anonymous SUB said...

I also agree with mrtl. I have now learned that wireless phones are technically not wireless. Why the type of phones the Army uses in the field is not in use sooner I don't know. I hope this disaster is not politicized like 9-11. My children's grandmother, Mimi, has relatives in MS. They are alright, but there is no contact now. I pray for patients in hospitals and I saw footage of babies in ICU. My heart just aches.

Blogger JessicaRabbit said...

Im so glad to read the update. Last night I made myself turn the news off, and instructed Nick to not allow me to get sucked into watching it again.

Then I bought a stupid trashy magazine for two dollars and made fun of famous peoples bad fashion.

I think it helped, its been really hard today not to turn the tv back on, but I just cant.

Im so glad your friends are safe.

Blogger LadyBug said...

Susie, knowing that you are thinking about Deputy Dad and me while we are convening the procedure will make it sooo...

Well, actually, it will just make it creepy. Stop that. Stop it right now.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

LadyBug - does that go for me, too?

'Cause if so - you never let me have any fun!

Blogger LadyBug said...

Bucky, you know that doesn't apply to you. Because I'll be thinking about YOU in those oh-so-fabulous assless chaps!

(Okay, yeah. That was creepy. Let's pretend I didn't say that, mmkay?)

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Sure, LadyBug...we can play that little game, too.

*wink wink*

Blogger Susie said...

sierrabella, you are kind to think of it. I think people closer to the area are starting to welcome some of them, I know some people here are opening their homes, or offering their vacation cabins, etc. I think the money we donate will be well used at this point. There will be a lot of accountability and oversight of it.

nina, that's wonderful that you're willing to go. I don't have the Red Cross crisis counseling certification. After 9-11, I planned to go through the course, but I didn't get around to it. This really makes me want to pursue that. Although, in all honesty, at my daughter's age, I don't know that I would leave her for any length of time to do that work. I admire your spirit of availability. It looks like refugees may end up in ALL of our areas before this is over.

sub, yea, those people are beyond house-less, they're city-less, jobless, church-less, etc. The politization of the situation makes me ill, and angry. Enough speech-making, get busy already.

JR, thank you. I am glad that those poorly dressed celebrities were able to help you. I am sure they would be pleased, too.

ladybug and bucky, ahem, young ladies. The topic at hand was "human tragedy." Natural disaster, devastation, and the like.
You seem to be confused about this. "Creepy," OK, I'll let that slide, there are aspects of the topic that are creepy. But assless and wink* wink* has nothing to do with nothing! A little decorum, here, for goodness' sake ;)

Who started that kind of talk, anyway?

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

*points frantically at LadyBug*

SHE started it!

Blogger LadyBug said...

NUH-UH! It was all BUCKY'S fault! SHE'S the one what went and got the Internet as a Ho all riled up with her Gumby Porn!

Blogger Susie said...

I did see that Gumby porn . . . alright, Bucky! there are consequences for such behavior. Go put your pants on, right now!

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Sorry, I just can't think on my feet with pants on.

Anonymous sheryl said...

"It worked."
The prayers, wishes for protection. I'm glad your loved ones are ok.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Blogger Susie said...

bucky, fine, then just go to your room and play with your rubber toys.

sheryl, Damn right. :)
I watched the concert for hurricane relief last night, and heard my buddy Aaron sing that, one of my very favorites. A great first thing to read this morning, thank you.

Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

So glad your friends are ok and actually got a little good news. It is nice to hear about good news.

Blogger Nina said...

Susie, yes if I had young children still, I wouldn't even think of going . . . we may not need to go anywhere they could all be coming to us.

Blogger momo said...

Susie, I'm glad to hear your friends are okay. Sounds like they are being taken care of.

I'm sorry to say it will be a long long tome before things get back to normal. I lived in Pensacola Florida during Hurricaine Ivan, it was like a war zone. It's almost been a year and lots of people are still homeless. There are mobile homes all over the area, in every large parking lot, empty clearing of land, and some are set up on homeowners land...these are the lucky ones. There are soooo many who are still living in their cars or going from shelter to shelter. It's truly heartbreaking and Pensacola wasn't hit near as hard as New orleans or Mississippi.

Your friends will be in my prayers. Keep us posted.

Anonymous lawbrat said...

I'm glad your friends are ok.
My neighbor, across the street, is in the national guard and is going down there.
One of my friends from school went back home to New Orleans after she just graduated, 2 weeks ago. I'm hoping she's ok. I sent her an email. Waiting to hear.
God bless you.

Blogger Susie said...

kranki, yep, good news is hard to find this week, I'll take every smidge I can get.

nina, I know, they're going everywhere. I feel very uneasy about that. I know they want to stay closer to home, these are mostly not transient people, they've been in NO for generations, and now they're being scattered haphazardly. I know they can't stay in the city, but there are plenty of places in LA that are still sound. I have no understanding of the plan that's being worked there. I hope there IS a plan.

momo, thank you for the prayers. I'm sure you're right, this is a very long-term process.

lawbrat, I hope you hear soon. Oh gosh, that's another thing I don't understand -- that no one has set up effective communication systems by now. Patience, I guess. It's hard to be patient when there's so much suffering that we have remedies for if only we could get them where they're needed.
God bless you, too.


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