Little Rock Rocks Big!
Just this afternoon, we finally got to talk to our friends, the "Vanderbilts," formerly of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, more recently of Little Rock, Arkansas. It was WONDERFUL to hear their voices. Some of you have asked for updates:
Good News: They have been in touch with people who have seen their neighborhood. Their house appears to have minimal damage. The people of Little Rock continue to be amazingly good to them. Thanks to local churches, they haven't had to spend a dime for a meal. The Hampton Inn where they are staying has drastically reduced rates, with no end in sight, for all the Gulf Coast evacuees. The movie theater has hosted a movie night just for them, everything free. Someone organized a bus trip to the zoo for the children, all free. They continue to be overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of everyone they've encountered in Little Rock. They are with some other family members there, and they know where most of the other family members have gone -- Lafayette, Orlando, Houston.
Bad News: They don't know when they can return home. There is no electricity, and no prediction for its return. Even when it is turned on, all the vacant houses must be checked, have all electrical things turned off, to prevent electrical fires in the damaged homes. This will take a while. There is water and sewage, however, the treatment plants, pumping, etc., are operated by electricity, so once people return and start using water . . . well, gotta get that electricity restored first. There are some stores open within a few miles of their neighborhood, but looters are still going through the homes in the neighborhood. All of Shelley's family has lost their homes and all their contents; one uncle remains unaccounted for. Shelley's 82-year-old father has stopped speaking -- apparently PTSD. Her mom cries about the loss, not of their home which her husband built with his hands, but of their "Wall of Fame," the wall covered by framed photos of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. There is no word yet on Parran's job, or Star's school. For now, they are not available. And finally, Parran tells us that, according to the people they've been able to reach who remain in the area, the news media is not reporting the worst of the stories that are going on there. He believes the death toll will be up to 5,000 people. Reportedly, hundreds of people drowned in the schools in which they were instructed to gather for sanctuary.
And yes, they know and we know, how incredibly blessed they are to have had the means to leave when they did. And to have a home to return to. Some day.