Hurricane Katrina Sept. 2005

"An act of God is hard to follow but the Red Cross does it all the time." - Anonymous

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Morning meetings at the Baptist Church

Read this first, it will tie it all together:
This is what went right with the American Red Cross's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina hit the coast of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana on Monday, the 29th of August. We were privileged to work with a dedicated team of Red Cross workers, a Southern Baptist Kitchen from Florida, ham operators and tireless local volunteers in Hattiesburg, Ms. We even had a visitor from Spain that evacuated from New Orleans to Hattiesburg and than came to the local chapter and wanted to help.
Hattiesburg is a town of 50,000 people 67 miles north of the gulf. Three major highways lead into the city. When the evacuation order was given for the coastal region, approximately 20,000 people fled to Hattiesburg. No one imagined that the city itself would be hit so hard by the hurricane and subsequent tornados. Most of our clients were at least 2 weeks without power. When we arrived the local chapter was so glad to see us. Since there were no communications, they had no idea if anyone knew how badly they needed help. By Thursday, Sept. 1, seven Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) had arrived from all over the Midwest, and the Southern Baptists were already cooking their first meals. We came together as a team. Each person that had experience in previous diastesters volunteered to help in the best way that they could. Southern Mississippi Chapter of the Red Cross moved boulders to get us what ever we needed to feed the people of their city. Supplies were slow to come in. Daily we thought we were going to run out of food, than another days supply would show up. One day we got 36,000 MRE’s so we started passing those out with a meal. When our full order of food came in we were so happy you would have thought it was “manna from heaven”.
Slowly the city got electricity back, restaurants and businesses started opening again, Most streets were now passable and trees were being cleared off of homes. Hope for recovery was returning to the city. We were distributing food, water, MRE’s, ice and most of all information on how to get FEMA and Red Cross monetary help. We had a ham operator in each of our ERV’s because cell serves and phone lines were out. Daily several calls came in that Health Services and Mental health was needed. We sent help. It became apparent that our ERV teams saved many, many lives by delivering ice to people needing to keep insulin cold, people on oxygen were running out, an ambulance was sent for a pregnant women who had fallen and was bleeding profusely. One ERV driver feed a dog every day until his family returned to rescue him. Mental health was notified about a by-polar women who was “cutting” herself, she had ran out of her medician. The next day her husband came out to the ERV driver and hugged him and could not thank him enough for saving his wife’s life. Numerous stories were shared daily. This was the most physically demanding and emotionally draining and the most heartwarming job we have ever been involved with and I am gratefull to the American Red Cross for the training and support they give us in order for us to do the job we were sent to do.
30 of the volunteers slept in one room in a Girl Scout Camp. The comaradrie built was amazing because we all had one thing in common; "We were all there to help others."
I urge all who read this to make a disaster plan for your family. Go to the American Red Cross web site and get information about being prepared for a disaster. If you are able to get involved with some organization that helps in the community please do.

This article was originally written by Pat and Sandy Timmons and edited for publication on this web site by author of this web site Jim Edwards, jedwards@neo.rr.com or 800-354-1595 or 330-875-1595 2129 Wittenberg St. N.E. Louisville, Ohio 44641

(Just email me and I'll change any caption to suit!)

People slept behind those partitions

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Twice a day, 7 ERVs plus 3 box trucks were dispatched with meals, water and snacks.

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Laura (cross) and Sandy making out our schedule for the day.

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Jose was visiting from Madrid, Spain. He was going home but the New Orleans was closed so he came to Hattiesburg to volunteer with the Red Cross. He made international Headlines in Germany, Spain and Brazil. Great Guy!

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Our cell phones didn't work so Ham radio operators went with us on our missions.

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That's Paul in the middle. Proud man. Great crewman..

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ERVers waiting for route.

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More

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Laura, our boss for the last week.

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Thanks to all of my 4,000 fellow volunteers for making my stay fun. And thanks
to the clients for their open minds and hearts. Because of you volunteers,
the dollars spent by the Red Cross multiply many times over. This was my 12th
mission and probably the best e'sprit de corps. God Bless you all!

Disclaimer: This is my private web site, not an American Red Cross site.

(Submit any changes to: jedwards@neo.rr.com)

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