Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Isaac Brings Memories of Katrina

Yesterday you could feel the breezes from Isaac, and today the rains came.

Seven years to the day Katrina hit New Orleans, and a month later I was called as a volunteer for the US Humane Society.  I drove nine hours by myself to camp out and help all the animals left behind. Above is the FEMA facility where we could stay, but I preferred to camp in the parking lot with others.  Yes, I came back one day to find my tent upside down!
People from all over the country, including Canada came to help.  It was a moving experience.
In the mornings everyone would gather to get instructions as to where they were going and what needed to be done. Most were going into the city to go through houses and look for people and pets that were left behind.

I heard stories of troubles in the city and decided to go with a group to a small town where everyone dropped off their pets at their local vet and left.  The vet was overwhelmed with 150 dogs and desparately needed help, so off I went to Belle Chase, Plaquemines Parrish.
One dog that was left in an attic was found and rescued.  He was emaciated, frightened and sad.
Then there were dogs that were happy a hurricane came and "saved" their life.  Most dogs were pitbulls.  This tiny pitbull was covered in scars, evidence that she was a bait dog.  She was so happy to be rescued from that life. This was probably the first time she had a toy.
This is me, Dee & Donna.  I met some amazing, hard-working and exceptional women on this trip, and some of them put me to shame with how much they could accomplish.
These are the California girls, Veronica, Connie & Tracey.  For a long time we stayed in touch, and to this day I still receive emails from some of the group, including Wheeler and Carlotta, who opened their home to all of us and made a darn good gumbo, and Kandee from Florida who still is involved in dog rescue.
These are some scenes from the streets of New Orleans.  Pictures don't capture the devastation.  To be there and see it was nothing like you see on tv. 
So despite popular opinion against me going and not finding anyone to go with me, knowing that the farther south I got there would be no gas, debris everywhere , no electricity, no shower, it was the most satisfying thing I ever did in my life.  I met wonderful people, saved a lot of pets, which made people who lost everything very happy.  It was very moving to see families coming back and finding their other family member.  When everyone was saying goodbye, we joked and said that we'd all see each other again when "the big one" hit California.  Hopefully that never happens!  Hopefully New Orleans never experiences a hurricane like Katrina again!

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