Thursday, September 01, 2005

My hometown. Gone.

I have stared at the television in horror. New Orleans has drowned. I have wept. I am numb.

And there is no time for emotional "coping" because the real job has started, the job of physically dealing with the aftermath of Katrina.
This is my first break in days. Here in Baton Rouge, in the midst of our own little mess of downed trees and power outages -- a mere trifle compared to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but a mess nonetheless -- we are setting up and operating long-term emergency animal shelters and veterinary M*A*S*H units for the pets of refugees from the New Orleans area.

I have spoken in the past few days to people who escaped the rising waters after Katrina with only the clothes on their backs and their dog or cat in their arms.

One woman snatched up her chihuahua in one hand and an axe in the other, climbed into her attic and chopped a hole in the roof to escape the rising water. Another couple turned in a pair of Lab puppies they found alongside the Interstate as they fled the storm. One girl stuffed her ferret into her purse and ran as the waters rose behind her. There was a young couple in tears who had managed to save a few of their cats, swimming in and out of their house as the waters rose, but they could not save them all. People sat on rooftops, clinging to their dog or cat while human bodies floated past.

The stories are horrific, unimaginable. And they are real.

There simply are no words to describe how I feel.

I will have very little time to blog. The past five days have all blurred together into one long day with a couple of insufficient naps. But I will not complain. I am fortunate beyond measure to have our dry safe home inland, and to have my mother alive and with us. We got her out of New Orleans on Saturday.

At the shelter, we are putting our best efforts into helping the animals and comforting their owners. We have set up facilities for livestock and horses. We are waiting for the caravan of carriage-mules from the French Quarter to arrive; we are waiting for a busload of animal patients from a large vet clinic to arrive; we are waiting for 30 cats from a pet adoption center to arrive. Dogs, horses, cats, ferrets, parrots, pythons, rabbits, chinchillas, you name it. Even a kid with a hamster.

We are waiting and working.

Best to you all.



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