Saturday, October 08, 2005

Update # 2 - Wednesday, October 5, 2005 - New Orleans LA.

Greetings from New Orleans - We have had an eventful 48 hours. After spending a day in Montgomery at the Alabama Emergency Operations Center (EOC) - we have been assigned to the Mississippi EOC located near Waveland and Bay St. Louis on the coast. We arrived at the Hancock County EOC currently housed in the local area high school complex. The first center in Waveland had to be evacuated during the middle of the storm as the water was rising rapidly prior to the 25' storm surge. Unfortunately upon getting there we were told that the center was moving once again and that we were going to be re-assigned ONCE AGAIN. I guess the school board wanted their building back!

So we were off to Thibodaux, LA to assist in "damage assessment" Luckily, before driving all the way there - that operation was shut down!! No fear - we headed for my old school - St. Martin's on the south shore of the Lake to say hi to old friends and sort out our options. We are currently parked in the drive of my former secretary, Suzette & Don Adair using their electricity AND shower!! We took them out for a meal at one of the few restaurants open and I caught up on all the school gossip - 12 years' worth! Their new house was flooded with 2' of water yet they were able to salvage it and are back living in at as the repairs continue.

Prior to leaving Waveland - we spent a couple of hours driving down S. Beach Road - right on the shore. This is where the eye wall of Katrina came a shore causing a 65 mile wide swath of obliteration! There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LEFT - not even debris - just nice concrete slab foundations stripped completely clean - some with 10' pilings - ready to be built on again. The 25' storm surge simply swept up under these homes and pulled them back out into the gulf! There are no walls - wiring - plumbing - roofing materials - personal contents - NOTHING - ZIPPO - just as if the structures were never there. All of the few trees that are still standing are stripped and are already dead or dying. Massive iron gates that MUST have lead up brick driveways to huge summer beach front homes now lead to no where. Beautiful granite front steps going no where. The words devastation - destruction & damage just simply don't work. Anderson Cooper & CNN needed to come here to the beach!

As we drove on we came upon Christ Episcopal Church (est. 1860) - or rather what was left - its 50' steeple (three sides holding it up) with cross a top and its beaten up bells standing up right "guarding" next to what must have been the concrete slab foundation of the church. The only remaining item buried in the sand was part of perhaps the granite altar with the carved inscription "To God and all His Glory and Thanksgiving." Out behind was erected a small white tent with a canvas welcoming sign proclaiming "Services - Sundays 10:30 AM"! Amen

We are awaiting more details on two possible locations needing assistance; a church in downtown New Orleans and radio communications assignment on the SE coast of Texas where Rita came ashore. There is still no phone service or power to 35,000 folks on that area of the coast - another forgotten area overshadowed by New Orleans - but just as desperate.

As to the damage here - the school remained high and dry on a flooded street! Go figure. I won't even try to describe what our old house and neighborhood looked like. We are going downtown on Thursday AM to meet Senior Warden Elvia James and see what assistance we might provide her and her ravaged parishioners (9th ward folks)

Until later - cell coverage is spotty and internet - RIGHT - This is being sent kindness of Suzette's computer at school when it works

Until Later - Jim & Andrew


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