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September 9, 2005

Out of New Orleans

I always thought my first blog would have been about an unplanned weekend trip, a statistical survey on The Lutheran or most likely, some government conspiracy (I am an X-files fan).

It never occurred to me that I would share thoughts on the most recent catastrophe that either has or will impact every one of us. On Monday, Aug. 29, we lost contact with my mother and family just after she informed us that water flooded the lower level of her apartment building in New Orleans ... but “they thought the worse was over.”

Little did any of us know the journey was just beginning. The last thing she said before hanging up the phone was, “And how are you supposed to boil water if your power is out?”

I’d learned from her that, in many cases, people did not have a way to leave their flooded apartments. The gas stations were already closed and people couldn’t get gas to leave town. Many streets already were flooded, impeding any movement. Anybody who was waiting to see the storm get downgraded or didn’t want to believe, was stuck. So the only thing people could do was store up on as much food and water as possible and get to higher ground.

In my family’s case, three different family units converged to my mother’s apartment located on the seventh floor. In the morning, 10 family members woke up in her apartment to get a first hand view of the new, New Orleans swamp and began planning how to survive the next few days until the water receded.

If they had left at first chance, they would have been stranded in the Superdome ... and I do not believe we will ever know of all the horrid details of the events that transpired in that arena.

One week ago today, my sister and her family had to take a chance on evacuation since her children were becoming sick and one was already ill from lead poisoning in their apartment. They were among the first relocated to Houston. A strand of communication was reconnected when the Red Cross provided my sister access to e-mail. However, we still had no word on the status of my mother, brother and his wife.
 
Space is limited for blogging, and I promise to finish this story. Two things have been made clear to me that I hope I can accurately portray. First, nobody can really appreciate the devastation or anguish through the accounts in the media. Secondly, the axiom that trying times bring out the best and worst in people is true.

I have to collect my thoughts before the next transmission. You will not believe everything I tell you.

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