I stated in my last post that I was going to post again on this subject and if you were faint at heart you may want to read cautiously. We were still staying at the same fire dept. or the one down the street responding to calls with them to be sure that the members of the dept’s were able to get the rest that they needed and tend to their own affairs. there were two journalists that also stayed at the station, but really never talked because they were always on a computer. We even had a little mascot. It was a dog that came wandering in all beat up and hungry. I was very surprised by looking at this little 6 pound dog that he was able to survive. It crossed my mind occasionally when I petted him if his family had survived or if they had perished in the storm.
The first trip that we had taken down into the city, downtown was still flooded all except for the French Quarter and some of Bourbon St. there were people just sitting on the street having a drink of their cocktail of choice, in other words a little whiskey.
We saw air boats combing the flooded streets looking for people who needed help out and also assessing the city. The Superdome was devastated as seen alot on TV but the TV could not do it justice. There were helicopters flying overhead still looking for people that needed pulled from rooftops, and there was smoke visible from numerous fires on the outskirts of the city. The next paragraph will be a little graphic
Next we were teamed up with a couple of US Marshalls that would do patrols throughout the city at night. Our team was asked to send someone along because we had medical training. The marshalls would do their job as far as law enforcement and keeping people peaceful and we would do ours as EMT’s if needed. On more than 1 trip into the city we wold see a body laying on the roadway only covered with a trash bag because they had not been picked up and cared for yet. This did not happen all the time, but once was more than enough. We were asked to send some people over to the airport where we could help with bodies at the makeshift morgue. This was not a task that anyone wanted to take part in, but they needed it done because the President was going to be coming to landing there. Fortunately they must have found another team to do the job because we never had to go. I was very thankful for that.
I remember one day very vividly that we were heading in to the city and were stopped a t an intersection where there was a man with his hands in his cooler and shaking his head at the same time. It rather obvious to me that this man was in desperate need of some ice in his cooler. We got out of the car and dumped every piece of ice we had in our cooler into his. He almost had tears in his eyes. We may as well have handed that man a bag of gold. It was a very good feeling to help someone with something so easy to do.
Back at the fire dept. the members were able to make a comfortable sleeping area for their new guests. they had built a wall behind the engines and placed an air conditioner so it wold be cool when we had time to sleep. They called it the bunny ranch. Where they came up with the materials I don’t really know but it was a great relief after being out in the heat all day.
We ate alot of MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) but we also were treated to straight up cajun meal when time allowed. Gumbo, tamale’s, and jambalaya to name a few. It was a nice change from the MRE’s. At night you could always here fighting going on in the neighborhood behind us, and on one occasion you could hear gun shots in the neighborhood in the distance. I just stayed where I was because I knew the guys out front were very well armed and not afraid to defend the dept. if needed.
Once our main goals were accomplished, we would be ready to head back to Pennsylvania. It would be a few more days of running calls and keeping the station fully manned then our time here would be over. I can’t say that I was ready to leave because we were doing an important job. I can say that I did miss my family and was ready to get on that plane back to PA. We said our good byes to the dept members and other members of our team and we went our separate ways. Occasionally we would talk on the phone but have lost track of them since.
I am very proud to say that I was able to be a part of a response team, but I can also say that there was a lot of things that angered and frustrated me over the amount of time that we spent in that big convention center in Atlanta prior to our deployment.
- Statistics From the Devastating Hurricane Katrina (politics.answers.com)