Friday, September 02, 2005

Feeling Helpless

This has been a rough week for me. I have so many friends and family members in southern Louisiana, and we were so worried about them surviving the hurricane. My parents in Lafayette came through just fine, Darren had some family members come in from Jeanerette and Slidell for two days, and Darren's mom, step-dad, aunt, and uncle refused to evacuate from Lacombe, just west of Slidell. It was taking people up to 8 hours to travel the 75 miles between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and they didn't want to sit in traffic.

After the hurricane hit, we watched as much TV as we could stand, and just wanted to know that everyone was all right. All of our friends in Baton Rouge are fine, but some didn't get power back on until last night. Phone service to anywhere in Louisiana is still tough, as well. We didn't hear anything about Darren's mom Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, and prepared for the worst. We placed her name on a couple of missing-persons lists, and hoped that she was safe somewhere.

Thursday morning at 1am, we received a phone call from Darren's brother, saying their mom was safe and on her way to Jeanerette. I can't tell you how relieved we were to get that news! Darren talked to her yesterday and got the story. Apparently the flood waters didn't go above their second porch step, and the only damage sustained to her property was a pine tree that snapped off and hit her husband's garage. They had a generator and plenty of food and water, so they weren't too worried. Volunteers weren't going to search their area right away, so they decided to try to get out on their own. It took two days with a chainsaw and help from strangers to make their way out to the highway, and Darren's step-dad, who is an electrician, stayed behind to work.

It's amazing how this is affecting all of our lives. I want to help as much as possible, and it is so sad to think that New Orleans might never be the same again. Darren and I lived there for a year, and it is the most alive city I have ever been in. There is so much history there, and the people are extremely friendly. Darren and I got engaged on the banks of the Mississippi River there.

We are doing a few things to help here. It is amazing how generous people are in the Houston area, and probably elsewhere, too. Churches in our area are each sponsoring a hotel for people to stay in, everyone is collecting money, and we are enrolling Louisiana students in our public schools. I got one student today from Port Sulphur, Louisiana, and I am getting another one on Tuesday from St. Bernard Parish. My son's preschool is collecting items for the 230 people who are staying at one of the area churches, and they are going to deliver the items next Friday. My school is collecting money for United Way, and Darren and I are going to work at the Astrodome tomorrow morning. I'm nervous, but I feel like I need to do this. Hopefully, everyone will continue to heal, and people will step up and try to restore the Gulf Coast area to what it used to be.

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