Céad Míle Fáilte ~ A Hundred Thousand Welcomes!

Here we seek a rest in the shade, some cool water and a little kindness. This blog is dedicated to peace, truth, justice and a post- industrial, post-petroleum illumined world in spite of all odds against it. I very much like the line about the ancient knight (see poem below) "His helmet now shall make a hive for bees" It is reminiscent of "beating swords into ploughshares" a sentiment I heartily approve of. Thank you for visiting ~ I hope you return!

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Katrina: Three Years On ~ John's Story

I was sobered by reading a minute ago that New Orleans will be evacuated tomorrow because Hurricane Gustav is threatening to hit land as a Category 5 hurricane. I feel so bad for the folks down there in harm's way. God bless and protect them.

In honor of the brave souls, citizens mostly, and volunteers, who helped the victims of Katrina I am posting the most fascinating and sobering account which I read from that time, at least I am posting an excerpt from it and you can click on over and read the rest yourself. It is a long read but well, well worth it. From the Lone Star MVPA, I give you John's account of Katrina.

QUOTE Background: My name is John and I live in Central Texas. I have served in three different military components totaling 25 years of service and I am recording this story for posterity. All opinions are the author's and if you disagree with them, that's really too bad.
Katrina Day 1: Monday, 29 August 2005 Watching the news today was horrific. Hurricane Katrina has devastated an area larger than the United Kingdom. When I heard that Biloxi was savaged, I immediately thought about my best friend Tracy. Tracy was a Master Sergeant with me in the US Air Force and we were stationed together for several years. Friendships formed in the military are far stronger than anything a civilian can experience. They usually last until the grave. I won't go into the psychology of it, it is just so. You usually bond to one particular individual, and Tracy was it. He was my Best Buddy, and that is spelt with two capital B's. I know this man well enough to know that he was not going to evacuate, he would tough it out. Now I was worried sick about Tracy and his family. I tried calling him for several hours but gave up realizing that communication would be non-existent.
Katrina Day 2: Tuesday, 30 August 2005 Spent several more hours trying to contact Tracy, to no avail. It just was not going to happen. The body count is increasing. The question now is: what can I do?
I am sitting at home in air-conditioned comfort, watching a disaster of biblical proportions unfold on the idiot box in the corner. I am a man of action, not talk - always have been and always will be. What action could I take? How could I personally make a difference to what was going on? Even inaction is a form of action, but it has never been my choice. Now the news is telling me that getting food and water to the survivors is the number one priority. I rarely agree with television talking heads, mainly because they are so liberal and also so ignorant about the world around them. I had to concede that, for once, they were right.
What do I do? A plan. A plan is a good thing and helps you anticipate difficulties before they become disasters. I would need transport. I personally own an ex-army vehicle called an M35A2, better known as a deuce and a half. It is 30 years old, has ten driven wheels and is still camouflaged in its original paint scheme. All 3 axles are driven and it is one of the best all-wheel drive off road vehicles in existence. It also has a large cargo bed, with a 5 ton load carrying capacity. Perfect for getting large quantities of food and water into remote areas with difficult terrain.
I also realized that there would be many roadblocks manned by civilian law enforcement and by military personnel. How would I get past them? Would they think of me as a fruitcake? Would they turn me back? Would they think I was selling water for ten bucks a bottle? Would they shoot me?
I dusted off my old camouflage uniform. A bit tight around the middle, but acceptable. This should get me through roadblocks. My next fear was that the news was reporting widespread looting and general mayhem. I did not want my truck, food or water hijacked, so what to do? I loaded my .45 caliber H&K semi-automatic pistol, some extra magazines of ammunition, and buckled on a shoulder holster in plain sight. I did not plan on shooting people. I planned on staying alive. I am a firm believer in the old adage that it is better to be judged by twelve people than to be carried by six.
The next several hours were taken up by servicing the truck. You do not just jump in a 30 year old truck and high tail it a couple of thousand miles, you'll never get there. I had to add several gallons of oil to the various places that were going to leak and burn. I had to load up all of the tools necessary to make roadside repairs, the manual tire changing gear alone weighs a couple of hundred pounds. A good friend, who will remain unnamed, helped me work through the night servicing and tweaking the truck. We loaded my survival supplies, sleeping bag, cot and a hundred other things that make living in the back of a truck a little less painful.
Katrina Day 3: Wednesday, 31 August 2005 Still servicing and loading the truck at 3 a.m. and now realizing that availability of fuel would be difficult or non-existent in a disaster area, we rustled up 20 five-gallon jugs. Off we went to the all night gas station to fill up. All told, it took an hour and $300 to fill everything. My friend shook my hand and wished me luck. He wanted badly to come with me, but his line of work is saving lives and he knew that he would be sent in an official capacity soon enough. Departing now would be madness, I hadn't slept in 24 hours and I had a grueling trip ahead of me. It's 100 degrees in Texas in August and a deuce has no air conditioning. There is no insulation between the motor and the driver so the inside cab temperature stays around 140 degrees. The metal surfaces can exceed 200 degrees and I have melted more than one pair of shoes driving in the summer.
I went home and sent an e-mail to my friends on the military vehicle mailing list telling them what I planned and asking for tips and advice on what I was attempting to accomplish. At 9 a.m. after four hours of deep sleep my girlfriend gave me a wake up call. It was time to load food and water. Our local grocery mega-store had enough water to fill up a pallet. When I explained to the manager what I was doing, he said that he was willing to empty the shelves of canned food, but it was not even a quarter of a pallet and most of it required can openers. I asked him if he could give me a break on the price of the water, the worst thing he could do was say no. He said no.
I have a pretty high limit on my credit card, so $250 wasn't going to kill me. The next stop was Sam's club which is another mega store which can sell food by the pallet. Unfortunately, this store requires a membership card and does not accept credit cards for payment. My girlfriend's parents, bless their hearts, wrote a check for a pallet of chunky soup with pop-top openings. Her father even offered to pay half of the thousand dollars that the soup cost.
At noon I departed Central Texas, heading for Biloxi, Mississippi. Due to hurricane damage, I thought the southern route along Interstate 10 may be closed, so I headed North to meet Interstate 20 in Shreveport, Louisiana. I got into Shreveport just after dark and needed fuel. Right away I noticed panic at the gas stations. Lines of cars for blocks and fuel gouging. I thought to myself "what the hell was going on"? This was hundreds of miles from the hurricane.

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