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Re: Katrina aftermath

I was talking to my friend Harold tonight and they did the same thing this
weekend at Big Town in Mesquite. Usually the home of giant flea markets or
gun shows, it has now become a temporary respite for these poor desparate
people. He said almost everyone in the food line (he was serving donated
What-a-Burgers and pizza) wanted to shake his hand or hug him. He's a
semi-retired Dallas County deputy and can't remember the last time anything
shook him up so much. It's all just so incredibly sad.
What's worse is they had to search the folks on the way in and confiscated a
bunch of drug paraphenalia and such. I just hardly know what to think of

 On 9/4/05, Judy Browning <judylee@lewiston.com> wrote:
> Thought some of you might be interested in this.
> Judy B
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: VacationsToGo.com I apologize in advance to my readers who
> subscribed to
> this newsletter for cruise news and deals only--you may wish to skip
> straight
> to the bottom. I want to begin today with what is happening here in
> Houston,
> in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
> ---
> It's 4:45 a.m. on Friday, September 2nd, and tension is rising at the
> Astrodome in Houston.
> The governor of Texas and the mayor of Houston have opened the Astrodome
> to
> evacuees from Louisiana. The enormous ground level of the Astrodome has
> already filled to absolute capacity with thousands of small cots, and
> every
> one is taken. There are not enough to go around, and some hold mother and
> child or two children. Many others sleep on blankets in the hallways that
> ring
> every level of the dome, and hundreds more try to sleep in the hard wooden
> chairs meant to house sports fans for three hours at a time.
> Against this surreal backdrop, a lonely figure trudges the uneven aisles
> holding a cardboard sign aloft with the names of loved ones who are
> missing.
> Our small group of volunteers has just arrived to help serve breakfast in
> the
> Astrodome, but we quickly learn that the plan has changed. For the safety
> of
> the untold thousands already here, the fire marshal has closed the
> Astrodome
> to new arrivals, but the evacuation is chaotic, and the buses just keep
> coming.
> "All those buses still have people on them," someone with a walkie-talkie
> tells us, pointing to a line of darkened motor coaches stretching out of
> sight
> around the dome. "We're opening Reliant Arena (a separate building
> nearby),
> but the situation there is tense. We need you over there."
> We load tables and supplies into two trucks and walk from the Astrodome to
> Reliant Arena, where we pass an impromptu medical "clinic" filled with
> sick
> and injured evacuees and bleary-eyed doctors, nurses, paramedics and
> police
> officers.
> On the far side of the building, we arrive at a room where we will serve
> breakfast, and through a long wall of glass, we get our first glimpse of
> the
> new arrivals outside. Standing ten deep, in lines that run the length of
> our
> large room and stretch out of sight, these are the first who arrived after
> the
> Astrodome's closing. Out there in the darkness, thousands more are still
> in
> their buses. No one on this side of the glass knows what they have already
> endured to get here. Many have spent the prior four days in the sweltering
> heat and stench of the Superdome, the closest thing to hell on earth.
> Now they have heard that the Astrodome is full and do not know whether
> they
> will be allowed to stay or be bused to another city, or to another state.
> They
> are at their wits' end. Tempers have flared, emotions are high.
> Within an hour we are ready to serve and the doors are opened. As evacuees
> enter the building, their identities are recorded, and they proceed
> immediately to our three serving lines for their first hot meal in days:
> two
> waffles, two sausage patties, one pat of butter, one serving of syrup, one
> box
> of juice and one big spoonful of grits.
> During the next five hours the line moves continuously. Word filters in
> that
> Houston has opened its convention center to evacuees as well, and some of
> the
> volunteers leave our building and the Astrodome to help out downtown.
> Hundreds
> of other volunteers pour in to replace them, including at least 25 travel
> counselors and the top management from Vacations To Go.
> I've never volunteered in such an enormous operation coming together on
> the
> fly, but I have only good things to say about the supervisor from food
> service
> company Aramark, and the people I could not see behind the scenes. We knew
> the
> folks on the other side of the glass were desperately hungry, and we
> worried
> among ourselves whether the food would last. None of us knew how much food
> there was, or how many waited outside, but we did know that no one had
> expected this huge new group for breakfast. We ran out of some things, for
> a
> while, but we never ran out of everything at the same time, and the food
> line
> never stopped.
> By 11:15, every one of our neighbors from New Orleans had entered the
> facility
> and received a hot meal.
> I will not soon forget the faces of the people as they came through the
> line.
> Many were dazed or grieving, and some still wore the clothes they had on
> when
> Katrina struck. Some wore bandages and struggled to hold their plates
> steady.
> Others tried to smile, and made a point of expressing their gratitude and
> shaking our hands in the midst of having lost everything.
> The little old ladies, with their sugary Nawlins drawls of "Thank you,
> darlin'," were truly a sign of Amazing Grace.
> But this was just the first meal of the day, in the first week of the
> first
> month that evacuees will need help. It's a scenario that is playing out
> across
> Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
> The Deep South is in trouble, and the need is as wide and as deep as the
> Mississippi.
> ---
> Vacations To Go has joined hundreds of other businesses in matching the
> Red
> Cross contributions of its employees (click here for the Red Cross
> Hurricane
> Relief page). In addition to volunteering at the Astrodome and Reliant
> Arena,
> our employees are collecting food, clothes, water, toiletries, disposable
> diapers, blankets and sheets, toys and games at both of our Houston
> offices--5851 San Felipe, Suite 500, and 1502 Augusta Drive, Suite
> 400--for
> delivery to the evacuees.
> We're also working to re-accommodate the growing number of our
> customers--well
> over one thousand now--whose vacations have been cancelled or rerouted.
> All
> cruises from New Orleans and Mobile have been cancelled, and the Carnival
> ships Holiday, Sensation and Ecstasy have been leased to the government
> for
> six months starting this week, to house evacuees. All cruises during this
> period on the Holiday and Sensation have been cancelled. The Carnival
> Elation
> will be redeployed to operate Ecstasy's schedule during this period, so
> everyone booked on the Ecstasy will now sail the same itinerary on the
> Elation, and all scheduled cruises for the Elation have been cancelled.
> Carnival has released the following statement:
> "We sincerely apologize to those guests whose vacations have been impacted
> by
> these voyage cancellations," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and
> CEO.
> "However, given that Hurricane Katrina is the worst natural disaster in
> U.S.
> history, we trust our guests will understand that the decision to enter
> into
> these charters was the right one. This inconvenience to our guests will
> provide desperately needed housing for thousands of individuals affected
> by
> this tragedy," he added.
> If you are holding a reservation booked through Vacations To Go, on any
> cancelled sailing, we also apologize for the disappointment and
> inconvenience
> and ask that you call us in the coming week. You will receive a full
> refund
> for your cruise, and we can offer new options with similar itineraries out
> of
> Galveston or Tampa.
> Also, if you are holding a hotel reservation in New Orleans or along the
> Mississippi or Alabama coast, booked through Vacations To Go, please call
> us
> as soon as you can.
> cruiselines. Click the FastDeal # for details.
> 1) Bahamas, 7 days on Norwegian, departs New York City Sep 25, starting at
> $449, save 66%, FastDeal # 12493
> 2) Caribbean, 7 days on Carnival, departs Miami Dec 4, starting at $479,
> save
> 71%, FastDeal # 10111
> 3) Bermuda, 7 days on Celebrity, departs Philadelphia Sep 17, starting at
> $550, save 75%, FastDeal # 13418
> 4) Caribbean, 9 days on Royal Caribbean, departs Bayonne Oct 7, starting
> at
> $649, save 71%, FastDeal # 12730
> 5) Mexico, 7 days on Princess, departs Los Angeles Nov 26, starting at
> $549,
> save 55%, FastDeal # 12264
> 6) Caribbean, 7 days on Royal Caribbean, departs San Juan Sep 18, starting
> at
> $649, save 60%, FastDeal # 10808
> 7) Mediterranean, 7 days on Costa, departs Savona Oct 23, starting at
> $699,
> save 55%, FastDeal # 15484
> 8) Transatlantic, 16 days on Princess, departs Rome Nov 10, starting at
> $1199,
> save 72%, FastDeal # 10963 (Princess will not allow this rate to be shown
> on
> the Internet - please call us at the number below for information or
> reservations.)
> 9) Hawaii, 15 days on Holland America, departs San Diego Oct 18 starting
> at
> $1599, save 63%, FastDeal # 11877
> 10) Caribbean, 7 days on Seabourn, departs Fort Lauderdale Nov 13,
> starting at
> $2488, save 57%, FastDeal # 12612
> To see our entire listing of specials departing in the next 90 days, click
> here. To search for deep discounts on cruises departing more than 90 days
> from
> now, click here. For hosted Singles Cruises, click here. For escorted
> tours
> worldwide, or air/hotel packages to London or Paris, click here. For
> hotels
> and resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Bermuda, the Bahamas and
> Europe
> click here.
> Once you've found a FASTDEAL, call us toll free at 800-338-4962 (US and
> Canada) and a cruise counselor will attend to your needs. International
> customers, please e-mail or call us at 001-713-974-2121.
> Please email me your comments, suggestions and questions at
> alanfox@vacationstogo.com and I will respond the same day.
> Sincerely,
> R. Alan Fox
> Chairman & CEO
> Vacations To Go
> 1502 Augusta Drive, Suite 415
> Houston, TX 77057
> To send a copy of this newsletter to a friend, click here.
> You are subscribed as ebrowning@lewiston.com. To temporarily suspend,
> reduce
> the frequency of, or permanently cancel, these emails, click here.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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Pam Evans
Kemp TX
zone 8A

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