Thursday, September 01, 2005

Who is FEMA? Where do I find him?



Mary Dixon carries her two-month-old grand daughter (name not given) in front of the New Orleans Superdome in the hurricane-ravaged city August 31, 2005. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Of all the hurricane stories out today, this one made the horror the most real to me -- and it is not even from New Orleans:

BILOXI, Miss. -- Once Hurricane Katrina passed, Angelia Johnson thought life would return to normal. But for many Gulf Coast residents, the aftermath of the storm has been a long wait for little help.

With her two children in tow, Johnson spent two hours at the Save-A-Lot grocery store Wednesday, standing in a line that stretched around the corner. People had heard that the store was giving away food. All Johnson got was a package of Pampers and a 24-pack of warm canned sodas.

Her family had not eaten for three days. Her clothes were dirty and wet. Her children wore the only thing they had--1-year-old Larry in a diaper and 3-year-old Shirley Ann in a pair of soggy pants.

"My children have never had to do without," Johnson, 22, said almost apologetically. "But we don't have anything. There is no milk for the baby, no clothes, no deodorant, no hair stuff. The storm messed up everything."

. . .

When store employees came out to empty water-soaked fruit and vegetables into a crate in front of the store, dozens of people rushed up, knocking each other out of the way to grab what they could. They went home with handfuls of apples, oranges and other items, most of which probably were unsafe to eat.

Lena Mae Stanton had another idea. She decided to try the trash bin at the side of the building. But as soon as she got there, others came. They picked out what wasn't soggy or rotten before the store employee asked them to leave.

"I was trying to see what kind of food I could find," said Stanton, 59, who has no food at home for her six grandchildren. "I got some apples and oranges. I know it's probably not safe, but I will wash them off the best I can."

People like Johnson didn't have much before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast on Monday. Now they have nothing. Scavenging is how they are trying to survive, at least until the government and aid workers bring in food, water and ice.
. . .

Johnson, her husband and two children are sleeping on wet beds in their apartment. Much of the roof is gone. Windows are broken. There is no air conditioning and no working toilets.

Her husband is disabled, but he does what he can. She has heard about FEMA, but she isn't counting on anyone to rescue her. No one came to her rescue when water trapped her family on the second floor of their apartment during the storm.

She had nowhere to go before the storm. And she has nowhere to go now.

"A lot of people told me FEMA would help, but I don't know who he is," she said. "I don't even know where to find him to get some help."
We can hammer our moron Preznit who this morning told the world: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." But for now, just go click on the Red Cross ad on the right of the page.

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