CA CNA Katrina Volunteers

This is the link to a public photo album

Thursday, October 20, 2005

from Linda

One of the most unexpected and most satisfying experiences of my trip to the Astrodome came in the meeting of a child who was truly a survivor.
On September 8, twenty four hours after being in Houston, our hotel had changed from the "safe haven" it had been to an extension of the Astrodome, as FEMA had enabled the evacuees to check into hotels in the area. Some rooms had 15 family members sleeping inside. The lobby, hallways, pool area were filled with questionable type people. At night we had policemen, police dogs, patrolling the hotel.
After a couple of days, we actually became quite adjusted to the new climate at our hotel. The evacuees were all very respectful, thankful and friendly to us. I actually triaged one young girl in the elevator, who had not had her Coumadin (for a history of pumonary emboli )for over 10 days and was asking what I think she should do.
Sitting by the pool one morning before going to work our 3:00pm-11:00 pm shift, a young boy came and sat in the chaiselounge next to me, obviously anxious to talk. His name was Andre, 12 years old from New Orleans with an unbelievable survivor story he so wanted to share. His family of 10 left their home with the rapidly rising water, to a local school, which also became flooded. They were on the 4th floor of the school, when the helicopter came to rescue this group. As their family was preparing to board the helicopter, Andre's mom developed a sudden asthma attack (stress I am sure!). Andre felt as if he couldn't deal with the situation any longer and passed out. When he awoke, he was in the sky hovering in the helicopter, with his family no where in sight. When the helicopter landed, there were hundreds of evacuees being airlifted to this safer area. Andre walked around sobbing for 5 hours looking for his family. He finally spotted his older brother, ran to him and cryed in his arms, until the rest of the family found them. He had me crying at this point. He also shared his middle school sweetheart had drowned and he was very upset about this. Overall, his family was anxious to start a new life in Houston, away from the drugs and violence where they came from in New Orleans. I visited with Andre for the next few days, if even for a few minutes to catch up on what was happenning as far as their housing and his new school. I gave him 2 self -addressed postcards to me, so we could be pen pals, but I have not heard from him. The human connections we made with so many of the evacuees was what made the rescue experience so rich and rewarding. I am hoping that many of these children will have better lives ahead, which would give the horror of Hurricane Katrina some positive outcome.