Message 3 Day 3- Oct 10
Today, we got our first glimpse of the devastation that Katrina and Rita wrought. It began with scattered houses with areas of blue tarp on their roofs as they began to repair the mostly superficial damage that the storms caused. As we went deeper, there were more holes in buildings, piles of debris, and abandoned cars. We saw less and less signs of human life, as the abandoned buildings now looked more like ancient Greek ruins, but set in modern times.

As we neared our destination, a Honda dealership in New Orleans East, we received new orders to return to St. Bernard parish, the same place where Team 1 served all of last week. We pulled to the side of the road by a large group of truckers, while Dr. LeBlanc, Paul (our team leader) and our RV driver discussed logistics. Interestingly, we learned from the truckers that they’d been hired to remove debris and to tear down houses. With the rebuilding of Louisiana underway, there’s now this huge influx of out-of-state workers creating a large temporary population with unique needs. One of those needs was medical, and when they discovered that we were a medical team, they started lining up to get tetanus shots! Woot! our first patients! We stayed for over an hour and ended up giving 20+ vaccinations, before we hit the road again.

We finally arrived at the Disaster Relief Center (DRC) by the Walmart in St. Bernard parish. Here, the National Guard was in charge, and we felt quite safe with all the soldiers around. There were many PRC volunteers here in their eye-catching orange T-shirts handing out food, clothes, and other supplies. We also met another medical relief team from Minnesota, DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team). They were here giving out tetanus and Hep A vaccinations, and had already been here 2 weeks. They didn’t have any physicians on site, so there wasn’t going to be much overlap between us.

We set up and got started. For the most part, the people we saw were upbeat, and almost seemed to want to talk to somebody about what happened. Now that it’s been 6 weeks since Katrina, I guess people are now are beginning to accept what’s happened and are beginning to look ahead now to the future.