Sunday, September 25, 2005

Rita, Katrina, and Hope

Here is a follow up forwarded e-mail to my post on the World Shelters team from Seattle that is building temporary shelters in the Gulf Coast:

From: WorldSheltersTaskForceOne@yahoogroups.com [mailto:WorldSheltersTaskForceOne@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Amani Ellen Loutfy
Sent: Friday, September 23, 2005 11:33 AM
To: WorldSheltersTaskForceOne@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [WorldSheltersTaskForceOne] short note

This only illustrates a tiny tad bit of what we've got here. There is joy and fun, too. We are okay.


Things are well here. We had to evacuate from the Stennis base yesterday because of Rita. She's a bitchy hurricane, for sure. We're now in the middle of nowhere at a motel called the Windwood, in Grove Hill alabama. No telling how long this connection will last, it's rigged from the hotel phone system through a PDA and a laptop. Crossing my fingers.
It's scary here and the devastation is worse than imaginable. It goes on for miles and miles and miles. TOTAL devastation. Piles of crap that have been dozed to the side of most roads, some are still full. Refrigerator trucks at funeral homes. Truckers who cry when you ask them if they are doing okay. Grateful firefighters from all over the country. The shelters are good and welcome, lots of logistical details have kept us from putting too many up yet, and then yesterday right when we were on a roll, we got the call to get the hell out, so we had to pack up our personal stuff and head for the hills, which as it turns out is here, in the midst of nowhere. This place was heavily hit a month ago, so some signs are down, but the peopel are super nice. We have everything we need, including frustration in spades. We are taking a news break right now and the room is filled with laughter becasue we're watching comedy central. It's a nice thing to hear, it's pretty stressy here. It's awful and scary and fun and rewarding and very emotional. I cried the first couple of days and now it's just below the surface. I think that while we're here I am going to get in the bath and cry and prepare to head back into it. I miss you. I wish you were here with me, it would be so nice to have a close friend here. The people are cool, it's just hard to get to know anyone in the midst of all this, and they'r mostly GUYS and one girl who is pretty manly. It's weird. It'll all be okay. It is a lot like burning man, where you wonder every ten minutes what the fuck you'r doing out here in the disaster, tehn it's great. There's a fair amount of magic here too. The other day we were putting up a shelter at the fire station and we were super hungry. Right when I was about to lose it, the Red Cross came along with a meal wagon full of hot beef stew. Then the firemen had gatorade, and we were okay. It's to the point where you drink so much water that you would kill for something with flavor. I have never sweat so much in my life. Everything is wet ALL the time. It gets down to 80 at night. HOT and BUGS like I've never seen before. Luv Bugs, the kind that fly in pairs, like they're humping a lot. Don't bite or smell though. Other things do. Sheeeeeeit, we have a lot of bug bites. From unseen bugs. Itch like hell on earth. Fun, huh?
One of th areas that's a huge shelter is the wal mart store, called wally World. It's been looted to within an inch of standing, and the smell was indescribably bad. I guess they just pulled a body out the other day, after we were there. I insisted that there was a body, but they said there wasn't. There was. AWFUL. There's som video on that camera phone site- www.ontela.com/la if you want to see what we're up to.
I should run.

Amani

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