Report From New Orleans
My son "Tim Eagle" is in New Orleans. His Oregon National Guard Unit was activated to help provide relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He is but one of more than 1800 Oregon Guard troops assigned to try and help a flood damaged city recover. He and his unit recently returned from an 18 month Middle East tour, where they served in Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
I had the opportunity to talk to him on the telephone. I apologized for calling late. It was 8:30 PM our time and 10:30 New Orleans time.
"No problem Dad," said my son. "We're used to staying up late. We had a night mission yesterday."
"Night mission," I inquired? "What sort of things do you do at night?"
"We were guarding some warehouses. Someone said that a gang was planning to loot them."
Did anyone loot them?
"Nope," said my son. "It never happened.
"What is New Orleans like?"
"It smells," replied my son. "It smells like something moldy and dead."
Tim mentioned that much of the city was still flooded and that the water was a toxic mix of dead things, sewage and chemicals.
"Animals die when they drink it," said my son. "If someone gets into the water, we have to decontaminate them."
"Like walking through a sewer?" I asked.
"No, it's worse," answered my son. "This water is filled with things worse than sewage."
What is the weather like?
"It's hot," said my son. "Hot, with about one hundred percent humidity, not very comfortable, particularly when you don't have air conditioning."
"Where are you staying?" I asked.
"We're staying in an abandoned elementary school" answered Tim.
"Where is it at?" I asked.
"Orleans Parish," said Tim. "We're east of the main part of town. The school is George Washington Elementary and it is located on St. Claude Avenue and Pauline Street. We are real close to gang territory."
"Gangs," I asked?
"Oh yeah," breathed my son into his telephone. "They have gangs here, and they are well organized too.
"They were prepared for the flooding before the hurricane. They had boats, people and vehicles. On the good side, they actually helped a number of people get to safety. When no help came from the government, they helped stranded people and helped provide some sort of security to the people who were trapped in the city.
The bad side is that they swiped anything that could be loaded on to a truck or boat."