Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Feb 7, 2006

Greetings from Baton Rouge, or as the locals like to call it, Red Stick.

I am continuing my position as a Public Information Officer with FEMA. I thought this blog would be a good way to post some photos and thoughts from my experiences here in Louisiana.

After seeing much destruction and devastation, yesterday, I had the good fortune to cover a story with a happy ending, and one that will stay with me in my thoughts for a long time to come.

Sarah, 89, is just one of the thousands of displaced by Katrina. She has been living at a nursing home on the Louisiana/Arkansas border since September 9th. On August 29th Sarah and her family were rescued from their flooded home in New Orleans by boat. Eventually they were driven by a van to the convention center. There her daughter, Rose 71, and other family members got out of the van only to watch as the driver drove off with her mother and two other elderly women. Sarah was now a Jane Doe, and Rose had no idea where she was going.

The nurses at the home took Sarah into their hearts, and worked relentlessly to try and find her family. They too were searching. Jane can barely speak so the nurses had limited information to enter into the missing person internet sites. About all they knew was her first name. With the help of a FEMA officer, they finally got a hit on a site and within hours Sarah spoke a few words on the phone to Rose. Tears of joy flowed on both ends of the line.

So after almost six months of being apart Rose made the trip from Houston with her daughter-in-law to see Sarah. The reunion was filled with joy and tears. Rose told me later that not knowing what happened to her mother was almost too much of a burden to carry. She thought she had died during the rescue. You can imagine her relief not only to see her once again but to know that she getting tender love and care from her newly extended family at the nursing home.

Rose still has a mountain of worries. Her house was destroyed. She’s displaced in Houston far from her mother’s nursing home. She’s not sure what the next step for her family will be. But she told me being reunited with her mother has brought her some much-needed peace in her life. The rest she will face one day at a time.


Blogger AmyO said...

excellent story barbie. the pix are great too. keep up the brilliant work. you are an excellent citizen.
-one of your many fans in chicago

7:10 PM  
Blogger Barbie P said...

Thanks for the heads up about the comments.
I changed the setting.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Ceil said...

Barbie, I have never blogged before,so this is a first for me. Your story is amazing. I printed it out so I can keep it for posterity. Also want to show it to Ed as he worked for FEMA during the Okla. Bombings. I am very proud of you. I am amazed at what a striking resemblance you have to your Mom. Love ya, Ceil Hrivnak

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barbie...Beautiful story. Are the Photos yours too? You are a superhero - talk about the right person for the job.

I am thinking about you...and Tommy...and your Mom and Dad. They must be so proud.

7:45 PM  

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