January 22, 2006

Months later, couple learns son died in Katrina

Image: Julia and Eldo Allen

Joe Hermosa / AP
Julia and Eldo Allen stand in front of the coffins of their son, John David Allen, and their daughter-in-law, Susan Allen, at the Combes Rest Lawn Memorial Park in Combes, Texas, on Jan. 18.
Son’s and wife’s bodies, left unclaimed, were going to be ‘disposed of’
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:10 p.m. ET Jan. 20, 2006

HARLINGEN, Texas - After Hurricane Katrina socked the central Gulf Coast, Eldo and Julia Allen watched the news and waited in vain for word from their son in Biloxi, Miss.

They waited for nearly four months, not knowing the horrific truth: that their son and daughter-in-law died as the storm surge swallowed their Beach Boulevard apartment. That their bodies had long since been found and identified at the Harrison County, Miss., coroner’s office. And that they were about to be “disposed of” after going so long unclaimed.

The agencies the Allens had been calling all those months hadn’t contacted the coroner, and the coroner hadn’t checked with the agencies.

“Nobody talked to nobody,” Eldo Allen said, his voice wrapped in grief. “That’s why we just was almost too late. If we’d been a little later they would have disposed of the bodies with ‘next of kin unknown,’ and that would have been ... “

He bowed his head over a dining room table laden with family photo albums, sympathy cards from the retirement community, and the black box holding his son’s ashes, before completing his thought: “That would have been more than I could stand.”


January 20, 2006

In her eyes: Red Cross volunteer's three-week hurricane relief trip an eye-opener

Some people just don't get it.

One hundred square miles of devastation.

Karen Rhodes of Ottawa walked along the 17th Street Levee in Mississippi, St. Bernard Parish, La., and the streets of Waveland as a Red Cross disaster relief volunteer.

She can still see the gutted hotels and houses, and the sea of tents serving as temporary homes after Hurricane Katrina leveled whole communities.

It's been months since the hurricane hit, but the smell of death still looms.

"People just don't get it sometimes. This disaster is of such a huge magnitude, of biblical proportions, massive devastation, that goes on for miles and miles," said Rhodes, who spent three weeks traveling through both states, delivering meals to those in need. Rhodes' shelter of 200 volunteers delivered about 32,000 meals a day, using Red Cross emergency response vehicles resembling ambulances.

Rhodes left for the trip in October -- just two months after she signed up for several disaster relief courses. CONTINUE

December 22, 2005

The Wall and the Door

Why do some people want to add insult to New Orleans' injury by viewing our misfortune as a dread contagious disease?
By Moira Crone

I just talked to a friend, a filmmaker, who lives in New Orleans’ French Quarter. She stayed in her house through Hurricane Katrina and got out last Tuesday with a gun, and her car, in dire straits. Injured from battling the storm, and with only the clothes on her back, she got a first-class plane ticket, all that was available, from Baton Rouge, to stay with friends in New York.

When she walked to her seat, she was asked repeatedly to show her ticket: Apparently, airline personnel couldn’t believe a woman in black jeans with bruises on her arms was one of their elite passengers. “I know I looked like a heroin addict,” she said. “But still.”

Read the Story

November 19, 2005

Refuge from the storm

Mountain Area residents tell their stories as they return from the country's hurricane disaster areas

(Updated Friday, November 18, 2005, 9:49 AM)

April Follette of Ahwahnee recently returned from a trip to Louisiana with the Fresno/Madera Red Cross. Her trip was sponsored by Sierra Pines Church of Oakhurst.

Irene Thirlwall
Pictured from left, April Follette, Bayou Black and Martha Graham. Follette recently went to help hurricane victims in Louisiana and brought back two friends.
Irene Thirlwall

While in Louisiana, Follette met two victims of the Katrina and Rita hurricane disasters and brought them back to the Mountain Area. Martha Graham, a 75-year-old woman of average height with red hair and blue eyes that show a glimmer of her tough life, and a three-legged black Labrador, named Bayou Black, are now members of the mountain community.

"I met Martha in a homeless shelter," Follette said. "A shelter in a gymnasium at Nickel State University in Thibodaux, La.," Follette said. "I was working in the shelter and there were a lot of people who had lost everything and needed supplies and started asking for Bibles. Sierra Pines had sent me with a case of Bibles and that is how we initially met."

Continue the Story Here

November 06, 2005

Writing Community Unites to Write “Stories of Strength” for Disaster Relief

Writing Community Unites to Write “Stories of Strength” for Disaster Relief

As they watched the coverage of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, writers
who had gathered on the AbsoluteWrite.com message boards decided not to
sit by helplessly any longer. Instead, they set their pens and keyboards
to work-- writing uplifting essays, short fiction, and poetry on the
theme of “strength.” The result is the 316-page anthology Stories of
Strength, with 100 percent of the proceeds to go to disaster relief
charities, including the Red Cross, Americares, and the Salvation Army.

Headed by Jenna Glatzer, author of acclaimed Celine Dion biography For
Keeps, this project attracted contributions from many well-known
writers, including a story and an original hymn by award-winning science
fiction novelist Orson Scott Card, an essay by famed actor Wil Wheaton
(Star Trek, Stand By Me), and a short story from Christian romance
author Robin Lee Hatcher.

With more than 100 pieces from writers all over the world, and the
gracious efforts of prominent editors and graphic designers, Stories of
Strength is a tribute to the human spirit: celebrating true stories of
courage and endurance in challenging situations that range from the
death of a child to living through natural disasters, to smaller-scale
trials, like dealing with returning an overdue book to the local Library

Longtime blogger behind meryl's notes (www.meryl.net/blog/), Meryl K.
Evans of Plano is one of the writers whose work was chosen for the
anthology. Her essay, "My Quiet Relationship with Dad," is about the
strength she gained from her dad's gentle support in her leading a
normal life in spite of her deafness. "What Jenna Glatzer has managed to
put together in such a short time is nothing short of miraculous, and I
am honored to be a part of it," says Meryl. "I don't typically write
stories as I write about business, technology, and the Internet. It was
a wonderful opportunity to help people in need."

Alternating between tear-jerking and humorous, Stories of Strength is
guaranteed to inspire and remind readers that the human spirit knows no

“Many people have said they plan to order copies for everyone on their
holiday list,” says Jenna Glatzer. “What a fantastic way to give a
present that also helps people rebuild their lives.”

The writers hope to turn their words into sizable long-term
contributions to disaster relief charities. In addition to the writers’
donations, publishing company Lulu (www.lulu.com) is generously donating
its profits from the project. Lulu will also donate several media review

Most writers are available for interviews, readings, and book signings.

Ordering details are at www.storiesofstrength.com.

The book is available direct from Lulu, and available to order from
bookstores worldwide soon thereafter. Review copies are available upon
request. Let us know if you prefer a PDF file or a printed copy.

Book details:

Stories of Strength
Editor/Publisher: Jenna Glatzer
Publishing services provided by Lulu
ISBN: 1-4116-5503-6
Release date: November 1, 2005
316 pages
Price: $15.95
6.0 x 9.0 in., Perfect-bound, 60# cream interior paper, black and white
interior ink, 100# white exterior paper, full-color (CMYK) exterior


Meryl K. Evans
Content Maven for Hire
Writing :: Editing :: Copy
http://www.meryl.net/blog/ - blog

P.S. Have you subscribed to meryl's notes
<http://meryl.notifylist.com/meryl_net.html> or eNewsletter Journal

October 26, 2005

Katrina Mom's Search for 3 Year Old Ends

'I knew it was over with'

One search comes to an end

Shenae Green

By Christy Oglesby

(CNN) -- Early this week, Deanna Thomas got the phone call she needed but never wanted. Morgue officials had the corpse of her 3-year-old daughter, Shenae Green.

Read the Story

September 22, 2005

Margaret Here from Hurricane Alley

Forecast models have moved Hurricane Rita landfall a little more eastward then previously predicted. I am not surprised - call it an intuitive hunch. I think Louisiana is going to take a beating from this storm. Schools are closing Friday here in Baton Rouge. Decision on the LSU - Tennessee game is being made as we speak. This morning I woke up to low swiftly moving  cumulus clouds - they were so low I felt like I could touch em.  The tops of the trees were swaying. This afternoon dark clouds moved over & we've started to get some rain. With Katrina we were on the west side of the storm - we got very little rain & the wind didn't even start to blow until she had almost made landfall. We are definitely feeling Rita's outerbands.  I sent Tommy, my husband to Home Depot this morning to fetch a generator. Tonight I'll go finish up my grocery shopping & other storm supplies. I want to be prepared.

Just now my daughter Kendall and I went to Walgreens. I was standing in the one hour photo line when a lady asked me where the closest grocery store was. I asked her if she was from New Orleans and she said yes. I looked at her sympathetically & said "I know you're ready to go home". Her eyes teared up & she said "We don't have a home. We lost everything". I said "oh, I am sorry. How are you?" She said "I was okay until"...and then her voice cracks and then she breaks open...she says "I was okay until I went up to the bank to deposit my money and then they wouldn't take it because they said it was contaminated"...and this woman starts crying hysterically - Even my daughter who is a pretty tough little gal began to tear up.

it's like to this woman, the idea of her money being contaminated made her feel contaminated - the whole scenario just encapsulated her grief. I wanted to find out what bank wouldn't take her money - and is this insensitive? - couldn't the bank do something with this money or to help these people? - like couldn't there be some kind of quarantine center where they could take in the contaminated money & replace it with non-contaminated money? I just can't imagine.

Folks there are so many dimensions to this disaster you'd never even think about.  I just can't imagine a second major hub along the Gulf Coast is going to enter the fray. How we will meet the challenges of this next round of storm aftermath? We can't meet the challenges & demands of one Katrina - I don't see how we have enough hands, hearts & resources to meet  another catastrophic hurricane.  Folks are standing for hours in the heat just trying to get Red Cross debit cards. The bodies still haven't been collected out of New Orleans....There are people still in shelters...

On another note, as I was leaving Walgreens, I saw that the contaminated- money- lady had gotten her pictures and there was a nice little group of Baton Rougeans standing around her, sharing a look at her pics, and giving her support. The lady looked really loved in that moment. So the good news in this whole catastrophe is that I have never seen such an outpouring of love from people both near and far. It has really restored my faith in humanity. No one of us can get through this time of crisis but all of us can.