This email was sent by a Brigitte Von Stetina, a regular reader of this column
Dateline : Friday, September 16, 2005
This has been my first chance to read Crystalinks since Hurricane Katrina. My husband, Matthew, my 2 toddler daughters, and I, were rescued out of New Orleans four days after Katrina hit.
We were first rescued by canoe followed by a long road to safety. We are currently relocated in Lima, Ohio. We lost everything, of course, and were rescued with only the clothes on our backs.
Just when we survived Katrina, and thought it was over, the looters came into the neighborhood.
I had never heard people being killed before, up close and personal, but we survived the looters.
Then the waters came, which my four year old daughter calls, "The Water Man." There was no escaping that by foot. Power lines were down all over the neighborhood, trees as well. We lost water, which was the worst thing. We were making it without electricity, but seven people were with us in the house and with only one five gallon container of spring water, two boxes of cereal, a jar of peanut butter, and a bag of buns. Two and a half months pregnant and with toddlers, it was making me very weak to ration out our supplies, but we did.
The days and nights seemed like weeks. A friend was on the roof trying to hail a helicopter for days and nights. Some men in a canoe said they would come back for the "babies", my toddlers. We were told that we would have to be separated from them as they were the only ones that could go in the canoe with the two men. We decided against that option just as we decided to not go to the dome. We knew what the consequences would be if we had chosen either path. We told the men in the canoe that we would rather die together than to risk our babies being raped or murdered. It was then that the men decided to fit us (my husband and myself) in the canoe as well.
We walked through the waters of filth, sewage, crude oil and dead bodies until we reached the canoe.
Our journey, to some form of freedom, was now beginning.
After we made it to higher ground, we were taken in by another refugee on the way to get his family out of there. He picked us up in his truck and dropped us off at a hospital, only to find the hospital was with nothing other than National Guard. We were not to enter but sent on our way to walk through a parish called Jefferson. There we found a police officer, who asked if we needed anything. We told him that indeed we did, though the officer didn't want to leave his district to get us to the staging area.
When he said those words I started to cry. I just couldn't hold it in anymore after all I had witnessed. He changed his mind at this and took us through Jefferson. It was there that I saw buildings burning, buildings looted, etc. It looked like the pictures I remembered seeing on the news from the past in regards to the California riots.
Night was going to fall upon us soon and I knew that we needed to keep moving once the officer took us to the location where the buses were SUPPOSED to pick us up to get us to the next staging area. When he dropped us off at the freeway/overpass area, we saw thousands of people waiting to leave the what felt like a war stricken area. The people there were of all color all nationality, they were just like us. They wanted safety, they wanted food, water, and shelter, to find a place to sleep where there was no fear of becoming a victim of a violent crime. After several buses passed all of us by, (a good way to insight a riot among hungry, thirsty, tired and now homeless people.)
A man named Brown decided that it was time to get us out of there. He was a refugee as well. He gathered up some shopping carts and proceeded to get the elderly, as well as me and my two girls, inside of them. He then organized for younger people to push the carts up the overpass. He ended up tying his Pit Bull (Miller), up to our shopping cart. This six month old pit bull went on carrying us for two and a half miles.
Along the way another gentlemen, Refugee, pulled his truck along side of us and told usual to get in. So we did. He took us to the final staging area. Once at the final staging area there was an immediate feeling of 'whoa.' Here there were thousands of people and buses upon buses, helicopters circling the grounds, National Guard surrounding the perimeters. It was a huge standstill, nothing was happening. We walked for hours among the people of our city, when a medic approached us and asked us if we were okay. My husband informed him that I was pregnant and had to walk through the floodwaters.
He immediately took us to a different area where all the sick, dying and dead were. There the medic sat me in a wheel chair and told us to wait for a doctor. Matthew had to hold our daughters as there was waste and medical waste littering the ground.
An hour later another medic came to us and asked if we were ready to go. Matthew said "YES!" So he wheeled us on to one of the first coach buses that were headed for Houston.
Once on route, the bus stopped in Lafayette. We were informed that it was stopping ultimately in Lafayette. It turns out that Lafayette was good for us. Though before that, we endured hours of walking the streets in our sewage filled clothing trying to figure out what to do next. We went into a 'quick stop' to try and use a phone, yet the clerk was unwilling to help us. At this point in time I was standing in the store holding my two little daughters hands when a woman wearing a "PROUD TO BE AMERICAN" shirt came in to get her morning coffee, made eye contact with us and immediately looked down at the floor.
She proceeded to pay for her coffee, chat very nicely with the clerk, and then on the way out looked down again and took a wide girth around us, leaving in her car. At this point I lost all faith in humanity.
Hungry, dehydrated, tired, and not knowing if I can make it any longer, on we walked, when a man named John stopped his truck to ask us if we needed any help. We told him we simply wanted a phone, to call any relative to come get us. Instead, John took us to his work, fed us, allowed us to shower, and bought us clothing. Between him and his employees they took us in like we were part of their family. They worked hard on finding us a flight out to Ohio. We stayed with them for three days. These people were so kind. I love them all very much.
So here we are in Ohio, where we have endlessly been searching the net for our dog. We had to leave him behind. Low and behold, he has been rescued and now Matthew has to leave on Sunday with a donated rental car, donated by Toyota, to go get Guinness out of La Place Louisiana where he is being kept.
Sigh, oh Ellie, I tried to shorten this story, but it just came flowing out. Originally I wanted to tell you that it has been so long since I have read your daily columns. We have been going non stop since the Hurricane. Matthew says that we have survived because we have been studying and understanding much for so long, we are out of the box, on the road to ascension, etc.
Here is a synchronicity for you, and actually the reason I started this e-mail. You wrote of Kali. Two weeks before the storm, I placed a beautiful but wrathful picture of Kali in our living room window facing the outside. I was reading that we were in the 'Age of Kali' and felt it to be true. Then Katrina came. As you had said, 'K' words- Katrina, Kali and Karma. I'm glad to see that I am still resonating with you. We still have much to do to begin a life here. I look forward to being able to catch up on reading your site eventually.
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