FOX Fan has asked Chris and Sharyn of Pacifica, California, who are housing a displaced survivor of Hurricane Katrina, to keep a blog of their experiences. Check this page regularly for updates and comment on entries by e-mailing us here.
Special thanks to Joel at www.hurricanehousingsearch.org.
Blog Entry #1
Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET
In order to acquaint your readers with our situation, I would like to submit a letter we sent to our friends and family as my first blog entry.
To All Our Friends and Family,
We, I'm sure like you, watched in fear and awe as Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and then the rest of the Gulf Coast. The fear however started to turn to confusion as victims appeared to be stranded on rooftops, overpasses, and at the Superdome without food or water going into the second and third day after the storm passed...
Where was the help? Where was anybody? We shouted at the television and wrung our hands wanting to help...somebody to help them.
What if that was us? Who would be helping us? How would we feel after three days on a roof in the 90-degree sun with no food and water and surrounded by the most awful ooze of water, oil, dead things and mosquitoes that could be imagined only perhaps in hell.
We decided that we needed to do something to actually help. So after giving it some careful thought, and instead of giving a lot of money (which we didn't really have), we decided that maybe we could offer our guest bedroom to a couple or single person as a place to come and recuperate, regroup, and heal. We just figured we could make it work somehow.
We registered our room with the Red Cross and in the hurricane housing section on Craigslist in three different states: Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. We also registered with www.hurricanehousing.org, which, at the time, was one of the very first sites up and trying to connect survivors with housing opportunities.
We waited for several days and received two e-mails from survivors that never returned our replies. And we waited....and waited. We were starting to think we'd never find anybody when out of the blue, on September 8, 2005 we got a call from Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. They had picked up our advertisement on Craigslist and asked if the offer was still open. We said yes, the room is all ready! They told us that they had a Katrina survivor named Donald who had hitchhiked from Houston after leaving New Orleans with nothing more than the clothes he was wearing. We quickly agreed to help him.
Donald is here with us, safe from his harrowing adventure.
When the levees broke in New Orleans, Donald and his girlfriend fled to the attic of their home as the water rose quickly. After awhile, they decided to get to the roof and out of the attic. He broke out a vent on the end of the house, and when his girlfriend got in the water to go around to the roof, she was pulled under by the swift water, and being unable to swim, she was lost.
Donald managed to get to the roof and then spent three days there with no food or water, waiting for someone to rescue him. When the helicopter finally came, he ended up at the Superdome, which by that time was not a better place to be than on top of his roof. He managed, somehow, to get a bus to Houston where the situation was the same — survivors massed together. Donald decided that was not for him and headed to the highway and stuck out his thumb.
He'd had a little to eat and some water by this time, and soon had a ride with a trucker to San Francisco. Four days and nights on the road in a truck and he ended up being dropped off around 2 a.m. by Pier 39 wearing a pair of khaki shorts and a t-shirt. He had just been riding in a warm truck cab and no one had mentioned that it would be cold in San Francisco this time of year. As he sat there, shivering and totally lost in a strange town in the fog, a pair of SFPD bicycle cops stopped. They listened to his story and told him about Glide Memorial Church to get food and clothes. The rest of the story is now unfolding.
After several days now, Donald is learning about California, and more importantly, that somebody DOES care about what happened to him. We are planning to have him stay with us as long as he feels he needs to. His work background is in construction, and right now I'm working on jobs that he can assist me with. I am pleased to report that he has worked with me for several days now (with pay), and is really liking having something to keep busy with.
Sharyn and I are very happy that we are doing something tangible to help someone who has gone through hell and made it to a safe place. We hope that the length of this message is forgiven, as this is a long story, with many chapters still to be written.
We love you all.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for your support.
Chris, Sharyn...and Donald