Monday, September 12, 2005

Katrina: Gestures of Human Kindness

This post is an ongoing compilation of heroic stories of good-spirited individuals lending helping hands, and whose actions have brought solace and consolation to the victims of Hurricane Katrina that devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States on August 29, 2005. This post is a general tribute to those silent heroes and heroines in our midst. It is also a salutation and commendation to those that donated cash and/or kind to the relief effort. It remembers the group of men and women that stood in harms way to rescue the distressed during this calamity.

Names of the heros and heroines showcased are listed on the sidebar on the right under "Hurricane Katrina: Honor Roll". Readers are free and indeed encouraged to recommend individuals to the honor roll; just leave a comment with enough information.

Thanks for stopping by!


Story 8: Sept 12, 2005

Heroes: Eli & Peyton Manning, LA

Manning brothers team up for Katrina relief

The name Manning is legendary in the city of New Orleans for two generations of football greats. Now those hometown heroes are doing what they can to help their friends, family and thousands of their longtime fans recover from Hurricane Katrina.

…Peyton, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, and younger brother Eli, who plays for the New York Giants, mobilized a plane full of relief supplies that were delivered to Baton Rouge on Saturday. Both brothers grew up in Louisiana.
Like countless other efforts across the nation, the collection and delivery of 30,000 pounds of water, Gatorade, infant formula, diapers and pillows took a lot of different players to become reality.

The Manning-led effort began in Atlanta where the airplane was housed early Saturday, with about 20 employee-volunteers from AirTran Airways, flying a mostly empty aircraft to Indianapolis, Indiana, to pick up the supplies. Peyton Manning now lives in Indiana and runs a charity there.
"This is not like an everyday trip," said pilot Lee Nall Jr. "We're just trying as best we can to add a little sanity to these people's lives. I've done two of these trips already. I'll do as many as I can..."
The Manning brothers helped load some of the pallets of baby formula and water. They also talked to more than a dozen reporters from Indianapolis newspapers, radio and TV stations before boarding the flight to Louisiana…"I talked to the Red Cross and told them I certainly didn't want to get in the way, but I wanted to do whatever I could to help," he said. "They said these people are down, so any kind of morale boost we could give would be good for them, too."

The Mannings have been involved in community assistance for many years. When he joined the NFL, Peyton Manning set up the PeyBack Foundation, which has since contributed money to youth organizations in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana…

"It's just different when you have your hometown hit. It just triggers a nerve," he said. "We grew up in New Orleans, and my parents are from Mississippi. Slidell, St. Bernard -- I can just visualize them."
…Scores of Red Cross volunteers at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport loaded the tons of supplies onto waiting trucks. "This stuff is great, and we need it so badly," said Red Cross volunteer Karyn Degenais, a school psychologist from Oregon on leave from her job to help with the relief effort in Louisiana.

As the empty AirTran plane taxied for its return to Atlanta, Peyton and Eli Manning headed off to spend some time in the region they call home.
"We know these people; these people know us," Peyton said. "We have a connection to these people."


Story 7: Sept 9, 2005

Heroes: Curt & Shonda Schilling, MA

Schilling family hosts nine from New Orleans

Last autumn, Curt Schilling helped the Red Sox win it all. Now, he and his wife, Shonda, are helping a New Orleans family of nine who have lost almost everything.

Moved by the plight of thousands of Gulf Coast residents whose lives were shattered by Hurricane Katrina, the star pitcher and his wife arranged to fly up a family and to put them up in a Boston-area hotel.

The Fields family has seven children, four boys and three girls. They are between the ages of 5 and 12. The family fled its New Orleans home just before the storm, with only a few clothes and groceries. As they realized the scope of the devastation in New Orleans, the Schillings decided to help, and they chose a personal, immediate gesture rather than a simple contribution of money…
"We decided we wanted to bring an entire family here and put them up," she added. "We all need to take care of each other at a time like this."
The Fields family spent last week in an Atlanta-area hotel, with the help of a charitable group. While staying there, they were contacted by a woman who had set up a website, OpenYourHome.Com, to match displaced families with people willing to take them in. The Schillings registered on the site Friday; on Saturday they anonymously arranged for the family to fly to Boston. The Fields had never even been to the Northeast. But with little money and no place to go, they accepted the offer.

"He said, 'I would like to help you,' " Efrem Fields, 31, said in a phone interview from his hotel yesterday. ''He didn't say who he was. He just said, 'You have a big family, and it's hard to take care of a big family in hard times.' He's right about that -- it is."

A van showed up at the hotel to take the family to the airport on Saturday afternoon. Fields and his wife, Shelita, 28, were frightened to fly, but they managed. They arrived in Boston that evening. The Schillings, who have four children 10 and younger, visited the family at the hotel. It was then that Fields learned who had helped his family.
"I said, 'Wait a second, I know this guy,'" said Fields, a big baseball fan. "Schilling...Schilling, there's only one Schilling I know, and he's a baseball player! It blew my mind."
The Schillings have pledged to provide housing for the family for a year, and are trying to arrange for the children to attend school...

…The Schillings are outspoken advocates for many causes, notably ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease; the Schillings made arrangements for the Fields family quietly, and discussed it only after they were contacted by The Boston Globe.

Via Boston Globe


Story 4-6: Sept 9, 2005

Adam family: Anthony, Michael, and Adriana, TX
David Blomstrom, TX
Houston Police Officer Beverly Bisso, TX

Houston Heroes: Neighbors join forces to bring relief

Story 6: Adam family: Anthony, Michael, and Adriana

Whether the help is big or small, to the families stricken by tragedy, many Houston residents have become heroes. Michael Adame, 15, acknowledged he was not too excited about rolling out of bed before dawn Saturday to be among the first volunteers at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

But once he got there, he was glad he'd come. "People lost everything. They lost their families," he said. Michael's father, Anthony, took Michael and his sister, Adriana, to the center at 4:30 a.m. The three planned to stay until 4 p.m.

The three worked behind tables stacked high with donated toothpaste and toothbrushes, in an area crowded with supplies that volunteers have come to call "the store." As evacuees filed by, the Adames helped them to the goods.

Story 5: David Blomstrom

David Blomstrom went to the shelter at the Reliant Astrodome on Friday, its second full day of operation. Four things motivated him — a desire to help and the three unoccupied bedrooms in his Richmond home. Once he arrived, he did not intend to leave alone...

At the Astrodome, Blomstrom met Chaka KhanWilson and her three children, and brought them home. Wilson, a New Orleans resident who left the Crescent City with nothing but her purse, had not slept Thursday night. She spent that time praying for a way to get her family out of the crowded Astrodome.

The following night, Wilson slept in the Blomstrom home, with her children — 8-year-old Kelvin Walker and 5-year-old twins Kelly and Keltin Walker.

Story 4: Houston Police Officer Beverly Bisso

Angie Rangel, head of housekeeping at the Astro Inn on Interstate 45, is now also in charge of organizing and distributing donated goods that have accumulating there since Thursday, when residents and businesses began to respond to a call for donations from Houston Police Officer Beverly Bisso, who works in the Heights...

Thirty-six of the 120 rooms at the motel were occupied by hurricane victims Saturday. Many are running out of money and food. Bisso started the drive after she drove by the motel Wednesday.

Via Houston Chronicles


Story 3: Sept 6, 2005

Hero: Deamonte Love, age 6, LA

A child in charge of `6 babies'

In the chaos that was Causeway Boulevard, this group of refugees stood out: a 6-year-old boy walking down the road, holding a 5-month-old, surrounded by five toddlers who followed him around as if he were their leader.

They were holding hands. Three of the children were about 2, and one was wearing only diapers. A 3-year-old girl, who wore colorful barrettes on the ends of her braids, had her 14-month-old brother in tow. The 6-year-old spoke for all of them, and he told rescuers his name was Deamonte Love...

In the Baton Rouge headquarters of the rescue operation, paramedics tried to coax their names out of them; nurses who examined them stayed up that night, brooding.

Transporting the children alone was "the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, knowing that their parents are either dead" or that they had been abandoned, said Pat Coveney, a Houston emergency medical technician who put them into the back of his ambulance and drove them out of New Orleans.

"It goes back to the same thing," he said. "How did a 6-year-old end up being in charge of six babies?"
Deamonte began to give more details to Derrick Robertson, a 27-year-old Big Buddy mentor: How he saw his mother cry when he was loaded onto the helicopter. How he promised her he would take care of his little brother.

Late Saturday, they found Deamonte's mother, who was in a shelter in San Antonio along with the four mothers of the other five children. Catrina Williams, 26, saw her children's pictures on a Web site set up over the weekend by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. By Sunday, a private plane from Angel Flight waited to take the children to Texas…

In a phone interview, Williams said she is the kind of mother who doesn't let her children out of her sight. What happened, she said, was that her family, trapped in a New Orleans apartment building, began to feel desperate.

The water wasn't going down, and they had been living without light, food or air conditioning for four days. The baby needed milk and the milk was gone. So she decided they would evacuate by helicopter. When a helicopter arrived, they were told to send the children first and that the helicopter would be back in 25 minutes.

It was a wrenching moment. Williams' father, Adrian Love, told her to send the children ahead.
"I told them to go ahead and give them up, because me, I would give my life for my kids. They should feel the same way," said Love, 48.
The helicopter didn't come back.

While the children were transported to Baton Rouge, their parents wound up in Texas. Days passed without contact. On Sunday, Williams was elated.
"All I know is I just want to see my kids," she said. "Everything else will just fall into place."
At 3 p.m. Sunday, social workers said goodbye to the children who now had names: Deamonte Love; Darynael Love; Zoria Love and her brother Tyreek. The girl who cried "Gabby!" was Gabrielle Janae Alexander. The girl they called Peanut was Degahney Carter. And the boy whom they called G was actually Lee--Leewood Moore Jr…

Via Yahoo News


Story 2: Sept 6, 2005

Hero: Champlin Victor Sheldon, LA

Chaplain's initiative spurs rush delivery of baby supplies

Spc. Brandon Taylor (right) hands a box of baby supplies through a window of a helicopter to Staff Sgt. Charles Miller at Baton Rouge Metro Airport Monday. The Army delivered diapers, infant formula and bottles to Bogalusa. Greg Pearson/The Times 09.05.05. Via Shreveport Times, by Dan Turner

Sheldon, who leads a double life as a chaplain in the Navy Reserve and an Episcopal priest, overheard Washington Parish official on a local radio station describing a severe shortage of infant formula and diapers in Bogalusa, a small town along the Mississippi River about 80 miles north of New Orleans. Sheldon responded to the call, challenging St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge to come up with the baby supplies.

"I had an idea, since they needed the formula so badly, of a way to get it there quicker," Sheldon said. "Driving was going to take too long."
On a day when President Bush came to town to make sure various agencies were cooperating in the relief effort, Sheldon managed to convince a U.S. Army search-and-rescue crew to haul the goods.

It wasn't a tough sales job.

"We've flown all over New Orleans picking people off of roof tops with the boom lift, but I'm just as excited about this," said Spc. Brandon Taylor, crew chief for the group making the first of two flights late Monday afternoon.
A trip to Sam's Warehouse produced a full pallet of formula, while a church volunteer rounded up bottles and pacifiers.

"We bought all the formula they had," Sheldon said, just as another church volunteer rounded the corner with a trailer loaded with more. In short order, the flight crew packed the helicopter to the brim with the supplies. The image of an olive-drab Army helicopter crammed with brightly packaged diapers and formula left Taylor deeply impressed.

"This," he said, "is so cool."

By Dan Turner, Shreveport Times


Story 1: Sept 3, 2005

Hero: Greg Lawrence, MN

Minnesota man offers homeless family a home

Via Kare 11 News.

Some people who made it out of Katrina's path on Monday kept right on moving, driving to get as far away from the misery as possible. On Thursday, a few of those refugees made it to Minnesota. They found a father's small home, big smile and thankful heart waiting to welcome them.” According to Brad via Kare11 News. But “unlike the thousands who ignored the warnings to leave New Orleans or simply didn't have the means to leave, Robertson Bruno and her husband (Harold), sister and four kids between them, fled.
"We have nothing. This is what we have, the clothes on our backs."
Bruno and family have spent the past four days fleeing from Katrina in a car. Three weeks ago, Greg Lawrence bought a home with the intention of renting it out after he finished doing some work on it. Then Hurricane Katrina struck and put a considerable twist into his plans.

Now Robertsons have a new home, thanks to Lawrence! Now the family has a newly renovated, three bedroom home with two baths, one of them a jacuzzi.

"I want to help you. There's no rent and you can live here up to a year", Lawrence told the Robertsons.
A year to get back on their feet. Harold can't believe how nice the place is, "I'm about to cry, but I usually don't cry, I'm excited. I'm just speechless." Speechless over what has evolved from tears of sorrow to tears of joy. "Welcome to Minnesota. I'm sorry for your loss guys," said Lawrence has he welcomed the family to their new home...

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