Howdy, folks -Just a quick update on my whereabouts and doings. I'm still managing a shelter for the Red Cross here in Larose, Louisiana, about 45 miles west of New Orleans ...... a shelter whose population nearly doubled to 150 today in what me and the 13-member Red Cross crew I'm heading (10 mass care staff/3 nurses) are now referring to as our "KatRita" deployment. I've been in Louisiana for almost three weeks now; two weeks at this location with brief stints in Baton Rouge, Houma, and Grand Isle, Louisiana. This area is currently under a voluntary evacuation order for Hurricane Rita and after much talk of evacuating, we have now hunkered down here in the Larose Civic Center to ride out the storm. The Pennsylvania National Guard made a heroic entrance earlier in the evening with two gigantic, Mad Max lookin' trucks full of MREs which were unloaded by an impressive and efficient chain of military guys, Red Cross volunteers and shelter residents in record time. We were already loaded down with water and the building has a generator fueled to run for more than a week once we lose standard power. Our cable television and Red Cross satellite phones and internet access are holding up through the first squalls as we've experienced brief, intense outbursts of wind and rain, with the phones and 'net likely to remain constant as long as we can keep the dish out back from blowing over or away. At this point, we've been told to expect tropical storm force winds for 24 or more hours but every inch eastward you see the landfall projections move, the more intense things will get around here. The worst of it should hit just after midnight Friday night/Saturday morning so we're expecting our currently well-behaved population to surge further toward the Civic Center's maximum sheltering capacity of 300 or 400. Sounds like a party, no!!?!! So here I am ..... split three ways between feeling like I can really help here and all is well, wanting to be in the safe comfort of home with my kitties as I fear what's in store, and just loving the adrenaline rush of riding out this major storm and historical event. Regardless of my spin on it, we're here to stay now. I'm on my third set of plane reservations as I vacillated between trying to get out in advance of the storm and trying to project a safe time after it will have passed. My current schedule to fly out of Baton Rouge on Saturday will almost certainly need to be altered once again. Meanwhile, it should be an interesting ride!!Hope you're all well. Check in if/when you can ---Chris--
Godspeed to Chris. Stay safe.