2. Oyster has written a post about NOLA in the immediate aftermath of the levee breaks--better than I could have--that has been rattling around in my melonhead for months. I am posting in support of and homage to his post. A Jesuit priest friend of mine, Jim Deshotels, who is a nurse pratitioner, was in the Dome when it served as a saving shelter for our people. Here's what he has to say about the experience:
"I went to the Superdome last Sunday, [August] the 28th, late afternoon-just as the weather was starting to get nasty," e-mailed Fr. Jim Deshotels, SJ, to worried family and friends. A nurse practitioner who works with the Daughters of Charity in New Orleans, he knew he could be of ervice during Katrina.
"I had a general idea what I was in for, so I slept late, ate, did wash, etc. Then I got the one Jesuit remaining in my community to give me a ride."
The needs were incredible at the Superdome. "From Sunday to Thursday morning it was nonstop nursing, except for when I got a nap or a short night's sleep ... one night in the middle of our triage area in the loading dock." Deshotels frantically worked alongside nursing home LPNs, volunteers, FEMA doctors, and city health department staff. When the levee broke, they moved patients to a higher spot in the arena.
"One little lady from the nursing home died," wrote Deshotels, " and the docs and I agreed that doing CPR would be cruel as well as probably fruitless, so I gave her absolution and laid on some prayers, and we snuck her out in her wheelchair. We had to park her under the stairs till they started on the temporary morgue."
"Lots of dehydration," his e-mail continued, "eventually dysentery, especially for the babies ... If you can get 4 ounces of Pedialyte down them, they come alive-instant child, just add water. Three births. Three deaths that I know of ... No one was ready for this-it's the Big One we've been afraid of for 40 years, and here we are."
After five days at the Superdome, Deshotels and others were bused to Dallas. "So I'm tired, and awed, and grateful, and only a little amazed," he concluded. "God is good all the time and at work, and I already knew that. It was as hellacious as the TV said, but the TV ... failed to focus on the heroic virtue I saw all around me."