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Your e-mails: Hurricane Katrina

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CNN.com asked readers to share their thoughts about Hurricane Katrina. Here is a sampling from the responses, some of which have been edited:

My daughter teaches a special ed class in a north Texas high school, which is in a part of the state that is definitely not affluent. The school wanted to take up a collection for the hurricane relief fund. The special ed kids (some of them autistic, some in wheelchairs) wanted to participate, so they gave the only thing they could --their soda money. This should be a reminder to everyone that even the price of a soda will help. I am attending volunteer orientation with the Red Cross tomorrow in Dallas to try and help. Thank you and God bless us all.
Judy
Denton, Texas

Just watching this unfold is a nightmare. I cannot imagine the horror these poor people are going through. Everything I read and everything I see just creates more questions. Why can't they set up a refugee camp at the airport? Or at least closer than Houston? Why are helicopters dropping sandbags instead of water, food, clothes, tents at the Superdome, and inflatable rafts in the flooded residential areas? Why can't the helicopters drop informational pamphlets telling them something? Anything! Who is in charge? Anyone? Why is there so much confusion and violence? How can this be happening in this great nation? My heart just weeps with sorrow.
Kim McGrath
Santa Fe, New Mexico

I am compelled to write to you regarding Hurricane Katrina and what I am seeing on CNN. I just can not believe how inefficient and cruel the human race can be by leaving these poor people without food, and especially without water. Surely they must be able to airlift water by helicopter into affected areas such as the [Superdome] and the convention center? On the way the helicopter could pick up survivors in the water. Surely this can not be too simplistic. Secondly they knew the storm was coming, so why did they not have the naval hospital ships and helicopters standing by just a day's sail away, instead of seven days away which I have heard. The tsunami was unexpected and sudden, but this disaster was predicted. Someone should get their act together. It is very frustrating not being able to do anything except watch in horror.
Jonathan Payens
Welton, UK

IT IS A MIRACLE! I just got word that my last three missing loves ones that lived in Gretna, Louisiana, have been found. My mother is very ill and she made it and your family can too! Don't give up hope! I'm writing this because I want people to know not to give up on looking for your loved ones. Listen to CNN! They are getting the people the help they need in the states that are in the need of this help so badly. Follow what they say to do to help your missing loved ones or to find them. Post the names of your missing loves ones so they can help find them. Check lists online to see if they reported they are safe. Don't give up hope! I also had two sisters missing from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, who both have also been found. Don't give up hope. We need to pray for the loved ones in need and not give up. God Bless.
Judy Edwards
Indianola, Iowa

The 2005 hurricane season has had a great impact on me emotionally, after going through a direct hit by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004. Last week I heard that Tropical Storm Katrina was headed for the West Palm Beach area, and the horrifying thoughts of last year's hurricane season set in. I was alone in my home during both hurricanes and spent the longest night of my life inside the shower with my mattress over me. I literally thought the wind was going to rip the roof off of my home. The windows were rattling for at least six hours while Frances roared through my town. A tornado ripped through my development, uprooting trees and tearing off shingles. I had never in my life been so horrified, and I prayed that I could survive through this "monster" that made everyone so helpless. The next day I went outside only to find destruction in every direction. After going through this, I can relate to the victims of Katrina, and I pray that those who have survived can someday put this behind them, and cherish the life that has been spared to them.
Rachel Peery
Boynton Beach, Florida

My son and I were forced to evacuate the city by my husband -- a New Orleans Fire captain of 29 years' service. To leave him behind as Katrina was barreling straight for us was the most horrible experience I have ever had. Walking through my home of 27 years, and not knowing when or if I would ever see it again was excruciating. As I watch CNN, and see the corner of Canal and Bourbon Streets in flames, all I can think of is what my husband has told me all along. The French Quarter is a tinderbox ready to ignite. This might be that match. It is located at the beginning of the Quarter, and despite the flooding, yes, a fire will spread, and we will lose a huge part of New Orleans history. And to the people who say not to rebuild New Orleans, all I can say to them is New Orleans is a part of our country's history. It has been here hundreds of years. I am just infuriated at statements like that, because my husband might have to give his life to fighting that fire.
Lynn Szymurski
New Orleans, Louisiana

I am saddened by the state of the city of New Orleans. I was grateful to get out of the city and evacuate with relatives; however, it is somewhat difficult to sympathize with some of the people shown on television who act as though they were abandoned. The mayor issued a message advising of a MANDATORY (not VOLUNTARY) evacuation. He established means for those persons to get free rides via public transportation to get to the Superdome. He advised that the conditions would not be ideal. Public officials are elected and serve the greater good for a reason. Warnings should have been heeded especially for the elderly, infirm and those with small children. I just wish peace and blessings for all of those who are displaced and I pray our city can be rebuilt and our faith restored.
Tia
New Orleans, Louisiana

It's a miracle. My sister lives in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and just got word that her home was one of two left standing. They did not have time to board up and it seems the house did not even have one broken window -- everything inside intact. This is probably the only historical home left in Ocean Springs. Unfortunately, the neighbors did not evacuate and when their house was damaged they ended up hovering outside in my sister's back yard. I think they survived.
Mary
Pasadena, California

After listening to the president and Gov. Blanco, I felt the need to make a statement. I am a lifelong resident of Louisiana. I have relatives that live in New Orleans in addition to in-laws. They are all safe and sound in Baton Rouge and Ville Platte. It just breaks my heart that in this time of need we as a human race have started to point blame. Gov. Blanco and her staff, along with police, fire, and rescue members have done an outstanding job under these conditions. The main goal in any disaster is to save lives without putting others at risk. How can you prepare for something like this? You can't. All we can do now is pray and support our local, state, and federal officials. Within every struggle there is a blessing. We in the Lafayette area have opened up our hearts, facilities, schools and homes in order to help those displaced to try and go on with their lives when they are ready.
Michelle
Lafayette, Louisiana

Myself, as well as thousands of other students from Tulane and Loyola University were forced to evacuate last Saturday. Now, in addition to losing our possessions, most will likely have to find other schools to attend. I know it's not nearly as bad as others who lost their homes and loved ones, but this disaster has truly become a nationwide catastrophe.
Adam Greim
Atlanta, Georgia

I would like to share a miracle with you in this time of tragedy. My mother, Chali Ellen Monaghan, 58, and native New Orleanian, made it out of the city alive. She said after the levee broke, black water came up to the second floor, then a citizen came by on a boat and took her to her vehicle that was on higher ground. Her boyfriend would not leave because of his ill father and pets. She felt she had to leave her cat behind because she thought she would go to a shelter, and I'm certain at that point, she could only manage to save herself. She made her way to Interstate 10 and drove to Baton Rouge, where she currently is. She is trying to make her way to Atlanta to live with me, but doesn't know how to get here because of the devastation. She is quite shaken but acted very bravely, and still has a long way to go to be free. She has lost everything but her life and she is extremely happy to be alive, despite all that she has lost and been through.
Chali Varuso
Atlanta, Georgia

I had no idea what we were in store for and I thought that we would be able to stay home and ride it out -- I was wrong. We left home at the last minute and after 12 hours we managed to make it to Alexandria, Louisiana, with no place to stay. All the hotels were booked up completely. We were taken in at someone's home for the night and God bless her. The next morning we drove all the way to Dallas before finding a place to stay. The whole trip I kept telling my children that God loves us and has blessed us with our lives. I wake up every morning hoping that this is just a nightmare. There were times that I thought I knew what others were going through when they suffered major tragedies, but I can honestly admit that I had no idea until now. This is the worst thing that I have every experienced and somehow, I cannot break down or cry, because I know that there are others out that are still left behind or that have lost their lives and families to Katrina. I am a single parent and I don't know if I can afford to take care of my family until we can return home. We as a nation must all support each other and be strong. My heart goes out to everyone in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Stacey Harris
Slidell, Louisiana

This is a nightmare. I know everything I own is underwater or gone, but that is the least of my worries. The last I heard from my sister and brother was 9 a.m. Monday morning, and they were on their roofs crying for help. My two sisters, brother and three nephews are in Chalmette -- I don't know if they survived or am I going to get devastating news? I can't sleep at night knowing that I may have lost my whole family, and there is no way to get any reassurance.
Kristy Wagner
Slidell, Louisiana

I am in the Air Force serving in Iraq. I have been watching the news from here throughout the whole hurricane season. My family (husband and three children) are from Alabama and I worry for their safety. I have been praying for everyone that has been affected by the hurricanes. I pray that people are watching out for our families while we are away.
Jenifer
Iraq

My parents, grandmother, and aunt and uncle all decided to ride out the storm in Long Beach, Mississippi, right outside Gulfport (despite the fact that my sister and I begged them to leave). I have been pacing the floor and praying since Sunday night. It is now Tuesday at around 3:30, and I just got a call from a complete stranger telling me my family is alright. My father saw her on the road and asked if she was able to get cell reception. This lovely woman said she thought she could get some farther north in Mississippi, where they were headed. She took my name and number, and kept calling until she got me. Charlotte, wherever you are, thank you.
Ayn McLaurin
Atlanta, Georgia

I am an American living in Grand Cayman. I lived through Hurricane Ivan in 2004 when, as a category 4, it tore through Grand Cayman, devastating the island and leaving us without power and water for several months. Ninety percent of the houses had roof damage and many buildings were structurally damaged beyond repair. My husband and I lost everything -- our home, our possessions, our car -- everything. But we had our lives, for that we are thankful. We had to start over again. My baby was three months old at the time, and I returned to the U.S. for a few months to try and rebuild our lives. Now I am back in Hurricane Alley with my husband and my 15- month-old baby, and the mental wounds have re-opened, listening to and watching the news about Hurricane Katrina. I pray for the victims and the families. I urge communities to come together to assist the victims, the homeless, the ones left with nothing but their lives.
Ann-Marie Bush
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

My daughter and grandkids live in Biloxi, Mississippi. When I realized the storm was coming near, I asked them to leave. They left when the last two hurricanes came through. This time they didn't. I got a message on my answering machine last night saying my daughter was at a church and had lost everything. I thanked God that church was there. I have been glued to my phone all day waiting, and finally the call came. They are alive. As the water rushed into their apartment, they almost drowned in the cascading water so they had to break into a church to save their lives. They made it to a shelter the next day to find no food and little water. No one has been in that area to see about the people down there. They have no way to get out and I have no way to get to them. They are alone and scared. They are at the Baywiew apartments in Biloxi. I can't find any help to get them out.
Jeanette
Tampa, Florida

When Hurricane Andrew ripped through South Florida and I emerged from the closet where we took shelter, the sights I remember most are the neighbor's palm tree in our living room, windows gone, furniture and belongings completely missing. After losing everything I owned I was grateful for the help of out-of-state family and friends, and FEMA. I know that the current television reports and pictorials are only the surface pictures of the massive destruction -- more is yet to come. The Katrina victims need our help. I encourage everyone to do what they can to make monetary donations to the organizations that you have listed.
Lisa
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I live part-time in Nashville, and part-time in D'Iberville, taking care of my mother. She usually goes to my sister's house, which is about a mile away, but on higher ground, for shelter. My sister has been staying with us for about a week because there are termites in her apartment, and they have been working on it. I finally got in touch with them via text message on my sister's cell last night, and she said that they were very thankful about the termites, because her house is destroyed. Our apartment is just fine, but it's not very likely that they'd have lived through the storm if they'd been at my sister's house. Whew! But we still have not heard from my daughter, who is in Slidell. We're very worried.
Cindy Dale
D'Iberville, Mississippi

I have a son, Mark, inside the Superdome over in New Orleans. He is 26, from the UK, and there with his girlfriend Greta. There was no way they could avoid going into the Superdome as they could not leave New Orleans because they had no personal transport by the time the mandatory evacuation was called. INSIDE the Dome has been an experience for them and all the folks in there. Conditions inside are not good, toilets are grim, as you can imagine, and food and water appear very low -- perhaps the National Guard have to be very careful to ration supplies. We have had no further contact since around 07:30 local time as their cell phone batteries are getting low. Obviously at this time they are very grateful to be safe, but perhaps for people like them, the future is far less than certain.
John Graydon
Essex, UK

Right now, I'm in shock. I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, but raised in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. My mother, my siblings and I had relocated to Washington State. We haven't heard from our relatives in Oceans Springs, Gulfport, Biloxi, nor Memphis, Tennessee. My prayers goes out to the Calloway Family and many others that have been affected by Katrina.
Andrea Calloway
Tacoma, Washington

After evacuating our home in New Orleans ahead of the storm, we recently got great news from an old friend. He is safe! And he said he took his car out of a downtown garage and drove uptown to our home. Said he saw shocking sites along the way, but that our house is absolutely fine! Dry with little damage yet just blocks away there's major, widespread devastation. The aftermath will be horrendous, but we are so lucky. We are staying at the home of a friend in North Carolina, and it looks like we can't return until next Monday to even assess. It will probably be a month or longer before power or services are restored, and we are toying with plans to move to Massachusetts for now. Seeing the aerial photos on television, it looks very bad. My sister just called, saying that she returned to her home with a chainsaw in hand, sawing through trees to drive through the streets. She headed out of town to buy a generator, but was turned back. One friend who stayed is blocked in his lakefront home and others who evacuated are looking for a nursing home for two elderly members of their family. My poor lovely city is unraveling. To be poor in New Orleans was never good, but now it's truly a curse. My heart is breaking for my lovely fellow New Orleanians. How will they ever rebound? So much to think about. A good diversion from worrying about things that just don't really matter.
Madelyn Bonnot Griffin
New Orleans, Louisiana

I am 16 years old and live in Florida and know what it is like to go through a hurricane, but I have never been though one of this strength. I have family that lives in New Iberia, Louisiana. I know they did not get hit hard, because they were on the west side of the hurricane, about two hours west of New Orleans, and am very blessed for that. I feel for the ones who are suffering, hurt, or grieving from this nature of a storm. I wish I could give all I have to the ones with nothing left. I am so sorry that a storm like this has come upon you all. I know people's belongings have been swept away and many lives have been lost. My prayers and my love for you are sent out to you all. Pull together, and stay strong. God bless, hold on and you will all pull through and look back on this day and know it is in your past.
Danielle
Merritt Island, Florida

My deepest sympathy and concern goes out to all the victims of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina. The loss of life due to this storm is incomprehensible and I offer my prayers to the citizens of the ravaged towns. After witnessing the chaos of last year's Hurricane Ivan, I can only imagine what these people are going through. I hope that Americans in other regions of the country not directly impacted by this hurricane can offer their support, prayers, and sympathy to all of the Gulf Coast's victims. It will take years for the devastated cities to regain stability, but as a resident of Pensacola, I am confident that surrounding areas will come to aid in their time of need, much like the support we received after last year's Hurricane Ivan. My prayers are with all of you.
Marissa
Pensacola, Florida

We live in the north half of Alabama. My husband has family in New Orleans and most of them came up here the day before Katrina was to make landfall. Five of them are children, 12 and under. One of my husband's nieces has a husband still in New Orleans on duty as a police officer. We are still unsure how each of the three homes faired in the storm, we have no idea if they are under water or what. It has been heartbreaking to watch our family realize that there is a great possibility that they have no home to go to. The oldest of the children is celebrating her 12th birthday today, and I am sure it is a birthday she will never forget.
Kathy Gregson and family
Vinemont, Alabama

My sister is a nurse at Charity Hospital [in New Orleans]. I just spoke to her, they have no power, (some generators). They are manually ventilating patients. Many windows were blown out. She, the staff and the patients are located on the first floor. They were just told that if the levees don't hold they could get 20 feet of water. They have no access to the news. She could not believe that she got through to me. (Thank you, God.) I told her that I had heard the governor say that she was sending relief to Charity Hospital yesterday. I am very proud to have such a dedicated, brave and hardworking sister and would like to keep it that way.
Diane
Hackensack, New Jersey

A friend of ours recently lost his wife and was left with five children to raise. To do that, he took a job in Iraq for six months, leaving the children with his elderly mother. When I saw the news clip of Harvey Jackson, whose wife's last words were for him to take care of the kids, my heart broke and I was reminded of my friend. If Mr. Hardy Jackson can be located, and if someone can help him and his children to get to Atlanta, my husband and I have a two-bedroom rental unit that he can live in for a couple months rent free so he can start over and take care of the kids. Of course he will need other assistance, such as furniture and food. If the Red Cross or other agencies can help with food, clothing and other basic supplies, we will help to provide some basic furniture and assist him in finding a job.
Deborah and Press Hall, Jr.
Dunwoody, Georgia

In 1991 my family moved to Homestead, Florida, I was seven years old. I, along with my mother and sister, did not evacuate the area when Hurricane Andrew ripped through our home. It was a huge tragedy for my family, we were new to the area and my parents lost a lot; our house was completely destroyed and my parents had lost many family heirlooms and any money they had saved for me and my sister. Despite all the tragedy, I am thankful that Hurricane Andrew displaced us from our home. I am now closer to my extended family, and I thrived in Wisconsin, were I spent most of my childhood after the hurricane. To me the hurricane has changed my life in a very positive way. To those survivors I pray that there families can recover and thrive like mine did after such a tragedy. It may seem that happiness has washed away but it will return.
Chandra Rudolph
Vail, Colorado

This is just a small story about the hurricane evacuees that found their way to Farmerville, Louisiana, in the northern part of the state. Farmerville is a small town with only one motel, which filled very quickly. The town of Farmerville then offered the local recreation center to house the overflow. Pilgrim's Pride, who has a chicken processing plant located there, donated cases of chicken which was then prepared by our local volunteer fire department and others for these unfortunate people. The whole town has rallied in an effort to do what they can to alleviate some of the pain of this terrible tragedy. I am sure that there are many small towns across Louisiana that are doing the same.
Lyn Kenley
Farmerville, Louisiana

Living in coastal North Carolina, I did not expect to be affected by this hurricane but have found myself grieving for the people of flooded areas because the pictures bring back memories of Hurricane Floyd. Having heard that gas prices were sure to go up led me to the cheapest gas station in town last evening... only to be confronted by 25 or so other gas-hungry vehicles and boats. Affected, you bet -- emotionally, financially and physically.
Lib Pickett
Swansboro, North Carolina

Sitting here in Western Australia following the path of Hurricane Katrina I just wanted to send my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by this show of nature's force. The world as we know it has changed so much in recent years but something I know for a fact is that you are not going through this alone, we are all in it together and although Australia is half a world away we are there with you in spirit. So "keep your chins up cobbers"!!!
Jenny
Western Australia

I live on the coast of North Carolina and my heart goes out to any and everyone that has to live with what Hurricane Katrina has just done to the Gulf Coast. When I hear the word "hurricane" on TV, I live in fear of wondering where it will go, but also being relieved that it does not come towards me but so sad that someone else has [been its victim]. As they have all said, we all live and wait, and I pray to God that I will wait a long time and never have to live through it. I will give blood or donate where I can and pray for them all as they would do for me.
Dawn Clark
Newport, North Carolina

There was a Saint in New Orleans during the wrath of Hurricane Katrina and his name is Joe Horn, pro-football player for the New Orleans Saints. As I sat in my room at the Hilton Riverside, New Orleans, on Saturday two days before Katrina was scheduled to directly hit New Orleans, I weeped while I phoned home to North Carolina, to speak with my mother and my children. It had been confirmed that my flight was canceled along with that of my husband and 50 others. We all were frantically trying to evacuate. I sobbed as I was told by each rental car company that there were no cars available. I thought I was trapped. But, unbeknownst to me my mother had placed a call to Joe Horn to see if he could help. I hadn't spoken to him in over 20 years. Joe was a friend of my sister's in high school and had always kept in touch with my mother. This wonderful man personally came to pick up my husband and I and arranged for his driver to drive us from New Orleans to Atlanta, Georgia, at his expense, at which point we could fly on to Fayetteville, North Carolina. I'm still amazed at his generosity and I will always be grateful to him. There is truly a saint in New Orleans!! Thank you, Joe Horn. You're my hero!!
Aleta Quinones
Fayetteville, North Carolina

I have my aunt, uncle and two cousins and my uncle's family in New Orleans. My aunt went to the hospital where she works with my two cousins, and my uncle went to the hospital where he works and we have not heard from my aunt since about 9 a.m. this morning. We are all praying for everyone in New Orleans and everywhere else Hurricane Katrina hits, for everyone's safety and well-being. Just to hear my aunt's voice on the phone will be enough for me to know that everyone is OK.
Tracy Telford
Ontario, Canada

Hurricane Camille hit on my 13th birthday. The eye went through our home town of Pass Christian, Mississippi, on August 17, 1969. We lived just a few yards from the Gulf of Mexico, but fled for higher ground, a few miles north in Deslile. My family of eight survived that night in a small stone farm house. The roar of the wind is something you would never forget. I remember hearing that gusts got up to 210 mph. Don't know if that is accurate. It took several hours to travel just a few miles the next day to our home near the beach. Nothing looked familiar. Everything had been ravaged by wind and water. But, our house was still standing. Built in 1900, I wonder if it has held up to Katrina. We lost many family friends on that day in 1969. Still fresh in my memory was the stench. My parents are at home now in Mandeville, Louisiana, on the north shore from New Orleans. They could not evacuate. We are praying for their safety. We can't get through on the phone lines.
Melanie Hughes
Dallas, Texas

Thirteen years ago, a hurricane turned my life upside down. I was 15 at the time when Andrew came plowing through Homestead. I remember my mom telling me to pack only necessities because we were evacuating. My mom's husband and one of my brothers were staying behind to keep watch over the house but my mom and I were leaving just to be safe. When we woke up the next morning we were trying to get any information we could, from the radio or TV, anything. News reports slowly trickled in that Homestead had been destroyed. We came home a few days later and driving down there was almost unbearable. I remember spray paint on all the houses with insurance information. I remember all the trees that were left standing with no branches. When we finally arrived at our house, I was speechless. The outer walls of our house were standing, but that was it. The insides were ripped to shreds and there was pink insulation all over everything. That storm tore our lives apart and there was really nothing we could do about it. Every time I see a storm on TV now, I get a little jumpy. I feel so much heartache for what I know the people of Louisiana and Mississippi are about to experience. It's nothing you can imagine until it's your things scattered all over the lawn. Something that you hope your children will never have to go through and hope that you will not have to go through that much devastation more than once in your lifetime.
Heather O'Neil
Ocala, Florida

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