Jennifer's Journal


Thursday, September 01, 2005


The following is being circulated as an eyewitness account of events in New Orleans/Baton Rouge area on August 30-31.  If it's a hoax, I apologize, but it seems too chillingly real to be ignored:
Subject: The PMAC [PM? Athletic Center at LSU in Baton Rouge] will never
host as important an event as it did tonight

Little did I know what I would be doing following Hurricane Katrina's
aftermath but as I type right now, there won't be a more gratifying or
more surreal experience (as the one) I went through tonight. We went up to the office today
and held a press conference regarding the postponement of the game and it
was the right decision. As the PMAC and Field House are being used as
shelters we decided as an office to do everything we could to help the

At first, we were just supposed to make copies of this disaster relief
form for all of the people. The copiers will never print a document more
important than that. It's weird. Nearly 12 hours ago we were running off
copies of game notes for a football game that is now meaningless. We
printed the copies and carried them over to the Field House at 6:30 p.m.
I wouldn't leave the area for another 8 hours.

On the way back to the PMAC in a cart, it looked like the scene in the
movie "Outbreak."  FEMA officials, U.S. Marshals, National Guard, and of
course the survivors. Black Hawks were carrying in victims who were
stranded on roofs. Buses rolled in from N.O. with other survivors. As
Michael and I rode back to the PMAC, a lady fell out of her wheelchair
and we scrambled to help her up.

We met Coach *** and Coach *** in the PMAC to see all the survivors
and it was the view of a hospital. Stretchers rolled in constantly and,
for the first time in my life, I saw someone die right in front of me. A man
rolled in from New Orleans and was badly injured on his head. 5 minutes
later he was dead. And that was the scene all night. What did we do?  We
started hauling in supplies. Thousands of boxes of supplies. The CDC
from Atlanta arrived directing us what to do.

One of the U.S. Marshals was on hand so the supplies could not become
loot. I asked him what his primary job was. He serves on the committee of
counter terrorism, but once he saw of the disaster, he donated his forces
to come help. He said the death toll could be nearing 10,000. It was
sickening to hear that.

After unloading supplies, I started putting together baby cribs and then
IV poles. Several of our football players and *** and *** helped
us. At the same time, families and people strolled in. Mothers were
giving birth in the locker rooms. The auxiliary gym "Dungeon" was being used as
a morgue. I couldn't take myself down there to see it.

I worked from 8 pm until 2:45 am. Before I left three more buses rolled
in and they were almost out of room. People were standing outside, the
lowest of the low from NO. The smells, the sights were hard to take.

A man lying down on a cot asked me to come see him. He said,"I just need
someone to talk to, to tell my story because I have nobody and nothing
left. He turned out to be a retired military veteran. His story was what
everybody was saying. He thought he survived the worst, woke up this
morning and the levees broke. Within minutes water rushed into his house.
He climbed to the attic, smashed his way through the roof and sat there
for hours. He was completely sunburned and exhausted. Nearly 12 hours later a
chopper rescued him and here he was.

We finished the night hauling boxes of body bags and more were on the
way.  As we left, a man was rolled in on a stretcher and scarily enough he
suffered gunshots. The paramedic said he was shot several times because a
looter or a convict needed his boat and he wouldn't give it to him.
Another man with him said it was "an uncivilized society no better than Iraq down
there right now." A few minutes later he (the injured man) was unconscious and later
pronounced dead. I then left as they were strolling a 3 year old kid in
on a stretcher. I couldn't take it anymore.

That was the scene at the PMAC and it gives me a new perspective on
things.  For those of you I haven't been able to get in touch with because of
phone service, I pray you are safe. Send me an email to let me know. God

Bill Martin
LSU Sports Information


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