What a week. I was unbelievably anxious for the post-deadline relief that I normally get after the first Tuesday of the month. After starting the week with three late nights at either the office or at business dinners, I was ready to crash. On Wednesday morning, after posting a few of the annual, “Yes, a hurricane has hit the Gulf Coast and no one knows how the horses are doing yet,” I suddenly woke up to the plight of the victims of Katrina. I guess in hearing about another Category-something storm approaching, my first reaction was, “Oh, it’s just another hurricane, I’m sure they’ll weather the storm …” and I begin routinely making the calls, finding out which teams are being deployed where, which teams are readying, and how many horses have been evacuated. Business as usual, right?
But then I began talking to people that are in the midst of the utter destruction…they say what has unfolded around them surpasses Andrew, Camille … and then it really hit me how terrible it really is, how the elevation of the areas impacted by the storm hamper the relief efforts, and how life is so fragile.
One of my sources and colleagues, Allan Schwartz, was telling me yesterday how he was out making assessments with an animal aid team and how he has 100 gallons of water on his truck and ample fuel (for the moment). He passes by many now-homeless people on the road who don’t have any clean water and fuel, and wonders what these folks must think about these precious resources being used for the animals when so many human lives are lacking these necessities for survival and for expedience in getting out of a flood ravaged area.
Allan says he fights with his conscience every turn he takes. Where is the line drawn? How can he stop and help the people, but also have enough resources left to fulfill the team’s purposes in Jackson. If you’re so inclined, read my story here: www.thehorse.com/viewarticle.aspx?ID=6077. I really, really wish I could do the topic more justice. I was at the phone until 10pm last night trying to get quotes on a topic for which there simply are not a lot of answers just yet.
Today I was completely buried in hundreds of e-mails covering different aspects of the hurricane–who needs help, how they can be helped right now, who can’t be helped, who’s offering a new fund for help. It was mind-numbing. I kept trying to take a big step back and then going over to cnn.com or foxnews.com to watch some video feed so I could try and keep things in perspective. I try not to use cliche words like “macabre” for nightmares such as these, but that really seems to be the only adjective I can use to grasp what I’m seeing, hearing.
You’ve seen it–you turn on a news station and the scenes look like five minutes of a epic featuring starvation, desperation, grief, and infirmity–five minutes that are replayed over and over again. Another group of 20-30 people, same unimaginable hell.
Human aid comes first (as it should), and my readers are so desperately concerned about the horses and continually asking me to help them help the horses. All I can do right now is point them to a list that I’m keeping updated (another link, should you like to donate is: http://www.thehorse.com/viewarticle.aspx?ID=6081), and hope that the resources are reaching the intended victims as quickly as possible.
I leave work feeling guilty, wishing I could do more and knowing that I have a car trunk full of groceries to take home to working fridge. Knowing that my stomach would be too weak to handle the imagery, much less the stench if I were actually there and hoping that somehow I can help from my desk chair hundreds of miles away. I do this by trying to keep people informed about what’s going on with their family members in the horse industry. That’s what we really all are, just a big family, and some of our members are suffering in the worst kind of ways right now.
May our prayers for them be fervent and continual.