Sunday, September 18, 2005

View from Gulfport, MS

Our friend Dr. Sanj checks in with the following:

Just wanted to let you know what the human climate is
like down here in Gulfport. I started volunteering in
a mobile medical van, through the V.A., this past
Tuesday, for 2 wks in Southeastern Mississippi. We're
parked in a lot in front of a Sam's Club and are
giving vaccinations (Tetanus and Hep A primarily) and
doing tons of medication refills. Lots of people seem
to not only have lost their house, but lost their
doctors as well! Most common statement: "My doctor's
office flew away in the storm!"

Everyone, however, is so incredibly grateful and nice
to us, it's just phenomenal. They're always saying
"Mississippi loves you!" I probably hugged 20 people
today, some of them in tears. Many have never been to
New York and were impressed that we cared enough to
come down to help out. (Of course there are people
from all over the country here) I've treated displaced
folks from New Orleans, State Farm Insurance folks,
Red Cross and other various volunteers, in addition to
all the locals. My nurse and I saw 137 people today
from 8-5! One of the pt's had a brown recluse spider
bite, that sorta threw me.

As for their views on the local, state, and federal
response to Katrina, very few seem bitter, at least
now. Which I found surprising, given how angry all of
us are, vicariously, for them. Perhaps whatever veneer
of bitterness they may have had has been exhausted by
a life turned upside down; they just don't have the
time or energy to be upset. So many of them are
dealing with homelessness, unemployment, complete loss
of privacy, and medical issues. We're sleeping in the
Biloxi VA, in a locked psych ward (the patients aren't
there anymore). No TV, No internet, no phone, and 2
roomates (one of them is an evacuee and the other guy
is from FEMA). I finally found an internet cafe that
is up, and hence this message.

One final interesting observation: Alot of the folks I
saw today think much of the media forgot about
Mississippi, and are a little ticked about that. The
Hurricane really ravaged this place with some of the
most incredible natural damage one has ever seen. But
obviously, New Orleans, has gotten most of the
attention.

Anyway, be happy for what you have, we are truly
lucky.

9/25/2005 Added pics hosted on Ofoto

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