Friday, September 19, 2008

I feel sadly compelled to post this account from the LA. hurricane sagas. This perspective is never covered on the national news since it is entirely politically improper. Make of it what you will.

Dear Editor,

I am a nurse who has just completed volunteering, working approximately 120 hours as the clinic director in a Hurricane Gustav evacuation shelter in Shreveport , Louisiana over the last 7 days.

I would love to see someone look at the evacuee situation from a new
perspective. Local and national news channels have covered the
evacuation and "horrible" conditions the evacuees had to endure during
Hurricane Gustav.

True - some things were not optimal for the evacuation and the shelters
need some modification. At any point, did anyone address the
responsibility (or irresponsibility) of the evacuees?

Does it seem wrong that one would remember their cell phone, charger,
cigarettes and lighter but forget their child's insulin?

Is something amiss when an evacuee gets off the bus, walks immediately
to the medical area, and requests immediate free refills on all
medicines for which they cannot provide a prescription or current bottle
(most of which are narcotics)?

Isn't the system flawed when an evacuee says they cannot afford a $3
copay for a refill that will be delivered to them in the shelter yet
they can take a city-provided bus to Wal-mart, buy 5 bottles of Vodka,
and return to consume them secretly in the shelter?

Is it fair to stop performing luggage checks on incoming evacuees so as
not to delay the registration process but endanger the volunteer staff
and other persons with the very realistic truth of drugs, alcohol and
weapons being brought into the shelter?

Am I less than compassionate when it frustrates me to scrub emesis from
the floor near a nauseated child while his mother lies nearby, watching
me work 26 hours straight, not even raising her head from the pillow to
comfort her own son?

Why does it insense me to hear a man say "I ain't goin' home 'til I get
my FEMA check" when I would love to just go home and see my daughters
who I have only seen 3 times this week?

Is the system flawed when the privately insured patient must find a way
to get to the pharmacy, fill his prescription and pay his copay while
the FEMA declaration allows the uninsured person to acquire free
medications under the disaster rules?

Does it seem odd that the nurse volunteering at the shelter is paying
for childcare while the evacuee sits on a cot during the day as the
shelter provides a "daycare"?

Have government entitlements created this mentality and am I
facilitating it with my work?

Will I be a bad person, merciless nurse or poor Christian if I hesitate
to work at the next shelter because I have worked for 7 days being
called every curse word imaginable, feeling threatened and fearing for
my personal safety in the shelter?

Exhausted and battered,

Sherri Hagerhjelm, RN
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks for posting this. I am truly concerned about this nation. During the depression, we had a 'can do' attitude. During the second world war, when our airfields were bombed, we just filled up the holes with wet sand, and took off! We did not bemoan our situation. We were inventive, "Yankee ingenuity", and we moved on. We counted on ourselves to do what we could. We counted on God to do what we could not. We helped our neighbor when we could.

    Read all the disasters that occurred in the Little House on the Prairie books. Famines, floods, sickness, death. They picked up, and started over. Again, and again. Yet in a spirit of love, adventure, determination, and dependence on God.

    Now, we see the situations described here in the evacuation shelters. Did these people prepare? Did they have an emergency plan? (FlyLady has a basic emergency plan to get you thinking: http://www.flylady.net/pages/FLYing
    Lessons_Prepared.asp Lack of preparedness can cause frustration and anger. Loss of control does the same. That is why FlyLady reminds us to bring "patience" with us. And if all those evacuees helped each other, the nurse wouldn't have needed to do it.

    So, we can use this as a lesson for the future. Be prepared. That includes medicine, comfort things for children, clothes, food, water, important documents, extra cash tucked away for an emergency.

    And mostly, be patient, be kind, be helpful. You know, those Boy Scout traits?" A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent." We all could use more of that. I think we are all guilty of not being our best when things are going all wrong. It takes a big effort to do what doesn't come naturally (which is to complain, complain, gripe, fuss, fume. . .) and be bright instead.

    I think this is a choice we have to make ahead of time. Prepare ahead of time. Practice being helpful in little circumstances as they come up. Practice not complaining when you really want to blast that poor clerk. Practice in small ways every day, so when the big one hits, you're ready.

    And most of all, our salvation is not in government or in their programs. The "government" is just the people. We are responsible. And we trust a God that is able to take care of us, even through the "valley of the shadow of death".

    I fear what will happen when a large scale disaster hits, with a nation that has lost its trust in God, and lost any sense of the responsibility of the individual to do what they can.

    3856 days ago
    So Sad and so true... emoticon
    3858 days ago
    I think this is the danger we fall into when we don't make people personally responsible.
    3863 days ago
    Thanks for sharing that reality even though its ugly.
    3863 days ago
    How sad... Some people will behave badly in the best of times and in the worst of times. Thanks for sharing the other perspective.
    3864 days ago
    Working in the public sector, I completely understand this woman's frustration with the system. While at one time, I'm sure our social services system worked, now it is badly broken and abused on a daily basis by people who know very well how to work it. Explain to me how a family cannot afford to pay for their child's school lunch, but the application comes in reaking of cigarette smoke. Having said that, many people truly need the help, and most of them are too proud to ask for it.

    Thank you for sharing her story.
    3867 days ago
    Thank you for sharing Sherri's story.
    We need to stay in balance, aware of all sides. My heart goes out to her, and to others who are feeling overwhelmed by the needs and foolishness of others.
    3867 days ago
    I don't know. It's like some people get started down the wrong road and they don't know where the right road is anymore. Heck, I'm not sure they even know there is another road. So many people are just getting more and more lost. On the other hand, everyday I spend time with folks who are trying so hard to find that right road and to turn their lives around. When they actually do, it feels like a miracle but just their effort gives me hope.
    3867 days ago
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