I can't stress enough how important it is to stay in touch with your neighbors during a crisis. It's often the best way to get helpful information, and just a great way to feel in touch with your surroundings.
Tonight we had sort of an impromptu block party in my next door neighbor's driveway with neighbors from five different houses who happened to be outside. We stood around exchanging stories and recapping our first week home. We commented on the unusually beautiful sunset and strong breeze courtesy of Hurricane Rita. We are all waiting for the rain and tropical storm winds that we should get soon and that have most people around here rather tense at the moment. One party attendee was Bob, who is staying with a friend on our street after his Slidell home was demolished to a pile of rubble. He was a first responder here in Slidell and had lots of interesting things to share about those first few days when there was no contact with anyone in the city.
Bob also helps with an animal rescue group which is now serving as our Slidell animal control since the regular building was so badly damaged. He says they have about 500 animals over there right now, tons of kennels and truckloads of pet food (so please don't send any more pet food at the moment, but come get some if you need it!). Many of the animals belong to people who returned to the area but are unable to live in their homes because of the flood damage and are being cared for temporarily until they can make arrangements for permanent living. Day by day a few more animals go home with their owners which is good to see. It broke my heart to hear of a few of dogs that were rescued from roof tops in Slidell and have burnt feet from spending several days on hot tar shingle roofs. They got on the roofs during the flood and then were unable to get down after the water receded. Bob says that five local vets have been donating their services to help.
The makeshift animal shelter is at one of our city parks. Bob told us how some "helpful volunteers" keep catching a gaggle of geese every day and locking them up at the shelter. Bob has to keep letting them loose again because these geese actually just live at the park all the time. But he says with a chuckle that it "gives them something to do".
Before we knew it, it was dark outside and we had only the light from the garage to keep us going. Then the power started to blink and the lights faded in and out for a few seconds. Time to go home and dig out the flashlights just in case. Turn out the lights, the party's over!