Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Note to Friends and Family

Dear family and friends,

I don't think I can get to sleep without giving you a brief update of
how we're going.

The biggest thing is that Ann and Glenn and Lisa are still stuck in
Baptist Memorial Hospital. Stephen (Lillie's nephew) received a text
message today from them saying they expected to be evacuated soon. That
was 5 hours ago and still no more word, so we'll go to bed worrying.

Lillie finally managed to make contact with some of the people in her
firm. Most of them have made their way over to Texas and they're trying
to reestablish the law firm in Houston. Hibernia Bank is one of the
firm's biggest customers and the bank has an expanding Texas presence,
so Lillie's bosses are hoping they can continue in business there. We
don't yet know whether they will have a job for Lillie, but she should,
at least, be able to get some part-time work with the firm. Her company
is a small outfit and incredibly caring of its employees. So we will be
relocating to Houston as soon as all the family is safe. It's not the
city either of us would choose to live in, but we're currently operating
out of necessity rather than choice. Helen Prejean has already put us in
touch with some local people, so we can start forming a new community of
our own.

Text messaging has been the saving technology for us in this hurricane.
While the normal voice circuits have been down completely (in New
Orleans) or clogged (in Baton Rouge), text messages have been getting
through even to those completely cut off in every other way. We managed
to locate our friend Shirley that way today.

It's interesting: so many older mobile phone users just aren't into
texting, and so they never use it. Now, they're learning on the spot.
When Shirley received our text message she had never received one before
and wondered what on earth her phone was doing. She finally figured out
how to read the message and reply to us, and so we now know she is safe
out of New Orleans. Her husband, though, is stuck and isolated in his
house. It's too dangerous to leave so he's going to try to hold out
where he is until the national guard show up.

Thanks for all your emails. I haven't had the energy or time to reply to
them all individually -- we've spent almost the whole day trying to make
contact with missing people. Staying at home glued to the phone and
computer seems a good place to be at the moment, as Baton Rouge itself
is a little out of control. The sudden influx of tens and tens of
thousands of refugees has caused real problems for the city, which is
still recovering from its own small brush with Hurricane Katrina.
Traffic is mind boggling, phone networks are jammed, petrol panic is
spiralling, food stores are empty and there are many people here who are
desperate for food and shelter. You can't empty a city of 1.3 million
people into the surrounding region, then add all the refugees from the
Mississippi and Alabaman coasts, and expect the region to function
smoothly. This whole area is in turmoil.

Lillie and I are well but very anxious and very weary. Hearing from you
helps a lot.


Rose Vines