Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Count your blessings

I'm going to be blogging less for the next few weeks. Since I work as a caseworker for the city I and all my coworkers have been staffing one of the four shelters set up here for Katrina evacuees. I've been working the overnight shift this whole week.

I was out of town last weekend when the buses and planes started arriving and my agency began the intake process of registering all the evacuees and assigning them to shelters. Mostly, what I hear is that the people were shell-shocked, dirty and exhausted. We've registered over 12,000 people into shelters, and are registering more everyday who are staying in the city with family or friends but who need to register in order to qualify for relief services.

Since the flow of newly arriving evacuees has slowed, we've turned our attention to inputing information into Red Cross databases to help missing family members find each other. When you are able to give someone even the barest bit of information about where their loved way may be it's an amazing, amazing feeling. A few nights ago I helped a woman locate the name of the shelter where her four kids were staying. When I walked into the room to give her the information, she and her family had bowed their heads and were holding hands in a prayer circle. They were praying about me, praying that I would find the right peice of paper that would lead them to her children. It gave me chills.

The scope of dealing with an entire displaced city is mind-boggling. I enocurage all of you to donate your time is some way if there are evacuees in your city. That's going to be a precious commodity for them in the coming months.

But I'm also leaving for a vacation next week to San Francisco, about which I feel alternately excited and guilty. Right now, I mostly don't want to go. I want to stay and keep helping. I feel useful. But I also want to celebrate my friend's wedding and see the city. It feels wrong somehow, to be indulging in pleasurable, leisure activities right now.

So what I'm saying is that I'll probably be back to posting in about two weeks. Until then, take care and count your blessings.