I received this email one week ago from my cousin's wife. My cousin is an officer in the Marine Corp. We get so inundated with information from the news media, that I think it's very important to hear accounts from "real" people who tell their story from a position of care and concern instead of network interests. Here's the email:
For those who don't know who I'm sending this email out--[my husband] left yesterday with a company of his men (about 120) to Mississippi. [He] arrived in Mississippi last night, and will be working with the Ohio National Guard. He says there seems like there's a thousand national guardsmen, policmen, firemen. He slept in a non-airconditioned warehouse of a thousand cots with a thousand other men. The humidity wasn't too bad, but add the body heat, and it's certainly not pleasant.
The search and rescue of bodies is just about completed in Mississippi, so [his] company of men will be tasked with something else (thank goodness), but not sure yet. He said it's a bit frustrating, because he could do so much more work with his entire battalion. As of now, they'll just join work parties.
He was able to drive to the devastation this morning, and he said it's unbelievable. There's total devastation. He watched a husband/wife stand in front of what was probably their home, (only the foundation was there) both sobbing. He saw a new car dealership with cars stacked 3 deep on each other, and some cars (some upside down) in the neighboring homes/stores, that are pretty unrecognizable. He also said that there's quite a bit of traffic on I-10 and people are returning, or just sight seeing.
Just like the War, the media isn't covering the "good" things being done, but there is TONS of help, there, and American's generosity continues to pour into the area. Most of the volunteers have T-shirts that tell where they are from. He saw one from Redding, CA. He said it was funny to hear that the civilians affected by the hurricane were fed MRE's (meals ready-to-eat that the military eat when in the field, or fighting/training in outer areas where there are no chow halls or mess tents) and they didn't like them at all. The military looks at them as food to keep them alive, whereas the civilians had another perspective of them.....
A side note to the members of our church. Last night our Relief Society enrichment had an auction of white elephant stuff/clothes that members brought from home to auction for $1 or $2. The sisters received permission to do this, and the proceeds are being put to the "Humantarian" Tithing envelope. If you receive the Church News (dated 9/3, page 13), the Church suggested this as one form of donation to help victims of the hurricane. We had four tables full of stuff, and it was a huge success! The sisters also had a blast. One Sister brought in a large picture of Christ, painted by Greg Olsen and it was our top seller with a bid of $230. I thought some of you might pass this idea on to your wards, as well.
[He] said he was driving down a street where one building stood totally unscathed--as he got closer, he recognized it--it was one of our chapels, and there was a sign on the front stating it was an evacuation shelter for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He said not even a shingle was gone from it. Everything around it was obliverated. Amazing.....Love, [Me]