Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Day 225 - The Work of Life and Liberty

While Katrina roared onshore, soldiers of the 150th Engineer Battalion of Mississippi detained 12 suspected terrorists in Owesat village Monday.

Since then, Bill Martin of the Sports Information Department at LSU, has been working as a medical volunteer during the aftermath of Katrina.

Little did I know what I would be doing following Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, but as I type right now, there won’t be a more gratifying or more surreal experience (than what)I went through tonight….

I worked from 8 pm until 2:45 am. Before I left three more buses rolled in and they were almost out of room. People were standing outside...The smells, the sights were hard to take….”

A man lying down on a cot asked me to come see him. He said, "I just need someone to talk to, to tell my story, because I have nobody and nothing left.”

He turned out to be a retired military veteran. His story was what everybody was saying. He thought he had survived the worst, but woke up this morning when the levees broke. Within minutes, water rushed into his house. He climbed to the attic, smashed his way through the roof and sat there for hours. He was completely sunburned and exhausted. Nearly 12 hours later a chopper rescued him and here he was.

We finished the night hauling boxes of body bags, and more were on the way. As we left, a man was strolled in on a stretcher and scarily enough, he had suffered gunshots. The paramedic said he was shot several times because a looter or a convict needed his boat and he wouldn't give it to him. Another man with him said it was "an uncivilized society no better than Iraq down there right now." A few minutes later he was unconscious. Later, he was pronounced dead.

I left as they were strolling a 3 year old kid in on a stretcher. I couldn't take it anymore.”
Read Bill’s full account posted on University of Arkansas’s Rabid Hog Fans web site. (Hat tip to Myron for this one.)

People who want to know whether specific neighborhoods are flooded can go here.

Americans are donating millions to charitable organizations. Want to help? Network for Good provides a comprehensive list of ways to donate.

Later today, when Wayne and Lauren arrive, we'll take a load of supplies to Hot Springs' Summit Arena, where evacuees continue to arrive from ravaged areas to the south.

Update from Aunt Janet with good news about her family from Slidell:
Thanks so much for your concern and prayers. Just last night Bob's neighbor called and she got into Slidell yesterday. Bob's house is not as devastated as he expected. Looks like he got about three feet of water but it had receded, no trees on the house, only part of the roof gone. Then she want to Allen and Kathy's house and it looked fine from the front. She knocked but no one answered. But, there were piles of debris from the yard being picked up and the garbage can was in front of the house---full of wine bottles! I guess when you don't have water, drink wine. So we can definitely assume that they are OK. Thank God!