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Thank You Australia and New Zealand

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Saturday marks the 4th anniversary of the hurricane Katrina disaster that so completely trashed Mississippi and Louisiana that new maps had to be made.

We had volunteers come to help from all over the United States. Thanks guys- Mississippians have a tradition of helping out during disasters in other states so- we've got your back if/when you need it.

I want to single out a bunch of very special volunteers that came and stayed for months. They were Australians and New Zealanders and they were magnificent!

They helped in every imaginable way: they helped the injured, they helped the homeless, they helped feed us, they helped calm us. They were here for us when we felt the most alone.

In talking to them I soon discovered that many, perhaps most of them, had spent months helping out after the Christmas Tsunami.

After Katrina, Mississippi and Louisiana were hot, smelly miserable places. The stench of death and decay was everywhere. In many places roads were washed out. Electricity was out for months. The smell of dead animals and decaying food from ruined freezers made everything smell horrible.

These people chose to come and endure the hardships to help us when we needed it the most.

We will never forget them.

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Far too often we are quick to criticize and slow to praise. Well done James. Kudos to the volunteers from Australia and New Zealand. They are a shining example of how we should treat our brothers and sisters around the world.

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Hear, hear. People who volunteered and stuck out the hardships along with the people they helped...priceless.

I lived through nearly a month without electricity and the internet, after Hurricane Ike hit Texas. Our only access to refrigeration was a portable generator lent by a neighbor's employer. Tap water was unsafe for weeks. Hospitals and businesses were unavailable until area cities/towns and thousands or millions of outside and local volunteers began getting things repaired and electrical power going again, a foot at a time. Phones were out but back on after a couple of weeks, most places. Internet? None, until that could be restored. My only access was to get my cell phone charged at any business that had electricity. I kept in touch with a few friends whose phone or email address I knew by heart... and that was text-only. No web, no attachments, no IM, nothing. I stood in lines to get ice or water or food, until the grocery stores were open a few hours a day. I got ice while armed police and national guards made sure hot, tired, desperate crowds didn't turn into mobs. (There was very little of that. Most people merely wanted relief.) You have no idea how good it was to get the day's food to cook, to get fresh, clean water from the tap, to get a treat like fresh fish or ice cream after weeks without basics. Refills of my grandmother's prescriptions. Access to my bank for cash. Heck, clean clothes. You have no idea how great it was to talk by phone or email to people I love, to tell them we were doing OK, and to hear that they loved us and were thinking of us.

I am extremely grateful to a few people online: Tim at Codey's World. Dude at AwesomeDude. DesDownUnder. Mikie at PenguinHuggle. -- I had their emails memorized. I wasn't sure enough of the email addresses for a few others, and I couldn't email everybody with so little battery time, texting to write brief notes. I relied on them to tell other good friends online that I was OK and would be back online as soon as I could. I can't tell you how much I missed regular contact with distant friends and family.

Sept. 12th and 13th will be the one year anniversary of Hurricane Ike.

-- This is my way of saying, I do know how the survivors of Katrina and Rita felt. Also, many of them had moved to my city as refugees, only to be hit by Ike later.

Thanks to all those who volunteered.

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