Friday, August 19, 2016

Louisiana- Cleaning Up

You see the pictures and videos on the television and you think "How terrible.  Those poor people." You have no idea how bad it is.  You will hear how families have lost everything and you may even cry.  But you have no idea how bad it is.  Over the next few weeks, you will see statistics and hear terms like "FEMA" and "DSNAP" and you still won't know how bad it really is.  Oh, it's not your fault.  How could it be?  You are sitting in your comfortable house watching. You may be prepared the visuals for you see.  We as a people have been desensitized to such matters. However, the only way to know how bad it is, is to do the following.

Drive and turn into a once flooded neighborhood.  You will see the water line on the trees. You will see the bright green leaves end about four to five feet from the ground and then turn to a splattered brown eyesore.   You will see the same waterline around the houses.  Before entering one of those houses, you'll probably expect to see the inside in shambles, things tossed about, tipped over and things on the ground.  You would be right.  Your preparedness ends there, for sight is not your only sense.

Nothing can prepare you for the smell.  I will never forget it.  To try to describe it would only do it injustice but I will give a shot.  Take an old musty locked up house, amplify that 10 times over, add some soured laundry and then a hint of mud.  Then slap yourself in the face with it.  Like I said "injustice."  You would think that eventually you would get used to it.   You don't.   Trip after trip, dragging, recliners, couches, mattresess out to roadside only to return to that smell time after time.  No you never get use to it.  But sight and smell are not your only senses.

I went to move a yellow ceramic cat off of a sofa.  As I reached for it, my attention was taken away but only for a second.  Within that second my fingers touched something unexpected.  The cat was wet and slimy.  Oh, it wasn't yellow at all.  It was white.  And from the powerless house with no light except the sun, I realized that everything was coated in the yellowish, greenish brown slime.  The likes can only be compared to the worst of the worst of any baby diaper.  Sight, smell and touch; only now fully emerge in situation you are beginning to fully understand how bad it is.  Yes, there is no taste because that would be dumb but if you feel inclined to take a bite of that covered bunny bread, you go right ahead.

As you empty the house, you deal with the soggy carpet squishing with every step.  You fight with getting oversized soaked furniture through undersized doorways.  You feel the heat of a Louisiana August slowly baking you.  You carry and drag the furniture through the formally green front yard turned swamp.  The mountain of garbage begins to rise.  The same view occurs at every house on the street.  Only after the big furniture is out, you start to see the rest and are almost to a full understanding of how bad it really is.  For this is the time, that you see family photos and albums, unwrapped birthday gifts, and a family bible passed down through 4 generations; all soaked to their core and covered in slime.  Nothing can prepare you for that.  Garbage bags are all that is left.  Next, you move to the kitchen.  It's more of the same.  Except, the drawers, the spoons, and pot and pans still have flood water in them.  When you looked at the water, you can see different unidentifiable things floating.  Some are yellow, some are green and you wish you had gloves but the stores were all sold out.   So, you do what you have to do.  I only gagged once.  I came across a plate with food left on it.  At least, I think it was food.    SIDENOTE; I'm not good with smells.  You sever your arm and are bleeding everywhere-I'm your man. If you are shooting fluid from either or both ends of your digestive system- I'm NOT your man.  Recap:  Blood-okay.  Puke and Poop- no way

This would've been the end until yesterday.

This is where I fully understood how bad it is.  I spent 3 hours around a relief center.  I saw people waiting in line to go in to get Food, Water, Diapers, Toilet Paper, Clothes ...  I saw the faces of people who did lose everything.  I saw kids with no toys.  I saw kids happily eating the free meals being offered, knowing that my kids would never have touched it.  I saw parents look worn out but staying strong.  I talked to a family whose trailer home had washed completing away.  I saw people who have worn the same clothes for 4 days because they have nothing else.  I can't help but feel guilty.  I didn't suffer like these people did.

Only submerging myself into these places did I understand the gravity of the whole thing.  I hope by reading this you might understand a little better but I know the only way to understand is to be here in it.

The numbers:
4 trillion gallons of rain or 25 inches in 3 days
Est. 90% of the homes in my town of Denham Springs were flooded.
15 area schools are flooded.  Some will not reopen for 2-3 MONTHS.
30,000 people rescued from homes and vehicles
13 dead

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I can't make this shit up

I began to write this story weeks ago.  But I ran into one small problem... the real story was way to crazy to exaggerate.  This was as far as I got...

 *Based on a true story

The Secret Lives of Pet Rescuers

Lola and Argeaux had waited for this moment:  an unlatched gate.  They made their break.  They did not have a plan but ran, nevertheless.  They had never seen life outside the dirt yard. It was way different than they had ever expected.  Lola had told her pup that a caring and more wonderful home must be out there somewhere.  Scurrying between cars and possibly regretting their decision the two made there way to the local market.

Sandra wanted nothing more than to be a Pet Rescuer Extraordinaire.  The problem was that she loved the attention it brought her more.  One rumor amongst many claimed Sandra had once "rescued" 14 dogs and placed them in a temporary home.  Sounds great except she didn't supply any food or money to support the foster home, she never followed up with the fosters and even went on a family vacation right after the puppy dump.  The foster home had no choice but to turn the animals over to Animal Control.  Animal Control was able to place of three dogs.  The rest went to rest.

Pamela ran the Dee Town Lost Pet website.  She enjoyed the work she did and felt it was important to  reunite the pets with their families.  Pamela had known the rumors about Sandra and after a few dealings with her, Pamela banned Sandra from the site.  Thus began the Petty Pet Rescuer Rivalry. The Rivalry became an all out war during the first two weeks July.

And I stopped there.  First issue I had was dogs dying.  Not much humor there, sorry.

So now the real story:

We were loading our van up to go the beach when this black and white dog showed up.  It looked rather beat down.  We gave her a bowl of water and she drank the whole thing.  We followed that up with more water and some food.  One thing that we noticed was that she was very skittish, especially around males.  She was covered and fleas and just looked very sad.

We kept our plans and drove 2 hours to the beach.  The boys, who were staying home anyway, were going to keep an eye on her.  After a couple of hours of lying under a car, very close to the road. the boys moved her to the back yard.  When we arrive home later that night the dog(the fight to name the dog was already underway) seemed very content to lie and sleep.  The next day, Gretchen gave her  a bath and got rid of the fleas.  She still looked sad.  Our 2 dogs had two very different reactions to her.  Jagger seemed to like her but Millie seemed to hate her.  Bitches, man, bitches.

After the bath, Gretchen posted her picture on a lost pets site on Facebook. This is where "Sandra" and "Pamela" come into the picture.  Pamela, the "owner" of the Facebook page, wouldn't give Sandra our contact information because of the 14 dogs situation mentioned above and she informed us that Sandra had created fake Facebook profiles just to get dogs.  Sandra's response to the denial of information was to take to Facebook to draw sympathy.  She verbally attacked Gretchen in her post claiming that she "stole" the dog and that charges were going to be filed.  Of course, her side of the story made Gretchen sound like a monster.  A friend informed us that there was someone claiming the dog on another lost pet site on Facebook.  The issue now was; is this a real person or a fake profile.  Pamela didn't believe it was a real person and was asking for proof of ownership(their normal standard procedure.)  There was no proof of ownership to be found.

Around this time, on the secondary pet site, there was a "successful rescue."  There had been a second dog.  Both dogs had been captured found picked up by Sandra, most likely a mother and pup.  The mother found her way to our house after escaping Sandra's lair. The pup wasn't so lucky. Sandra couldn't have been more proud of uniting the pup with the owner.  She posted all sorts of pictures and just couldn't get enough compliments.  After that "rescue" the attacks on Gretchen intensified. You would have thought she was the second coming of Hitler.  Then laminated signs were posted all throughout the neighborhood.  Crazy ass lady.  It wasn't even her dog.  Anyway shit was about to get real because we'd been cool about it all until now.  The situation of a found dog had taken a left turn to Crazyville and Sandra was mayor.

All 3 dogs in our house were getting along and the family had adjusted to life with 3 dogs.  The new dog had adjusted to our home and was happy.  But with crazy stalking all around,  it was time to go to the police.  Surprise! Sandra had already filed a complaint about a stolen dog.  Gretchen called to find out what the police could do to help in this situation.  One worry we had was just how crazy is Sandra?  Is she gonna show up at our front door and enforce her own brand mongrel justice?  The police were less than helpful but to their defense, there were a bit more important things going on in Louisiana during this time.  Finally, Gretchen, Pamela and Pamela's boss came together and spoke with a female detective who said she would look into it.  The next day, the officer spoke with the "owner" of the dog and determined that she was the owner of the two dogs.  During this scheduled interview, Sandra made sure she was there and RECORDED the whole conversation between the owner and the Detective.  The Detective said she would contact Pamela and schedule a time for the dog to be returned and then informed Sandra that SHE did not need to be there. The Detective called Pamela and set a time to meet the owner.  The Detective also infomed Pamela that she may want to file a restraining order against Sandra.  So we were notified of a time and place and happily took the dog to the owner.  We were way beyond ready to rid ourselves of this whole experience.  So we arrived and delivered the dog and as we are handing the dog over, out comes Sandra, videoing the whole exchange. She then tried to be our friend saying we should get to know each other.  Hmmm. This was the same lady smearing Gretchen's name just days before.  Yeah, I can't wait to sit down and eat dinner at her house.  No thanks. One last look at the dog and I swear, that dog had that original sad look, like an escapee brought back to the bighouse. Later, Sandra posted her video with the caption of "another succesful rescue". The video actually starts with her hiding in her truck.  Waiting.  Stalking.  It proceeds with her approaching Pamela with an agruement following.  With threats of calls to the police, Sandra enters the Dollar General and continues to video.  Once again, telling a sob story to those inside. And then we show up.  We debated whether or not to force her to remove our images from the post but in the end we just washed our hands of it and vowed not to rescue anymore dogs.  This is the way it truly happened.  The End.