Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #16, #17 – Situation Continues to Change

I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #15: More Saves and Working to Reunite so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.

10/6/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #16

Sorry I didn’t post a report last night, but I needed a break. And yesterday was a discouraging day for our rescuers, not because they found sad stories, but because they didn’t find any stories at all. The situation has changed dramatically since Sandy and Wendy were there – now that residents are being allowed back into the city (on a “look and leave” basis), many who reported their dogs locked in homes have since returned to rescue them themselves. Traffic in and out of the city is horrible all day. And more importantly, it’s starting to get more than a little dangerous to wander around with a sledgehammer breaking into homes – with more people are around, there’s a real risk of being mistaken for a looter. My hunch is that the home rescues are just about over, but we also have to face the reality that at this stage of the game, they may be approaching futility anyway.

Another distressing bit of news is that Jane Garrison, the volunteer and rescue coordinator who was clearly holding the Lamar-Dixon operation (and subsequent relocation) together, has landed in the hospital. She was bitten by a feral cat last week, and the assumption is that her exhaustion from the weeks of relentless work has led to decreased resistance and probably a nasty infection. As a result, the exodus from Lamar-Dixon isn’t quite as well-organized as we had hoped, and so we have been struggling to figure out the best place for Eric and Lorrayne (as well as Cara and her crew) to land.

We had originally concluded that the Pasado rescue site in Raceland was the best shot, because that is where many of the dogs from Lamar-Dixon (and Jane, until she fell ill) were being transferred. But Lorrayne reports that they have stopped accepting dogs and expect to wind down their operation by the 15th. Enter Wendy V., who started calling people, including some names that she and Sandy had gathered when they were there. From one of these contacts (Amanda), she learned of a kennel-turned-shelter in Mandeville, LA, with 150+ dogs or so, being run by one dedicated woman with just a couple of volunteers. Furthermore, Amanda lives within walking distance of the site and has offered us a place to park the RV on her 3-acres of land, with access to her toilet and shower and even an extra bed or two. Assuming all goes well and nothing has changed, Eric and Lorrayne will be moving there tonight or tomorrow morning and getting right to work.

When I gave Eric the details, he was thrilled, not only by the prospect of doing valuable work, but by the proximity to Slidell (about 25 miles). When they investigated Slidell, they found that not all services have been restored to the area and they were a little concerned about their personal well-being if they decided to relocate there. But as they drove west (toward Mandeville), things appeared a little more normal. So in his opinion this is the best of both worlds because they can easily decide where they are needed most. And when Cara and her team arrive, they may even be able to split their resources between Mandeville and Slidell, providing value to both.

Wendy V. continues to provide me much-needed assistance on the phones. She is still investigating other shelters so we have a fallback plan if the situation at either Mandeville or Slidell changes. Also, she is still working hard to track down owners for reuniting some of the dogs she encountered at Lamar-Dixon. One in particular is a German Shepherd named Baby Girl that she and Sandy took a particular interest in. When they returned to the shelter after their flight from Rita, the dog had been transferred away from the facility, but coincidentally she had been transferred to the San Diego. Yesterday, Wendy tracked down Baby Girl at the North San Diego County shelter (not far from where she lives in San Clemente). Now the red-tape of having her transported to TX (where her owner is staying) begins and it’s clear that it will not be easy.

Outbound volunteer update: Deborah Dulaney’s flight is confirmed on 10/16 thanks to a ticket and arrangements from Becky Hardenbergh. She will be joining Cara Callaway after her 3 friends leave on the 15th. If there is still a need after that, Ginger Cutter is poised to go from 10/23-10/29, and I’m hoping we can get a volunteer to be her travel-mate. But it’s still unclear if the local shelters will be needing support of this sort by then.

Don’t forget the gathering at the Haute-Dawgs trial in Dixon on Saturday night. My car is full of wine and plastic cups. BYOC & S & BOTW (chairs & snacks & beverages other than wine). We can still use contributions, so that will be another opportunity to participate. Hell, I even have a brand-new Quik-Shade canopy in my car that I might just raffle off to raise more funds.

10/7/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #17

Lorrayne called me at home before I left for work. They are in transit with both vehicles to Kendra’s, the kennel/shelter in Mandeville. They stopped by there yesterday to get the lay of the land and agree that it is a good place for them to put down roots. Kendra was thrilled. Their first mission today is to deliver dog food and supplies to a shelter a couple of hours away, in an area that was hard hit by Rita. That chore was at the very top of Kendra’s list because she is overrun with donated supplies and the storage is interfering with her operation. So Eric and Lorrayne will be taking two vans full of stuff somewhere else for redistribution.

Then I talked to Eric this afternoon and they have found an RV park very near Kendra’s place. Electric only for now, but they’re on the waiting list to move to a full-service spot. He called it a “resort”, with full amenities including swimming pool and wireless internet. He’s working on hooking up his laptop now, and if he can get his hands on a USB cable, he’ll even send us some pictures.

Kathleen (Sarah’s mother’s friend from Mesquite) is on the ground and on her way to the Pasado operation Raceland, which has plans to be operating until the 15th. Nicole (a friend of Kelly Gorman’s from Berkeley) will follow tomorrow. They will work there until they get different instructions from me, depending on the feedback I get from Eric/Lorrayne and Cara and her gang.

We are looking into a triage/transfer facility at the Wynn-Dixie in New Orleans – apparently, they are still accepting rescues from the city as well. Eric has seen the facility but doesn’t have any details on what they are doing or what their current needs are. Cara will probably investigate further when she gets there. The luxury of having 4 people and a rental car is that she can send delegates out on reconnaissance missions without taking too much away from their volunteer resources. Kendra is connected with a rescue operation in East NO, which is an area that our people haven’t been into at all, so it’s possible they’ll still be able to do that work. Lorrayne thinks they are just about the same distance from the city as they were at Lamar-Dixon. Eric also said that they haven’t felt threatened or endangered yet, and Kendra is discounting the risks in favor of the rescues. So they may try to go back in the field tomorrow, depending on the needs at Kendra’s place.

Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #18: Report from Lorrayne 

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