Searching for Family
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Since Katrina hit last week, I've been trying in vain to find aunts and cousins who live in New Orleans and Mississippi. Almost two weeks after the disaster, I just got word that some of them are OK and staying in Houston -- my Aunt Mary, and my cousins Janice, Penelope and Colette. I haven't spoken to them yet and the fate of other relatives is still unclear, but after days of worrying. I'm happy to have any glimmer of hope.
I was born in Los Angeles, but my parents are from Mississippi. The people I've been looking for are on my father's side of the family, all that's left of them. My father passed away in 1999. For as long as I can remember, his sisters down south counted on him. Irene, Doris, Mary, and Adreen .His absence left a big void for me, and for them as well. I thought a lot this past week about my father, and what he would want me to do.
I've spent hours on the internet looking at survivor lists, posting messages, reading Southern newspapers, making calls and trying to convince myself that my cousins, like Ersie, and Ruby, made it through this thing some how. I look at every photograph and news video, searching for their faces; I would sometimes imagine them trapped in an attic waiting for help, living in squalor in the Superdome, or lying face down, nameless, in a makeshift morgue, or worse, floating down the street.
I'm the kind of person who likes lots of information about everything. In the absence of any news or solid leads on my family members, my frustration has been hard to contain. My emotions have gone from fear, rage, and grief to a kind of numbness. I've tried to put the disaster out of mind sometimes just to get through the day, but I'm always drawn back to the news coverage.
I finally have a partial answer, but mostly I still have questions. Why did it take so long for help to arrive? Does it have to do with poverty, race or is it just a perfect storm of incompetence? Why does America have to wait for something terrible to happen to get prepared? And why, in this age of technology, is it so hard just to get the names of those in shelters like the Astrodome? It's a small but vital link in the chain of disaster relief that seems to have fallen by the wayside in all the confusion. People are being found and rescued and for lack of a better word, processed. And that of course, is the bottom line. But people like me are still out there, waiting and wondering what's become of them.
Posted by Phyllis Owens on September 10, 2005
i hope you find your family. I hope they are ok
Posted by: Ashley on September 13, 2005 9:02 AM
Here's a new and unique tool you may not know about that you can use to find people - Contact Loved Ones. It's a free telephone-based emergency voicemail service we set up for those affected by the hurricanes get in touch with friends and family. There's more information on our website and you can reach our service at 1-866-78-CONTACT (or use one of the local numbers listed on our website).
Posted by: Dan Schoeffler on October 1, 2005 6:49 PM