I spent a lot of time in Louisiana. I did my training there and I was a junior faculty member at LSU-Shreveport. I have many friends in the New Orleans area. I pray for them and all of those good people affected by the powerful storm. May God give them strength.

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  1. 1. Move the hospital ships from Baltimore & San Diego to Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. The need for health care is going to be long term and this could be a wonderful use of these ships. There will need to be water taxi and helicopter service to and from the ships.

    2. National Guard, which is already stretched to thin, needs to be mobilized (thousands of folks) from the surrounding states. Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama need tons of manpower. The mobilization should be for 6 – 8 weeks.

    3. FEMA should be immediately federalized doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists 60 days at a time to be part of whatever care needs to be rendered.

    4. Finally, and this one will take real leadership, the Bush administration needs to repeat what FDR did back in the 40’s. Bush must call on industry to help this area. The needs are almost infinite – generators, water pumps, clean up, windows, lumber folks, concrete works, framers, roofers, etc. Price gouging should be…must be a federal offense. This is the only way that I know of getting New Orleans back in working order in 6 months. This has to truly be a national effort.

  2. Thought you might like to know. My brother and sister and their families live in New Orleans. My brother works in a hospital and he and his wife and daughter were there during the storm. They lost their house. They are trying to evacuate the patients because the back-up generators are running out, there is no water, and flooding on the lower floors. There is no way for anyone to get out except for helicopters. My sister and her husband stayed in their house during the storm. We did not hear from them until yesterday. They are safe, but also without water, electricity, and food. The roads are so badly damaged and flooded that no one can get in to offer help. When their cell phone batteries die I won’t be hearing from them (they make one short call a day). It is a good chance that she will be in great danger if the levee (5 blocks from her house) breaks or the water breeches it. They are relying for family members to provide them with news about New Orleans. They have no idea how bad it is elsewhere because they have very little news or information getting to them. My mother and father are buried in Biloxi. They are buried underground and I heard the coffins are floating to the surface. It is all pretty bad!
    Keep praying.

  3. I did my high-risk pregnancy fellowship in New Orleans and have missed the city ever since I left. New Orleans has been called the most unique city in the U.S. and I couldn’t agree more. It assaults the senses when you’re there; the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations changes throughout the day just as they would with a living organism. I feel like a good friend has been seriously wounded, and I’m worried that the “doctor” in charge of her care — President Bush — is likely to commit some serious malpractice.

  4. I have been able to keep in contact with my brother through email (the hospital was on backup generators and the computer system worked. Since last night I’ve lost contact with them. The generators were dying yesterday. I know they were planning to evacuate the patients as soon as possible – but the employees and their families may not be leaving that quickly. I’ve lost contact with my sister as well. Even if she is safe in her house, there is no food or electricity. She can’t go anywhere to get supplies and the help is currently going to those that are homeless. Who knows when help will come her way. By the way…. where are all the countries that the United States has helped in times of crisis? We don’t hesitate to rush in with supplies and medical help when a disaster happens anywhere in the world. Has Bush alienated the rest of the world to the point that no one will offer us assistance?

  5. One of my direct reports is in the Guard. His unit has been mobilized and will be sent to New Orleans within the next 24 hours. It is a minimum of 2 weeks.

  6. It is very interesting to see that there were estimates that more than 100,000 people would not be able to get out of New Orleans if the city had to be evacuated emergently. Not surprisingly these people were those without money for gas or without cars. I have not seen any plan on how to get these folks out. Now, 5 days after the tragedy only the poorest (and those helping the poorest) remain in New Orleans.

  7. For all those people who want to help and don’t know what to do…… donate your frequent flyer miles! There are hundreds/thousands of people who would like to be reunited with families in other states and do not have the financial means to get there.

    Call you airline – find out how you can donate your miles to hurricane victims.

  8. We’ve got a lot of folks here but the situation is calming down in Houston.

    The problem is not planning for 100,000 but planning for 100,000 (many disabled) with-out roads or power. 100,000 is a lot of helicopter trips.

    The next problem is where to house the evacuees. It seems that no one expects the city to be functional for 6 months. We are all ready making plans for extra medical students and schools are enrolling kids.

  9. I have spent the last few days working at a shelter in my city. The evacuees are so grateful for the out pouring of love and support that they are receiving. Initially, it was hard for me to understand why they did not evacuate…but after listening to their horrifying stories it is now easy to understand. Even their safe haven turned out to be a living hell. This is America…we are supposed to have a plan for everything.

  10. There’s an old saying, “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” and I realize that desperate times will make you do depsperate things. But come on evacuees…Louis Vuitton purses purchased with debit cards!!!! Even if this card was “sold” to raise “fast cash” the idea remain distasteful.

  11. Woa! Let’s not blame the hand that feeds us. Whether it was debit cards or checks (the FEMA checks are pouring into this area) the evacuees should have enough pride to use the money for the purpose in which it was intended.

  12. Did I read that right? George who in a national debate would not admit to one mistake, who blamed no one for 9/11, who states that things are going according to plan in Iraq, actually took responsibility for Katrina? Was this reported correctly? In the NY Times – “President Bush said on Tuesday that he bore responsibility for any failures of the federal government in its response to Hurricane Katrina and suggested that he was unsure whether the country was adequately prepared for another catastrophic storm or terrorist attack.
    “Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn’t fully do its job right, I take responsibility,” Mr. Bush said in an appearance in the East Room with President Jalal Talabani of Iraq. “I want to know what went right and what went wrong.” Wow!! That’s all I can say.

  13. No…the Federal Gov’t did not respond to the victims of Katrina as quickly as most Americans felt that they should have. But, what were the responsibilities of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana? It is reported that the Orleans Levee Board spent $2.4M on a Mardi Gra fountain, $15M of an overpass to the casinos, $45,000 on a private investigator to dig up dirt on a critic of the board and an additional $45,000 to settle with this person out of court. Call me stupid or misinformed but the above listed monies could have been a start on a project to improve the levees. It has been said, “charity starts at home and spreads abroad”.

  14. I know a little about local politics in Louisiana. It is interesting to say the least. There is plenty of blame to spread around. I agree that the local folks were not prepared. They spent money on other things instead of the levee. I’m sure that we are going to find out that there were plenty of State officials with their hands in the cookie jar. Finally, I’m positive that many mistakes were also made at the national level. Some of these mistakes include the president in my opinion.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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