September 15, 2005

Update from Baton Rouge

I work for the Baton Rouge Business Report in my real life, as my real job. Working for a news agency during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath has been very interesting to say the least and I thought it was interesting working for a hotel in the wake of Hurricane Andrew!

Many of you have written and asked how things in Baton Rouge, LA have changed with the passing of the storm. The storm hasn't full passed. The ramifications of it are everywhere. Our editor in chief, JR Ball, has summed up to a tee how our lives have been changed forever down here in the Red Stick.

If you want to read more on the local impact of Hurricane Katrina, visit I am proud of the coverage they have given in this issue to what has become one of the most profound things to ever impact my view of life.

After you read this, think about how your family with your children would have survived with whatever you could throw in a car or pack in a little bag to evacuate.

One of the families I met this week from New Orleans in a shelter in Thibodeaux, LA was a single mother of four children ages 10-13 with two children with autism. They had survived the ordeal at the Convention Center by sitting in a corner and holding hands in the dark. They had no food or water for days. She has nothing to go home to and no one to help her. Her home was under water. The Walmart where she worked as a stock clerk was destroyed by looting and floodwaters.

We were there to pick up another two families when we found her and we didn't have room to pick them up and bring them with us. She came out to the car when we were leaving and I had given her our information and told her we would do our best to get back in touch with her. Then I gave her an ice cold Coke from the ice chest in the car.

She was tired and weary but was not broken. She is determined to make a new life for herself and for her children.

Tears were rolling down her face as she sipped on the Coke and they were rolling down mine too because I couldn't get them all in the car. I made her promise me that she would stay in touch with us. We are trying to track her through the Red Cross now.

I don't know how some people do it.

Life goes on and your world has probably gotten back to normal after the media onslaught of the last two weeks. Our recovery down here on the Gulf Coast is going to take much longer than that.

Shelley Hendrix Reynolds
President, Unlocking Autism

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