Real People Hurricane Relief

Real People Relief is for individuals, families and groups who wish to help a person or family directly, with no "middle man" "Be The Change" Ghandi "I pray that I may not be tempted, by indifference or selfishness to withhold from others the help I have received." Author Unknown to me

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Robb and Rod

Robb and Rod, Katrina, Leo, Precious, and now Ghetto

Email: or
Location: We lived in Waveland before the storm, but are now living in Bay St Louis - We intend to stay in the Bay-Waveland area if at all possible.
Number in Household: 6, including pets: Rod (35 male), Robb (37 male), Leo (3 y.o. male dog); Katrina (1 y.o. female dog); Precious (2 y.o. female cat); Ghetto (2 m.o. male kitten).

Left Picture shows where house WAS.

Situation: My former landlord told me, "Don't come back. If you have anywhere else to go, don't come back," before she broke down sobbing.

Poochie, one of our dogs, died. The vet said that she had apparently picked up a parasite before we got to El Paso.
We spent the next few months in El Paso. I have Crohn's Disease, and have quite a few problems because of it. One major problem is my teeth, weakened to the point that they crack and even crumble when I'm chewing things. Before the storm, I made arrangements to have them all removed and replaced with artificial ones. So, now in El Paso, planned surgery and we began making arrangements for that.

Because El Paso was told they would not be reimbursed for their relief efforts, they discontinued their program, and we were without a home. FEMA contacted us as well, on the same day, and told us that they had a trailer for us back in Mississippi, but that if we did not come back within a week, we would lose the trailer.

We lucked into one of the nicer parks, with security and everything, so we count ourselves lucky in that respect. The week after we made it back, the car died for good, so we spent the remainder of our money to purchase a used station wagon to get to our jobs. We later found out that the car needs a transmission, but it's too late to return it.
Within two weeks of being back, I developed a lung infection that landed me in the hospital, and I had lost my job. I took another job, but before fully recovering from the first lung infection, and got another one even worse than the first. I recovered from this one, and was offered a job at the hospital. This was a gift, and I jumped on it. During my pre-employment testing, they discovered that I had TB. The health department did their tests and told me that I would have to go on a nine month treatment. I am four months into that and it is working, but the medication has the unwelcome side effect of causing my Crohn's to flare up again.
I began to get infections in my jaw at the rate of one every week or two, and spent as much time in the hospital as out of it. My job with the hospital was based on a recovery grant that ran out, so I found myself without employment yet again. We finally made arrangements - again - to have the surgery done with my teeth, and I had the first of three done on October 20, having all of my upper teeth removed, and the next is scheduled for December 1.
The Saturday after my surgery, Hiphop (one of our cats) began acting like he didn't feel well. Because of the late hour and it being a weekend, we couldn't find a vet in the area to see him. By the time we found someone who would see us, Hiphop was in horrible shape, and he ended up dying on the way to the vet. The vet said it appeared that Hiphop died due to a bite. Based on his symptoms, it may have been a brown widow.
It seems like that's life down here these days: Getting a little bit ahead and then falling down further than you were to begin with. Most everyone I talk to here feels that way. We're thankful to be alive, but there are occasionally times that it all gets to be just too much. Those times, we just try to deal with it until it gets better, and eventually it does.

Progress being made with Ghetto and Precious! Eating out of same dish at the same time!

Current Living Arrangements:
We are currently living in a FEMA trailer in one of the many FEMA parks in Bay St Louis, MS.
Help Received: - Red Cross, FEMA. Various charities. The citizens of El Paso helped with things such as emergency medical treatment and one of the El Paso vets treated our pets for free, as well as spaying and neutering them for no charge.
Foods – non-perishable only
Soft foods - instant mashed potatoes, gelatin/pudding, canned meats - things that either don't have to be chewed or can be "gummed" will be most helpful over the next few months.
Paper Products.
Paper towels, toilet paper, bandaids, and disposable plates
Computer Supplies
Their printer uses four different cartidges - one black, one yellow, one magenta and one cyan. I've included the specifics on each one below:
· Black - Brother, LC41BK
· Magenta - Brother, LC41M
· Cyan - Brother, LC41C
· Yellow - Brother, LC41Y

Robb - Because of the Crohn's, he must wear loose fitting clothing. Shirts - XX or larger (the bigger the better) and L or larger in jogging pants or shorts. He wears 9 1/2 wide shoes, sandals and thongs.
Rod - Rod wears medium shirt, 30-32 pants, and 11 1/2wide shoes. He works in construction, so anything worn for that would be most helpful. He typically wears jeans or jogging pants and a t-shirt outside of work.
Cleaning Supplies
Windex, Clorox wipes, anti-bacterial dishwashing detergent, anything pet safe and that would help with dust and pet hair.
Household Supplies
Because space is so limited, any space-saving items are lifesavers, particularly in the kitchen area. Try as I might, I haven't been able to find a large cooking pot for making red beans, soups and gumbo.
Stores you shop at
Home Depot - (They carry many space-saving items that make a huge difference when trying to store things in a FEMA trailer)
PetSmart - (Two dogs and two cats who are all spoiled rotten can be a trial, but they are part of the family)
Sprint - (not a typical listing, I know, but we rely on Sprint for our telephone and internet in the FEMA parks, as no ground lines are allowed)

I know it's been a while since I wrote and I apologize for that. Between having my access turned off and having a serious flareup, staying in contact has been difficult to say the least. I got the package from you and wanted to say thank you for the shirts! They are a bit small for me, but Rod and my nephews are able to wear them just fine.

Since I wrote to you last time, things have changed quite a bit. I wish I could say the changes were all for the better, but hurdles seem to be trend right now. hehe

The car that I purchased when we moved back home died completely, leaving me with no transportation. Thankfully I do most of my work from home so I am still able to earn some money. My mom has been making sure I get back and forth to pick up and drop off things. It will cost more than it's worth to repair the car, so it's basically a lost cause. My mom is helping me try to find some cheap little car that will work for just basic errands around town.

As I mentioned above, I had a rather serious flareup that kept me down for a very long time. I wasn't earning any money during that time, so I lost my phone and access until I was able to start working and get the bill caught up. Now I'm just doing my best to take it easy but still earn enough money not to get behind again.

I have been offered a Katrina Cottage, but I have to supply the land to put it on. Unfortunately I have no savings anymore (I've been living off of what I had saved while I was sick) so I'm trying to find someone who has land in the area that they will let me make payments to purchase. The
biggest hurdle is that I only have 29 days to find and purchase the land so that I can tell them where to put the cottage. If I don't find land within that time, then I don't get the home. If you know of any groups that help people in a situation like this, would you let me know about them or give them my contact info? Getting this place would make a huge difference - the cottages are actually small houses and are much safer than FEMA trailers. They're not much bigger than the trailers, but they are laid out in a better way and have more usable space. I would be eligible for a handicap accessable home, so getting around would be so much easier when I'm seriously ill. I just need to locate a group or person who either has land that they would sell to me on a payment plan or would assist me in finding a way to get the land on a payment plan.

The animals are all doing well. Tri and Leo had a rough time with a skin condition for about a month, but once we found a medication that they responded to, it cleared up quickly. Both the cats have settled right in and have claimed one part of the trailer as their own. hehe

I'm doing a little better after the lung infection and the flu. It's slow healing from it, but I am healing, so I'm thankful.We finally finished sorting through the clothes, seeing what was ruined from the leak, and were able to save about half of it. The rest were just too far gone.
If I had realized as soon as it had happened, perhaps that would have made a difference. But with one (small) closet, you learned to stack and cycle things pretty quick, so the clothes that were in the back of the closet ended up sitting there wet for a week or so. Most of what I could save was stuff that could be bleached and put in hot water, or that was hanging up high in the closet and only got a little moisture.
We did get someone over to fix the air conditioning a couple of days ago, just in time for it to turn cold. LOL At least I know that when it gets warm again, the air will work this time. Of course, the day after they fixed the air, we got a cold front - not a big one - just enough to take the edge off the heat. Yesterday, however, we got a pretty strong front in, and discovered that now the heat doesn't work! I'm not sure if it's because of the leaks or if they just didn't hook something back up when they were working on the air, but it won't come on at all. I don't mind the cold so much (and even I'm finding it chilly), but Rod just doesn't handle it all that well. I'm on the phone today, trying to get them back over here to find out why the heater has quit.
I saw your note about infection rates with TB and other illnesses down here, and wanted to agree with you that people really do need to be careful whether they live here or are coming down to help. I was diagnosed with TB back at the beginnning of the year, and had to go on the treatment. That's nine months of taking a nasty tasting pill every day, and regular (at least once a month) visits to the health department to have blood drawn and tested. There's also the fact that any time I go to a hospital, I have to be placed in a negative pressure room because of my TB status. If they don't have a NP room, I have to wear one of those heavy masks, and those things get HOT.
Now that I've tested positive, I will always test positive and hospitals will insist on those precautions, even when I tell them I'm not active and have been treated. Granted, there are worse things in the world, but why expose yourself to it needlessly?
It's taken me a little longer to send an update this time, as I've been sick again with another lung infection followed by a bout of the flu. I was already weak and trying to recover from the infection when I came down with the flu, so it pretty much floored me. I'm getting over it, but it's taking time.I did get the microwave, and met Mr. McGinnis (I'm probably spelling that wrong). He was very kind, and I wanted to say thank you to you and him both. Now I just have to find a place to put it where Ghetto can't get to the cord. hehe
FEMA has begun doing monthly inspections, where they come look at the trailer and discuss what we've done towards getting into a place of our own. They require a list of all the places I've contacted over the month so that they can verify that I am indeed trying. The biggest problem I've come across in looking for a home/apartment is that there are very few places available. The ones that are available are outrageously expensive - out of my price range - and still are snatched up almost immediately, usually by crews that are working down here and getting paid enough to afford them.
We've had two pretty bad rains in the last few weeks, and have discovered that the trailer leaks horribly in a few places. The worst places are by the dining table and behind the closet. I only discovered the leak in the closet a day or so ago, so I'm still pulling out clothes to dry out what I can and throw away what has been ruined. The last bad rain also shorted out the air conditioning system.

I've been down for the last week or so with a minor lung infection again. We caught it early this time, and they put me on antibiotics and breathing treatments same as last time. It seems to be doing the trick, but it will be a couple of weeks for me to get back to full strength. I haven't even been able to paint because the dust from the greenware aggravates it, so I've been going a little stir-crazy. LOL I'm anxious to get back to work!

I think the whole situation is getting to us all a little bit at this point. Where it seems to affect me more physically, Rod seems to be getting more and more withdrawn and will often come home from work and just go straight to the room. I'm not complaining, as we're grateful to have the trailer, but living in a space this small for so long really does get to you. I think we'll both be thrilled when we finally get somewhere we can spread out a little. I know the animals will: We walk them as much as possible, but they really haven't been able to just let loose and run around like crazy for a long time. The only exception is when we take them down the beach and there's nobody else around, so we try to do that as much as possible. hehe

The second dental surgery was supposed to be last week, but had to be rescheduled because I was ill, so we're planning to do it Jan 12... With any luck, there won't be any delays this time.
I'm sorry it's taken me a little longer to write this time, but things have been kind of busy of late. I'm working at home, doing painting for a local shop, and this is their busy season, so I've been getting rush jobs almost every day.
I got the pot you sent... Thank you! It isn't as large as I'm looking for, but it is larger than any that I have right now, so it does make it a little easier when I'm trying to make red beans. I am very appreciative of it!
My second dental surgery had to be postphoned, as I got pretty badly sick at the end of the month again. It not only ensured that I couldn't have the second surgery yet, but also slowed my healing from the first. Between that and finances (recovering from the first one left me unable to work for a few weeks - no income kind of sucks. hehe), having the second done so soon after just wasn't an option. We've rescheduled (hopefully) for the 12th of January.
Ghetto, the new kitten, is fitting in nicely. He and Precious had a pretty rough start at the first, but she has come to accept him. I've even caught her being sweet to him once or twice, so I think they'll be fine. The real shocker for me is that Ghetto and Katrina are becoming best of friends. Ghetto has no fear at all, and the two of them play VERY rough! I stopped them at first, worried that Katrina would hurt Ghetto, but every time, Ghetto fought free of me and ran right back to "attack" Katrina. Ghetto is gonna be one tough little cat! LOL
Anyway, just wanted to check in and let you know how things are going. Hope you're all doing well!
Things are going slowly for us, but they are going. I did have the first dental surgery a couple of weeks ago, and an anonymous group paid for over half of it - That was a huge help! I'm scheduled to have the second on December 1, and then the final surgery after the first of the year. Rod's finger is healing up, though he'll have a pretty obvious scar for a long time because they had to take a pretty big chunk of flesh out of his finger. We've felt pretty bad for the first week, with both of us recovering from medical difficulties. hehe But he's able to bend his finger again, as long as he's careful, and I haven't had any more infections in my upper jaw since the surgery, so overall we're doing very well now!

10/30 Robb emailed me to say that it appears Rod got bit by a spider - sounds like a Brown Recluse from the tissue damage. If they had waited a few more days, it would have gone totally necrotic and he would have lost the finger, if not the hand.

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