Longview, Texas, is located off Interstate 20, more than 350 miles from New Orleans, Louisiana, and 120 miles east of Dallas, Texas. It has been a wonderful place to practice pediatrics for the past 27 years. The onslaught of Hurricane Katrina would produce opportunities for many of us to volunteer our medical expertise to evacuees on a scale never before anticipated. Some providers with experience in developing nations would find, in the following days, many similarities to the styles of medical practice seen there. This observation was made independently by more than 1 practitioner.
AUGUST 27: 2 DAYS BEFORE LANDFALL
Our community was called on to provide medical services, social services, food, shelter, transportation, and clothing to as many as 500 evacuees (people who had left their homes in advance of the storm) in our community shelter. In addition, we provided the same services for an estimated 4000 to 6000 additional evacuees who were in the area and living with family or in campgrounds, motels, and churches.
Our medical community participates in disaster drills at our 2 local hospitals at least annually. The scenario usually entails a disaster at a large petrochemical plant or a massive accident on an interstate highway. The drill, which is very well scripted, is rather poorly attended. Katrina's evacuees had very different need sets in almost all situations when compared with the needs of victims of a petrochemical plant explosion in both intensity and, especially, duration of support needs.
The city and the Red Cross opened the convention center as an evacuation shelter just 2 days before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. As the storm grew in intensity, it became obvious that a much larger number of people were seeking shelter here and in the surrounding area than was ever planned for, and more were coming.
SEPTEMBER 2: 4 DAYS AFTER LANDFALL
Relief workers delivered the first …
Address correspondence to O.W. “Skip” Brown, MD, FAAP, Diagnostic Clinic of Longview, Department of Pediatrics, 707 Hollybrook, Longview, TX 75605. E-mail: email@example.com