Watching this on TV, the water was rising in time with the chaos…I, like
everyone, was trying to comprehend the situation, and I felt the need to do
something, but what? After 5 hours of researching, my publicist called and said,
"I've talked to some producers at the Oprah Show and
they are looking for people who want to get 'down and dirty.'" The next morning
I was on a plane with a camera and sound crew on our way from Burbank to Baton
The plan was not defined, but the ball was rolling…We were headed
to the Gulf Coast.
We got off the plane in Baton Rouge and we didn't have the means to make
it anywhere, really, because we had two trucks on empty and there's no gas in
We finally got gas and headed towards Zachary, Louisiana, population
12,000…in the last seven days, the population has more than doubled. At the Cornerstone Church in Zachary, we met Lois, who had no idea where her family was. We were able to contact Lois's daughter by telephone.
With an endless amount of needs to be met for the people down here, our next goal was where and what? Leslie (a producer for the Oprah Show) downloaded me on the conditions in Waveland,
We're beachfront in Waveland Bay St. Louis, Mississippi: one of the
hardest hit by the hurricane and had the most direct devastation of physical
property—remember, the hurricane and the New Orleans flooding are related but
separate devastations—90 percent of the structures were wiped out in this Gulf
First feelings of walking in here is how still and quiet everything is.…
Turned out to be a very resilient people that live here in
To look around and see how much earth, trees, house, structures were moved, left, right, up and down and for all of it to
have settled, it's one of the first things that's very eerie.
Everything you see here used to be a physical community…homes that are no
longer there. We met Roland, a man who had the means to build his dream house,
to engineer a house that could withstand 160 mile an hour winds, and his house
We met Jennifer, who said, "Most people down here don't have any flood
insurance because it didn't flood here," herself included. This is what's left
of her home...
As near as Jennifer can tell, this is where her house was; she can see her
stuff scattered in the debris the tidal wave left behind here.
Our work was just beginning. Back
in New Orleans, a doctor left behind to care for man's best friends needed to be
We helicoptered from
Slidell, Louisiana, to the rooftop of a hospital in the middle of New Orleans.
There's no air traffic control; pilots fly on common sense. Inside, an
anesthesiologist has been pent up since the levees broke because he promised the
owners of more than 50 pets he wouldn't leave without them.
Just a day earlier, a rescue attempt had gone terribly wrong when a
chopper had crashed on landing. No one was hurt, but it meant that Dr. James and
the animals were stranded another day. After seven days without food and water,
he wasn't sure he could go on much longer.
We help the doctor keep his promise.
Our crew gave the doctor a hand loading the animals on
In just a few hours, every beloved pet will have been ferried down the
still flooded streets to a make shift landing strip in hopes of reuniting with
All in all, we choppered about 50 dogs, 18 cats and 2