First Responders Have Vivid Memories Of Katrina's Destruction - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

08/27/07-Tyler

First Responders Have Vivid Memories Of Katrina's Destruction

This week, we're looking back at Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.

KLTV speaks to those East Texans who were the first into New Orleans.  The images of despair and anguish don't fade.

"Every so many miles, the need was so great that we had to stop and feed people without running water or children who had no milk," said Captain John Falin of the Salvation Army.

Hundreds of East Texans rushed to the hurricane zone and were faced with the worst of nature and, sometimes, the worst of man.

"We were shot at on certain occasions.  When people are starving, and people don't have their basic needs met, things can turn violent real quick," Captain Falin said.

Captain Falin was right there at the staging area in New Orleans.

"There, people would have paid their entire paycheck for a bottle of water that we were handing out.  We handed out ham sandwiches and people were just starving to death.  It was a horrible scene," Captain Falin said.

"If anyone hadn't had contact with their family, I just let them use my cell phone, to tell them you're still alive and you're going to a shelter," recalls ETMC paramedic Director Ed Brando.

He had no way of telling these people when they would be home.

"I was thinking that when I get done with this, I'm going to go back to my home and my air conditioning, my bed and everything.  [The storm victims were] wondering if I'm okay.  I think that said a lot for the people of New Orleans," Brando said. 

Falin said, "[New Orleans] was filled with hope and hopelessness at the same time."

He still remembers a woman with ten children in tow. One was hers.  The others were either abandoned or orphaned in the flood waters.

"That is a tearjerker, and you have this lady -- for all I know -- may still have ten babies.  I don't know, but we did our best to help her," he said. 

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