Friday, February 24, 2006
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Cajuns Put Their Lives on Hold to Help Neighbors Near Abbeville, LA
By Leann Phenix Hebert
How a Central Texas cowgirl ends ups up sleeping a night in a FEMA trailer in Southwest Louisiana is a story into itself, but it's the not the story that needs to be told. The vital story is how countless Cajuns are surviving with no homes, few trailers, little feed for their pets and livestock and dim hope of things improving in the future.
After a nine-hour trek from Bertram, Texas to Abbeville, LA with a 2,000-pound delivery of donated feed and supplies for Vermilion Animal Aid (www.vermillionanimalaid.blogspot.com), a 501-3c nonprofit, I was tired and grateful to have a place to sleep. My Shiloh Shepherd and I tried to get comfortable in one of the few FEMA trailers in the region.
As I was swatting the mammoth mosquitoes that were sharing the trailer with us, I heard a mother coyote howling and barking just outside my trailer door. Her puppies answered her, and I was relieved to hear them. The wild animals are very much present here, hungry but surviving, and so are the people. A handful of Louisianans are making sure those in need in Vermilion Parish don't go hungry, and they are just as protective of their own as the mother coyote is.
Vermilion Parish's Best Friends
I found Vermilion Animal Aid through animal welfare contacts in Austin. In normal times they serve Vermilion Parish, a large costal community west of New Orleans, by housing unwanted animals at their sanctuary and by investigating animal abuse cases.
They now serve as the last thread of hope for the hundreds of people and animals who were thrown into chaos thanks to Hurricane Rita. Daily they care for 2,500 head of cattle, 400 horses, 200 dogs and many cats, sheep, goats and chickens. Beth Trahan, the President of the organization, works side by side with Larry and Joelle Rupert and Brenda Hebert (no known relation to my in-laws).
Flash (the dog) and I drove into Abbeville after dark. We were met by Joelle, a charming example of why I love Cajuns so much. She's a self-pronounced Mother Hen, and her caring nature extended immediately to me.
"Have you had anything to eat?" The first words out of Joelle's mouth made me feel right at home. "How was your trip? Don't worry about anything, we'll take care of you."
I followed Joelle to Brenda Hebert and Cindy Greene's farmstead. Or what was left of it. We all went into Brenda and Cindy's cramped RV where they told me the story of their 18 hours stranded in hell.
The Night of the Flood
Brenda and Cindy told me they stayed in their home for simple reasons. Human reasons. They thought they were not in Rita's path until it was too late to get themselves and their animals out. They had lived through many hurricanes in the past. Mostly, they stayed to be with their animals.
"We fled to our large, heavy tractor when the flood waters got too high in our farm house," Brenda told me. "We were joined there not only by our friend Chip, but by snakes trying to get out of the flood. All of us were in the tractor cab for seven hours, watching helplessly as many of our horses drowned in the flood waters."
One factor made the group even more nervous: Brenda couldn't swim. When the flood waters threatened the tractor, Chip roped Brenda like she was a calf and then he and Cindy pulled Brenda behind them as they swam to reach the rooftop of a nearby house. "We got into the attic alive and even found our dogs swimming in the wreckage. We spent 11 hours or more up there until a rescue helicopter swooped down and the three of us became another image shown over and over on TV," Cindy said.
The Red Cross visited. Apparently they handed out bologna sandwiches and oranges. Then they left. The local authorities donated one item – bales of hay that were so wet that few animals could eat it.
Luckily, Vermilion Animal Aid kicked it into high gear and became one of the parish's bright spots. Brenda and Joelle teamed up to store feed and supplies in a large trailer outside Brenda's RV. Donations come in and are usually dispersed in less than 24 hours. The supply truck stays empty for days on end. Brenda shared with me that she hasn't worked for a paycheck in five months. She has worked all day, every day, to help her neighbors and their animals. She fields as many as 60 calls a day from neighbors looking for help.
How to Help
As I sat alone in the FEMA trailer that night, I felt that humanity failed these people and the ones they love and have a responsibility to care for. Animals depend on us for everything and thousands of pet owners did just what Brenda, Cindy and Joelle did – they stayed put to stare down a Category 4 hurricane in order be there for their animals.
I thought of the homes, fields, fences and lives washed away. But I also had undeniable images of neighbor helping neighbor -- the kind of people who show up on your doorstep as you sift through the devastation of a flood-ravaged home, and they tell you everything will be alright. And then they help you get back to alright.
Be that kind of neighbor. Help Vermilion Animal Aid help those who are struggling to get a foothold towards being okay.
Students, teachers, community and civic groups can all help by raising much needed cash or by purchasing gift cards to nation-wide chains. Farming communities can help the farmers of Vermilion Parish put up thousands of acres of fencing that washed out to sea.
As I was leaving I promised Joelle that I would do anything I could to help people know about their plight. I said I wanted to especially help the animals. She reminded me of this truth: we cannot help the animals until we help the people who care for them.
To help the good people of Abbeville, call Vermilion Animal Aid at (337)893-7388 or visit their web site at www.vermilionanimalaid.org.
# # #
Leann Phenix Hebert lives in Bertram, Texas with her husband on a ranch filled with four rescued dogs, seven donkeys and three horses. Her email address is Leann@Texas.net
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Updated list of needed supplies
Frontline, Advantage, Advantix
Outdoor dog runs
Large Animal Needs:
HAY ! !
Sack feed – all types
Molasses blocks - horse & cattle
Feed supplements - incl Farrier’s Formula or Horseshoer’s Secret
Mineral blend with Altosid IGR for cattle
Altosid IGR cattle concentrate Premix
Feed scoops, buckets, hay nets, troughs
Vaccines: WN/EWT, and tetanus only
Horse wormer – prefer with Praziquantel – feeding on the ground
Fly spray/wipe for horses and cattle
3cc, 30cc syringes & 18ga 1.5” needles
Halters, leads, hoof picks, brushes, combs
Clippers & blades for wound care
Hammers ! Pliers-type combination fence tool !
Wire stretchers !
Posthole diggers !
Posthole digging bars
Drivers for steel fence posts
Cordless drills for wood fence posts
T-Posts and barbed wire
Wood posts for electric fence
Electric fence charger (solar are best, but appreciate ANY)
Electric fence wire
Insulators for electric fence
Nails - 8 penny, 16 penny and larger nails
Thanks to your generosity, clothing, pots, pans, dishes & silverware, no longer is needed!!
Linens--pillows, bedding, sheets, blankets
Small household appliances (coffee makers, microwaves, etc)
Household tools (things we take for granted everyday)
Rubbermaid rough totes
Order Wal-mart Gift Cards here
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Christmas -- a good time to give; a good time to receive
Aid For Animals, Inc., DBA, Aid For Animals And Humanity
P. O. Box 990
Baker, LA. 70704-0990
For holiday shopping and all year long, please remember the Aid For Animals, Inc, now DBA, Aid For Animals and Humanity, online store as 30% of all sales is donated to our participating nonprofit organizations, and 100% of our year end net profit will be donated via annual grant funding as such funds are accrued.Aid for Animals
Monday, December 05, 2005
Lost St. Bernard Parish Horse
This is a cross-post---a Lost and Found for a beloved horse.
"i had to leave my 28 yr old thoroughbred gelding behind in chalmette due to a wrecked truck.we have not found him dead but we have had no word otherwise.he is black with a brown nose, a star,a lot of white hairs now on his face and a right rear sock.he had a halter with my name and home phone. my vet is Dr. Allison Barca.we are going crazy trying to find him-- please if anyone has any information call me at 985 448 0239 OR 504 451 6360.MY name is RENEE WINESKI. Teddy was stabled in Chalmette at Dembruns barn. Contact Renee at firstname.lastname@example.org "
Teddy lived in St Bernard parish which was hard hit by Katrina. Please cross post to any one who may be able to help keep a look out for Teddy.
Recycle Cell Phones to Help Vermilion Animal Aid
You collect and recycle as many used mobile cell phones as possible and VAA gets paid cash for every phone you collect. By participating, you will help keep a cleaner environment, help out your worthy cause and put the cell phones back into good use.
What kind of phones are you trying to collect?
Current wireless (cellular) phones models are most in demand, however, makes and models of mobile phones from all over the world, and pagers and PDAs (like Palm Pilots) are also accepted. Every mobile phone can be recycled.
Cordless phones meant for home use are not accepted.
All wireless or PCS hand-carried (not vehicle-installed) phones will be accepted, but outdated wireless phones are discouraged.
Smaller, newer phones generate the most funds
The collected phones need not be in working order.
Mobile-installed telephones (including so-called "bag phones"), two-way radios, pagers, walkie-talkies, etc. are accepted but do not carry any value.
Wireless phone accessories will be accepted, but do not qualify for payment.
Donors should deactivate their phones before turning them in.
To qualify for free shipping, you must collect at least 30 phones.
What do I do when I have collected at least 30 phones?
E-mail email@example.com and include the following information:
Number of phones collected
Contact name and address
We will get back to you on the pick up date.
And hey, thanks for your help!
Saturday, December 03, 2005
A Special Thank You
A SPECIAL THANK YOU
To Marnie for the desperately needed pet supplies and for being our Austin contact.
To Bruce for doing the marathon supply run from Austin to Abbeville, LA over the weekend not once, but twice!
The animals and farmers of Vermilion Parish humbly thank you and appreciate all that you do!
Vermilion Parish STILL needs your HELP
Although the waters receded, it first destroyed homes and farms, and ruined the pasture land.
Residents of Vermilion Parish are the forgotten victims of Rita and Katrina. They hosted and continue to host Katrina evacuees -- but Rita roared in on the heels of her sister -- and left them decimated, in need of help themselves. Click here to see what the salt water left behind.
A few recent pictures were uploaded, above, and more are here. See pictures under previous posts located in right-hand column for more pictures of flooding.
R I T A continues to impact Vermilion Parish, after striking blow after blow - - -
The road to recovery: But, the People of Vermilion are resilient.
Animal Aid of Vermilion also is coordinating its efforts with Harvest Time Tabernacle and Glad Tidings Church to ensure humanitarian aid is given to the people of afflicted area.
A background of Animal Aid's efforts is set forth in a post below. Read a bit about Joelle Rupert, one of the founding members.
They can use your help in their quest to help others: supplies and assistance are needed.
2-12-06 UPDATED LIST OF SUPPLIES NEEDED
Vermilion Animal Aid: 2/12/06 Updated List of Needed Items
Please use the paypal link in the right-hand column for monetary donations to Animal Aid of Vermilion Area and advise Beth via email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org of any such monetary donations so she can forward tax receipt with tax i.d. information to you.
Please direct monetary donations for humanitarian aid to:
Harvest Time Tabernacle
901 Wildcat Drive
Abbeville, LA 70510
The paypal link for Harvest Time Tabernacle is located in the right-hand column. The distribution of these funds are overseen by a coalition of local pastors.
Q & A with You Bet Your Garden, 12/3/05
"Hurricanes Rita and Katrina brought salt to the lands of South Louisiana---damaging the pasture lands. The water has receded, but it left behind dead grass and salt contaminated soil. Is there such thing as a plant that can be grown pasture or field style that will help regenerate the soil, lifting the salts out of the ground?
Thank-you on behalf of the livestock, the horses, and the bayou cowboys of South Louisiana."
Participating in Mike McGrath's show were Andrew Granger, an extension agent in Vermilion Parish from LSU, Kathryn S. Bloomfield, and Dr. Elaine Solowey, a researcher at the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies in Jerusalem. Dr. Solowey is an expert at growing useful plants in saline waters.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
"Trudging slowly over wet sand
back to the bench
where your clothes were stolen
this is the coastal town
that forgot to close down
Armageddon - come Armageddon"
Everyday Seems Like Sunday, from the Boys on the Side Soundtrack