Vermilion Animal Aid
helping humans and their animals

Scroll to bottom of Page to view Rita The Aftermath--a video homage

Sunday, November 06, 2005

R I T A strikes blow after blow

Rita keeps striking blow after blow- - -
First,-- R I T A strikes:

From Erath: “Here's why Rita was so bad. She hit the Louisiana coast around high tide, so the water was already elevated when it was pushed as much as 30 miles inland. That surge caused the Vermilion River to overflow its banks, flooding towns like Abbeville, Perry, and Erath.

From Forked Island: “. . . even the dead have been disturbed, tombs lifted out of the ground. Cattle lie dead or dying. This herd has found a hill surrounded by miles of water too deep to cross and full of alligators looking for a meal, home after home, building after building, flooded.”

From Pecan Island: “What we find in the city of Pecan Island is true testimony to Rita's ferocity. This is what forecasters warn about when they describe a storm surge, the entire town devastated, homes picked up by water and slammed against trees, other houses simply dragged hundreds of feet several blocks. Those homes... have literally been picked up and moved miles.”

Rick Sanchez, CNN Correspondent reporting
To read the full transcript of Rich Sanchez' report, click here

From Grand Chenier: “Of the small town, only the water tower and part of the church remain. There is not a single house standing. The foundations bear mute witness to their existence, brick steps leading up to nothing.” Zachary Richard

Second, RITA left the people stranded without aid--
Hope came and went: “Father Bill…his smile was weary, his clerical collar undone (which I have never seen on a Catholic Priest) and he nodded telling me that the Red Cross and the National Guard were scheduled to pull out on Monday and that they had been feeding 800 people and that obviously, that support was going to go away. He told me that the water was laced with arsenic even before the storm although they had been successful at getting a filtration device in the past year... that device was now gone so the water was not potable. He told me that most of the cattle was missing and even if they weren't they was no land for them to graze and no money for people to buy feed. He said he was glad to see the America’s Second Harvest trucks but that what they had delivered would be gone in three days.” The Greater Boston Food Bank

Third, RITA left long-lasting devastation behind--
Starting over: “Mr. Ménard shows us his rice combines and tractors, $150,000 of farm machinery completely ruined. His crawfish ponds are dry, the earth scorched and crackled. . . . "At my age it will be hard to start over, it took all of my life to build up my farm, but what choice do I have?" His herd was relatively small, less than 50 head. He was able to save a dozen cattle but was forced to sell them at distressed prices not having enough hay to keep them alive.” Zachary Richard

The sea salt destruction: “The flooding in Vermilion Parish became something I could touch and feel today. You pick up a leaf, a twig, anything on the ground that was covered by more than 24 feet of water, and white powder flakes off. That powder is sea salt, other minerals, toxic sludge and who knows what else was in the water, and it dried on everything... Grass, rice fields, houses, fence posts, dead animals, everything. It's annoying, it looks like snow on farm fields, and it well and truly kills everything green it touches, perhaps for years. It will take huge amounts of rain to dilute the poison enough to let crops grow or to let cattle graze. With no crops and nothing to feed cattle, you don't make any money, and you go out of business. Unfortunately, usually a family business.” Al Henkel, NBC News Producer

The sugarcane crop: We had homes that were moved into the middle of cane fields. When the wave came in it brought marsh grass, reeds and all kinds of trash — trampolines, telephone poles, acetylene bottles, whatever could be carried from homes. Massive debris fields were left over 5,000 to 7,000 acres. If you look at it from overhead — and I flew over the area with the Minnesota National Guard three days after the storm — some fields were 50 percent covered with 3 feet of debris. It looked like a river of trash running through the cane acreage. Those fields won’t be harvestable this year. The Delta Farm Press


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