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Hurricane Katrina Death and Destruction August 29, 2005

The Invasion of the United States by Hurricane Katrina

An appeal to all industrial workers in America

Yet another story from the heart of George Whitlow, Founder of Whitlow Smoke School.

My heart goes out to the victims of Hurricane Katrina that devastated our gulf coast. I worry about my friends and customers from Mobile to New Orleans. I have known many of you for twenty years.

The good Lord has given me the know-how and the opportunity to travel this great Nation, literally from sea to shinny sea. I have seen and heard Niagra Falls. I have been though the Rocky Mountains. I have seen Rock City. I have seen the eagle fly over the Great Smoky Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful. I have fed alligators in Louisiana. I have been inside a giant living cypress tree with six other people in East Feliciana Parish Louisiana. I have seen the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. I have seen the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. I have stood next to the hole in the ground that once was the Twin Towers. I have drunk Hurricanes on Bourbon Street. I also ate a Lucky Dog there. I got drunk, fell asleep in a drive in theater and woke up in a flea market. I lost money in just about all the Casinos in Mississippi. Tunica Mississippi is the only place in the world where you can shoot craps and doves within ten feet of each other.  I did win $350 once on the riverboat right there in Natchez.

I have been lucky to know you all. Each and every one of you means a lot to me. I think about you all the time. If Iím lying Iím dying. You may not realize it, but you all are a brotherhood of man. You are the backbone of America. You are the plant workers of America. Each one of you has your own story and you all are unique. Yet you are all the same, a brotherhood of man- and women. What would the world be without the women? Each of you want to make your life the very best it can be. You want the best for your children and your grandchildren. When you die, you want someone to remember something good and funny about you. You may be from Birmingham Alabama or Paris Texas. You may be from New York City or my favorite town, Ville Platte Louisiana. To me, an old Louisiana redneck- most of you talk just a little bit funny. You have this accent that is peculiar to your own particular area, but Ė I love you anyway.

It may sound corny, but my heart goes out to you. It truly does. I have been watching the destruction on CNN the past few days. I know that some of your plants were totally destroyed, they are full of water. Some may reopen in weeks, or months, or even years. Some of you lost your homes; some lost your boat. Some lost your family. Some of you lost everything you have ever lived for or worked for in your entire life. I am extremely saddened and I can feel the grief that God feels. Friends, you have got to pick up. Hold your chin up, and walk yet another mile. You can do it. Just get up; put your shoes on.

I am here to help if I can. I almost hitched my new used boat to the back of my Ford truck to drive all the way form Washington Indiana to New Orleans to take a few people off a rooftop. I said, Lord, there has to be something I can do. Then it came to me today as I was driving from the VA Hospital in Marion Illinois, where I went to be fitted for a hearing aid. People; put on those earplugs.

Then it came to me, right there in Interstate 57. If any of you plant workers need a job and a place to more your family either temporarily or permanently let me know. I will do whatever I can to help you and your family to get here and put you to work. I probably canít hire all of you, but I have lots of friends in industry and they can help. You can help. In the long run everything works together for good for those who love the Lord. We canít see past the silver lining, but it is out there. There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In the long run this Hurricane will help America. We have to rebuild the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Mobile. We need lumber, we need steel, we need coal, and we need gas and oil. We need electricity and we need natural gas. We need food and we need grain. We are gonna survive. We are not going to lay down and quit. Some plants are going to have to increase production to rebuild the Gulf Coast. So it is simple.

Comments about this page from other readers.


You're a good man.  I enjoyed reading your story and feel the same way.
Over here in Ville Platte, we were lucky.  All we got from this storm
clouds and winds up to 20 mph.  We have a lot of evacuees at Chicot
Park and the Ville Platte Civic Center.  The town is doing what it can
help.  One interesting note, the park was charging the evacuees full
to camp.  I haven't heard, but I hope some big wig stepped in and made
park go easier on these unfortunate people.

I'm truly sorry that I missed seeing you when you were in Ville Platte
earlier.  I had not looked at your schedule and I had commitments with
wife and golf buddies.  When I noticed that the school was Monday, it
too late in the day.  In the future, please email or call ahead of
time.  I
would like to sit with you and share stories and a refreshment or two
the park.

Keep up the good work and hope to see you in Lake Charles.

Gary G. Fontenot, CHMM, CSP
Sr. Environmental Engineer
Union Tank Car Company
P.O. Box 466
Ville Platte, Louisiana  70586
(337) 363-5507 ext. 1234
Cell Phone (337) 831-4449
Fax: (337) 363-0717


An update from Ville Platte.   We now have over 2000 evacuees in town
Chicot State Park.  Good news:  The State Representative from Ville
has stepped in.  All fees at Chicot State Park are waved through at
September.  People around town, including Union Tank employees are all
chipping in to help ease the burden on these unfortunate people.


Note, any company or person that wants to contribute to the disaster relief of the evacuees camping out at Chicot State Park should contact:

Send checks to

Katrina Relief Fund

Acct # 13-1251-0

Citizens Bank

PO Box 598

Ville Platte LA 70586

For Further Information, Contact

Liz Hill, Director, Evangeline Parish Communication District
Phone - (337) 363-3267
email -

I personally think you should offer a long term place to live and help on finding employment. If you have any spare bedrooms, or empty camps, or old rental property, that would be nice.

You may want to donate to the LSU Student Relief Fund. You can help the Katrina Evacuees that eigher sheltered at LSU or the students who had to transfer to LSU because of the hurricane. Friends, when you help a student get an education you maybe helping to break the cycle of poverty.

Hurricane Katrina has had a devastating effect on Louisiana and its people.  In the days following the disaster, LSU has faced a number of challenges, from providing emergency care for hurricane victims to mobilizing hundreds of student volunteers to assist relief agencies.  Providing assistance for university students, many of them now homeless, who are attending LSU is now a very high priority for our universityÖ and we need your help. Click here to read more about the Student Relief Fund.

Other Things you can do to help out the evacuees from hurricane Katrina

More comments from Whitlow on giving to the poor. I spent two years of my life on food stamps and unemployment. They were not consecutive years, thank the good lord for that. They were just times when employment was low and I could not find a job. I will admit that at times, I did not want to work. The fishing was very good. I caught a lot of catfish and I skinned a few bucks and maybe one or two does or yearlings-that I got away with. I became a substitute teacher without a college degree. I drew fifty bucks a day there at Caldwell Parish High School in Columbia Louisiana. I couldn't go to Wal-Mart every day- the last time I checked Columbia Louisiana still did not have a Wal-Mart. John McKeithan the former Governor and life long friend, kept them out. He wouldn't sell them any land. You can still shop downtown at Columbia. My brother, Ricky still lives there. He prints and sells tee-shirts in downtown Columbia Louisiana across the street form the Post Office and Citizens Bank. Runs a place called Logos. Give him a call and he can fix you up right dandy. They can ship any amount of tee shirts, hats, and signs anywhere in the world.

So I lived on welfare more or less. I never asked nobody for nothing. I got it own my own, excepting maybe the Assembly of God Church where we went and the Government. The government gave us spending money, food stamps, WIK formula and food for the baby. The church gave us red beans and rice, chicken, love, and hope.

I often think of what Jesus said in the Bible- I think it was in first parenthesize or something. I can't remember exactly what he said, but something like give to one of these poor folks and you give unto me. I grew up on Conway Twitty- I bet you did not know that Conway Twitty got his name from Conway Arkansas and Twitty Texas. I also grew up on Johnny Cash, my cousin Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Hee Haw, and Grandpa Jones. I remember an old Grandpa Jones song about three poor folks coming to ask three times for help and end the end, the poor folks were Jesus.

I have had a lot of times when I was trying to pay for my gas and get back on the road, when a fellow came up to me asking for money. "My daddy died. We went to the funeral in Dallas. The transmission went out on the truck. We got a flat. The baby ain't got no milk. The cow went dry. We out of gas, and the oil don't hit the dipstick. We ain't ate nothing in a month of Sundays. The church gave us travel money but we ran out. Can you spare me twenty bucks so we can get to Birmingham."

My first impression is to say no- I have fallen for that trick too many times. Fellow drove away in a Porsche. Then I think of Grandpa Jones and Jesus and pull out my wallet. I wonder if Jesus did come back today, would he be wearing a three piece suit or a pair of overhauls. More than likely he would be wearing cutoff shorts and a Harley Davidson tee short- and he would need a shave and a haircut. What do you think?

Then there was the time when a fellow stopped me and asked for one hundred bucks for a cup of coffee. He said he wanted to go to New York City to get it.


Back to Whitlow Comments: This is an email I sent to CNN, the Louisiana Governor, and FEMA

I would like this information to get to the correct
person for you to cover it on the special you are
running on hurricane Katrina. I would also like the
word to get out to the FEMA, the governor of Louisiana
and the Mayor of New Orleans. I think this is
important and it will save lives in future events. 

I watched your reports on other Hurricanes this year. I learned that Alabama had closed the
southbound lanes of interstate highways to allow
faster evacuation during hurricanes. I also watched
your coverage of the evacuation of New Orleans. The
westbound lanes of Interstate 10 were jammed up. The
eastbound lanes were virtually deserted. Only a few
vehicles were going into New Orleans. I  was wondering
in amazement why in the heck New Orleans did not
follow the example of Alabama.

I lived in Baton Rouge for 17 years and I have noticed
similar traffic congestion on Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday.
I traveled the back roads like Highway 61 Airline
Highway where there was little or no traffic. There
are 3 or 4 other back roads available. Why not change
all Interstate 10 lanes to West Bound lanes to
facilitate the evacuation?  Divert all traffic into
New Orleans to the back roads. This can be done with
the help of the state police, parish sheriff offices,
and the Baton Rouge City police putting up a few
roadblocks and squad cars at entrance ramps from Baton
Rouge to New Orleans. They could start with the
interstate 10/ 12 splits and cover every entrance ramp
from there through New Orleans.

Another suggestion for now to get the people out of
New Orleans. The United States Air Force has the
largest cargo, and passenger airplanes in the world
based at Altus Oklahoma. They used these planes to
help evacuate Vietnam Refuges as our troops left the
country. True, one aircraft crashed due to flight
engineer error in loading the aircraft with
passengers. They could not get enough lift and crashed
into a mountain. There are no mountains in New
Orleans. FEMA could order extensive evacuation from
the New Orleans airport with the C-5 Military Airlift
Command (MAC) of the US Air Force and evacuate
thousands of people from New Orleans immediately. Bus
them to the airport and fly them out. MAC USAF has
bases all across the United States.  They can set up
evacuation centers in Sacramento, Dover, Indiana,
Toucan and other MAC Bases in the country. They can
also go anywhere with a runway long enough for the C-5
to land. The community could get together with FEMA to
use unoccupied rental houses to move these evacuees
into and get them settled to restart their lives. The
community could find these people employment and the
world would be better off. True, the majority of the
people seem to be black and seem to be on welfare. I
guess this would be a drawback for some communities. I
know some of these people in New Orleans and they
would work if they had training and a chance to find a
job. They have lived most of their lives in poverty
with no hope. And now this. We are Americans and we
can get these people hope. If we canít then we should
be ashamed.


O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!
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