For seven days, Anderson resident Judy Clanin
worked 12 to 14 hour days caring for evacuees from the Louisiana Superdome
in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.Clanin
, 49, works as an emergency room nurse at Riverview Hospital
in Noblesville and volunteered to assist in Louisiana.
"The positives outweighed the negatives," Clanin
said Friday of her
trip to Louisiana."We met police officers and ambulance drivers from New York and South Dakota.The outpouring of support from people was overwhelming."Clanin
worked at a makeshift hospital at Nichols State University
in Thibodaux.The hospital was set up in a building used for nursing classes.
When first approaching New Orleans on Sept. 6, Clanin
said it smelled like a sewer from 10 miles outside the city.
"It was like a huge sewer," she
said."The smell was so bad that we wanted to put Vicks under our noses.When we left a week later, the odor was gone.The devastation is overwhelming to see."Clanin
said the people were appreciative of the assistance.
"My first reaction was ‘oh my,'" she
said there was a lot of diarrhea in the makeshift hospital because people were exposed to contaminated water, and a particular rash that was caused by being exposed to the water.
Twenty patients were eventually moved to a hospital north of Thibodaux.Clanin
said one baby was born in the shelter.
"It was such a tragedy," Clanin
said."There were hundreds of people who didn't know the fate of their family.They didn't want to leave the shelter and become separated from their family members.They were mentally overwhelmed and shell shocked."Clanin
said when the first of the forced evacuees from New Orleans arrived there was a lot of anger.
Armed guards were placed at the front door of the building and in the pharmacy area, she
said aid was available for people, but it was difficult to get those in need to where the assistance was.She
said Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and the Red Cross were in Thibodaux when the group first arrived.She
said the need is no longer for medical personnel but counselors to help the victims deal with the situation.
"Working in ER, I have been exposed to a lot," Clanin
said the nurses got to know the patients, their stories and family and who they were searching for.
"We can only hope for the best for them," she