Hawaii reaches out to aid ahead of Gustav
Hawaii residents with family in Louisiana have been anxiously text messaging and calling family members as Hurricane Gustav approaches. At the same time, some Hawaii residents are heading into the hurricane zone to help.
Nuuanu resident Selena Rice spoke with her stepgrandparents who live in Grenta, a southern Louisiana city across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. Her stepgrandparents, who are in their 80s, are traveling in a van alone to find shelter in Baton Rouge.
Her stepgrandfather is using an oxygen tank and her stepgrandmother also has medical problems, she said.
She talked to them about 9 a.m. Hawaii time yesterday.
"They were finishing packing up their van," she said. "They just said that it's hard because they don't have anyone to help." During Katrina, they stayed at the Superdome, but then were evacuated because the roof started blowing off.
"Both of them have medical problems," she said. "I assume that they're trying to find a place that will have medical facilities so my grandpa can continue on his oxygen."
But they were in good spirits, which was a relief for Rice.
"I think they'll be OK," she said. "I think Katrina was a lot worse (for them) and now that they're getting out before it hits, they'll be better off."
Hawaii Pacific University graduate student and Hurricane Katrina survivor Brandi Boatner has been talking to her parents every hour as they sit in traffic trying to evacuate.
Boatner said her parents had been stuck on the freeway for more than seven hours last night. Boatner, a Louisiana native, saw Katrina flood her childhood home in Metarie, a city about seven miles outside of New Orleans.
"We lost everything in Katrina," she said by phone from Washington, D.C., where she is finishing an internship.
Her parents were traveling about 5 miles an hour on the interstate yesterday and are trying to reach Atlanta, where they plan to stay until the storm blows over.
"We're going to just drive right through, taking turns," Boatner's mother Mary said by cell phone from her car near the Mississippi border. "There's three of us, we're going to swap out and keep going."
The Hawaii Red Cross sent 11 volunteers from Oahu, Maui and the Big Island to the Gulf Coast in anticipation of the Category 4 storm.
The volunteers will be stationed in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, San Antonio, and Fort Worth and work with victims after the storm, gaining experience that can be used in Hawaii if a hurricane strikes here, said Jennifer Walter, a Hawaii Red Cross spokeswoman.