Brian Brawdy Reports: Tents provide a psychological benefit as much as a physical one

The need for tents remains a big deal. One group that needs them are teachers who lost their homes and are trying to return to the area. Also, a clinical psychologist reports that an increasing number of volunteers are suffering from the stress of serving here continually.
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Our friend and CBS2 reporter Brian Brawdy is now on the ground in the hurricane-ravaged regions of Mississippi and Louisiana and feeding news updates by satellite phone to SNEWS® so that we can help our industry understand the scope of immense need, and the gratitude that is being conveyed for all that our industry has already done, and will certainly continue to do.

I spoke to a county legislator, and the need for tents remains a big deal. One reason is that shelters are needed for teachers. They're trying to get teachers back here to return some sense of normalcy for the kids, but the teachers lost their homes as well.

The tents provide a psychological benefit as much as a physical one. People want to think, "This is my spot on the earth." They've been robbed by the wind and burglarized by the water. The importance of the tents can't be overstated. I'm reminded of what a doctor from New Orelans said yesterday: "In order to be able to survive here, you have to be a backpacker or a camper."

The North Face sent $23,000 of supplies, including tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, safety kits and toiletries to Can-Do, a non-profit organization (www.can-do.org). The North Face is preparing another truck with supplies to leave the Bay Area late next week, weather pending. Jessica Rivers, corporate events specialist for The North Face, said that other companies are welcome to contact her to discuss the possibilty of adding their gear donations to the truck. You can contact her at Jessica_Rivers@vfc.com; 510-347-2546.

We're setting up an agreement where people can donate to Can-Do, and we'll use that money to purchase gear from local retailers. This will be a way to get money back into the local economies.

Of course, Hurricane Rita is now wreaking a good bit of havoc. Military and relief workers are pulling out of the New Orleans and Slidell areas, and they are anticipating 4 to 6 inches of rain in parts of Mississippi.

I talked with someone this morning that said it took him nine hours to get from south Houston to north Houston. Heaven forbid, there should ever be a terrorist attack -- it's just not going to be what anyone hopes for. The situation has really highlighted the flaws in our system. I think about people being stranded on the highway, and it seems it would be a good idea for everyone to have a tent in the trunk of his or her car for emergencies. A person evacuating could drive 150 miles north and camp out for the night.

I also spoke to a clinical psychologist this morning who said that more and more volunteers from organizations -- and those not attached to organizations -- are starting to suffer from the stress of being here continually, suffering from all of the gloom. The psychologist said she's seeing more people coming in just to find someone to talk to about the things they are witnessing. So the long-term aftermath will be psychological as well as physical.

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