Brian Brawdy Reports: The first thing that hits you is the damage to trees

We just left Buffalo Peak and we're driving south, the first thing that hits you, when you see the damage done to the trees is that I am witness to an event that pitted nature against itself. I would say one-third of all the trees are gone. The trees are simply ripped off – not pushed over, leaning – they are shattered. Like breaking a toothpick in half and losing one half of it.
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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.

We just left Buffalo Peak and we're driving south, the first thing that hits you, when you see the damage done to the trees is that I am witness to an event that pitted nature against itself. I would say one-third of all the trees are gone. The trees are simply ripped off – not pushed over, leaning – they are shattered. Like breaking a toothpick in half and losing one half of it.

It is important that the industry understand that if it were not for the Buffalo Peak staff, and the staff from the Alpine Shop that drove down to help, there is no way that all the support that has already been provided would have made it anywhere. It is also very important to realize, that regardless of your religious beliefs, there is no way that any of the much-needed local support would have happened or would still be happening without the local churches and faith groups. Pass Road Baptist Church in Gulf Port is feeding 6,000 meals a day to folks who are homeless as one example, in addition to all the clothing, and other assistance they are providing.

But so much more needs to be done. Ronnie Falvey is the pastor of the church that is working so closely with Bobby McCain and Buffalo Peak, and what he told me was chilling. He told me that while the churches that were along the highway and main thoroughfares were seeing and distributing lots of assistance, he knows of many churches, just five miles on either side of the highways, that serve predominantly black and poor families that have not seen any assistance at all. Apparently, Red Cross aid and federal aid is simply not making it beyond the main corridors of transportation, and as a result it is missing possibly tens of thousands of folks in desperate need still.

Right now, we are on our way down to a distribution center with Bobby McCain's truck fully loaded, two other fully loaded vans, and the Alpine Shop vehicle that looks like a small red Fed Ex truck loaded to the gills. From there, we will be camping out the night, and tomorrow morning, I am going to be joining one of the drivers of a truck from the distribution center and heading out into the outlying areas. We are going to start to get assistance to those folks off the main road.

Bobby McCain asked me to make sure we expressed gratitude for the very generous donations from Horny Toad, Adventure 16 wholesale, Buzz Off (today we received 50 more cases), Salomon, Cascade Designs, and Ex Officio. Also, a very special thanks has to go out to the pilots, we don't have their names, from Angel Flight who showed up with two plane loads of donations for Buffalo Peak to distribute.

These donations mean so much to the folks who are in need. I have to mention the wheeled duffels from Salomon because for the hurricane victims, we have learned that duffels are so valued. Why? Because a duffel, especially one on wheels, allows a hurricane victim to gather together what few possessions they have remaining as if to say, "This is what is left of my life."

It is so hard not to get emotional about this.

To read all stories, industry information, requests, needs,
places to help, and find information on the fitness, sporting goods and
outdoor industries, go to our Hurricane Katrina center by
clicking here or go to our home page, www.snewsnet.com and find the link on the upper right. We are providing free access to all Katrina-related stories as a communication service to those in need, and those who are volunteering.

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