Brian Brawdy Reports: The smell is as thick and oppressive as the humidity

We went from east Biloxi to Pass Christian, where the northeast quadrant of the hurricane eye came ashore, and it is absolute and total destruction.The relief efforts organized by The Backpacker and Buffalo Peak are working well, though there are growing questions concerning the abilities of the Red Cross.
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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.

On Saturday we spent a lot of time in east Biloxi, and the first thing that strikes you is the smell -- it's a blend of raw sewage, saltwater and the smell of your own mortality. It's as thick and oppressive as the humidity…it's something that'll never leave you.

We went from east Biloxi to Gulfport and Pass Christian. That's where the northeast quadrant of the hurricane eye came ashore, and it is absolute and total destruction. The things you find in the debris beds are just amazing. I've found wedding albums, picture albums…people's history. It's not like the storm just robbed them of their current lives, it took a large chunk of their past as well.

I would like to mention that we got great contributions from Adventure Medical Kits and SOG (I was able to pass out some of their knives and tools). Also, when Cascade Designs read on SNEWS® about the police officers needing supplies for sleeping, they sent another 100 Thermarests, and Bobby McCain from Buffalo Peak is driving those down today. Also, tents are still much needed.

It's important for people to know that they probably shouldn't send donations of shoes and clothing. I'm seeing piles and piles of clothes strewn through parking lots and filling tractor trailer-sized haulers. Not that the outdoor industry will really be able to address this, but what's needed are things like chain saws, which would allow people to start cleaning up certain areas.

The water purifiers that were sent from Katadyn, Pur and Sweetwater have been helpful, and we've been going around Pearlington, Miss., teaching people how to use them, because there is a bit of a learning curve. I'm fired up that people have been compelled to donate.

Unfortunately, some people still are not getting the relief from the American Red Cross that they hoped for. And there are serious questions about the abilities of the Red Cross on the ground. I interviewed someone the other day, and he called the Red Cross the Red Double-Cross. Everyone's donating to the Red Cross, but in the places I've been, the relief is still not making it there. Now, there is a turf war between the folks in Pearlington who have been there from the beginning and the Red Cross. The Red Cross came and tried to take over the clinic, but the local folks wouldn't let them in.

Fortunately, the relief efforts organized by The Backpacker and Buffalo Peak are working well. When the money comes in there, we instantly call out to buy tents, sleeping pads and whatever we think of. When I called Cascade Designs on Friday and said I needed Thermarests, they arrived Monday morning. So the stuff is immediately getting into the right hands.

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