Southeast of Disorder

Living and Dying in Three-Quarter Time
September 23, 2008, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Dog, Galveston, hurricane

There are going to be some good, hardworking people who’ll never recover from Ike. You can recognize them on the street: They’re the ones with the hollow eyes of war survivors.

I just spoke to one while I was walking my dog outside the Holiday Inn in Seguin, Texas. She’s a single woman, middle-aged, and an evacuee from Gilchrist, a small town on the Bolivar Penninsula between Galveston Island and Port Arthur. Gilchrist wasn’t one of the Texas Riviera’s trendy beach communities. It was a country town populated by salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar working folks and farmers. The sum total of Gilchrist’s commercial development comprised a True Value hardware store, a couple of country-and-western bars and a handful of mom-and-pop diners, feed stores and groceries. Ike took almost everything, leaving only a few building shells standing.

Angie, my new friend, lost everything except her dog to Ike. Her house. Her car. Her clothes and furniture. Her job. It’s not like she had a lot to begin with, but she worked hard for what she did have, even after an auto accident last year severed the lower portion of her right leg. Surgeons reattached the leg, but it will never be normal. Through it all, Sophia Loren, Angie’s sweet Rottweiler-Blue Heeler mix, has been her steadfast companion.

Angie and Sophie were separated briefly after they were bussed to a San Antonio shelter when their aging van was washed away by Ike’s rising water. After Katrina and Rita, Texas law was changed to allow people to take their pets with them during mandatory evacuations. Sadly, legislators didn’t deal with what would become of the pets once evacuees reached shelters. A San Antonio animal welfare organization collected all the sheltered evacuees’ pets so they could be cared for properly, but the form the evacuees were required to sign gave the organization the right to place the animals in new homes if the evacuees didn’t reclaim them within 10 days.

When Angie’s head quit spinning, she read the fine print. She left the shelter, got a rental car through her auto insurance company, and headed for a motel that accepted pets. The expense, she said, is about to kill her, but she’ll manage as long as she has Sophie.

FEMA still has not approved Angie for temporary housing assistance. They need her to fax them proof she actually rented the now-destroyed “cabin” (her term) she occupied before Ike vented his fury all over the upper Texas Gulf Coast. She didn’t think to take utility bills with her when she left, and now she’s sure they’re scattered all over a narrow strip of land that’s still soggy nearly two weeks after a 15-foot wall of water wiped most life from its surface.

Someone from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office called Angie’s room this morning, she said. They wanted to know what they could do to help. “I didn’t even know what to tell them,” she told me, her eyes bright with unshed tears. “Where was I supposed to start? I told them about my dog. I’m not giving up my dog.”

Sophie jumped up and licked my face. I wouldn’t give her up, either.

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[…] southeastofdisorder wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptShe left the shelter, got a brental car/b through her auto insurance bcompany/b, and headed for a motel that accepted pets. The expense, she said, is about to kill her, but she’ll manage as long as she has Sophie. b…/b […]

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There is also a ten day limit before rescued animals are placed for adoption. It is in fine print too, that is very little publicity, perhaps because it is so shameful and unfeeling.

Comment by Marilyn Litt

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