Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Help Needed please respond.

Hey Now,
Rebecca has forwarded this message and call to help from Brittney. Do what you can.


Brittney is from NY and has been maintaining contact with a number of elderly
people who are stuck in different areas. Please help! -rebecca wrote: Please distribute to anyone you think may be
interested in assisting.

As many of you know, I've been maintaining contact with an
extraordinary woman named Valerie Huffman. Valerie was born and raised
in New Orleans, and then moved to Gulfport, MS, where she has worked
construction for many years, constructing water front high rises and
the casinos that brought much needed revenue to the area. Valerie has
worked on hurricane relief multiple times, most recently assisting with
clean-up and reconstruction after Hurricane Opal. Valerie was in
Gulfport when Hurricane Katrina hit. Her trailer was demolished around
her, and she recovered personal posessions from trees while she was
evacuating. While leaving, she saw the very casions she helped to
construct strewn about the landscape like a careless child's toys. She
passed the homes of friends and neighbors, only to see their lifeless
bodies removed from windows of the higher stories where they huddled
for safety. While grateful for her life, Valerie could not find peace
knowing that her 74 year old mother was trapped in New Orleans, and she
had not had word on the safety of her son or grandchildren.

I began speaking with Valerie Huffman only a few days ago, after seeing
a message posted by a friend regarding the safety of Valerie's mother.
Living in the same home since 1950, Barbara Rose was afraid to leave
behind her 30 cats, dog and parrot during the storm. She remained in
the home, where she became trapped due to physical conditions and some
flooding that prevented her from leaving the area. Through the help of
Aaron, a minister living in the area, we were able to rescue Barbara
after she had been stranded for days with no food or water, her walker
having blown away and her medications dwindling to a critical level.
When he found her, she was beginning to turn blue. After finding a
truck that would aid in their escape from the city, Aaron drove himself
and Barbara to the shelter in San Antonio, TX. Valerie, at this time,
was miles away in Florida, unaware of the successful rescue of her mom.

In subsequent days, Valerie received the good news about her mother's
safety, as well as word that her son and grandchildren had all
weathered the storm and were thankfully safe. All of their homes were
either destryoed or in serious disrepair, but family was the most
important thing to Valerie Huffman. The change in her voice and
demeanor after the wonderful news was something inspiring. She went
from a terrified and despondant woman, who believed she had lost all
she had in the world, to someone grateful and overjoyed that her family
had been spared from Katrina's wrath.

When I offered a shipment of food, clothing, and material posessions,
Valerie politely refused. She emphasized that the only thing she
wanted in this world was to have her family reunited and safe. Even
though she has lost everything she owned, including her truck and
equipment, Valerie was only eager for the opportunity to see her loved
ones once more. Unable to return to Gulfport, the city she helped
build, due to the emotional strain, she began making arrangements to
relocate herself in Florida.

I spoke with Valerie just moments ago. Once we have word from the SPCA
regarding the fate of her mother's beloved pets, she would like to pick
up her mother at the shelter and bring her to the place where they must
start again, finding new housing in an entirely new community. If the
pets were unable to survive, Valerie wants to visit her mother's home
in NOLA to bury the pets in the family's pet graveyard, so that her
mother does not need to experience any additional anguish. She is also
adament that the two guns present in the home must be removed and
destroyed, for fear that someone may find them and use them to endanger
any of the volunteers working to salvage what's left of NOLA.

Valerie needs assistance in reaching these goals. Primarily, she
requires an old camper or truck that will allow her to make the 18 hour
drive to San Antonio, and back, where she can pick up her mother. True
to her gracious nature, she adamently reminded me that she would have
friends take her wherever she needed to pick up the truck or camper,
and that every cent given to her would be paid back in time. I
reminded her that these measures would certainly be unnecessary, but
she persisted. Valerie is a true survivor, and this comes through in
every interaction we had. Her only other request is that someday in
the future, she would have an opportunity to meet and personally thank
all who helped her during this difficult time. "Thank God for
America," she said to me. Why? "We Americans sure do know how to
stick together." I, for one, am honored and proud to stand by Ms.

Valerie needs:
- a camper or truck to travel to San Antonio to finally reunite with
her mother
- money for gas

The gas was my suggestion -- she is so desperate to move onto a new
life with her family, and still so shocked by the ordeal she's just
experienced, that logistics are an afterthought. In addition to these
requests, please be mindful that she has lost every material belonging
that she has ever had. Please let me know if you have items you
believe may be useful to her.

Also, she informed me that today with her last $100 she was able to
open a bank account and PO box. Any financial contributions or gift
cards you would like to offer can be sent to the addresses below.
Leave a return address, and expect a personal and heartfelt thanks, as
well as pictures, in the future -- because that's just the kind of
woman she is. :)

Bank information -- no routing or account number, just send c/o Valerie

Regions Bank
c/o Valerie Huffman
PO Box 610
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435-0610
phone - 850-892-3161 x. 228
fax - 850-892-4399

Valerie's mailing address:
Valerie Huffman
PO Box 972
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435


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