Reporters' Blog: Raw Accounts from the Front Lines of Katrina

ABC News reporters have fanned out across the Gulf Coast region devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Here, in their own words, is what they are seeing and hearing.

Diane Sawyer Volunteers with Red Cross

Diane Sawyer

Sept. 7, 2005

Never in its 125 years has the Red Cross had this great a response to a natural disaster. It's helping more than 142,000 evacuees at nearly 400 shelters in 18 states. This week I found out what it's like to be with the Red Cross -- on the front lines.

Let's say you decide to come to the Gulf and volunteer. The first thing you do is sign papers -- it's called processing. Then you head over to the place where meals are served.

Five thousand people come through for lunch every day, hearing about this post through word of mouth. With the least amount of training, I start out as the pea server, wearing plastic gloves and a hairnet. Kevin Titus of the Red Cross said the food is brought in by the Red Cross itself, which buys as much of it as possible locally to feed money back into the community.

He then walks us along some of the goods that people have sent from around the country. All they can do is place them out to see if anyone needs them. They are doing all this in partnership with the local Baptist church, which cooks the food

If spaghetti and peas were lunch, then it's fried chicken and peas for dinner. These meals are then loaded into some 22 trucks, which make two trips a day serving about 250 meals. That's about 8,000 meals for people around the parish.

We drive around with Theodore, who sounds a signal. Slowly, gradually, the ones who are there emerge from their wrecked homes.

So many of them tell us what they are most anxious about is medicine -- asthma medicine for a wife, insulin medicine for a daughter. All we can do is direct them to the medical clinic at the Baptist church. So far, these people say they've seen nothing of FEMA and its medical services.

It's a giant area and a daunting task -- unless you are one of the legion of volunteers who believe every mission is possible.

Infectious Diseases Reported

Roger Sergel

ABC News' medical unit

Sept. 5, 2005

We are now getting reports of infectious diseases from patients coming from the Gulf:

A patient with TB, who came from the Astrodome, has been hospitalized at St. Luke's Hospital in Houston. TB is communicable like the flu, so who knows how many patients were exposed. They are now watching very carefully for patients who may have contracted TB.

There has been an outbreak of gastroenteritis in children at the Astrodome. This is also communicable. Ninety children have been seen within 36 hours with the illness. This is similar to the virus on cruise ships. If it is bacterial they, can treat with antibiotics.

In Biloxi, a doctor reports he has seen several cases of Vibrio vulnificus. This is caused by a combination of exposure to sea water and injuries, where sea water would get into cuts. It is not communicable. However, it is a 20 percent fatal illness that involves flesh-eating bacteria. The doctor in Biloxi reports he is now giving prophylactic antibiotics to anyone with a significant cut and scratch and exposure to sea water.

In addition, ABC News affiliate KTRK in Houston reports:

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