In an email being circulated through some medical doctor networks, we read an email from a New Orleans pathologist who remained behind as the storm approached. I don’t know his name, but believe his first name is Steve:

Aug. 31, 2005

Thanks to all of you who have sent your notes of concern and your prayers. I am writing this note on Tuesday at 2 p.m.. I wanted to update all of you as to the situation here. I don’t know how much information you are getting but I am certain it is more than we are getting. Be advised that almost everything I am telling you is from direct observation or rumor from reasonable sources. They are allowing limited internet access, so I hope to send this dispatch today.

Personally, my family and I are fine. My family is safe in Jackson, Miss., and I am now a temporary resident of the Ritz Carleton Hotel in New Orleans. I figured if it was my time to go, I wanted to go in a place with a good wine list. In addition, this hotel is in a very old building on Canal Street that could and did sustain little damage. Many of the other hotels sustained significant loss of windows, and we expect that many of the guests may be evacuated here.

Things were obviously bad yesterday, but they are much worse today. Overnight the water arrived. Now Canal Street (true to its origins) is indeed a canal. The first floor of all downtown buildings is underwater. I have heard that Charity Hospital and Tulane are limited in their ability to care for patients because of water. Ochsner is the only hospital that remains fully functional. However, I spoke with them today and they too are on generator and losing food and water fast.

The city now has no clean water, no sewerage system, no electricity, and no real communications. Bodies are still being recovered floating in the floods. We are worried about a cholera epidemic. Even the police are without effective communications. We have a group of armed police here with us at the hotel that is admirably trying to exert some local law enforcement. This is tough because looting is now rampant. Most of it is not malicious looting. These are poor and desperate people with no housing and no medical care and no food or water trying to take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the people are armed and dangerous. We hear gunshots frequently. Most of Canal street is occupied by armed looters who have a low threshold for discharging their weapons. We hear gunshots frequently. The looters are using makeshift boats made of pieces of styrofoam to access. We are still waiting for a significant national guard presence.

The health care situation here has dramatically worsened overnight. Many people in the hotel are elderly and small children. Many other guests have unusual diseases. … There are (Infectious Disease) physicians in at this hotel attending an HIV confection. We have commandeered the world famous French Quarter Bar to turn into a makeshift clinic. There is a team of about seven doctors and PAs and pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical facility in the central business district and French Quarter.

Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreen’s on Canal under police escort. The pharmacy was dark and full of water. We basically scooped the entire drug sets into garbage bags and removed them. All under police escort. The looters had to be held back at gunpoint. After a dose of prophylactic Cipro I hope to be fine.

In all we are faring well. We have set up a hospital in the the French Quarter bar in the hotel, and will start admitting patients today. Many will be from the hotel, but many will not. We are anticipating dealing with multiple medical problems, medications and and acute injuries. Infection and perhaps even cholera are anticipated major problems. Food and water shortages are imminent.

The biggest question to all of us is where is the National Guard? We hear jet fighters and helicopters, but no real armed presence, and hence the rampant looting. There is no Red Cross and no Salvation Army.

In a sort of clichi way, this is an edifying experience. One is rapidly focused away from the transient and material to the bare necessities of life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be a primary care physician. We are under martial law so return to our homes is impossible. I don’t know how long it will be and this is my greatest fear. Despite it all, this is a soul-edifying experience. The greatest pain is to think about the loss. And how long the rebuild will take. And the horror of so many dead people .

PLEASE SEND THIS DISPATCH TO ALL YOU THING MAY BE INTERESTED IN A DISPATCH from the front. I will send more according to your interest. Hopefully their collective prayers will be answered. By the way, suture packs, sterile gloves and stethoscopes will be needed as the Ritz turns into a MASH.

About the author



  • Jewish Federation of Greater Houston has established a special Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund.
    Tax-deductible donations may be made in one of two ways:

    To make a donation online via the Federation’s secure website, log onto

    To make a donation by mail, please send a check made payable to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund, 5603 South Braeswood, Houston, TX 77096.

    Federations in the affected communities have requested that these donations be accepted by other local Federations across the country on their behalf as they are currently unable to accept any donations in their home communities. As we have with past natural and human disasters–including the series of hurricanes that hit Florida last year and the Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund just a few months ago–the Federation will direct all monies we receive to the appropriate authorities, who will distribute them as needs dictate.

    In addition, there are an inestimable number of evacuees from New Orleans and other cities along the Gulf Coast who are currently staying in Houston until they can return home. We are currently trying to ascertain what, if any, further assistance may be required to help those families during their time here.

    We are currently determining those needs; within a couple of days, I will contact you again with more details to seek your assistance to help the Jewish community of New Orleans, as well as thousands of others that have been affected by this terrible catastrophe.

    Professionals from the Jewish Federation of New Orleans have been utilizing our Federation offices until they can return home. Because cell phones and land lines from the affected areas are not working properly at this time, we will try and assist members of the New Orleans Jewish community, who are in Houston, to connect with one another.
    Anyone from New Orleans who may be receiving this email is welcome to call the Houston Federation office at 713-729-7000 and we will try and respond to any and all requests.

    (That was a quote from someone else. I am not a contact.)

  • Where are the National Guard? My best friend’s husband just got deployed last night. He’ll be in NOLA indefinitely. Help is coming, just hold on.

  • I happen to know first hand that almost ALL of NJ’s National Guard units are already deployed overseas. Time to bring them home and let the middle-east solve it’s own problems. Israel will be fine without us for a little while Hamas is still celebrating it’s recent victory.

  • DEBKAfile Exclusive: Al Qaeda-Palestine threatens Abu Mazen with bomb cars

    September 1, 2005, 4:52 PM (GMT+02:00)

    In a new communiqué issued Thursday, Sept 1, al Qaeda-Palestinian issues a warning to Mahmoud Abbas and Muhammed Dahlan, calling them “heads of the Palestinian Karzai regime.” If the Palestinian Authority arrests its members in the Gaza Strip, the group threatens to send bomb cars into the PA’s main cities

    (that’s from

  • Um, JM, I don’t know why that comment is inside a New Orleans post, but one should always read Debka with, erm, a grain of salt.

  • When is someone gonna blame the jews for this disaster already?!?

  • When is someone gonna blame the jews for this disaster already?!?

    Leave that to sultan knish Evidently, we’ve summoned God’s wrath over the Gaza disengagement and for some not easily apparent reason, New Orleans and Mississippi were targeted for divine retribution. Apparently, some people come born with a clue, and others hold off on getting one until they find one on sale (or until Moshiach arrives, whichever’s first)…

  • Dear Friends,

    Like all of you, I have watched the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the communities along the Gulf Coast. Although the extent and scope of the impact is only now being assessed, it is clear that in addition to significant loss of life, literally everyone in the region has been somehow affected.

    United Jewish Communities, our umbrella organization has been active in working closely with the Jewish Federation in New Orleans. That Federation has set up an operating venue in the Houston Federation in order to begin to offer immediate relief, to those along the Gulf Coast, and plan for the long term rehabilitation of these communities.

    There are almost 10,000 full time Jewish residents in New Orleans. A large number of Jewish students attend colleges in the area as well.
    Approximately half of the full time residents evacuated in advance of the storm to Houston, Shreveport and Birmingham. Not everyone was able to leave. As of today, 300 residents of the Jewish Home need emergency evacuation. The vast majority of the homes of members of the Jewish community have been destroyed. The need for cash assistance, temporary housing, access to health care and personal ounseling are enormous.

    The Jewish communities in Mobile, Biloxi, etc. also have similar needs

    Institutionally we have learned that at least one synagogue, Shaar Hadash is under water, another is heavily damaged, the JCC and communal services building has also been severely destroyed. Efforts to properly assess the scope of the communal needs is only beginning.

    As a Jewish community that has experienced a natural disaster, we are all aware of the importance of assistance from the broader American Jewish community. Today I have in consultation with other senior lay leaders, instructed our president to disburse $100k from monies approved for allocation by the JFC Board. These funds were part of the contingency reserve, set aside for unexpected needs such as this disaster. The funds will be sent to the United Jewish Communities to be used in the most effective way possible for the highest priority needs identified.

    We have also opened up a special account for assisting in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; I am happy to report that we have already received some generous unsolicited donations. All contributions for this purpose should be made out to the Jewish Federation, Hurricane Katrina Relief. All contributions will be solely used for this purpose. We hope you will share this information with your family friends and collegues. I am sure the LA Jewish community will respond to this disaster with compassion and generously.

    Thank you,
    Harriet Hochman
    The Jewish Federation

  • I think that it’s time to get all those homeless Jews of the south over to Israel. If they have to rebuild lives, why not do it where they are needed instead of in ‘America’?

  • Off topic, but i want to say it anyway:

    to all the Jews who stayed behind:

    There once was a humble Jew who prayed everday, who loved G-d, and felt that G-d loved him.

    One afternoon he was listening to his radio, and a report came in about a terrible hurricane on the way, sure to flood his small town. All residents were to be evacuated.

    “I pray. I love G-d. G-d loves me. I’ll not leave.”

    Within a few hours, the flooding had began and the water livels had risen. He was now on the second floor of his home. A row-boat came by the window and a man yelled: “We’ve got to get out of here! The hurricane will be touching down just off this coast!”

    “No thank you, chaver. I pray. I love G-d. G-d loves me. I’ll not leave!”

    Within less than an hour the water level had flooded the second floor and he was now on the roof of his home, crouched in prayer. A helicopter flew overhead and tossed down a rope ladder. The rescuer shouted: “Grab on! This house will be below water level soon! You’ve got to come with me!”

    “Get away! Save some infidel! Save the unfaithful! I pray! I love G-d! G-d loves me!”

    Sure enough, the waves crashed down upon the man only moments after his last exodus had departed, off to save “the unfaithful.”

    The man drowned. When he stood before G-d, in the World to Come, he pleaded with Him:

    “But G-d, I prayed! I loved you! I thought you loved me too! Why didn’t you save me from that hurricane?”

    And G-d spoke to him, saying: “I sent you a radio broadcast, a man in a row-boat, and a helicopter. What are you doing here!?”


    i’m not being a jerk, i just like the story 😛

    why did some people stay? i don’t understand. not trying to insult anyone, just curious.

    i agree that the now-homeless Jews should immigrate, probably to Negev.

    all i know is that i certainly wouldn’t stay. G-d sent me CNN 😛

  • So Josh, you are in favor of deporting Jews? Would this be a forced deportation or a voluntary one? Would you determine whether they are “needed” here or not based on their ability to find a home within a certain time frame? Perhap YOU are not needed in this country (which you italicized for no grammatically correct reason). Perhaps you don’t appreciate the freedoms this country has given you to practice your religion? Perhaps you and Jobber should take your overzealous hypocritical form of zionism/communism and make Aliyah and denounce your American citizenship while you are at it? Or perhaps you would just like to think a little before you post next time? Jewish Americans and American Jews are needed here too and may Hashem bless the USA for giving us the right to remain for as long as this Democracy survives.

  • This last Negev comment really pissed me off. NOT FUNNY!!! NOT FUNNY AT ALL!!! You would have the heartlessness to tell someone who just lost all their worldly possessions including all forms of i.d. and bank records and possibly loved ones to move to a foreign land that they may know absolutely nothing about to go and settle in desert, where they don’t even speak the languange, simply because of their Jewish blood? What the fuck is wrong with you?

  • Good comment David Aaliyah,

    I can just see some people blaming G-d like they blame Him for what is happening in Israel.

    Like here in so in Israel:
    First He sends us stone-throwing arab children; then rock throwing teenagers; then after a while bombs and suicide belts. Then Israel arms them with 10,000 guns …so they have guns. Then G-d sends a whole police force and army of them trained by the US and Israel. Then Jews continue and opposite of what they should do they give them G-d’s promised land.

    So people get killed and they are in mortal danger- but G-d says I’ve sent you so many reminders to move them out-what do you want from me when you get killed?! Why are they still there??!!

    Nice David we really can learn lessons from all situations.

  • actually the ‘reasons’ have been laid out in detail on my blog, which you’re misinterpreting and quoting out of context. Suffice it to say using reb lazer’s words, ‘someone who creates exiles in the holy land, will have exiles created a hundred fold in his own’

    I’d go into more details but since this is arguably off topic I’ll leave that to anyone who cares to read it at the source

  • Judi,
    Knish simply stated the that the actual reason God destroyed the Mississippi Gambling Industry was because He didn’t want any competition for the Casino which was planned for the Gush.

    Perfectly understandable, and that’s why we call Him “The GODFATHER”.

  • since you’re determined to misquote me…

    “Not long after thousands of Jews were expelled from their homes on the southern coast of Israel, hundreds of thousands of Americans are being evacuated from the southern coasts of the United States. The oil refineries, the oil industry that is at the heart of this President’s appeasement of the terrorists murdering Jews, are being badly pounded.”

  • So Knish, you blame the mistaken Mid-East policies of this Administration, as they relate to Israel, in combination with Sharon’s mistaken policies regarding Disengagement, for this God-made event?

  • middle, seems plausible to me, but I just woke up and I believe anything before I’ve had my coffee.

    Actually this idea is wacked. The hurricane took out the Gulf of Mexico’s platforms and refineries, so knish should head back to the drawing board asap. Because I think this probably has more to do with what we simply refer to as “The Pat Robertson Incident”, since geographically, South America’s much closer.

    And knish, I went back and read your stuff again and I don’t think there’s anything taken out of context here. Your theories are just that: theories, since no one can really claim to know Hashem’s will, not even you.

  • And then we could call Josh & Aliyah’s plan to relocate homeless Jews to the Negev “The Pat Robertson Plan” since nothing would make the Christian Right happier than the return of Jews to Israel so that Jesus can re-ascend.

    And while we are at it, let’s not forget to blame the damn Jew engineer who designed those levees and then had the chutzpah to name them after himself.

  • Hey Chutzpah a little touchy there 😉

    I think Josh, Aaliyah have a good point.

    The Jew in never safe in the exile in the long run. So far just about every country spit the Jews out at some point. Some were very good to the Jews with jews being in high positions – like Germany in the early 1900’s but that didn’t stop what happened from happening.

    America is a good country don’t get me wrong. But things change…

    Maybe the Jews if starting life anew anyway, should come home…

  • VERY TOUCHY and venting on Jewlicious as therapy, so everyone step-back.

    Maybe all the Jews who made money in America who are now living in luxury high-rise Har Nof apartments due to the education they received in the US, including paying for Kollel with US government student loans they didn’t repay, should come back here and help clean-up.

    I’m definately for aliyah if it’s something that is in your heart as a life’s dream and I hope my children will have that dream someday. Thank-G-d Israel is there for Jews to come home to if they want to. For all of us, L’Shana HaBa B’Yerusalyim.

    BUT to just callously say that Jewish survivors should get on the next plane to Israel is short-sighted, insensitive and not helpful. I

  • It IS the jews fault, silly! They did it to distract the world’s attention from their evil occupation and poisoning of pali babies!

  • i’m all for Aaliyah too. teehee 😛

    sorry for offending you, but i hardly see telling Jews to who have suffered at the hands of G-d in exile to return to where G-d commands them to go as being a bad thing.

    call me logical, but if G-d sent me a hurricane where i’m living, i’d be in a Negev kibbutz fatser than you could say mazel tov.

  • Chutzpah,
    A) I ain’t American,
    B) already made aliyah when I lost hope about North America.
    C) I do not for one second knock the fact that Canada provided a ‘safe’ haven for my grandparents on both sides and the fact that I was born there either.
    D)What’s wrong with taking advantage of American education and leaving the boat before it sinks?
    E)The Jews aren’t being forcibly deported now, but are you waiting until that time? The wake-up calls are so loud, but most Americans choose to ignore them.

    God is screaming ‘make aliyah now’, but most are ignoring it. US real estate prices are still rising (I know that not all Jews own), while Israeli prices are still stagnant (in virtually all areas) after having dropped from highs five years ago. The hints are so blatant. The Jews (well frankly all Americans) have big gas guzzling SUVs and they should be feeling the price of gas rising, but they’ll ignore that too. If you can’t enjoy your car, then what else is for living in the States?

  • the world is full of temptations. women, food, drink… and last, but certainly not least for the Jew… lands. foreign lands.

    i’m obsessed with Tokyo. sometimes i wish Moshiach would come and (by edict of HaSHeM) make it like… Israel-Pacific or something 😛

    Europe is beautiful. America is the best in comfort.

    but Israel… it’s *our* land, and everyone should make it a point of their lives to end up dying there if they were not born there already.

    those who leave should come back, not right away (enjoy the world for a while), but eventually.

    i was not born in Israel, i was born in Canada. i live in Canada now, and am completing my edudcation. once i have my degree, i’m going to live in a kibbutz, then do my 2 years of service, and then work somewhere in Israel. grow old, live life, and die there.

    i wish i was there now. it pains me when Jews who *could* be there, don’t plan on living there ever in their lives. free will, life wherever you want! have fun! stay in Tokyo for a year 😉

    but… please… end up in Eretz Yisrael. for the love of G-d, teehee.

    that’s why i think that when G-d sends you irrefutable signs to get your tuchas our of where you live, and back where we belong… i’d say it’s time to end your stay at the Diaspora Hotel, and go kneel before the Kotel.

    what’s wrong with telling people who’ve suffered in foreign lands that they might want to consider going “home”?

  • Wow, all these “signs” from GOD and I’m not seeing them. I didn’t realize that rising real estate prices in one place indicate that g-d wants us to depart to a lower priced real estate market. What happens when the stagnant real estate market heats up? Does gOd want us to move to yet another location?

  • DA, some people are not convinced that they should live there. I do not see how you can convince someone who is not open enough in their thinking. It is like when some people post their opinions about something as if this is the only way to view the particular issue.

    So perhaps you can tell how to convince someone?

    If they don’t really articulate their real or total reasons but something like they would miss their parents, which they don’t see more than a couple – 3 times a year as it is. And siblings.
    Even tho that the point is that the country was built by people who made this sacrifice. W/out the Pioneers and all the early Aliyah people who largely were single men and women afaik, there would not have been enough of a foundation don’t forget the 1948 war was not a walk in the park.

  • After reading the crack about non-repayment of student loans…please note that some of us olim do have a sense of honor, greatly appreciate the aid we received from the US government which allowed us to get a good education, appreciate the fact that without such aid, we would still be working as a waitress at Friendly’s and taking one freaking college course at a time which would lead to graduation in about 2010, and are truly, honestly beholden to the US government for establishing the subsidized student loan programs which allowed us to escape from waitressing and move to Israel with a solid profession.

    As a sign of my gratitude, I am paying back the student loans. Month after month, for the next gazillion years. And you know what, it is worth it. Waitressing here pays crap (and yes, I would know).

    Not to mention I don’t want to feel like thieving pond scum. The US owes me no reparations; they gave me the loans in good faith, and deserve that in return.

    Hmmm…out of curiousity, does halacha have an opinion on this? Incidentally, I do not live in Har Nof and/or a high-rise. 🙂

  • David Aaliyah,
    If a hurricane hit where you were living you’d be on a a plane faster than I could say “Mazel Tov”?
    Uh, I don’t think so. First you would need to find food and water and a place to go to the bathroom. Then you would need to check if your friends/loved ones (presuming you have some) were still living. Then you would need to figure out how to evacute. Ok, next you would need to figure out how to get proof of identity and some money and a passport to get on a plane…need I go on? Again, comments to the possible fate the Jews in America over the long run are not helpful to the Jews who are walking through the Mississippi river watching dead bodies float by.
    Mazel Tov on your insensitivity.

  • Daphna,
    Don’t know the Halacha, but I suspect there are a lot of theiving pond scum davening 3 times a day both here and in Israel.
    And while we are showing such sympathy for people who are rebuilding their lives, why don’t we ship all the Agunahs in Brooklyn to the Negev, many of them have 5 children a piece. That would be a great way to increase the Olim population.

  • You know, Chutzpah may be a little weird, but, speaking as a Zionist, Israel-loving, aliyah-planning, Negev-appreciating Jew whose life has been kind of screwed up by this here hurricane (and there are a lot of people way more worse off than me), she’s right. Right now the Jews of New Orleans should be worrying about their families and friends and everything they’ve made for themselves in the world, not shipping off to the Negev with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

  • Thanks Michael, you are welcome back to my place in New Jersey and I promise not to play any Journey. This offer also extends to any stranded Tulane Medical students.

  • Michael, Am a bit confused–do you currently (pre-hurricane) live in New Orleans, study there, have family there or what? If you are displaced, and assuming that you have necessary docs and assuming that you are not one of those who has to worry about re-building a house/life/lives of children/etc, maybe you should just come take a break and come back to Israel for a spell until the city is dried out.

    This is not meant to be a suggestion to all of the Jews of New Orleans who are going to be quite busy rebuilding homes/lives/etc and for whom such a suggestion would be rather insensitive.

  • Daphne,

    Many of the people commenting here get nervous when anybody brings up any Jewish ideas like moving to Israel or keeping Kosher. Once you say anything to imply that they cold be acting more Jewish they cringe and go into defense mode.

    Chutzpa wants to ‘have fun’ even while she complains about Jewish guys liking non-Jews (from another post) but once you suggest that SHE should change it’s all of a sudden defense mode…

    The same with many others here. So that’s why I am not confused about their responses – its all empotional knee-jerk defense
    -‘dont imply me or others might be doing something wrong!! Live and let live!’

    The concept of changing their ways is taboo to them.

  • Hey Joe, you forgot to mention Kahane in that comment. You’re slipping.

    Daphna, I live and study in New Orleans, and while my apartment is on the second floor and Uptown only got about four feet of water, it doesn’t look good for me returning anytime soon. But really, all I lost was temporarily my apartment and my job, so I got off great comparatively. I’m actually pretty set on coming back to Israel, but it’s an issue of whether the relevant Jewish organizations cough up enough cash to enable me to pay for the Hebrew U.

    As far as necessary docs, none of us have anything. All of Tulane’s records are online, which is why schools are accepting Tulane students at face value. And to make matters worse, Tulane’s administration is in a uproar because they lost their entire payroll records…which makes me think, if they can lose them, they can lose all the other important records too.

    But oh well. I’m safe, and everyone I know is safe, so everything else can be dealt with.

  • Yo Schmo,
    Been to Israel, tshuva and back. Life from both sides of the mechizta ain’t easy. All I can say is it’s better to work on your yourself than judge others.

  • interesting posts! truthfully tho…..canada is the real golden medinah, NOT the states. and toronto my chevre is where it’s at!
    i believe hashem is punishing america for forcing israel to give up the gaza strip. may hashem bless canada! (and israel, of course).

  • Josh W.,

    Funny about Cananda.

    Truth is we can’t pinpoint a specific result on a specific action without being a prophet but we do know in general that people and nations are punished measure for measure.

    I do think therefore that it is possible that they are connected as I also do think it likely that Europe and America’s muslim problems are because they push us into the very same problems and demand our capitulation.

    Now its their turn – Their problems are only beginning.

  • Joe, I think it is gutless and malicious to ponder tragedies like that, where people are suffering and continuing to suffer, in many ways that are so heart wrenching, seeing tens of babies and toddlers, who have been separated from their parents, for example, that to pour salt on this wound, is reprehensible, and shows a deep lack of human experience, empathy, and is a barbaric way of expressing your thoughts.

    As a Kahanist, that you are, I can imagine that you are at best hoping to stir up anti-semitism, such that a few Jews will move to Israel.

    It does no one any good to hear your G-d theories at this time. Please save this trash for your brandy drinking buddies on Saturday nights looking for a lone single Arab to beat up.

  • Muffti thought that ‘measure for measure’ typically did NOT mean ‘in the same kind of way’ but had the sense of ‘equal in weight’; i.e. Muffti is responsible if he pokes out your eye, but he doesnt’ literally owe you an I so much as something of equal value to an eye. If that is right, then why should we expect that nations will be punished in kind?